India-Bangladesh relations “will take a huge hit” if India cannot deliver on the Teesta agreement, says Dipu Moni, foreign minister of Bangladesh. In an exclusive conversation with Times of India, Moni, who is in India for the first joint consultative committee meeting with foreign minister SM Krishna said, “on Teesta there is a huge expectation in Bangladesh. I think if India cannot deliver on that expectation, our relations will take a huge hit. I’m not sure our relationship can afford it. I believe people’s representatives understand this. They will do what is right.
“In Bangladesh too there are people and groups who do not wish to see South Asia come together or our relations flourish. We should not arm them by withholding Teesta.”
Coming a day after US secretary of state Hillary Clinton talked about water being a potential source of conflict in this region, it’s a sign of growing pressure on the Indian government to get moving on Teesta.
According to sources, the central government has been working hard to get West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee to get off the bench on this agreement. Since this is now linked to Mamata’s own wishlist from the Centre, there is expectation in the government that a political deal could be worked out after the current parliament session which ends on May 22. In his joint press interaction, Krishna said, “We are trying to develop a political consensus in India. It is important that the views of all those who are dependent on the waters are taken into account and the burden is shared fairly and equitably. Meanwhile, there is no change in the ground situation. The waters are flowing, and in the last technical level meeting held in Kolkata in February this year, both sides exchanged data at Dalia in Bangladesh and Gazaldoba in India.”
However, Dipu Moni expressed satisfaction at the trajectory of the bilateral relationship. “Lot of things are moving ahead. From our point of view, our trade has nearly trebled in the last three ears. We’re very happy. We will see more investments from India.”