New Delhi: Political Mismanagement (Part Two)
Indian Prime Minister Mr. Manmohan Singh has just returned from Dacca this evening. He has received the shocking news of the terrorist attack at the Pass Section of Delhi High Court when he was addressing the dignitaries of Bangladesh at the University of Dacca. His outburst of anguish came out directly from the bereaved heart. He let the world know how resolute and united the people of India are in the face of continued cowardice blows by the terrorist elements of the subcontinent. Delhi has been the site of the terrorist attacks since 1998, and since then, number of blasts has increased with passage of time. It seems as if no part of Delhi has been spared so far, be it Paharganj, be it India Gate, be it Connaught Place and even the premises of the Delhi High Court. It is, of course, unbelievable how the terrorists have hit the Indian Parliament a few years back. Security personnel of Delhi have nicely managed the law and order situation of Delhi during the 2011 August movement of Anna Hazare over a period of thirteen days. Of course, that is a different story. This article is neither to go deep into Anna’s crusade against corruptions and nor to discuss the threat of terrorism in India. I like to submit a few lines below on the proposed Teesta water sharing between India and Bangladesh and on the usually known mark of mismanagement in this case too by the government of India.
The Teesta is an important river of the northern part of Paschimbanga (formerly called West Bengal). This is an old river which has its source at the Lake Tso Lhamo located in north Sikkim. It is reported that two glaciers which play the parental role for this river have already lost much of their strength. The Teesta passes through the districts of Darjeeling and Jalpaiguri of Paschimbanga before it finally drains into the river Brahmaputra in Bangladesh.
India and Bangladesh have a plan to sign the Teesta water sharing agreement during the just-concluded Dacca visit of the Indian Prime Minister. It is learned that the draft of the agreement contains the sharing of the Teesta river water between India and Bangladesh in a ratio of 48:52. The proposed agreement could not be signed as Miss(Chief Minister of Paschimbanga) has vehemently opposed it at the last hour. It was decided days back that Chief Minister of Paschimbanga will visit Dacca with Mr. Manmohan Singh in the same flight and grace the occasion of the Teesta water sharing agreement.
Miss Mamata Banerjee has refused to visit Bangladesh on this occasion as it has appeared to her that the proposed agreement would leave long-term damaging affect over six of the districts of Paschimbanga. It is learned from the media that she has given her consent for the sharing of the said water between India and Bangladesh in the ratio of 77:23, and even in the ratio of 33:67. It is said that the primary draft has been framed on this basis. She has withdrawn on the later days, a couple of days before the scheduled visit, when she has come to know that ratio of the sharing has been changed in favor of Bangladesh in such a way that interest of her state (that is, Paschimbanga) would be hampered greatly.
The development is really an embarrassing one for New Delhi. New Delhi is known for its poor score in organizing international relations. The recent hiccup should raise some pertinent questions. Experts in river works have raised such questions.
There exists a story of the Teesta Barrage project which was commissioned in 1976. Its purpose was to irrigate an area of more than 9, 00,000 hectares and to generate hydro-electric power. It is sad that the project could not be completed even after thirty six years. It is really sad that only 60,000 hectares are now covered. Why did the officials working over the Teesta water sharing agreement set aside the issue of the Teesta Barrage project? What will be the destiny of the Teesta Barrage project if the said agreement is signed?
It appears that less attention was paid to the study on the course of the river Teesta. It has not been properly assessed what amount of water this tiny river carries in different seasons of the year. The river carries nearly 70,000 cusecs water in the month of July which is the maximum, because support of rain water is available during this period. Then, there is the question of lean season. Irrigation is important during the lean season, but during this tenure this river carries water worth 4,000 cusecs to the maximum.
Moreover, there are proposals of building up of 23 dams on the same river in Sikkim. This is to mean that the Teesta will lose capacity of carrying enough water in near future. What will be the plight of the people living in the six northern districts of Paschimbanga in the changed situation?
One more issue is necessary to consider. The Teesta is not the only river which enters into Bangladesh from India. Everyone knows that there are numbers of Indian rivers which have their final mission in the soil of Bangladesh. The best example is the great Brahmaputra. Besides the above factors, one should bear in mind that Bangladesh has been blessed with huge water bodies. It is beyond anybody’s imagination that there is scarcity of water in Bangladesh. The question should be raised on the motive of the proposed water sharing agreement. If this is an inner political consideration for Bangladesh, it is the task of the political managers of this nation to take reasonable and rational stand. We are getting irritated at the nature of mismanagement displayed time and again by the political authority of India, we should humbly state.