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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Sunday, January 21, 2018

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Mamata assures Bangladesh PM on Teesta deal breakthrough

West Bengal chief minister raised the Teesta issue

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PM Hasina and CM Mamata Photo Courtesy: IndianExpress news

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who had blocked a Teesta water sharing deal between India and Bangladesh four years ago, reassured Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Saturday of a breakthrough on the issue.

The West Bengal chief minister raised the Teesta issue during her meeting with Hasina Saturday, said the prime minister's spokesperson Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury, according to a bdnews24.com report.

"Mamata Banerjee has assured our prime minister to work out a solution that protects the interests of both West Bengal and Bangladesh," Chowdhury said.

The Teesta water sharing pact had been put on hold after Banerjee's strong opposition over fears that the treaty could spell disaster for the northern part of her state.

In September 2011, Banerjee had embarrassed then Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh by pulling out of the prime minister-led delegation to Bangladesh over the water sharing agreement, forcing India to drop it from the agenda.

Though a solution to this vexed issue depends on the central governments of the two countries, the role of the chief minister of a border state like West Bengal is believed to be crucial.

Banerjee asked Bangladeshis Friday to repose faith in her to deliver a settlement on the Teesta issue.

"Bangladesh has a problem, we also have problems, but I will discuss this with Hasinadi (elder sister Hasina) and work out a solution," Mamata said Friday.

Banerjee has said that the relations of the two Bengals (Bangladesh and West Bengal) are as "deep and durable" as the perennial rivers Ganga and Jamuna.

The West Bengal chief minister also told Hasina that the bill for implementing the land boundary agreement between the two countries was likely to go through in the next session of the Rajya Sabha (upper house) of the Indian parliament starting end- February.

Banerjee had stoutly opposed both the deals since 2011 arguing that they went against the interests of West Bengal. However, with changing political realities in India, her stance on both these issues has changed considerably.

On the land boundary agreement, Banerjee had emphasised on a rehabilitation package for the enclave dwellers and noted that she was very positive about the issue being settled this time around.

Once the land boundary agreement (LBA) is passed, India will cede 111 enclaves totally measuring 17,160 acres to Bangladesh and receive 51 enclaves covering 7,110 acres. More than 51,000 people reside in these enclaves.

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