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Sheikh Hasina's India Visit: A Look At Discussions, Key MoUs Signed With PM Modi On Day 2

Bangladesh's PM Shiekh Hasina and India's PM Modi negotiated the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) and signed water-sharing MoUs.

Sheikh Hasina

IMAGE: AP


As the Prime Minister of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina, made a 4-day visit to the neighbouring ally India, the two countries signed a series of Memorandum of understanding (MoU) to bolster cooperation across various sectors including defence, economy, trade and water sharing.

Bangladesh's Prime Minister Hasina and India's Prime Minister Modi negotiated the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), agreed to strengthen trade cooperation and boost Bangladeshi exports to the Asian market. Prime Minister Modi announced his plans to further accelerate the economic growth and trade ties with Bangladesh, saying "we will start discussions Bilateral Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement with Bangladesh," India’s largest trade partner in Asia.

While the Teesta pact was stalled due to the differences between the two neighbouring nations on water sharing of the river with the same name, India's Ministry of Jal Shakti and the Ministry of Water Resources, Bangladesh managed to sign an MoU for the interim water sharing for the Kushiyara river.

MoUs signed between India and Bangladesh 'on spirit of friendship and cooperation'

Both India and Bangladesh share about 54 rivers and the pact on Kushyari water sharing is the first ever reached since the two sides signed the Ganga water treaty in 1996. The Teesta water sharing agreement has been hanging with no conclusive outcome for more than a decade due to opposition from West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who stands in the way of implementation of a mutual deal.

The 414 km long river lies 150 km in Sikkim, 123 km in West Bengal and 140 km in Bangladesh. While Bangladesh PM affirmed that both New Delhi and Dhaka have managed to find a peaceful resolution to the longstanding pending water issues with the bilateral cooperation of PM Modi, defiant West Bengal Chief Minister has refused to shift her posture to find a common ground with Dhaka on water sharing of Teesta. 

"I recall that the two countries have resolved many issues in the spirit of friendship and cooperation. We hope that all outstanding issues, including Teesta water sharing agreement, will be concluded as an early date," Hasina said at a joint press conference at Hyderabad House. 

Bangladesh and India struck a preliminary pact in 1983 agreeing to share an estimated 39 per cent of water flowing to the Indian side and close to 36 per cent flowing into Bangladesh's stream of the river body. Another interim arrangement was signed in 2011 that permitted India to use 42.5 per cent water and Bangladesh 37.5 per cent from the Teesta for over 15 years. The West Bengal CM Banerjee, who was a part of former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s delegation to Dhaka, snubbed the deal.

The water hiatus, though, concluded Tuesday as water-sharing MoUs were signed by upper riparian and lower riparian states that will bring relief to the southern Assamese population in India and the people of the Sylhet division of Bangladesh.

The Ministry of Railways of the Government of India and the Ministry of Railways of the Government of Bangladesh also signed the MoU for the training of Bangladesh Railway personnel in India. The two neighbouring nations agreed to collaborate on the IT systems such as FOIS and other IT applications for Bangladesh Railway. India's National Judicial Academy and the Supreme court of Bangladesh signed the MoU on Training and Capacity Building Programme for Bangladesh Judicial Officers here in New Delhi.

The two countries also agreed to strengthen cooperation in space technology, as well as ramp up the scientific and technological cooperation between the Council for Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) of India and Bangladesh's Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (BCSIR). India's Prasar Bharti and Bangladesh Television (BTV) agreed to cooperate on broadcasting. 

New projects inaugurated by PM Hasina and PM Modi

India on Tuesday unveiled the project to construct Unit I of the Maitree power plant, a 1320 (660x2) MW supercritical coal-fired thermal power plant which will be operational in Rampal, Khulna, Bangladesh. The project will be implemented as Indian Development Assistance and is estimated to cost USD 2 billion with USD 1.6 billion to the government of Bangladesh, It will be funded under the Concessional Financing Scheme (CFS). New Delhi inaugurated 5.13 km long Rupsha rail bridge.

The passage stretches 64.7 km from Khulna-Mongla Port and is a single-track broad gauge rail project. For the first time, the bridge will connect the Mongla Port with Khulna by rail, and thereafter to Central and North Bangladesh and also with the Indian border at Petrapole and Gede in West Bengal. 

The GoI agreed to supply an estimated 25 packages of road construction equipment and machinery to Bangladesh's Road and Highways Department. It also agreed to upgrade the Khulna Darshana railway line's broad gauge infrastructure that links Gede-Darshana to Khulna, thereby augmenting the rail connections between the two countries.

The USD 312.48 million or Rs 31.24 crore project will eventually link the rail route to the Sea Port of Mongla in Khulna Division, Bangladesh. In order to enhance bilateral rail connectivity, the GoI agreed on the extension of the Parbatipur Kaunia railway line to link Birol in Bangladesh with Radhikapur in West Bengal under the estimated USD 120.41 million or Rs 12 crore project. 

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