[Water Diplomacy] Teesta River Agreement between India & Bangladesh: Why Controversy?

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As such an old topic but came in news against because Mamata’s election rallies in India & Protests in Bangladesh.

Geography of Teesta River

  • Teesta originates from Kangse Glacier, Charamu Lake in Sikkim, most of its catchment area lies in India.
  • It enters Bangladesh, joins Brahmaputra, and ends in Bay of Bengal.
  • After Brahmapurta, Ganges and Meghna; Teesta is the 4th largest river in Bangladesh.

Sequence of events:

  • W.Bengal government began constructing a barrage and catchment area on Teesta.
  • Bangladesh opposed, because their “rice bowl” Rangpur region depends on Teesta.
  • To pacify them, India began negotiation.
  • 1983: India- Bangladesh concluded and ad-hoc agreement on Teesta
Who gets how much?
Water share from Teesta
India 39%
Bangladesh 36%
Unallocated 25%

But problem unsolved, because Bangladesh wanted equal sharing.

  • 1984: Joint-river commission appointed to collect hydrological data & suggest a rational method for water sharing.
  • Commission recommended increasing Bangladesh’s share, on logic that W.Bengal’s barrage is very close to Bangladesh border (~90 km). Some water will penetrate underground and benefit both countries anyways.
New formula proposed
Water share from Teesta
India 42.5%
Bangladesh 37.5%
Unallocated 20% for the river (otherwise nothing will reach to Bay of Bengal!)


Bangladesh Teesta Watersharing & Terrorism

Bangladesh: Teesta Watersharing to Terrorism

  • Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD) calls Pakistani poliitcal establishment to stop Indians from constructing dams on rivers flowing to Pakistan, raise the matter in UN, asked civil society(!) to support this cause. And even suggested that Kashmiri Mujahideen should be given a “Free hand” to destroy Bhakra dam!
  • In other words, Hafiz Saeed is using “economy/farmers’ plight” as a new propaganda tool to promote terrorism. (May be because Paki youth is also hooked up on facebook & whatsapp, hard to get new recruits by preaching religious extremism!)

Sep. 2011

  • Mohan plans to visit Bangladesh, sign accords for Teesta and Land border disputes.
  • He invited five state CM that share border with Bangladesh, to join him in this visit.
  • But on eleventh hour, W.Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee dropped from this visit to protest against Teesta sharing agreement.

W.Bengal CM Mamatha’s position:

  • This treaty will dry out Northern region of W.Bengal & hurt Indian farmers.
  • 1998: Bangladesh’s largest irrigation project “Teesta Barrage” began. With help of this water, Bangladeshi farmers already have three cropping seasons per year.
  • So, they don’t deserve any more water.
  • At that time, Trinmool Congress was the single largest coalition partner in UPA, therefore Mohan had to drop the Teesta accord. He could only sign Land boundary agreement with Bangladesh.

^Ok this is upto 2011. why is the topic in news in 2014?

March 2014

BIMSTEC summit held at Nay Pyi Taw in Myanmar. Mohan assured Haseena about early conclusion of Teesta accord.

April 2014
On Indian side On Bangladeshi side
  • Mamatha tells voters to “teach a lesson” to Congies.
  • Because otherwise next Congi PM will sign Teesta accord = Northern parts of W.Bengal will become dry, water shortage for drinking and irrigation.
  • Terrorist Parties like Jamaat-e-Islami & their supporters like Khalida Zia have started Dharna pradarshan in Dhaka’s Jantar Mantar.
  • Their claim “India has reduced releasing water from Teesta but Hasina’s “Secular” Bangladesh Awami League party is doing nothing to get fair share from Teesta. Bangladeshi paddy farmers are suffering!” (Recall the same propaganda by Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD) in Pakistan in 2010.

May 2014

  • Bangladesh PM Hasina says “India’s central government (Mohan) was sincere, but Mamata raised objections hence the deal could not be signed.”

September 2014

  • Hasina will visit India. Irrespective of whether Teesta accord is signed or not- topic will keep re-appearing in THEHINDU and hence will remain important for UPSC Mains-2014 & Interview 2014.

