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Bangladesh objections hold up Tripura projects: Minister

Tripura,Business/Economy,Indo-Pak/Pakistan,Politics, Sat, 04 Aug 2012 IANS

Agartala, Aug 4 (IANS) Tripura's many projects of irrigation, flood control and embankment building have been stopped since 2007 following objections from Bangladesh, a state minister said Saturday.

"Over 20 irrigation, flood control and embankment projects along the Feni and Muhuri rivers in bordering Sabroom and Belonia sub-divisions in Tripura have been halted since 2007 following objections of Bangladeshi officials and Border Guard Bangladesh," Water Resource and Public Works Department Minister Badal Choudhury told reporters here.

"In the absence of these projects, irrigation of crops has been affected in the bordering farmlands while sub-divisional border towns of Belonia and Sabroom have become vulnerable to floods. Erosion of river banks has also become common for want of proper embankment," he said.

The water resource department's chief engineer, Tapan Lodh said various other minor and medium works in 21 places on the Indian side and 16 places on the Bangladeshi territory have remained half-finished due to incomplete talks between the two countries.

The minister said that during the visit of Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to New Delhi in January 2010 and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Dhaka in September last year, the issues were discussed and subsequently an agreement was signed.

"We are hopeful that these long-pending issues relating to water sharing and bordering projects would be resolved soon," he said.

The India-Bangladesh secretary-level talks of the Joint River Commission (JRC) in Dhaka in January also discussed the issue but inconclusively.

A Tripura official said the JRC also discussed formulation of a work plan on sharing between India and Bangladesh the waters of common rivers, including Dharla and Dudhkumar (in West Bengal), Manu, Khowai, Gumti Feni and Muhuri (all in Tripura).

"A large number of developmental projects, including river embankments, bridges, market sheds and drinking water sources along the India-Bangladesh border, have remained half-done for a long time after objections raised by the Bangladeshi authorities and BGB, citing the 1975 India-Bangladesh agreement," he said.

India and Bangladesh share 2,979-km land border and 1,116 km riverine boundaries. They also share 54 rivers. The two neighbours, however, have only a treaty on sharing Ganga water, signed in 1996.

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