Millennium Post

Smaller rivers could be tapped for agreement with Bangladesh, says Mamata

Virtually ruling out a water sharing deal over the Teesta, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday said India and Bangladesh will study the possibility of tapping into other rivers for a water sharing deal with the neighbour.

"We have cooperated with Bangladesh on the Land Boundary Agreement, and since we have surplus power in West Bengal and since our neighbour needs power, we can give power to Bangladesh. There is some problem on Teesta. There are rivers like Torsa, Dharla, Mansai that can be tapped. The governments of India and Bangladesh will study it and take a decision," Banerjee told the media here on her arrival from New Delhi.

Banerjee, the Trinamool Congress supremo, was invited for talks with Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in New Delhi during the latter's four-day visit to India from April 7 and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during which the Teesta water sharing was discussed, but no headway made.

Banerjee's comments come as Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday said in Dhaka that nobody can stop the water flow towards Bangladesh.

"We are in the downstream and thus water will come down. No one will be able to stop the flow of water," she said in response to a query over Teesta water sharing, according to the Daily Star newspaper.

Bangladesh Civil Aviation and Tourism Minister Rashed Khan Menon has blamed the West Bengal Chief Minister for "spoiling Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's India visit".

Referring to Mamata's no change of stand on Teesta water sharing, Menon said Teesta has no alternative to save desertification in the northern region of the country.

"Tears cannot make a river, likewise, Torsa river cannot replace Teesta," Menon, who is also the president of Workers' Party, told the the Daily Star in Dhaka.

"Teesta is an international river. Its water is our right. It is not up to anyone's pity to give us the water. It is our right," he asserted.

"Mamata has besmirched the Prime Minister's otherwise successful tour to India," the Bangladesh Minister said.

Modi has assured Hasina of an "early solution" to the Teesta waters sharing issue.

In September 2011, Banerjee had caused embarrassment to the then government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh by pulling out of his delegation to Bangladesh at the last moment over the proposed water sharing agreement, forcing India to drop it from the agenda.

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