Dhaka, Monday, October 23, 2017

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Common Indians have no reservation in Teesta agreement

DHAKA, June 19, 2017 (BSS) - State Minister for water resources Lt Col (retd) Muhammad Nazrul Islam today said millions of common people of India have no reservation in signing of Teesta river water sharing agreement with Bangladesh and as per media reports they believed Bangladesh are not getting its right.

"People of India don't have any reservation in Teesta agreement. You might have seen in media that there are lots of conscious people in India who believe in rights of other human beings..... I believe there are millions of them voicing their opinion saying that Bangladesh is not getting their right in water sharing issues," he said while speaking at a programme in the capital.

The state minister said Teesta issue, however small and big, it must be resolved in a most justified way. "It has become an issue that we feel very ignored .... We feel our right is not reserved," he added.

He expressed his anticipation that the ongoing dispute between Bangladesh and India regarding signing of Teesta river water sharing agreement soon. "As two Prime Ministers of India Monmohon Singh (former) and Narendra Modi (incumbent) have uttered words of assurance standing in the soil of Bangladesh that the problem will be solved," he said.

The state minister said Bangladesh will never undermine its claim. "We fought for other international issues at international arena earlier and got successful. I am sure the Teesta issue will find its own course because the two governments (Bangladesh and India) are sincere on it," he said.

Noting that 57 trans-boundary rivers, 54 from India and 3 from Myanmar are flowing inside Bangladesh, the minister said "We call upon our neighbours in the upstream to respect the rights of the lower riparian countries so we can prosper together."

The state minister was inaugurating a 5-year project tilted "Trans- Boundary Rivers for Our Sustainable Advancement (TROSA)" launched by Oxfam in Bangladesh.

The Oxfam international partnering with International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN), World Wide Fund for Conservation of Nature (WWF), Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) and International Rivers will implement the project with financial support of Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) in India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Myanmar. The Bangladesh component of the project will be implemented in the Brahmaputra and Meghna basins.

The goal of the project is reduced poverty and marginalization of vulnerable river basin communities through increased access to and control over riverine water resources, on which their livelihood depends.

The TROSA project is aiming to strengthen the capacity of river basin communities and civil society to have their voice heard in trans-boundary water resource management. By bringing together academic research with local knowledge, the project will build on evidence which will influence the trans- boundary water resource governance.

Swedish Ambassador to Bangladesh Johan Frisell, Country Representative, IUCN Bangladesh Ishitaq Uddin Ahmad, Member of National Commission for the Protection of the River Sharmeen Murshid, Advisor to South Asian Network for Development and Environmental Economics (SANDEE) Professor Dr A K Enamul Haque, and Project Coordinator of Water Governance of Oxfam in Bangladesh Enamul Mazid Khan Siddique also spoke on the occasion.

Swedish envoy said improving access and control of the river resources to the marginalized communities is the focus of TROSA project, which is in line with the development strategy of the Government of Sweden.

'Trans-boundary water governance is linked with geopolitics, economies and livelihoods, cultures and heritage. To make it 'just' and 'win-win', the upper and lower riparian countries need to follow certain principles, like causing no harm to anyone, preserving ecosystem integrity and rights of the communities, said Ishitaq Uddin Ahmad.

Sharmeen Murshid emphasized on developing a 'People's River Master Plan' and called different actors to come together to set a 'minimum common position' to share the rivers in this region.