Sharing agreements for common rivers between India and Bangladesh expected in soonest possible time: Modi

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (R) and his counterpart Sheikh Hasina. Photo by The Bangladesh Today. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.


NEW DELHI, Oct 6, 2019, The Bangladesh Today. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said Indian stakeholders were working to ink the proposed Teesta deal in soonest possible time as his visiting Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh keenly awaited for its early signing as agreed upon by both the governments eight years ago, reported The Bangladesh Today.

“Prime Minister Modi informed (Sheikh Hasina) that his government is working with all stakeholders in India for conclusion of the Agreement in soonest possible,” read a joint statement issued after talks between the two leaders in the Indian capital earlier today.

It said Modi’s comments came as the Bangladesh Prime Minister said the people of Bangladesh awaited “early signing and implementation of the Framework of Interim Agreement for sharing of the Teesta waters, as agreed upon by both governments in 2011”.

According to the statement the two premiers simultaneously directed the Joint Rivers Commission’s Technical Level Committee to expeditiously exchange updated data and information and prepare the draft framework of Interim Sharing Agreements for six other common rivers as well.

The remaining rivers, it said, were Manu, Muhuri, Khowai, Gumti, Dharla and Dudhkumar and to firm up the draft framework of interim sharing agreement of Feni River.

The Rohingya crisis also featured the Bangladesh premier’s meeting with Modi who, the statement said, agreed on the need to expedite safe, speedy and sustainable repatriation of the displaced persons to their homes in Myanmar’s Rakhine State.

“They agreed on the need for greater efforts to be made to facilitate their return, including by improving security situation and socio-economic conditions in the Rakhine State of Myanmar,” said the 53-point statement.

The Indian premier, it said, appreciated Bangladesh’s generosity in sheltering and providing humanitarian assistance to “forcibly displaced persons from the Rakhine State of Myanmar”.

He said New Delhi would supply a fifth tranche of humanitarian assistance to support Bangladesh government’s humanitarian efforts to shelter the Rohingyas in temporary camps in Cox’s Bazar.

The tranche of aid, he said, would comprise tents, relief and rescue material as well as one thousand sewing machines for skill development of forcibly displaced women from Myanmar.

The statement pointed out that India by now completed a first project to build 250 houses in Rakhine state and it was now preparing to implement another set of socio-economic development projects in the area.

Sheikh Hasina conveyed Dhaka’s gratitude for India’s humanitarian assistance since September 2017 to help meet the needs of the displaced persons from Myanmar.

The statement said the two premiers emphasised the importance of effective border management for ensuring a “tranquil, stable and crime free border” and directed their respective border forces to complete border fencing at all pending sectors between both the countries at the earliest.

“Both Leaders also agreed that the loss of civilian lives at the border is a matter of concern and directed the concerned border forces to enhance coordinated measures to work toward bringing such border incidents down to zero,” it read.

Modi, it said, appreciated Bangladesh’s zero-tolerance policy against terrorism and commended his counterpart for her resolute efforts to ensure peace, security and stability in the region.

But the statement pointed out that terrorism remained one of the most significant threats to peace and stability of both countries and the region and the two leaders reiterated their strong commitment to eliminate terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.

They stressed that there could be no justification whatsoever for any act of terror.

Sheikh Hasina and Modi referred to the recent discussions between the two home ministers in India agreeing that closer cooperation against extremist and radical groups, terrorists, smugglers, smuggling of fake currency, and organised crime remain a shared priority.

Bangladesh side requested Indian authorities to consider addressing the issue of anti-dumping/anti-circumvention duties imposed on multiple products exported from Bangladesh to India, including jute products.

The leaders directed their officials to expedite establishment of twelve Border Haats which have been agreed to by both countries.

Sheikh Hasina appreciated India’s readiness to extend duty free and quota free access for Bangladeshi exports to the Indian market while Bangladesh requested India to consider addressing the anti-dumping/anti-circumvention duties issues imposed on its multiple products including jute products.

The statement said India on the other hand requested Dhaka to withdraw port restrictions on products being traded through Akhaura-Agartala port.

“The Bangladesh side informed that the restrictions would be removed on most items of regular trade in the near future,” it read.

The leaders directed their officials to expedite establishment of twelve Border Haats which have been agreed to by both countries.

The two premiers, however, welcomed that for the first time, exports from Bangladesh to India crossed the one billion dollar mark in 2019 witnessing a year-on-year growth of 52 percent in the exports.

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