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Bangladesh satisfied with Mukherjee's take on river linking policies

May 8, 2012 - Dhaka

Former Bangladesh Foreign Secretary Shamsher M. Chowdhury has said the recent statement issued by India's Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee during his visit to Dhaka on the bilateral water disputes, is encouraging.

"We are encouraged by a couple of things Pranab Mukherjee told publicly and to the leader of opposition during their meeting in the afternoon. The flow or course of international rivers that the two countries share would not be altered under any circumstances," Chowdhury told ANI.

"He gave a clarification of the river-linking project in India that raised a lot of concerns in Bangladesh (he said) that this confines to rivers that originate inside India and end inside India. They are not Transboundary Rivers or international rivers so according to what he told us this will not affect the flow of or linking up of any of the international rivers, 54 rivers that we have with India," said Chowdhury.

The two countries recently decided to re work the water sharing agreement on the River Teesta, which is the fourth biggest cross border source of water between India and Bangladesh after the Ganga and the Brahmaputra.

As per a bilateral agreement of water sharing signed in 1983, 36 percent of water from the river goes to Bangladesh while 39 percent is retained by India. Now, both countries want to modify the sharing rules, and experts believe that Bangladesh could demand 55 percent of water for itself and allow India to claim the remaining 45 percent.

Chawdhury also welcomed a relaxation on duty on almost exports from Bangladesh by Indian authorities.

"They (the Indian government) have relaxed duty on almost all exports from Bangladesh except 25 negative list which is arms and trucks etc. so I think that should have a positive impact in our exports to India," said Chowdhury.

Meanwhile, he accused Border Security Force (BSF) personnel of killing Bangladeshi citizens and stressed on bringing an end to such atrocities.

"Begum Khaleda Zia very strongly raised the question of killing in the border areas by BSF of Bangladeshi citizens. Pranab Mukherjee gave assurance that instructions have been given to reduce them but our call, the people of Bangladesh want to see an end to these killings," he said.

"If you are a good neighbour then you do not kill a good neighbour. If they (Bangladeshi citizens) have violated law, arrest them, prosecute them then take action according to law either deport them or put them in jail or whatever but you cannot kill people, unarmed young girls, dead body hanging from a barbed wire fence, torturing a cattle trader by the BSF. Images have come on the screen, people react to that very strongly, people feel frightened," he added.


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