Dhaka, Sep 6: India and Bangladesh are unlikely to sign a pact on sharing the Teesta river waters during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit that began Tuesday, a senior Indian official said.
On a two-day trip, Manmohan Singh was accorded a warm welcome at the Shah Jalal International Airport here.
Accompanying him were External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna and Chief Ministers Tarun Gogoi of Assam, Manik Sarkar of Tripura, Pu Lalthanhawla of Mizoram and Mukul Sangma of Meghalaya.
‘We are unlikely to sign (the Teesta water sharing agreement),’ the official said. But he added that efforts were still on find out if the differences between the two sides on the issues could be overcome.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was to accompany the prime minister. But she backed off — to protest against the final draft of the Teesta agreement.
The Teesta, which begins its journey in Sikkim, flows through north Bengal before entering Bangladesh. India and Bangladesh share 54 rivers.
‘There was a difference between the initial draft of the agreement and the final version. West Bengal had agreed to share up to 25,000 cusecs. But the final version talks of sharing 33,000-50,000 cusecs,’ a source close to Banerjee said in Kolkata.
The Indian official here said the idea was to have an interim pact and then a permanent agreement. He said that regarding the Teesta, there were ‘no absolute figures… only percentages’.
‘It would be too strong to call it a disagreement with West Bengal,’ he added.
The official said that Sikkim, from where the river originates, has ‘made known its requirements’.
The other river on the India-Bangladesh discussion table is the Feni.
The Feni, which flows 135 km south of Tripura capital Agartala, has been in dispute since 1934. In a total catchment area of 1,147 square km of the river, 535 square km falls in India and the rest in Bangladesh.