Thursday, February 29, 2024

Teesta pact didn’t happen, but a lot else did

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New Delhi/Dhaka: The two-day visit of Manmohan Singh to Bangladesh, the first by an Indian prime minister in 12 years, helped resolve a festering boundary row and saw both countries inking pacts on various issues. Teesta accord didn’t happen, but experts here said Thursday that though there may be disappointment, “look at how much has been done”.

External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna and Chief Ministers Tarun Gogoi of Assam, Manik Sarkar of Tripura, Pu Lalthanhawla of Mizoram and Mukul Sangma of Meghalaya too were at Dhaka, a rare move that shows the significance of the Sep 6-7 visit.

Deb Mukharji, a former Indian high commissioner to Bangladesh, told IANS “a number of very positive things have happened” during the trip while Arvind Gupta of the Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses stressed that one should take a long term view as there had been “incremental progress”.

The two countries signed a framework agreement on cooperation for development and a protocol on demarcating their land boundary, a pact to facilitate overland transit to Nepal and on conserving the Royal Bengal Tiger and the Sundarbans.

There were Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) in fisheries, cooperation between Dhaka University and Jawaharlal Nehru University, cooperation between Doordarshan and Bangladesh Television and between the fashion technology institutes of the two countries.

The Teesta water accord did not happen after West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee protested against it, a move that clouded the visit.

Manmohan Singh Wednesday expressed his disappointment at the failure of two countries to sign the Teesta water accord and told officials to “intensify their efforts towards finding a viable formula which does not cause undue distress to all those, in India or in Bangladesh”.

The Teesta, which begins its journey in Sikkim, flows through north Bengal before entering Bangladesh. India and Bangladesh share 54 rivers.

Describing the visit as “effective”, he suggested that the Teesta issue should be sorted out soon and “it should not be made as a one point agenda”.

While noting that India and Bangladesh have made “incremental progress”, Gupta said that such kind of problems can arise in future too.

India and Bangladesh share over a 4,000 km long boundary.

In trade too, there was progress, he added.

The growing trade deficit between India and Bangladesh was addressed during the trip. The gap was $1,998.58 million in fiscal 2006-07 and reached $4,057 million in 2010-11. (IANS)

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