India and Bangladesh discussed a wide range of issues related to the major common rivers such as the Ganga, Teesta and several smaller rivers during the 38th meeting of the Joint River Commission (JRC) held here on Thursday. During the talks, the Indian delegation led by Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, Minister for Jal Shakti, assured the Bangladesh delegation that India was making "utmost efforts" for agreement on the Teesta. A statement from the Indian side informed that the JRC “finalised the text of MoU on Interim Water Sharing of Kushiyara river”.
"The JRC meeting, held in a cordial and friendly atmosphere, discussed the whole gamut of the issues related to the common rivers between the two countries, especially the Ganga, Teesta, Manu, Muhuri, Khowai, Gumti, Dharla, Dudkhkumar and Kushiyara," said an official statement issued by Dhaka after the talks.
The two sides also discussed exchange of flood-related data and information, river-bank protection works, common basin management, and also the River Interlinking Project of India. "Bangladesh side requested for conclusion of the long-pending Teesta Waters Sharing Treaty at an early date. The Indian side assured of their utmost efforts in concluding the agreement," the statement announced.
The JRC meeting which took place after a gap of 12 years agreed to undertake a few more additional common rivers for exchange of data and information for the "preparation of the draft framework of interim water sharing agreement". Leader of the Bangladesh delegation Zaheed Farooque, State Minister for Ministry of Water Resources of Bangladesh, urged Mr. Shekhawat for signing an MoU for withdrawal of water by Bangladesh and India from the common stretch of Kushiyara river at an "early date". The Hindu had earlier reported that the agreement on Kushiyara near the border with Assam is expected to be on top of the bilateral agenda.
"Both sides agreed to conduct the feasibility study for optimum utilisation of water received by Bangladesh under the provision of the Ganges Water Sharing Treaty, 1996," stated the official press release from Bangladesh. Sources indicated that the conversation in the JRC contributed to the "positive sentiments" between Delhi and Dhaka ahead of the expected visit of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to India in the first week of September.