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India, Bangladesh exchange drafts of Teesta water-sharing agreements

NEW DELHI: Describing it as a significant move forward over sharing of Teesta waters, India and Bangladesh have exchanged drafts of interim agreement on Principles of Sharing of Teesta Waters during the dry season. Both sides also agreed to mandate the respective secretaries of water resources to examine the drafts and facilitate an early conclusion of an interim agreement on Teesta.

The 37th India-Bangladesh Joint Rivers Commission met in New Delhi on Thursday and Friday during which India also expressed satisfaction at the working of the 1996 Ganga Waters Treaty as well as the joint monitoring mechanism set up under this Treaty.

Water resources minister Pawan Kumar, who held nearly four hours of talks with his Bangladesh counterpart Ramesh Chandra Sen, told reporters that the two sides exchanged the draft agreements and have mandated the water resources secretaries to "take up the issue from here". The next JRC meeting would be held at the earliest and the water resources secretaries will decide on that, he said.

Sen described the exchange of draft accords as a "step forward" but neither of the two ministers disclosed the percentage of water-sharing Bangladesh has mentioned in its draft interim agreement or how much India has suggested in its document.

On the controversial Tipaimukh Dam Project, the Indian side reiterated its commitment that it would not take steps that would adversely impact Bangladesh. "The Bangladesh side appreciated India's reassurance. India also conveyed its earlier stand that it would not take any unilateral decisions on its proposed river inter-linking project that might affect the Bangladesh side,'' said the foreign ministry in a statement.

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