Home Contact Us  

India & the World - Articles

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
#3825, 25 February 2013
Teesta Water Accord: Expectations for Indo-Bangladesh Water Diplomacy
Roomana Hukil
Research Officer, IReS, IPCS
E-mail: roomana@ipcs.org

Recent talks of optimism over the Teesta accord by Indian Foreign Secretary, Ranjan Mathai and Minister of External Affairs, Salman Khurshid have defused a striking political assertion of bringing a cut to the impending decade-long water deal between both countries. With the cross-border exchange of premier visits nearing this year, a greater expectation garners public attention and raises the question of the underlying profound inadequacies. As technical data on the Dalia and Gazaldoba barrages on the Teesta River is presently examined in Kolkata, this article highlights the palpable expectations of both countries in regard to the Teesta water sharing arrangement. It simultaneously draws attention to the propelling shortfalls that surface as major bottlenecks in addressing these concerns given the histological accounts. What do the Indo-Bangla governments anticipate from each other in terms of sanctioning the Teesta river agreement? What are the impelling factors that provide rationale to their core essential position on the issue?

In view of boosting its agricultural production and providing protection to the 21 million people who live along the river basin, Bangladesh expects an equitable 50 percent distribution of the remainder 25 percent portion with India over the Teesta River. Failing to fulfil this proportionate requirement, the recipients along the river basin will be worse affected. More so, the Dalia barrage that was constructed along the Teesta River, in an attempt to revive cultivable land during the dry season, has been adversely impinged upon. This is due to the erroneous construction of the Gazaldoba barrage by the upper riparian state on its part of the Teesta River. Ever since the Dalia barrage project has come to a point of closure, Bangladesh anticipates remedy as against the acute water shortage it faces in the downstream areas during the dry season, primarily the northwest. Amounting to a severe concern as it is amongst the utmost drought prone regions of Bangladesh during the lean season (January-February), the Teesta Barrage Project (TBP) case study suggests that the present flow in the Teesta River is extremely scarce to meet the present irrigation demands, as fluctuations in the river flow affect the provision of water in the TBP area.

Hard Truths
India and Bangladesh share 57 transboundary rivers but only have an agreement for one. Since 1974, Bangladesh has perceived India as having failed to deliver and act upon the promising ‘big brother’ it presupposes in the region. India substantiated the standpoint by violating the clauses of the Ganges Water treaty and supplies excess water during floods and a reduced amount during the dry season, which ultimately triggers draughts. Disagreements over Tipai Mukh dam, Teesta River, and river-linking projects for trade and transit add to the already situated tensions between the two countries.

Post the UPA and All India Trinamool Congress fraction in 2012, a prospect to recover Indo-Bangla relations was sought by putting a wrap to the Teesta accord. The recent Indian parliamentary delegation to Bangladesh asserts the centre’s stance on the issue. On 10 February 2013, Indian Foreign Secretary, Ranjan Mathai pledged conclusive obligation over the Teesta ordeal, “We are unwavering in our commitment to reach a satisfactory conclusion within the shortest possible timeframe”. In addition, optimism was highlighted by the external affairs minister, Salman Khurshid, on sanctioning the deal, "the process was stalled post the prime minister’s visit to Dhaka in September 2011. But this time we are quite keen to sign the Teesta water sharing treaty with Bangladesh at the earliest.”

As is evident, the centre propagates West Bengal’s consensus to instigate national directives. It is exigent to persuade the state government from giving in considering their reports and findings. According to the 2009 Kalyan Rudra report, the state of West Bengal receives less than 40 percent of the available utilisable surface water. More so, the reservoirs only meet 2.44 per cent of the total demand for water (i.e. 5380 X 107 cu.m) in the agricultural sector. West Bengal’s major grief is that the delta which was once described as an area of ‘excess’ water in the colonial document,  now suffers from acute dearth of water during the lean months. From the regional point of view, West Bengal’s uncertainty is justified whether the proposed water sharing ratio will be able to meet the mounting demands of the region. In such a scenario, it is expected that both countries bend to the given situation and recognise that living with low flows in the region is an inevitable aspect.

