Don’t take decisions without consulting govt: Mamata to PM Modi on Bangladesh talk

Kolkata: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday, requesting the latter not to take important bilateral decisions with neighbouring Bangladesh, especially on the Teesta River water sharing and India-Bangladesh Farakka treaties, without involving the state government in the discussions.

In the letter, a copy of which is available with IANS, the Chief Minister referred to the recent State visit of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her meeting with PM Modi.

“It seems that water-sharing issues relating to Ganges and Teesta Rivers were discussed during the meeting. Such unilateral deliberations and discussions without consultations or opinions of the state government are neither acceptable nor desirable,” the letter read.

Claiming that the Indian government is in the process of renewing the Indo-Bangladesh Farakka Treaty (1996) which is set to expire in 2026, the Chief Minister claimed that the issue involves the interests of the people of West Bengal.

“It is a treaty which delineates the principles of sharing water between Bangladesh and India and as you are aware, it has huge implications for the people of West Bengal for maintaining their livelihood as the water which is diverted at the Farakka Barrage helps maintain the navigability of the Kolkata Port,” The Chief Minister said in the letter.

On the issue of the proposed Teesta water sharing accord, the Chief Minister claimed that any bilateral cooperation between India and Bangladesh for the restoration of Teesta in Bangladesh would largely impact the livelihoods of the people in North Bengal, considering that the health of Teesta River has already suffered from the construction of hydroelectric projects in Sikkim.

“I am surprised that no concrete steps have been taken by the Ministry of Jal Shakti to restore the river in its original form on the Indian side. In addition, Teesta water is also needed to meet the drinking water requirements of the residents of North Bengal. It is therefore not feasible to share Teesta water with Bangladesh,” the letter read.

“Finally, it is to convey my strong reservations that no discussion on sharing Teesta water and the Farakka treaty should be taken up with Bangladesh without the involvement of the state government. The interest of the people of West Bengal is paramount, which should not be compromised at any cost,” the letter concluded.