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Dr. RAMESH KUMAR


CONTROVERSIAL ISSUE OF TEESTA RIVER WATER SHARING TREATY What is Teesta River? o It is said to be the lifeline of the Indian state of Sikkim, flowing for almost the entire length of the state. o The river then forms the border between Sikkim and West Bengal before joining the Brahmaputra as a tributary in Bangladesh. o The river originates from Tsolamu Lake in North Sikkim.

Teesta river under Sugauli treaty o The Sugauli Treaty was signed on 2 December 1815 and ratified in 1816 between the East India Company and King of Nepal following the Anglo-Nepalese War o The king of Nepal ceded to the East India company --The whole of low lands between the rivers Mechi and Teesta. [means after Sugauli Treaty It was acceded to British India] 1983 ad hoc arrangement o In 1983, an ad-hoc water sharing agreement was reached between India and Bangladesh, whereby both countries were allocated 39% and 36% of the water flow respectively. What the new agreement says o The new bilateral treaty expands upon this agreement by proposing an equal allocation of the Teesta River.

Dr. RAMESH KUMAR


Why west Bengal government opposes the new treaty o West Bengal government refused to approve the treaty, fearing that the loss of higher volume of water to the lower riparian would cause problems in the northern region of state, especially during drier months. Why Centre couldnt sign Teesta water sharing treaty o Water is a state subject in India. West Bengal government strongly opposes the new treaty, so Centre could not sign it. Why Teesta river is more important to Bangladesh o About 21 million Bangladeshi people live in the basin of river Teesta while only 8 million live in West Bengal and half a million live in Sikkim state. o The population ration is 70 for Bangladesh and 30 for India o It supports around 8.5 percent of the total population of Bangladesh. Gozaldoba barrage vs Dalia barrage o The Teesta River barrage at Gozaldoba in India controls the amount of water flow downstream to Bangladesh. o In order to increase the irrigation potential of the northwest region, Bangladesh constructed the Dalia barrage on the Teesta River in Lalmonirhat district to provide irrigation water from the river through a canal network. Why Bangladesh criticizes India o In the dry season, the exclusive control of the river water at Gazoldoba renders the Dalia Barrage almost useless for diversion of water due to low flows o Moreover, sudden release of excessive water through the Gazoldoba Barrage during the rainy season causes floods, bank erosion and damages huge amounts of crops downstream What needs to be done o Steps therefore, need to be been taken to examine the water flow at both Gozaldoba and Dalia points in order to manage high and low season water flows and minimize the economic losses. o As future water demand is expected to increase significantly in both countries, water sharing will play a crucial role in water resources management. o Any unilateral basin transfer of the river water in the future will affect Bangladesh in terms of lower availability of water downstream. This is likely to have an impact not just

Dr. RAMESH KUMAR


on food security but also hamper any future planning of irrigated agriculture in Bangladesh. o In the future, water-related disputes are likely to surface frequently unless steps are taken to prevent such water-related issues. Any form of conflict over water resources will only lead to waste of time and resources further exacerbating socio-economic problems in both the countries. o A bilateral cooperation on water sharing alone is not likely to provide solutions to the existing water problems. India and Bangladesh must undertake appropriate joint initiatives to build reservoirs upstream of the Teesta River in India and within Bangladesh to store the excessive water during the rainy season for utilization during the dry season