Staff Correspondent: Bangladesh will raise the Teesta water sharing issue along with other issues of mutual interest during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s planned bilateral meeting with her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi in New Delhi next week.
“We have the issue of Teesta water sharing that the Prime Minister will certainly raise. We have other issues. We have 54 common rivers,” Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen told reporters yesterday, adding that the Ganges water treaty is another issue which will expire soon.
The Bangladesh-India Ganges water-sharing deal was signed in 1996 after long negotiations. The 30-year deal will expire by 2026.
Responding to a question, the Foreign Secretary said Bangladesh and India had always discussed the Teesta issue at the highest political level. “We always kept it on the discussion agenda. This time too, we expect the Prime Minister will talk about it.”
Bangladesh thinks the water-sharing issues between the two countries would be resolved through discussions as the two countries are “mentally agreed” to work on the basis of mutual understanding.
Recalling earlier discussions, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina reiterated Bangladesh’s long pending request for concluding the interim agreement on the sharing of the waters of the Teesta River, the draft of which was finalized in 2011.
During PM Hasina’s state visit to India in September last year, both leaders also directed the officials to work together to address issues such as pollution in rivers and to improve riverine environment and river navigability in respect of common rivers.
Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s participation at the G20 Summit in New Delhi on September 9-10 will add yet another feather to the ‘Golden Chapter’ in Dhaka-Delhi ties.
The bilateral meeting between Prime Minister Hasina and her Indian counterpart Modi will be held during her visit to India.
Follow-up Discussion on Water Issues
Earlier, the Foreign Secretary attended a follow-up discussion on Bangladesh’s 10 commitments made at the 2023 UN water Conference.
Talking to reporters, he said they mainly discussed how to implement those commitments and how the development partners can help Bangladesh in this process.
The Foreign Secretary said most of the commitments will be fulfilled by 2030 and many countries of the world made their commitments separately.
The UN 2023 Water Conference saw the adoption of the Water Action Agenda, representing voluntary commitments of nations and stakeholders to accomplish the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and their targets connected to water.
The event brought together over 6,500 participants. By the close of the meeting, the Water Action Agenda had received approximately 700 commitments in the form of financial pledges, collaborative projects, and actions to protect the world’s most precious and irreplaceable resource.
The Foreign Secretary said water is an important factor for livelihood and sustainability and they discussed issues related to coastal area, salinity problems, ground water level declining, plastic pollution, agriculture water wastages, rain water harvesting and ways to boost efficiency in water management.
He said there are reasons to be worried after a few years and laid emphasis on international cooperation and resource mobilization.
The UN says water is a dealmaker for the Sustainable Development Goals, and for the health and prosperity of people and the planet.
But, the UN added, progress on water related goals and targets remains alarmingly off track, jeopardizing the entire sustainable development agenda.
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