India and Bangladesh signed a water-sharing agreement and six other pacts, including ones on space technology and scientific collaboration, aimed at boosting ties between the two countries.
The decision was taken while Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was on four-day visit to India.
The two nations agreed to share the waters of the Kushiyara, a common river, in the first such arrangement between the countries since 1996. The agreement will benefit southern parts of Assam state in India and the Sylhet region in Bangladesh.
But a much-anticipated agreement on another river remained at an impasse. For decades, Bangladesh has pushed for a pact on water sharing for the Teesta River, a major transboundary river that begins in India’s Sikkim state and runs through the north of West Bengal state before flowing into Bangladesh.
In 2011, India agreed to share water during the dry season, between December and March, but the deal was never finalized due to strong opposition from West Bengal state’s chief minister, Mamata Banerjee. The unresolved issue has long irritated Bangladesh, where many have been critical of Modi for not making progress on the agreement.
They also announced the completion of the first unit of the Maitree Thermal Power Plant, a joint project that will enhance Bangladesh’s power generation capacities. Since its inception in 2010, the project has faced local and global opposition.
In 2016, UNESCO said it poses a threat to the world’s largest mangrove forests, in the Sundarbans national park, which are less than 15 kilometers (10 miles) away.
The Kushiyara River is a distributary river in Bangladesh and Assam, India. It forms on the India-Bangladesh border as a branch of the Barak River, when the Barak separates into the Kushiyara and Surma. The waters that eventually form the Kushiyara originate in the uplands of the state of Assam and pick up tributaries from Nagaland and Manipur.
Meghna River is formed inside Bangladesh in Kishoreganj District above the town of Bhairab Bazar by the joining of the Surma and the Kushiyara, both of which originate in the hilly regions of eastern India as the Barak River.