Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Teesta, Farakka top agenda in Mamata-Manmohan talks

The proposed Teesta water-sharing deal, broken sluice gates of Farakka barrage and agreement on enclaves exchange are expected to play high during Wednesday’s talks between Indian prime minister and Paschimbanga chief minister.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh would like to know from Paschimbanga Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee about her government’s stance on the proposed Teesta water-sharing deal, our New Delhi correspondent reports quoting sources on Tuesday. 

Singh had suffered a diplomatic embarrassment over the issue during his visit to Dhaka in September last year when the deal could not be inked due to Mamata’s strident opposition citing possible adverse impact on the irrigation and drinking water needs of northern parts of Paschimbanga state through the river flows.

Manmohan has made it amply clear that his government was in favour of reaching a consensus on the Teesta treaty keeping in mind the concerns and interests of Paschimbanga and taking onboard the coalition partners of Congress on all major issues.

He however is expected to convey to Mamata that the Teesta treaty is important for forward movement in other key areas of interest like transit, road, rail and waterways connectivity, which would greatly benefit Paschimbanga.

A draft agreement on setting up a rail link connecting Howrah in Paschimbanga and Agartala in Tripura through Bangladesh is currently under consideration. This would considerably reduce travel time between the capitals of Paschimbanga and Tripura states. 

Mamata might convey that her government can firm up a stance on Teesta only after getting the report of the one-man commission set up by her, particularly on the issue of quantum of water to Bangladesh. 

The commission headed by leading hydrologist Kalyan Rudra was expected to submit its report in December last year but has sought more time to collect data on availability of water in Teesta.