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TEESTA Water-Sharing Pact

TEESTA Water-Sharing Pact

Why in news?

  • PM while on his tour of Bangladesh assured his best to ink the long-awaited deal over the Teesta and other common rivers.
  • On at least two occasions—2011 and 2017—Bangladesh and India came close to signing a deal on the Teesta.

About Teesta river

  • Teesta river is a tributary of the Brahmaputra (known as Jamuna in Bangladesh), flowing through India and Bangladesh.
  • It originates in the Himalayas near Chunthang, Sikkim and flows to the south through West Bengal before entering Bangladesh.
  • Rangeet River is the major tributary of Teesta River. Rangeet river is the largest river in Sikkim. Rangeet river joins Teesta river at a place known as Tribeni.
  • The Teesta Barrage dam helps to provide irrigation for the plains between the upper Padma and the Jamuna.
  • In March 2020, the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) opened a 360 feet long bailey suspension bridge over Teesta river in Munshithang, Sikkim.

Significance of Teesta River

  • For Bangladesh, Its flood plain covers about 14% of the total cropped area of Bangladesh and provides direct livelihood opportunities to approximately 73% of its population.
  • Teesta is the lifeline of North Bengal and almost half a dozen of districts of West Bengal are dependent on the waters of Teesta.

Dispute | TEESTA Water-Sharing Pact

  • The point of contention between India and Bangladesh is mainly the lean season flow in the Teesta draining into Bangladesh.
  • The river covers nearly the entire floodplains of Sikkim while draining 2,800 sq km of Bangladesh, governing the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.
  • For West Bengal, Teesta is equally important, considered the lifeline of half-a-dozen districts in North Bengal.
  • Bangladesh has sought an “equitable” distribution of Teesta waters from India, on the lines of the Ganga Water Treaty of 1996, but to no avail.
  • The failure to ink a deal had its fallout on the country’s politics, putting the ruling party of PM Sheikh Hasina in a spot.
  • Bangladesh wants a higher share than it gets now. Currently, its share is lower than that of India’s.
  • In 2015, the Indian Prime Minister’s visit to Dhaka generated expectations to take forward the issue but it still remains unresolved.
  • In India, individual states have significant influence over transboundary agreements, impeding the policymaking process.
  • West Bengal is one of the key stakeholders of the Teesta agreement and is yet to endorse the deal. TEESTA Water-Sharing Pact

Past negotiations

  • The negotiations on how to share the water have been going on since 1972.
  • 1972: Joint River Commission (JRC) was established by India and Bangladesh in the Indo-Bangla Treaty of Friendship.
  • 1983: Agreement on Ad-Hoc sharing of Teesta water. According to agreement Ad-Hoc sharing is valid until 1985 end. India received 39% share while 36% share goes to Bangladesh.
  • 1984: According to 1984 JRC, Bangladesh’s share increased based on the hydrological data. India received 42.5% share while 37.5% share goes to Bangladesh.
  • 1998: Bangladesh started “Teesta Barrage” irrigation project (3 cropping seasons per year).
  • 2011: an Interim deal that was supposed to last for 15 years – gave India 42.5% and Bangladesh 37.5% of Teesta water.
  • However, West Bengal and Sikkim opposed an interim deal, since then the deal was shelved and remains unsigned due to the objections of West Bengal.

Bangladesh’s Stand

  • India already enjoys a share of 55% of the river water.
  • Bangladesh claims 50% of the water between December and May every year because that’s when the water flow to the country drops drastically.
  • Over 1 lakh hectares of land in Rangpur – its rice bowl cannot be cultivated for winter crops due to excessive withdrawal of water by India.
  • Bangladesh demands a fair share of river waters during the dry season.  TEESTA Water-Sharing Pact

 

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