Saturday, July 13, 2024

Centre did not consult Bengal before signing water treaty, alleges TMC


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KOLKATA, June 23: The ruling Trinamool Congress in West Bengal on Sunday criticised the Centre for not consulting the state before taking the decision to start negotiations with Bangladesh for the renewal of the 1996 Ganga Water Sharing Treaty.
The criticism by the TMC comes a day after talks were held between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina on a range of issues including the treaty.
TMC’s Parliamentary Party Leader in Rajya Sabha, Derek O’Brien, said the state is a party to the treaty, but was not consulted.
Farakka-Ganga treaty is being renewed without consulting West Bengal, he said.
“The state is a party to the treaty. Even our dues for the previous treaty have not been cleared,” O’Brien told reporters here.
“Dredging of the Ganga has been stopped. It is the primary reason for floods and erosion. This is a plan to sell off Bengal,” he alleged.
Prime Minister Modi on Saturday announced India and Bangladesh will begin technical-level talks for the renewal of the 1996 Ganga water treaty, and an Indian technical team will visit Bangladesh soon for the conservation and management of the Teesta river.
An India-Bangladesh Shared Vision document, released after Modi and Hasina held delegation-level talks during the latter’s visit to New Delhi, said both sides welcome the formation of a Joint Technical Committee to initiate discussions for the renewal of the Ganges Water Sharing Treaty of 1996.
The Ganges Water Treaty, signed by India and Bangladesh in 1996, is a 30-year treaty due to expire in 2026, and may be renewed by mutual consent.
Under the treaty, the upper riparian India and lower riparian Bangladesh agreed to share the water of this transboundary river at Farakka, a dam on Bhagirathi river around 10 kms from Bangladesh border.
Several concerns have been raised over the treaty by states like West Bengal and Bihar, who have blamed the Farakka barrage for erosion, siltation, and floods.
In February 2022, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had written to Prime Minister Modi expressing concern over the continuous erosion along the Ganga in Malda, Murshidabad and Nadia districts.
In her letter, Banerjee said erosion has caused loss of thousands of square kilometres of land, and sought reconsideration of the Centre’s decision in 2017 to withdraw the extended jurisdiction of Farakka Barrage Project Authority (FBPA) for protection of the river bank from further erosion.
Bihar has blamed the Farakka barrage for increased siltation on several occasions.
In 2016, at a meeting chaired by PM Modi, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had demanded removal of Farakka barrage on river Ganga saying it has more disadvantages than benefits. (PTI)


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