Bangladesh accord pushes 14 irrigation schemes in Tripura

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

AGARTALA - The India-Bangladesh secretary-level talks of the Joint River Commission (JRC), removed four years long deadlock over the construction of 14 irrigation projects along the border in Tripura, officials said here Wednesday.

During the one-day JRC meeting held in Dhaka Monday, the two countries have agreed to sign a 15-year interim water-sharing treaty on two common rivers - Teesta (in West Bengal) and Feni (in southern Tripura) - during the dry season.

According to an official release made available in Agartala, the JRC also discussed to formulate a work plan on sharing between India and Bangladesh the waters of other common rivers, including Dharla and Dudhkumar (in West Bengal), Manu, Khowai, Gumti and Muhuri ( all in Tripura).

“The water-sharing talks have removed the stalemate over the construction of the 14 irrigation projects based on the waters of Feni river adjacent to south Tripura’s bordering town Sabroom,” Tripura government’s water resource department chief engineer Tapan Lodh told IANS.

Lodh said: “The construction works of these irrigation projects had to stop following the objection of Bangladesh authorities in 2007, largely affecting the irrigation of crops.”

The water-sharing treaty on Teesta and Feni rivers is expected to be signed during the visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Bangladesh later this year.

According to a Tripura government official, a large number of developmental projects, including river embankments, bridges, market sheds and drinking water sources along the India-Bangladesh border have remained half-done for a long time after objections raised by the Bangladeshi authorities and Bangladesh Rifles (BDR), citing the 1975 India-Bangladesh agreement.

“The 1975 Indo-Bangla pact had barred only defence construction on either side of the border,” the official said on condition of anonymity.

India and Bangladesh have 2,979-km land border and 1,116 km of riverine boundaries and share a total of 54 rivers. The two neighbours, however, currently have only a treaty on sharing Ganga water, signed in 1996.

India’s West Bengal, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Assam and Tripura share the 4,095-km border with Bangladesh.

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