Image Source : NARENDRA MODI (X) PM Modi with his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina in New Delhi.

Dhaka: Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina described her recent visit to India as “very fruitful” on Tuesday and asserted that the outcome of her talks with the Indian leadership, including PM Narendra Modi, will play a “pivotal role” in bolstering the India-Bangladesh bilateral ties and open up new areas of cooperation. Hasina arrived in New Delhi on June 21 (Friday) for a two-day state visit.

Hasina, who is the first foreign leader to visit India after the new government was formed, was accorded a ceremonial welcome at the Rashtrapati Bhavan on Saturday after she was personally greeted by PM Modi. She held a tete-a-tete meeting with Modi and oversaw the signing of several agreements and vision documents in the presence of the Indian PM and External Affairs S Jaishankar after delegation-level talks. She also met President Droupadi Murmu and Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar.

Addressing a press conference at her residence here, the 76-year-old leader said Bangladesh will accept the “most beneficial” proposal over implementing the Teesta River project. Hasina also said the visit opened new avenues of cooperation for the socio-economic development of the people of both countries, as reported by the Dhaka Tribune.

“The visit was short but very fruitful. I think this visit will play a very pivotal role in strengthening the existing excellent relations between India and Bangladesh,” she said. India and Bangladesh signed 10 agreements to boost ties in several key sectors, including in the maritime sphere and blue economy.


What did PM Modi and Hasina discuss?

PM Modi and Hasina announced an e-medical visa facility for Bangladeshis coming to India for medical treatment, as well as a new Assistant High Commission in Rangpur. Both leaders also signed multiple Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) on digital partnership, green partnership, blue economy, health and medicine and railway connectivity.

Both sides have also decided to initiate technical-level talks on the renewal of the 1996 Ganga Water Treaty and India will send a delegation to Bangladesh soon for talks on the conservation and management of the Teesta River. Hasina also invited PM Modi to visit Bangladesh soon. “We discussed ways and means of mutual cooperation and engagement between the two countries. We have agreed to cooperate wholeheartedly for the welfare of our two countries and people,” she said.

“During the visit, the main topic of discussion with the Indian leadership was to formulate a vision on how the two newly-elected governments can take the cooperative relationship further,” she added. “We discussed defining the future course of action to ensure the establishment of ‘Smart Bangladesh’ and ‘Viksit Bharat 2047’.”

Hasina was full of praise for her Indian counterpart Modi, saying he underscored that bilateral relations were constantly and rapidly progressing. Both leaders additionally discussed politics and security, peaceful and secure border management and border casualty reduction, trade and connectivity, among other things, she said.

Talks on Teesta water sharing

Responding to a question about the management of Teesta River water, Hasina said that Bangladesh would accept the most beneficial proposal for the country and its people, as per local reports. “We have taken Teesta projects. China and India have given separate proposals to implement the project. We must accept the proposal which will be more beneficial for the people of our country,” she said.

The Bangladeshi PM focused her aim on the welfare of her people through the 1996 Ganga Water Sharing Treaty, adding that China has completed a physical survey while India wanted to do another survey for the implementation of the Teesta project. She said it would be easier for Bangladesh if India conducted the long-awaited project despite lingering issues.

The decision by India to send a technical team to hold talks on the conservation of the Teesta River within Bangladesh assumes significance as China is keenly eyeing the estimated $1 billion project notwithstanding reservations by New Delhi. The Ganges Water Treaty, signed by India and Bangladesh in 1996, is a 30-year treaty due to expire in 2026 and may be renewed by mutual consent.

West Bengal and Bihar have long objected to the treaty, saying that the Farakka barrage was the primary reason for erosion, siltation and floods in the states. WB Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had written to PM Modi in 2022 expressing concern over he continuous erosion along the Ganga in Malda, Murshidabad and Nadia districts.

(with inputs from PTI)

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