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PM says resolving row over River Teesta with Bangladesh will take time

Onboard Air India One, Sun, 13 Nov 2011 ANI

Onboard Air India One, Nov.13 (ANI): The long-standing dispute with Bangladesh over water rights of River Teesta will take time since various parameters are being considered in the proper perspective.


Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said this while speaking to mediapersons aboard the aircraft while returning to New Delhi from Male in Maldives on Saturday after attending the SAARC Summit in the island country of Indian Ocean.


He was responding to posers on the reaction of Chief Minister of West Bengal state whose party incidentally is a coalition partner vis-?-vis the proposed pact on River Teesta with Bangladesh.


Singh said recently he had discussions with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, on the simmering issue.


Singh's comments come barely months after his highly anticipated two-day state visit to Dhaka, the first by an Indian Prime Minister to Bangladesh in 12 years, during which the two nations inked key deals to boost bilateral relations.


Part of India's newly adopted 'Look East' policy, Singh's visit was widely viewed as a demonstration of the willingness of the Asian powerhouse to have closer understanding and cooperation with its neighbour and remove decades of mistrust.


During Singh's visit, the two neighbouring countries discussed ways to refresh water-sharing agreement on the River Teesta, which is the fourth major cross-border source of water between India and Bangladesh after the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna.


As per a bilateral agreement of water sharing signed in 1983, around 36 percent of water from the River Teesta goes to Bangladesh while 39 percent comes to India.


Now, both countries want to modify the sharing rules, and experts believe that Bangladesh could demand 55 percent of water.


In the backdrop of these developments, the Indian Prime Minister said finding a lasting solution to the River Teesta row is still a distant dream.


"Well, it is too early. We have had some preliminary discussions (with Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee), but I think we are still, I think, some distance away from saying that we have a broad national consensus," said Manmohan Singh.


New Delhi's relations with its eastern neighbour have warmed significantly, owing to the strong clampdown on separatist insurgents in India's strife-ridden northeastern region by the Bangladesh government led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.


Reciprocating the gesture, India has approved a 750 million dollar loan for Bangladesh to develop trade infrastructure ahead of Singh's visit. The sum is part of a one billion dollar credit line India proposed for its eastern neighbour to develop ports and related infrastructure earlier.


India helped its eastern neighbour secede from Pakistan in a bloody 1971 war, but relations were frequently fractious after that. (ANI)


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