What happened?

Talks on the sharing of Teesta water and signing of the treaty have gained momentum after the back to back visits by External Affairs Minister Salman Kurshid and President Pranab Mukherjee to Bangladesh. In 1983, India and Bangladesh had agreed into an ad hoc sharing of the water during the dry season (Oct. to April) with an allocation of 36 per cent for Bangladesh and 39 per cent for India, leaving 25 per cent to be decided later. But this deal has remained pending for more than 2 decades. After many unsuccessful attempts to reach a consensus on the issue, a new bilateral interim deal was to be signed in 2011 to reach an equitable sharing of the water. And it was put on hold as the chief minister of West Bengal Mamata Banerjee opposed the deal. Kurshid and Pranab have promised to resolve the issue with Mamata to speed up the process.

How does the river flow?

Teesta originates in Sikkim, flows through West Bengal in India before entering Bangladesh. After coursing through a major part of the irrigable land in northern Bangladesh, it merges with the Brahmaputra River (or Jamuna when it enters Bangladesh). The river is important for both Bangladesh and India for its agricultural use.

Who’s who?

Sheikh Hasina: Prime Minister of Bangladesh since 2009 and also the President of Bangladesh Awami League. In 1975, her family was assassinated in a coup.

Sheikh Hasina lived in exile (in India) until she was allowed to return to Bangladesh in 1981.

Mamata Banerjee: Chief minister of West Bengal and Trinamool Congress leader was listed among 100 most influential people in the World by Time magazine in 2012. She has been projecting herself as pro-poor leader.

What are Mamata’s arguments against sharing of water?

Mamata Banerjee is of the view that the water-sharing would be against the interest of West Bengal farmers and people. She feels that the loss of higher volume of water to the lower riparian would cause problems in the northern region of State, especially during drier months.

What are the facts of water-sharing between India and Bangladesh?

As many as 54 rivers are flowing to Bangladesh through India and according to few newsreports, India has diverted 43 out of 54 rivers.

Talks are on to share the waters of some of the other rivers such as Dudhkumar, Manu, Khowai, Gumti and Muhuri apart from Teesta.

Why is the water sharing politically crucial for both nations?

Bangladesh goes to polls in January 2014 and signing of the treaty is important for Sheikh Hasina's government, as there has been mounting pressure to get the deal done. India aims to pull off bilateral cooperation to curb terrorism in the Bangladeshi territory in exchange for water.