By Anisur Rahman
(Eds: Updating with more details)
Dhaka, Mar 27 (PTI) Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday reiterated India's "sincere and continued efforts" to conclude the Teesta water-sharing agreement in consultation with relevant stakeholders during his talks with his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina.
Briefing reporters on Prime Minister Modi's two-day visit to Bangladesh, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said the Teesta issue was discussed during the talks between the two leaders.
"Prime Minister Modi reiterated India's sincere and continued efforts to conclude this agreement in consultation with relevant stakeholders," he said in response to a question.
"The Indian side also requested for early finalisation of a draft for sharing of water of Feni River pending with the Bangladeshi side," he said.
"River water cooperation is something that will continue...we have extensive cooperation," Shringla said.
During the meeting, Prime Minister Hasina sought implementation of the earlier reached proposed Teesta agreement and steps to bring down the "border incidents" to zero level, her Press Secretary Ihsanul Karim told reporters.
She told her counterpart that the implementation of the proposed treaty appeared crucial as the people living along the Teesta river bank were suffering because of water shortage, Karim added.
Karim said Prime Minister Modi told his counterpart that India was committed for a "reasonable solution" to the water sharing issues involving all common rivers with Bangladesh.
"The two leaders directed their respective Ministries of Water Resources to work towards an early conclusion of the Framework of Interim Agreement on sharing of waters of six common rivers, namely, Manu, Muhuri, Khowai, Gumti, Dharla and Dudhkumar," said a joint statement issued after their talks.
Two countries are currently cooperating on 56 rivers that flow between them. The cooperation in the area is very diverse as the use of water for drinking, irrigation and how we can work together to control flood and pollution, he said.
"We just had a meeting of the water-resources secretaries of the two sides in New Delhi... It was an excellent meeting. We are meeting and are talking about all the important issues, including the Teesta issue," Shringla said.
The Teesta river originates in Sikkim, flows through the northern parts of West Bengal, before entering Bangladesh and joining the Brahmaputra river.
The flow of the river is crucial for Bangladesh from December to March during which the country requires 50 per cent of the river’s water supply.
The Teesta deal was set to be signed during then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Bangladesh in September, 2011 but was postponed at the last minute due to objections raised by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. Banarjee had expressed strong reservations against giving Bangladesh a greater share of water from the Teesta river. PTI NSA/AR ZH AKJ ZH