BSS
  22 Jun 2024, 21:44
Update : 23 Jun 2024, 12:35

Indian technical team to visit Dhaka soon to talk conservation of Teesta river: Modi

 NEW DELHI, Jun 22, 2024 (BSS/PTI) - Sending a technical team by India to Bangladesh soon for a mega project to conserve and manage Teesta river, moving ahead to start negotiations on a comprehensive trade pact and boosting defence ties were among major outcomes of talks between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina on Saturday.

 The decision to send an Indian technical team to hold talks on the conservation of the Teesta river within Bangladesh assumes significance as China was keenly eyeing the estimated USD one billion project notwithstanding reservations by New Delhi.

Sheikh Hasina is expected to travel to China next month.

 In reflection of growing intensity in their ties, India and Bangladesh also firmed up a "futuristic vision" to further facilitate transformative cooperation in their engagement.

 Separately, the two sides signed 10 agreements providing for bolstering ties in a range of critical areas such as digital domain, maritime sphere, blue economy, railways, space, green technology, health and medicine.

 A major focus of the talks between the two prime ministers was to explore ways to shore up India-Bangladesh cooperation in digital and energy connectivity even as both sides resolved to work towards peaceful management of borders between the two countries.
 
Sheikh Hasina arrived here on Friday, becoming the first foreign leader to make a bilateral incoming visit to India after Modi became prime minister for the third straight term.
 
 In his remarks to the media after the talks, Modi said both sides agreed to start negotiations on a comprehensive economic partnership agreement (CEPA).

 "To take our economic relations to new heights, both sides have agreed to start negotiations on CEPA (Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement)," he said.

 Modi said an Indian technical team will soon visit Dhaka for talks on the conservation and management of Teesta river.

"Fifty-four shared rivers connect India and Bangladesh. We have been cooperating on flood management, early warning, drinking water projects. We have decided to start negotiations at the technical level for the renewal of the 1996 Ganga Water Treaty," he said.

"On the conservation and management of the Teesta river in Bangladesh, a technical team will soon visit Bangladesh for talks," he said.

 At a media briefing, Indian Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra said the management of shared water resources is a crucial and sensitive matter. "Naturally, given our close and friendly ties with Bangladesh, cross-boundary river issues -- and Teesta is one of them -- become important," he said.

"It's less about water-sharing per se, it's more about the management of the water flows within Teesta river," he added.

 In his remarks, Modi described people-to-people contacts as the foundation of ties between the two nations and said India will launch an e-medical visa facility for people from Bangladesh coming to India for medical treatment.

 India has also decided to open a new assistant high commission in Rangpur.

 "Today, we have prepared a futuristic vision for cooperation in new areas. The youth of both countries will benefit from the consensus reached on cooperation in many areas such as green partnership, digital partnership, blue economy and space," Modi said.

 "We have kept in our focus -- connectivity, commerce and collaboration. In the last ten years, we have restored the connectivity that existed before 1965. Now we will emphasise more on digital and energy connectivity," he said.

 Both sides also firmed up a joint document titled the "India-Bangladesh shared vision for the future: Enhanced connectivity, commerce and collaboration for shared prosperity" to expand ties and to align India's "Viksit Bharat 2047' goal with "Smart Bangladesh 2041" vision.

 In the talks, Modi and Hasina also resolved to strengthen bilateral defence cooperation including in areas of defence production and modernisation of Bangladeshi armed forces and agreed to enhance engagement on countering terrorism and radicalisation.

 "We had extensive discussions on further strengthening defence cooperation, from defence production to modernisation of armed forces," Modi said.

 "We have decided to strengthen our engagement on counter-terrorism, de-radicalisation and peaceful management of borders." "We share a common vision for the Indian Ocean region. We welcome Bangladesh's decision to join the Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative," he said.

 The issue of Rohingya as well as the situation in Myanmar and boosting regional cooperation under the framework of BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) grouping also figured in the talks.

 In his remarks, Modi said Bangladesh is India's largest development partner and New Delhi attaches highest priority to its relations with that country. "Bangladesh is situated at the confluence of our Neighbourhood First policy, Act East policy, Vision SAGAR and Indo-Pacific vision." India has been cooperating with the countries of the Indian Ocean region under the broader policy framework of SAGAR or Security and Growth for all in the Region.

 Following the Modi-Hasina talks, the two sides announced a slew of new measures to boost connectivity and trade.

 It was announced that a passenger train between Kolkata and Rajshahi will commence service soon. A goods train on Bangladesh Railways from Gede-Darshana to Haldibari-Chilahati cross-border interchange point will also begin a trial run next month.

A new bus service between Kolkata and Chittagong will also be rolled out. India will provide a grant for building an inland container depot at Sirajganj in Bangladesh.

 In his media statement, Modi also listed various initiatives rolled out in the last one year to expand ties.

"In the last one year, together we have completed many important projects for public welfare. The sixth cross-border rail link between India and Bangladesh between Akhaura-Agartala has become operational," he said.

 "The cargo facility for the north-eastern states of India has been started through Khulna-Mongla Port. Mongla Port has been connected by rail for the first time. Both units of the 1320 MW Maitree thermal power plant have started generating electricity," he noted.

 Modi said trade in Indian Rupees has commenced between the two countries. "The world's longest river cruise on the Ganga River between India and Bangladesh has been successfully completed. The first cross-border friendship pipeline between India and Bangladesh has been completed," he said.

 "Export of electricity from Nepal to Bangladesh, through the Indian grid, has become the first example of sub-regional cooperation in the energy sector," he said.

 The Indian prime minister said the implementation of such major initiatives in so many areas, in a single year, reflects the "speed and scale of our relations."

In the media briefing, Kwatra said the Rohingya issue was discussed.

 "This is an issue that India and Bangladesh have discussed periodically at different levels of interaction... Humanitarian assistance to Rohingyas is something which we have offered in the past. We continue to work with Bangladesh closely on it," he said.

 "There are several aspects of the Rohingyas' challenge that Bangladesh faces. Some of it also impinges on us. So those challenges also get discussed," he said.
 
 

 

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