The Road Ahead
Both Bangladesh and West Bengal recognise that dealing with their regional problems offhand is a significant impetus to allowing the water deal to kick off. West Bengal’s Chief Minister, Mamata Banerjee made it clear at more than one occasion that her concerns hold in the greater interest of t state rather than admitting concern towards strengthening Indo-Bangladeshi ties. “National interests cannot paramount at the stake of West Bengal”, stated the Irrigation and Waterways Minister Rajib Banerjee of West Bengal.

In the wake of fraying Indo-Bangla relations, the signing of the extradition treaty and a liberalised visa agreement does mark an effort towards improving bilateral relations between the two countries. However, at this juncture, it is expedient that Bangladesh continues cooperation till India re-adopts water diplomacy and refrains from acting as the ‘stipulated’ big brother in the region.

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
IPCS Columnists
Af-Pak Diary
D Suba Chandran
Resetting Kabul-Islamabad Relations: Three Key Issues
Can Pakistan Reset its Relations with Afghanistan?
The New Afghanistan: Four Major Challenges for President Ghani
Big Picture
Prof Varun Sahni
Understanding Democracy and Diversity in J&K
When Xi Met Modi: Juxtaposing China and India
Pakistan?s Tactical Nuclear Weapons: The Inevitability of Instability

Dateline Colombo

Asanga Abeyagoonasekera.
Sri Lanka: Moving Towards a Higher Collective Outcome
The Importance of Electing the Best to our Nation's Parliament
Sri Lanka: Toward a Diaspora Re-Engagement Plan
Dateline Islamabad
Salma Malik
Pakistan's Hurt Locker: What Next?
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
India-Pakistan Relations in 2015: Through a Looking Glass
Dhaka Discourse
Prof Delwar Hossain
IPCS Forecast: Bangladesh in 2015
18th SAARC Summit: A Perspective from Bangladesh
Bangladesh in Global Forums: Diplomacy vs. Domestic Politics
Eagle Eye
Prof Chintamani Mahapatra
India-US: Significance of the Second Modi-Obama Meet
Has President Obama Turned Lame Duck?
Modi-Obama Summit: Criticism for Criticism?s Sake?

East Asia Compass
Dr Sandip Mishra
India-Japan-US Trilateral: India?s Policy for the Indo-Pacific
China-South Korea Ties: Implications for the US Pivot to Asia
Many ?Pivots to Asia?: What Does It Mean For Regional Stability?
Himalayan Frontier
Pramod Jaiswal
Nepal?s New Constitution: Instrument towards Peace or Catalyst to Conflict?
IPCS Forecast: Nepal in 2015
Constitution-making: Will Nepal Miss its Second Deadline?

Prof Shankari Sundararaman
IPCS Forecast: Southeast Asia in 2015
Indonesia's Pacific Identity: What Jakarta Must Do in West Papua
Modi in Myanmar: From ?Look East? to ?Act East?
Sushant Sareen
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
Islamic State: Prospects in Pakistan
Pakistan: The Futility of Internationalising Kashmir

Looking East
Wasbir Hussain
Myanmar in New Delhi's Naga Riddle
China: ?Peaceful? Display of Military Might
Naga Peace Accord: Need to Reserve Euphoria
Maritime Matters
Vijay Sakhuja
Indian Ocean: Modi on a Maritime Pilgrimage
Indian Ocean: Exploring Maritime Domain Awareness
IPCS Forecast: The Indian Ocean in 2015

Nuke Street
Amb Sheelkant Sharma
US-Russia and Global Nuclear Security: Under a Frosty Spell?
India's Nuclear Capable Cruise Missile: The Nirbhay Test
India-Australia Nuclear Agreement: Bespeaking of a New Age
Red Affairs
Bibhu Prasad
Countering Left Wing Extremism: Failures within Successes
Return of the Native: CPI-Maoist in Kerala
The Rising Civilian Costs of the State-Vs-Extremists Conflict

Regional Economy
Amita Batra
India and the APEC
IPCS Forecast: South Asian Regional Integration
South Asia: Rupee Regionalisation and Intra-regional Trade Enhancement
South Asian Dialectic
PR Chari
Resuming the Indo-Pak Dialogue: Evolving a New Focus
Defence Management in India: An Agenda for Parrikar
Pakistani Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan: Implications for Asian Security

