BNP standing committee, the highest policymaking body of the party, has voiced deep concern over the reported move by the West Bengal government of India to dig two more canals under the Teesta Barrage Project to unilaterally withdraw more water from the common river.
“The (standing committee) meeting felt that the plan to dig two more canals without signing an agreement on the distribution of Teesta River water with Bangladesh is an attempt to deprive Bangladesh (of its fair share of water from the common river),” said a BNP press release on Tuesday.
BNP issued the press release, signed by its secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, on the outcome of a meeting of the party’s standing committee’s virtual meeting held on Monday.
The BNP policymakers bemoaned that the people of Bangladesh are being deprived of their fair share of water from the Teesta River because of the current Awami League government’s ‘knee-jerk’ foreign policy and its failure to take any effective initiative for signing water sharing agreement.
They urged the government to take immediate steps to resolve the Teesta River water-sharing problem with India.
According to a report by Indian news outlet The Telegraph, the Mamata Banerjee government in West Bengal on Friday took possession of about 1,000 acres of land to dig two more canals under the Teesta Barrage Project to channelise water for irrigation.
As per the plan of the West Bengal government, a 32km-long canal to draw water from the Teesta and the Jaldhaka will be dug till Changrabandha of Cooch Behar district while another 15-km long canal will be built on the left bank of the Teesta to benefit around one lakh farmers.
The Teesta Barrage project was launched by India in 1975 with a plan to irrigate 9.22 lakh hectares of agricultural land in north Bengal by channelising water from the Teesta River through canals on either bank of the river.
Environment and water experts in Bangladesh say this project has been badly affecting agriculture, ecosystem, and the life of the people of the country’s northern region as the part of the Teesta River that flows through Bangladesh dries up during the dry season due to India’s withdrawal of water from the river.
Bangladesh has long been waiting for signing the Teesta water-sharing deal with India to resolve the water crisis during the dry season scarcity in the northern parts of the country, but West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee has been opposing it.