Kolkata: Just hours before Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina lands in New Delhi for the crucial bilateral meet, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has thrown a spanner over the Teesta water-sharing issue. While addressing an administrative meeting in Bankura district on Wednesday, Mamata claimed that there was not enough water in the Teesta river.
“What can I do if there is no water? Water levels are drying up. Teesta doesn’t have water.
Mahananda too has dried up. This is the scenario in April, then imagine what will happen during peak summer before the monsoon arrives sometime in July. So these three months, there will be water woes in drought-prone regions,” Banerjee said while referring to water crisis in large parts of the state during peak summer.
This is not the first time that the Bengal CM has raised apprehensions about the condition of the Teesta river, one that has dictated her stance over the water sharing agreement with Bangladesh. Soon after coming to power, Banerjee had appointed an expert committee to study the status of the river.
Meanwhile, what may come as respite for the Centre, the West Bengal Chief Minister will be travelling to New Delhi to take part in deliberations with the neighbouring nation. Earlier Mamata had accused the Narendra Modi government of not consulting the state government on the issue.
In 2011, Banerjee had pulled out of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Dhaka over the Teesta deal, thereby scuttling the historic agreement at the very last minute. Mamata maintains that she wants friendly relations with Bangladesh but not at the cost of depriving her own people.
The Teesta river is the most important water source for entire the north Bengal. Originating from the Teesta Kangse, a glacial lake in Sikkim located at an altitude of 7,068 metres, the river flows into Bengal via Sikkim and later enters Bangladesh.
But the river has borne the brunt of several hydro-power projects leading to a reduction in its flow that now affects a large agricultural population dependent on it, both in India and Bangladesh.