India’s Bangladesh Envoy blames West Bengal for delaying Teesta River water sharing pact

Vikram Kumar Doraiswami, the Indian Envoy to Bangladesh blamed West Bengal for the delay in Teesta River water sharing pact, reports Russian Newspaper Sputnik. He remarked it at the National Press Club in Dhaka, Bangladesh.  Doraiswami was the Additional Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) before being posted to Bangladesh as the Indian High Commissioner in August 2020. “There are reservations by the West Bengal government,” said Doraiswami while responding to a question from a journalist about whether the Teesta water sharing pact. The Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to visit Bangladesh next month.

Prime Minister Modi, during his visit in 2015, unmindful of West Bengal’s opposition had committed that the matter would be resolved soon, but the matter has not progressed since then. Mamta Bannerjee, whose Trinamool Congress party has been in power in West Bengal since 2011, has been protesting over the agreement even during former PM Manmohan Singh’s tenure.

Teesta water sharing has been a bilateral irritant between Dhaka and New Delhi. Dhaka is seeking an arrangement that would allow a more equitable distribution of water from the Teesta river. The river originates in China’s Tibet Autonomous Region. It flows through Sikkim and West Bengal before entering Bangladesh. Dhaka claims of weak water flow from December to March, when India’s Gajoldoba Barrage retains water, results in acute water shortage in the northwestern part of Bangladesh.

In August 2019, during a visit to Dhaka, India’s External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar said that there was no “change” in New Delhi’s stand over sharing water. The Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had raised the issue with PM Modi during a virtual summit held on 2020 December.

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