Spotlight West Asia
Amb Ranjit Gupta
Prime Minister Modi Finally Begins His Interaction with West Asia*
A Potential Indian Role in West Asia?
US-GCC Summit: More Hype than Substance
Strategic Space
Manpreet Sethi
India-Russia Nuclear Vision Statement: See that it Delivers
Global Nuclear Disarmament: The Humanitarian Consequences Route
Nasr: Dangers of Pakistan's Short Range Ballistic Missile

The Strategist
Vice Admiral Vijay Shankar
Jihadi Aggression and Nuclear Deterrence
The Blight of Ambiguity
Falun Gong: The Fear Within

OTHER REGULAR contributors
Gurmeet Kanwal
Harun ur Rashid
N Manoharan
Wasbir Hussain
Rana Banerji
N Manoharan

Ruhee Neog
Teshu Singh
Aparupa Bhattacherjee
Roomana Hukil
Aparupa Bhattacherjee


Browse by Publications

Issue Briefs 
Special Reports 
Research Papers 
Seminar Reports 
Conference Reports 

Browse by Region/Countries

East Asia 
South Asia 
Southeast Asia 
US & South Asia 

Browse by Issues

India & the world  
Naxalite Violence 
Suicide Terrorism 
Peace & Conflict Database 
Article by same Author
Pakistan: Why are Christians Being Persecuted?

Muslims in Sri Lanka: Four Reasons for their Marginalisation

Sri Lanka, Myanmar and the Buddhist Radical Groups: New Alignments?

China’s Cartographic Aggression

Modi’s Thimpu Visit: Deepening India-Bhutan Relations

Malaysia, Thailand, and the Trafficking of the Rohingyas

China-Vietnam: The Oil Rig Non-diplomacy

India-China: A Water War over the Brahmaputra?

India-Bangladesh Relations: Significance of the Teesta Water-Sharing Agreement

TAPI Pipeline: Expected by 2017?

South Asia’s 2013: A Time for Elections

India & Bangladesh: A Breakthrough in Water Relations?

Indian News Media: Does it have an Impact on Policy-Making?

Contemporary Nepal: Elections, Constitution-Making and Internal Politics

Addressing the Heat Wave over Brahmaputra River

South Asia: Anti-Trafficking, Flesh Trade and Human Rights

Bhutan Elections 2013

Myanmar: Unveiling ‘The Face of Buddhist Terror’

Cauvery and the Monsoon Surge

India, China and the Brahmaputra River: Beyond the Flood Data Agreement

India, China and the Brahmaputra: Understanding the Hydro-politics

Brahmaputra River Valley Authority: India and China Redefining their 'Global Commons’

India, China & the Brahmaputra: Riparian Rivalry

Review: India, Pakistan - Propelling Indus Water ‘Terrorism’ (IWT)

India, China, and Bangladesh: The Contentious Politics of the Brahmaputra River

Y! MyWeb
Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
Year 2018
 January  February
 2017  2016  2015  2014  2013  2012  2011  2010
 2009  2008  2007  2006  2005  2004  2003  2002
 2001  2000  1999  1998  1997

The Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS) is the premier South Asian think tank which conducts independent research on and provides an in depth analysis of conventional and non-conventional issues related to national and South Asian security including nuclear issues, disarmament, non-proliferation, weapons of mass destruction, the war on terrorism, counter terrorism , strategies security sector reforms, and armed conflict and peace processes in the region.

For those in South Asia and elsewhere, the IPCS website provides a comprehensive analysis of the happenings within India with a special focus on Jammu and Kashmir and Naxalite Violence. Our research promotes greater understanding of India's foreign policy especially India-China relations, India's relations with SAARC countries and South East Asia.

Through close interaction with leading strategic thinkers, former members of the Indian Administrative Service, the Foreign Service and the three wings of the Armed Forces - the Indian Army, Indian Navy, and Indian Air Force, - the academic community as well as the media, the IPCS has contributed considerably to the strategic discourse in India.

Subscribe to Newswire | Site Map
18, Link Road, Jungpura Extension, New Delhi 110014, INDIA.

Tel: 91-11-4100-1902    Email: officemail@ipcs.org

© Copyright 2018, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies.