Thu 23rd of November 2017
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The Teesta river originates in Sikkim and flows through West Bengal as well as Bangladesh. India claims a share of 55 percent of the river's water.
Bangladesh wants a higher share than it gets now. Currently, its share is lower than that of India's.
Negotiations on how to share the water have been going on since 1983. A 2011 interim deal - that was supposed to last 15 years - gave India 42.5 percent of the Teesta's waters and gave Bangladesh 37.5 percent. Banerjee opposed this deal so it was shelved and remains unsigned. In fact, she was scheduled to accompany the then PM Manmohan Singh to Bangladesh to sign that deal in 2011, but cancelled the trip.
Bangladesh wants 50 percent of the Teesta's waters between December and May every year, because that's when the water flow to the country drops drastically. "The historical flow of the river at Rangpur is 5,000 cusecs, but we're getting only 500 cusecs of water now. This has affected farmers whose standing crops are withering away and also fishermen who are facing loss of livelihood," said a Bangladeshi expert to TOI a couple of years ago.
India says it has its own compulsions. "Not enough water is flowing into the Teesta to meet our irrigation needs. We have to increase the area under irrigation in North Bengal to boost agricultural production. We will achieve our target of bringing in 1.5 lakh acres of farmland," said the then West Bengal irrigation minister Rajib Banerjee, three years ago.
The river is Bangladesh's fourth largest transboundary river for irrigation and fishing. The Teesta's floodplain covers 2,750sq km in Bangladesh. Of the river's catchment - an area of land where water collects - 83 percent is in India and 17 percent is in Bangladesh.
That means more than one lakh hectares of land across five districts in Bangladesh are severely affected by withdrawals of the Teesta's waters in India, said the Observer Research Foundation. These five Bangladesh districts then face acute shortages during the dry season, it added.
Banerjee has in the past countered the above line of argument citing the amount of Teesta waters India already gives Bangladesh. "When we need a certain quantity of water to maintain our Kolkata Port and fulfil the need of farmers, water is released from Teesta and Farakka barrages to Bangladesh sacrificing the state's interest" she said in 2013.
Hydropower on the Teesta .is another point of conflict. There are at least 26 projects on the river mostly in Sikkim, aimed at producing some 50,000MW.
Banerjee proposed sharing the waters of other rivers, like the Torsa river. As north Bengal is completely dependent on the Teesta, she said, rivers like the Torsa, which are closer to the border of India and Bangladesh, are good options. The Torsa, in fact, has connectivity with Bangladesh's Padma river. The West Bengal CM proposed that the two countries set up a commission to ascertain the level of water flowing through the Torsa and the quantum of water that can be shared.
Prelims Question of the Day
With reference to 'Natural Rate of Unemployment', consider the following statements.
1. It is the level of unemployment in an economy that is just consistent with a stable rate of Inflation.
2. It is the unemployment that prevails when all markets in the economy are in equilibrium.
(a)1 and 2
(d)None of the above
Mains Question of the Day
1.GS-No party in power can afford to ignore Directive Principles of State Policy. Comment.(200 Words)
2.Political Science - Explain the role of non state actors, like IMF, World Bank, European Union and MNCs, in modulating and transforming the broad dynamics of international relations. (250 Words).
3.SOCIOLOGY - What is the impact of Globalization on the structure and mobilization of the working class in India? (250 Words).