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Teesta water sharing deal no more a pressing issue: Bangladesh official

Teesta water sharing deal no more a pressing issue: Bangladesh official
A fisherman casts a net in the waters of a fish farm during a sudden downpour along a sea shore on the outskirts of Kochi, India, September 16, 2015. REUTERS/Sivaram V

New Delhi : Once a very emotive issue in Bangladesh, the non-signing of Teesta river water sharing agreement with India appears to be no more “immediately harmful” that needs to resolved tomorrow, a top Bangladeshi official said on Monday. “Teesta in a sense is like a mosquito bite, you feel that a mosquito is there, but it cannot take away too much of your blood… In Bangladesh, the cultivation season has changed. Teesta (deal) was designed to provide supplementary irrigation,” the top official said on the condition of anonymity.

Asked whether the Teesta water sharing issue was no longer a priority for Bangladesh, he said, “I would not say it is not a priority. We decided to not get entangled in the internal political equations within the Indian federation. And since I said that barrage was made for supplementary irrigation but now we need water at some other time, it is not immediately harmful that need to resolved tomorrow.”

The official said, “In other words, it (Teesta deal) has become more of a symbol than having a strong substance in it.” The Teesta deal was set to be signed during the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Bangladesh in September, 2011 but was postponed at the last minute due to objections by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who had also dropped out of the prime ministerial delegation.

The Teesta river is said to be the lifeline of Sikkim, flowing for almost the entire length of the state. The river then forms the border between Sikkim and West Bengal before joining the Brahmaputra as a tributary in Bangladesh.