India expects to finalise deals on 7 common rivers by the year-end

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Dhaka, Mar 02: Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla on Monday said New Delhi was expected to finalise proposed deals with Bangladesh on seven common rivers excepting the Teesta by the year-end.“We need to expedite harmonization these (water flow) data (of seven rivers) so that water sharing can be finalised as early as possible . . . possibly within this year,” he said while addressing as the keynote speaker at a seminar on Bangladesh-India relations at a Dhaka hotel.

But he appeared to be uncertain about the deal on major Teesta river saying an agreement on water sharing of this particular stream could only be finalized on the basis on consensus of all the stakeholders, an apparent reference to India’s West Bengal state.

Shringla, who previously served as Indian high commissioner in Dhaka, however, said the Indian side was working on concluding the process of the agreement as early as possible.

“We know this is an emotive issue both side of the border … but there is no diminution of the commitment of our government,” he told the seminar joined as the chief guest by Bangladesh Prime Minister’s international affairs adviser Professor Dr Gawher Rizvi.

On August last, Bangladesh and Indian agreed on preparing a framework or interim water-sharing agreements on seven rivers — Manu, Muhuri, Khowai, Gumti, Dharla, Feni and Dudhkumar.

Bangladesh International and Strategic Studies (BIISS) and Indian High Commission here jointly organized the today’s seminar titled “Bangladesh and India: A Promising Future where the Indian foreign secretary. who arrived today in his maiden two-day visit here, gave the keynote speech.

Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Riva Ganguly Das and BIISS Chairman Fazlul Karim also spoke.

The Indian foreign secretary said India and Bangladesh recognize there is ample room for progress on each of the rivers that both the neighbours share while serious dialogue has resumed between the officials responsible for water sharing matter since August 2019.

“Let me assure our friends here that we remain committed to finding the best possible solutions to sharing scarcities and hardships fairly during the dry season,” he said.

He said good arrangements to share waters of the 54 transboundary rivers in fair and environmentally sustainable manner lies in broader national interests of the two nations.

He said there is equal number of Indian citizens getting killed along the border and stressed keeping the border safe free from any kind of criminal activities through joint cooperation.

“There’s 50-50 in terms of Bangladesh and Indian nationals getting killed on the border,” he added.

He said it is the responsibility of border forces on both sides to ensure that the border is respected and the place is kept safe stopping criminal activities.

“Despite that there’s a fair amount of criminal activities that happen. Every death on the border is something that is a problematic issue,” Shringla said adding that the death of every single human being diminishes them further.

He said this is very completely stated position that one death is too many on the border.

The Indian Foreign Secretary mentioned that their border guarding force faces lots of challenges, and there have been fair amount of attacks on border forces.