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Mainstream, VOL LV No 19 New Delhi April 29, 2017

Response to Barun Das Gupta’s Article on Teesta River’s Water-sharing

Sunday 30 April 2017, by Bharat Dogra

COMMUNICATION

Barun Das Gupta deserves our thanks and appreciation for his very thoughtful article, titled “Indo-Bangla Teesta River Treaty: A Human Problem” published in Mainstream dated April 14-20 2017. He has very rightly pointed out that the interests of the farmers and villagers of Bangladesh and India should get equal attention in resolving the dispute.

He is also absolutely right in emphasising that the issue needs to be resolved within a wider framework of improving and streng-thening the friendship of India and Bangladesh and the need as well as the desirability of India to be supportive towards the Sheikh Hasina-led government in Bangladesh. He has also quoted Pannalal Das Gupta, an eminent revolutionary, on this issue. The large-heartedness which is at the core of this quote should really be the basis of improving our relations with Bangladesh.

In addition I would like to emphasise the importance of first and foremost giving adequate attention to protecting any river the sharing of whose water is being contested and planned. When politically significant or controversial sharing of the water of any river is being discussed, there is a danger that while trying to work something acceptable to both sides, the most crucial issue of long-term protection of the river or river system may be neglected. In all such discussions ecological issues and longer-term changes should get adequate attention.

The Farakka barrage issue, raised briefly by Barun Das Gupta, should be impartially assessed for actual impacts and suitable action should be taken on the basis of such an unbiased study and understanding. It is not a question of the Indian view or the Bangladeshi view but rather a question of what really has been the impact of such a project on the Ganga river system and the people living close to this system.

New Delhi Bharat Dogra