DHAKA,Sep 6: In a bid to sort out some thorny issues between India andBangladesh — including the delay in implementation of the land boundaryagreement, signing of a deal to share water of the Teesta river, the Tipaimukhbarrage project etc — two advisers to Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasinaare currently visiting New Delhi.
InternationalAffairs Adviser Dr Gowher Rizvi and Economic Affairs Adviser Dr Mashiur Rehmanare expected to return to Dhaka on September 7. They are visiting Delhi on aninvitation from National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon.
Theinvitation follows a meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and SheikhHasina on the sidelines of Non-Aligned Movement Summit in Tehran on August 29.During the meeting, Dr Singh had assured Hasina that the Teesta water sharingagreement will be signed while a bill to amend the Constitution will be tabledsoon to expedite implementation of the land boundary agreement.
Theexisting bilateral relation between the two neighbouring countries is quitefriendly now with a number of initiatives underway from both sides and theinitiation in joint consultative meetings on Tipaimukh Barrage project.However, delay in implementation of the boundary agreement signed last year andthe signing of the Teesta River accord have been worrying both the governments.
AlthoughDhaka has tried to stick to its stance of “no transit without Teestaagreement”, Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dipu Moni told an Indian newspaper inAugust that Teesta water sharing was not a precondition for transit but anaccord on Teesta would help her administration go ahead to allow transit toIndia.
Furtherstrengthening the bonhomie between the two nations is last week’s development,when India handed over relevant project papers and documents related to theTipaimukh Hydroelectric Project over Barak River in Manipur State, some 200 kmeast of the Bangladesh border.
Bangladeshhas been concerned about the environmental and other consequences of theproposed barrage on its territory.
Followinga two-day long meeting of the Indo-Bangladesh joint subgroup on the proposeddam project at New Delhi on August 27 and 28, Delhi handed over a copy of theDetailed Project Report of Tipaimukh project to Dhaka as the two countriesfinalised the Terms of Reference for a joint study on the dam’s impact.
Thejoint study is likely to examine the location of the dam and its impact oncatchment areas, flora and fauna, biodiversity and ecology while alsoevaluating the impacts on the availability of water in the Surma, Kushiara andMeghna rivers and the irrigation and environment of the lower riparian countryof Bangladesh.
Thoughno impact assessment has been conducted yet, India has repeatedly assuredBangladesh at the highest level that it would not do anything in the projectwhich would go against Bangladesh’s interests.
Indiaalso said the barrage at the project site would release more water toBangladesh during dry season and control the same during monsoon to save thelower riparian country from floods. India has also invited Bangladesh to buy astake in the 1,500 megawatt Tipaimukh power project and get electricity.
Duringhis visit to Dhaka in September 2011, Dr Singh had assured Bangladesh that NewDelhi will not do anything in connection with the dam that will hurt theinterests of the lower riparian country.
Withthe Tipaimukh barrage project being discussed, the two neighbouring nations nowneed to resolve issues on Teesta water sharing, the land boundary agreement forexchange of 162 enclaves between the two countries and a transit agreement,aimed at allowing India to carry its goods to northeast states from West Bengalthrough Bangladesh.
Additionallyto these, Indian media has reported that Bangladesh has evicted all hideouts ofIndian insurgents from remote areas of Bangladesh and handed over capturedmilitants to India over the past three years, although the Bangladeshgovernment has never acknowledged these reports.
Indiais also trying to improve its ties with major political parties of Bangladesh.As part of this initiative, Delhi recently hosted Bangladesh’s former presidentHussain Mohammad Ershad and also invited former prime minister and currentleader of the opposition Begum Khaleda Zia, chief of Bangladesh NationalistParty, to visit India in the near future. RediffNews