Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Sunday criticised West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for her “extremely unfortunate” stand against the Teesta water sharing deal, but expressed optimism on resolving the issue through dialogue.
“It was extremely unfortunate, the chief minister of an Indian state, Mamata Banerjee, raised objection (in signing the deal)...it was very unfortunate. We saw that the central government was sincere in inking the agreement,” Hasina told officials of Water Resources Ministry at the Bangladesh Secretariat.
She, however, added that she was optimistic about the deal, saying “we hope we could solve the problem through discussion”.
This is the first time that Hasina has come down on Mamata, categorically putting the blame on her for the setback in the deal.
Her comments came four days after Water Resource Minister Anisul Islam Mahmud said Bangladesh awaited resolution of the long pending water sharing issue of the Teesta and other common rivers after the Indian election.
The deal was scheduled to be signed during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Bangladesh in 2011, but had to be shelved as Mamata had objected to the proposed quantum of water, saying it would harm her state. She had also scrapped her Dhaka tour accompanying Singh at the time.
The Teesta water is crucial for Bangladesh, especially in the leanest period from December to March when the water flow often temporarily comes down to less than 1,000 cusec from 5,000 cusec every year. But for the first time in history, Bangladesh received only around 500 cusec for three months since January, a water development board official said preferring anonymity.