Wednesday, 5 October, 2022

India agrees to hold JRC meet ahead of Hasina’s Delhi visit

The secretary-level talks likely to be held in New Delhi Aug 23-25

NEW DELHI: India has agreed to host the much-awaited meeting of the Bangladesh-India Joint Rivers Commission (JRC) in the last week of August ahead of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's visit to New Delhi in early September.

India has proposed holding the secretary-level talks of the JRC in New Delhi on August 23-25.

Depending on the outcome of the meeting between water resources secretaries of the two countries, the 38th minister-level JRC meet is likely to be held in near future. The 37th meeting at the minister level was held in December 2010.

After the ministers’ talks, the framework agreement on Teesta water sharing for 15 years was finalised at a secretary-level meeting in January 2011. But till today no final agreement was signed for sharing the river water as West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee vetoed the agreement.

Dhaka has recently requested New Delhi officially to hold the JRC meeting prior to the visit of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. It is not clear whether the Teesta water-sharing deal will be finalised this time though Mamata is in Delhi and meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Whenever Modi meets her Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina, he reiterates India's sincere commitment and continued efforts in this regard.

In the upcoming JRC meeting, both sides may discuss the completion of framework of interim agreement sharing the water of six joint rivers namely Manu, Muhuri, Khowai, Gumti, Dharla and Dudhkumar.

Dhaka has already requested India to inform its border authorities to allow excavation work on the remaining portion of Rahimpur Khal for utilisation of Kushiyara River water for irrigation purpose.

India has also made it an issue to provide early concurrence on the proposed memorandum of understanding to be signed between the two countries on monitoring withdrawal of water from the Kushiyara by both sides, pending signing of the agreement regarding the sharing of water of the river.

At a meeting of Joint Consultative Commission held in New Delhi in June, Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said, “We share 54 rivers. Comprehensive management of rivers and their conservation as well as the shared environment responsibility that we have especially the Sundarbans. These are really areas that we need to work together as part of our commitments to climate action."

The upcoming JRC meeting might focus on these areas as told by informed sources.