False Claim by West Bengal Government Sparks Controversy

The West Bengal government has alleged that it was not consulted regarding the internal review of the India-Bangladesh Treaty of 1996 on sharing the Ganga/Ganges waters at Farakka, despite evidence suggesting otherwise.

| Updated: 24 June, 2024 10:18 pm IST

NEW DELHI: The West Bengal government has alleged that it was not consulted regarding the internal review of the India-Bangladesh Treaty of 1996 on sharing the Ganga/Ganges waters at Farakka, despite evidence suggesting otherwise.

According to sources, on July 24, 2023, the Government of India formally requested the nominee of the West Bengal government to participate in the Committee tasked with conducting an internal review of the treaty. Subsequently, on August 25, 2023, the West Bengal government nominated the Chief Engineer (Design & Research) from the Irrigation & Waterways Directorate to represent them on the Committee.

However, tensions escalated when on April 5, 2024, the Joint Secretary (Works) of the Irrigation & Waterways Department of the West Bengal government conveyed their comprehensive demand for water allocation over the next 30 years from the downstream stretch of the Farakka Barrage. This communication raised concerns about potential discrepancies in the understanding and coordination between the central and state governments regarding the treaty review process.

The dispute over consultation highlights broader issues of communication and cooperation between the central and state authorities on crucial matters of water resource management and interstate treaties.

The Trinamool Congress (TMC) in West Bengal criticized the central government on Sunday for not consulting the state before initiating negotiations with Bangladesh to renew the 1996 Ganga Water Sharing Treaty. The criticism from TMC follows discussions between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, where various issues, including the treaty, were addressed.

 

Derek O’Brien, TMC’s Parliamentary Party Leader in the Rajya Sabha, asserted that West Bengal, as a key party to the treaty, was excluded from the decision-making process regarding its renewal. He pointed out that past dues owed to the state from the previous treaty have also not been settled. O’Brien further alleged that halting the dredging of the Ganga has exacerbated floods and erosion issues, describing the move as detrimental to Bengal’s interests.

 

Prime Minister Modi recently announced the commencement of technical-level talks with Bangladesh to renew the treaty, alongside plans for an Indian technical team to visit Bangladesh for the conservation and management of the Teesta River. A Shared Vision document released after Modi and Hasina’s talks expressed mutual agreement to establish a Joint Technical Committee for discussions on the treaty’s renewal.

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