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14 March, 2018 12:26:16 AM

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Bangladeshi officials can’t share Modi’s optimism

We believe in Indian PM’s sincerity, says water resources state minister
HUMAYUN KABIR BHUIYAN
Bangladeshi officials can’t share Modi’s optimism

Indian prime minister Narendra Modi might have sounded optimistic about the signing of long pending Teesta water sharing agreement but Bangladeshi government officials concerned appeared to be subdued. During a meeting with president Abdul Hamid in New Delhi on Sunday, Modi that efforts are on to overcome the hurdles to the signing of the Teesta water sharing deal 'keeping all concerned on board'.

He also said that his government is trying to bring West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee onboard. The much-talked about agreement, which is viewed by many as one of the main irritants of the Dhaka-Delhi relationship, was supposed to be signed on September 6, 2011 during the Bangladesh visit of former Indian prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh. But, it did not happen due to last minute objection from the West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee.

Since then, according to the officials, there has been virtually no development with regard to the agreement in last seven years. For the whole of the period since September, 2011, Bangladesh has raised this issue whenever it could and the Indian response has always been that they are trying to conclude their internal negotiations to be in a position to conclude the deal.

In April, last year, during prime minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to Delhi, Modi assured that the deal will be signed during the tenures of the two heads of the government.

When asked to comment on Sunday’s remarks of the Indian prime minister, the officials did sound so exuberant rather they said that they are not that hopeful at this stage.     

“As we speak, I’ve nothing new to report,” a senior official told The Independent requesting anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue.

“Perhaps, they are working internally. But, we don’t know about it,” he said.

“I will be surprised if the deal is signed within the tenures of both the prime ministers given the relationship between Narendra Modi and Mamata Banerjee and upcoming national election in India where the number of seats in West Bengal matters a lot,” said another official.

A senior official of the joint rivers commission (JRC) under the water resources ministry that deals with issues related to the trans-boundary rivers said, “We were supposed to hold the 38th meeting of the JRC in September, 2011 to sign the agreement. We are still waiting for the meeting. Despite many invitations to the Indians to come to Dhaka for the 38th JRC meeting, there has so been no positive response from our Indian counterpart.

Contrary to the officials, Nazrul Islam, state minister for water resources ministry, sounded optimistic about the signing of the deal.

“I am always hopeful. I believe in the sincerity of the Indian prime minister with regard to signing the deal,” he said, adding that there must not be any problem between the two friendly neighbours. “I hope the Indian prime minister meant what he said to our president and any word of hope from him (Modi) is encouraging to us,” said the state minister. When asked about the development in last seven years, he said, “You know what is happening. I know what is happening.”

SR

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Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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