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Resolve Teesta issue bilaterally: Ainun Nishat

Resolve Teesta issue bilaterally: Ainun Nishat

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Eminent water expert Prof Dr Ainun Nishat today stressed the need for resolving the long-pending Teesta water sharing issue bilaterally. 

“It (Teesta) is a river (that flows) between India and Bangladesh. It has to be solved by India and Bangladesh,” he said while speaking virtually at the ‘7th International Water Conference-2022’ that began today.   

Prof Nishat, also the Professor Emeritus of BRAC University, said he had been personally involved in Teesta management and discussion with India for a long time. 

“And that was before India was diverting the flow from Teesta through the Gajoldoba barrage, before India constructed any of the one of runoff-the-rivers and the present condition,” he said.

So, Prof Nishat said, there has been changes recently in historical patterns and “I do not think India has constructed 31 runoff-the-river storages. Possibly this is their proposal.”

About the China’s involvement in Teesta issue, he questioned: “Where does China come as a third partner into the negotiation process? The basin of River Teesta is confined within India and Bangladesh,” he added.

The water expert said the Teesta water problem should be resolved by India and Bangladesh, while China or the USA or Russia or the United Nations or the UNDP can be a third party to help in the negotiation process. 

He mentioned that China is proposed to be a contractor of a particular project – a US$ one billion restoration project in Bangladesh.

“I am confused. I know nothing about the project,” Nishat said, adding that there is an 8-10 page document in internet and there is a simulation in Facebook. 

“It does not tell us any details about what is the project and what will happen,” he said.

Prof Nishat said the drawing he has seen – only drawing, no explanation – the Teesta River which is four to five killometres wide in different places would be reduced to 800 metres to one kilometre and there would be a series of controlled structures to store the water. 

“That will only store the water but that will kill the entire ecosystem of (the Teesta). That will kill the navigation potential,” he added.

The three-day International Water Conference-2022 is being organised by ActionAid Bangladesh under the theme ‘Teesta River Basin: Overcoming the Challenges’. 

This year's conference is being held virtually considering the rise of COVID-19 infections. 

The three-day conference will serve as a major platform for public-private authorities, NGOs, donor agencies, project implementing agencies, civil society, academics, water experts, environmentalists, and grassroots people to come together and discuss about the Teesta River.