Mock Question

Q.Early conclusion of Teesta accord is in the strategic interest of India. Elaborate. (200 words)

Teesta river Bangladesh Map Handrawn

  • Teesta originates from Sikkim & joins Bramhaputra in Bangladesh. It is an important irrigation source for paddy farmers on both sides.
  • In the 80s, India & Bangladesh signed ad-hoc agreement to share 39% & 36% of Teesta water respectively.
  • Later, Joint river water commission was setup to collect hydrological data & suggest a rational method for water sharing.
  • 2011: New formula proposed- India & Bangladesh to get 42.5% and 37.5% respectively.
  • But due to opposition from West Bengal state government, and its CM being the single largest coalition partner in UPA, this deal could not materialize during PM Manmohan Singh’s official visit to Bangladesh in 2011.
  • 2014: Bangladeshi Extremist outfits like Jamaat-e-Islami have tied with Opposition leader Khalida Zia. They began large scale protests & political mobilization against current PM Sheikh Hasina, for her failure to carry out Teesta accord, hurting Paddy farmers & “selling” their country to India.
  • In past, Jamaat-ud-Dawa & Hafiz Saeed have used similar propaganda tactics to promote hatred among Pakistanis against Indian dams.
  • PM Hasina is an important ally of India. She has adopted zero tolerance policy against Anti-Indian terror outfits. Only under her regime, HuJI terror leaders were arrested, ULFA was banned & its chief Paresh Barua was awarded death penalty.
  • Without such liberal-secular regimes in neighboring countries, India cannot become terror-free.
  • Therefore India needs to take proactive steps for early conclusion of Teesta agreement, to show itself as a good neighbor and prevent resurgence of extremist parties in neighborhood.

~265 words. (counting a, an, &, the etc.)
Visit Mrunal.org/Diplomacy for entire list articles on Diplomacy & International relations (IR) for Mains GS2 paper of UPSC Civil service IAS/IPS Exam.

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90 Comments on “[Water Diplomacy] Teesta River Agreement between India & Bangladesh: Why Controversy?”

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  6. hey mrunal, if u need any help, plz tell me

  7. please anybody tell me why they are writing this article foe which exam for ias?

    1. @Dhajan, as such these articles are meant for UPSC’s IAS exam. But they’ll benefit you in preparing current affairs for other competitive exams as well- especially at interview level.

  8. or for bank exam

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  18. wonderful post , sir!!!!!!!! we are very oblique to u and ur team , sir!!!!!!!!

  19. Excellent work sir.. Thanks a lot..

  20. River Teesta originates from Cholamu Lake in Sikkim (it is mentioned Charamu Lake in the article. There are many names to this lake, but Charamu dosn’t deem to be one. Refer: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tso_Lhamo_Lake)
    Incidentally, Cholamu lake is also the highest lake in India.

  21. mrunal bhai, i hope you still remember me. you are doing a fantastic job. i am deeply indebted to you.
    i am a ’12 batch Assistant Commandant.
    i wish you all the luck.

  22. sir whistle blower protection act pe article,kab post karenge??

  23. Sir, Thanks a lot for wonderful insights. There is one small correction. In the timeline of Teesta River Water, it should be 2013 instead of 2014 in two of the main headings.
    Thank you again for all your efforts!

    1. I got it.. no correction! Sorry :)

  24. Sir, I think our country is not on the top in peacekeeping force troops. Kindly tell me the exact rank of our country in it.
    Thank you

  25. Great Work Sir….I am a regular reader of your posts..Thanks for sharing such informations….

  26. Thanks mrunal for your guidance.

  27. Can anyone tell, what is the maximum number of constituencies from which a single candidate can contest general election ? For instance, honourable Mr. MOdi contested from 2 consties.. kindly discuss.

      1. Ias ki date 24th August hi ha na??????

  28. As I go through your articles I’m reminded of Einstein’s quote- “if you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough “. The comprehensiveness and clarity with which you present the topics go a long way for many of us, helping in our preparation. Although it is to supplement and not to substitute our own efforts, it goes without saying that yours is absolutely invaluable and deeply appreciated.

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