JRC likely to discuss Teesta, Tipaimukh on June 18

The Indo-Bangla Joint Rivers Commission (JRC) is set for talks in Dhaka on such crucial issues as equiaable share of Teesta waters and proposed Tipaimukh dam.The Ministry of Water Resources’ Senior Secretary Sheikh Altaf Ali told journalists that the meetings were slated for Jun 18-19. “Talks will be held on matters important to Bangladesh like the Teesta water sharing.”
Though the Teesta deal was expected during the Bangladesh tour of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2011, Chief Minister of West Bengal Mamata Banerjee scuppered the the plans.
New Delhi has since been assuring Dhaka of inking the deal soon. The Teetsa waters are an important resource for Bangladesh’s economy. About 7,50,000 hectares of agricultural land in the greater Rangpur district is dependent on the river.
Bangladesh has been voicing concerns over the planned Tipaimukh dam on the upstream of the Barak River despite Delhi’s assurances that “nothing will be done that will be harmful to Bangladesh”.
Secretary Ali said the agenda of the JRC meetings will be set by both parties. “A list of probable topics has been prepared from our side and sent to the Prime Minister for approval.”
The ministry has advocated a 14-strong delegation, led by Water Resources Minister Ramesh Chandra Sen, to represent Bangladesh for the talks.
Officials said others will include Mashiur Rahman, Economic Advisor to the Prime Minister, State Minister for Water Resources Mohammad Mahbubur Rahman, Bangladeshi High Commissioner in India Tarek A Karim, Sheikh Altaf Ali and Water Development Board Director General Mohammad Azizul Haque.
Indian Water Resources Minister Harish Rawat is expected to arrive with a delegation on Jun 17.
The JRC was formed through joint declarations from both Indian and Bangladeshi Prime Ministers in 1972. Meetings of this commission generally focus on bilateral water resource development and management, water sharing, river erosion in border areas and flooding forecast-related affairs.
Until now, 37 meetings have taken place.
In 2009, during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to India tour, a joint declaration directed the Water Resources Ministers of both countries to covene JRC meeting.
The 37th JRC meeting in Delhi discussed sharing of Teesta waters and other issues. Bangladesh had framed draft of a 15-year proposal for the cause protecting bilateral interests. India also prepared a draft over October-April.
Later, a Secretary-level meeting was held in Dhaka on Jan 10, 2010. JRC members of both countries reached an agreement in that meeting over the two drafts for forming an interim deal on Teesta and Feni river waters.
A total of 54 common rivers cross into Bangladesh from India before falling into the Bay of Bengal. The two countries signed only one deal to date on sharing of the Ganges water in 1996.
(Source: bdnews24.com)

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