“Our (Bangladesh) government wants to sign separate treaties with India to share the waters of all rivers flowing between the two countries,” Bangladesh’s Comilla district deputy commissioner Mohammad Hasanuzzaman Kollol told reporters here.
He said: “Unless there is a treaty, Bangladesh would be deprived of getting due share of waters of the rivers flowing from Indian territories. We have decided to refer the issue to the Joint River Commission (JRC) to finalise the matter.”
Fifty-four rivers flow between India and Bangladesh, sustaining the lives of over 620 million people along their banks.
At the 37th meeting of the JRC in New Delhi in March 2010, Bangladesh allowed India to go ahead with a drinking water project and 21 river protection projects on the Feni river along southern Tripura.
“After construction of a hydel power project and several barrages in Tripura, we are getting less water from Gomti river,” Kollol added.
The sharing of water of Teesta river is a contentious issue between India and Bangladesh. After West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee objected to the inking of the water sharing accord, fearing north Bengal would turn dry if the treaty was implemented, the issue has remained unresolved between the two countries for the past few years.
India and Bangladesh signed a water sharing treaty in 1996 to share the water of the Ganga.
District magistrates and other officials of Tripura’s four districts – Sipahijala, Gomti, South Tripura and Dhalai – met the deputy commissioners of Bangladesh’s five districts — Comilla, Feni, Rangamati, Khagrachari and Chittagong – and discussed border crimes, water sharing, setting up of more ‘border hats’ (market), border fencing, better coordination between the district administrations of both sides.
Senior officials of the Border Security Force, Border Guard Bangladesh, Bangladesh and Tripura Police and customs were also present in the day-long meeting.
“To curb the border crimes, more vigil along the borders by the border guards of the two countries is required,” said Kollol, accompanied by other officials.
The Tripura government has been asking the central government to build fences at the actual border (zero line) with Bangladesh to keep border markets, human habitats, roads and government set-ups inside the fencing.
The Bangladeshi officials have asked their Indian counterparts to erect the fence 150 yards from the zero line of the borders as per the international norms.
India is erecting a barbed wire fence and putting up floodlights along the 4,096-km India-Bangladesh border in West Bengal, Tripura, Assam, Meghalaya and Mizoram to check trans-border movement of militants, and curb the border crimes.
Four Indian northeastern states — Tripura, Meghalaya, Mizoram, and Assam — share 1,880-km-long border with Bangladesh, with 856 km frontiers in Tripura alone.
The mountainous terrain, dense forests and other hindrances make the unfenced borders porous and vulnerable, letting illegal immigrants and intruders cross over without any hurdle.
The two neighbours have 2,979 km of land border and 1,116 km of riverine boundaries.