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Bangladesh daily hails Mamata's assurances on Teesta, land deals

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  24 Feb 2015 12:00 AM GMT

Dhaka, February 23: Terming West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s three-day trip to Dhaka, which concluded on Saturday, as “heart-warming”, an editorial in Bangladesh’s Daily Star newspaper on Monday said the Bangladeshis believed in Banerjee’s assurances for the Teesta water sharing and land boundary deals.

“In practical terms, as the chief minister of the most important neighbouring Indian state to Bangladesh, she (Banerjee) has had a say on two vital issues for us — the Teesta water sharing (deal) and the land boundary agreement (LBA),” the editorial said. “She has held out assurances that these issues will be resolved in the foreseeable future... We take her (Banerjee) for her words and believe that Bangladesh’s interest in an equitable sharing of the Teesta waters will be duly protected,” it added.

Banerjee, who had blocked the Teesta water sharing deal between India and Bangladesh four years ago, assured Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasi Saturday of a solution to the issue.

In September 2011, Banerjee had embarrassed then Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh by pulling out of his 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 also told Hasi that the bill for implementing the LBA between the two countries was likely to be through in the new session of the Rajya Sabha (upper house of the Indian parliament) this month end. 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 LBA, she 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 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. “The West Bengal chief minister’s proposal to form a joint business council for quick resolution of disputes in bilateral trade and investment merits consideration,” the editorial noted.

“In view of the Bangladesh business community’s pointers to tarrif, non-tarrif and para-tarrif hurdles to increasing exports to India, the idea of a coorditing body between the private sectors sounds good.” The editorial described Banerjee’s visit as “eventful, reassuring and heart-warming” and noted that “it proved extensive in terms of grounds covered — diplomatic, business, cross-border terrorism, dimensions to the relations”. It also hailed the efforts undertaken for cultural exchanges between the Bengalis on either side of the border. (IANS)

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