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Bangladesh - Diplomatic - World wide - March 5, 2023

West Bengal to dig two more canals in Teesta

Indian farmers to be benefited but
BD farmers to face big troubles

Special Correspondent: The West Bengal Irrigation Department of India is about to start digging two more canals under the Teesta Barrage Project. The West Bengal government has acquired about 1,000 acres of land for this purpose.
The move will help bring more land under irrigation in Jalpaiguri and Cooch Behar districts but could upset Bangladesh. Dhaka has been waiting for the Teesta water sharing agreement with India for more than a decade to solve the water crisis in the northern part of Bangladesh.
On Friday (March 2), the Jalpaiguri district administration of West Bengal handed over about 1,000 acres of land to the irrigation department in the presence of the state’s Irrigation Minister ParthaBhowmik. This land will help the administration to build two canals on the left bank of Teesta.
On the other hand, apart from Teesta, the water of Jaldhaka river flowing through Jalpaiguri district will also be diverted to the canal for irrigation purposes. Experts believe that Bangladesh may be upset by Mamata government’s decision to dig this canal. After more than 20 years, the Mamata government’s decision to dig the canal will cause problems in Dhaka. After Mamata Banerjee came to power in the state in 2011, the crisis over the Teesta water sharing agreement between New Delhi and Dhaka was not resolved due to her objections.
On condition of anonymity, a faculty in the geography department of North Bengal University, Siliguri, said that if more water flows from the Teesta through the new canal, less water will go to Bangladesh during the summer season. Basically, around 100 cumec (per cubic meter per second) of water is available in the Teesta during the summer months. Whereas India and Bangladesh require about 1,600 cumec of water for irrigation of agricultural land.
Sources in the Irrigation Department said that according to the project, a 32 km long canal will be dug up to Changrabandha in Cooch Behar district to draw water from Teesta and Jaldhaka. The length of the other canal is 15 km. Which will be built on the left bank of Teesta.
According to administrative sources, if two canals are dug, about one lakh farmers of West Bengal will get the benefit of irrigation. Teesta Barrage is located at Gajldoba in Jalpaiguri district.
The Teesta Barrage Project was launched in 1975 to facilitate irrigation of 9.22 lakh hectares of agricultural land in North Bengal. The purpose of this project was to channel the Teesta River water and other rivers flowing in the respective area through the canal for irrigation to the farming areas on both sides.
The plan was to supply irrigation water through canals to agricultural land on both sides of the Teesta River. At the same time the water of other rivers flowing through the area is also diverted into the canals. However, the project has suffered for decades. Only 1.4 lakh hectares of land is currently being used for water.
Regarding the digging of two new canals, West Bengal Irrigation Minister ParthaBhowmik said yesterday (Saturday) that the Jalpaiguri district administration has handed over 1,000 acres of land to us for digging canals. In 2009, the central government declared it as a national scheme. But did not allocate funds for the project. We will try to complete this project in phases, even if we don’t get funds from the central government.
According to the concerned ministry, the irrigation department will repair another canal in Dhupaguri block of Jalpaiguri district. If this canal becomes operational, the Indian farmers will get irrigation facilities on 32 thousand acres of land in the block.

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