Dhaka: Dhaka is expected to raise the issue of teesta river water sharing on December 17 when Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina will host a virtual bilateral summit. Both Prime Ministers will hold "comprehensive discussions on the entire spectrum of the bilateral relationship", the ministry of external affairs said in a statement on Monday.
This is going to be the first bilateral summit between both neighbours this year. It was supposed to be held in March but was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
This time, Dhaka is expected to raise strong issues regarding the sharing of Teesta river water, which have been a longstanding contentious issue between India and Bangladesh. Dhaka has been claiming a 50% share of the river's waters for the December-March period.
The Teesta originates from Sikkim and passes through West Bengal before merging with the mighty Brahmaputra in Assam and the Jamuna in Bangladesh.
Prime Minister Modi, during his visit in 2015, had committed that the matter would be resolved soon. There has, however, not been much progress since then.
In September this year, during the last round of joint consultative commission meeting that was held virtually between external affairs minister S Jaishankar and Bangladesh foreign minister AK Abdul Momen, both "reiterated their commitment to the finalisation of the interim agreement for sharing of the waters of the Teesta".
During the meeting, both the sides had discussed the need for early conclusion of Framework of Interim Agreement on sharing of waters of six other joint rivers -- Manu, Muhuri, Khowai, Gumti, Dharla and Dudhkumar.
The bilateral summit comes on the back of China in August offering to lend $1 billion to Bangladesh for the Teesta River Project.
With the increase in Chinese inroads there, India is expected to announce some major economic projects and lines of credit during this summit. In fact, the issue of Rohingya repatriation also going to feature prominently in the talks, which was discussed during the visit of foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla to Dhaka in August.
This year also marks the 49th anniversary of the Bangladesh Liberation War, also known as the Bangladesh War of Independence. December 16 is celebrated as the 'Victory Day' in Bangladesh.
Vikram Doraiswami, High Commissioner of India to Bangladesh, said that the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War "fundamentally proved the idea wrong" that nations can be built only on religions.