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SOURCE: PTI

India and Bangladesh today signed an interim water sharing agreement for Kushiyara river, the first such pact since the signing of the Ganga water treaty in 1996. Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina noted that India and Bangladesh share 54 rivers and sought early conclusion of the Teesta water sharing agreement, which has been hanging fire for more than a decade due to opposition from West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

India and Bangladesh signed a memorandum of understanding on sharing of waters of Kushiyara river, a pact that will benefit people residing in southern Assam and the Sylhet division of Bangladesh.

“Today, we have signed an important agreement on sharing water of the Kushiyara river. This will benefit southern Assam in India and Sylhet region in Bangladesh,” PM Modi told reporters after the talks with Prime Minister Hasina.

He said there were 54 rivers that pass through the Indo-Bangladesh border, and have been linked to the livelihood of the people of the two countries for centuries.

“These rivers, folk tales about them, folk songs, have also been witness to our shared cultural heritage,” PM Modi said.

Prime Minister Hasina shared the sentiments expressed by PM Modi and also stressed on the need to have water-sharing agreements for other rivers as well.

“I recall that the two countries have resolved many issues in the spirit of friendship and cooperation. We hope that all outstanding issues, including Teesta water sharing agreement, will be concluded as an early date,” Prime Minister Hasina said at a joint media interaction at the Hyderabad House in Delhi.

“There are 54 rivers. As long as Prime Minister Modi is here, India and Bangladesh will resolve all these issues,” she said.

PM Modi also said he and Sheikh Hasina had a fruitful conversation on enhancing cooperation in relation to flood mitigation.

“India has been sharing flood-related data with Bangladesh on a real-time basis and we have also extended the period of data sharing,” PM Modi said.

Earlier, Prime Minister Hasina was accorded a ceremonial reception at the forecourt of the Rashtrapati Bhawan where PM Modi extended a warm welcome to her.

She said the two nations were also working to develop stronger economic ties to fulfill the basic needs of the people of the two countries.

“Our main aim is to develop the economy and fulfill the basic needs of our people. With friendship you can solve any problem. So we always do that,” Sheikh Hasina said.

After the bilateral talks, PM Modi hosted a one-on-one lunch for the visiting dignitary at the Hyderabad House in Delhi. India and Bangladesh had signed the Ganga water treaty in 1996 for sharing waters of the mighty river for a period of 30 years. The treaty was signed by the then Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda and Sheikh Hasina.