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11 Apr 2017

Got power, not water: Hasina - Bangla PM puts on brave face over Teesta

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina speaks during a meeting in New Delhi on Monday. (PTI)
TT, New Delhi, April 10: Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today said she had asked for water and got electricity, putting on a brave face on Teesta water sharing.
"Paani mangaa to electricity mila. Laykin electricity milaa achchha hai, kuchh toh mila naa (We asked for water, she gave us power but at least we got something)," Hasina said, speaking in Hindi.
Reliance Power today signed agreements with Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDP) for phase I of 750 MW LNG power project at Meghnaghat near Dhaka entailing an investment of around $1 billion.
The visiting Prime Minister said ties between the neighbours will undergo "another transformation" with a water pact.
"We strongly believe our common water resources must act as a uniting force. A comprehensive, basin-wide solution with an in-built solution to water sharing of all common rivers holds key to our common future," she said, addressing an event at the India Foundation.
"Once it happens, the phase of Indo-Bangladesh relations will undergo another transformation," she said.
Hasina said she does not know how Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee would react to her submission about the pact. "I don't know what Didi will do. Had a talk with Didi, she put forward something new. But Modiji has given the assurance that he is there to see what happens," she said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that his and Hasina's are the only governments that can see the Teesta pact through.
Mamata has so far stonewalled requests on Teesta water sharing and offered to share waters of other rivers instead.
The failure to get an agreement on Teesta could have significant political implications for Hasina with the Opposition parties there already accusing her of giving away too much to India.
"Some people have said I sold the country. I did not ask any businessman to come with me. Only those came who wanted to come," Hasina said today, before turning to Bangladeshi businessmen and saying: "Now you people tell the country, have I sold the country or am I taking back more than what I came with?"
With national election due in late 2018, the pressure would be not only on her to show some progress on Teesta, but also on the part of India to resolve the issue for its own strategic and security concerns.
The Teesta deal was set to be signed during the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Bangladesh in September 2011, but was postponed at the last minute due to objections by Mamata.

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