Though 57 rivers flow into Bangladesh from neighbouring India and Myanmar, the Ganges is the one over which Bangladesh has a water-sharing treaty.
The 30-year treaty will end in 2026.
Despite negotiating with India regarding a water-sharing treaty for the river Teesta, no such deal has been made yet, with the government emphasizing water diplomacy in order to ensure a fair share for the country.
Foreign Secretary M Shahidul Haque, speaking at a recent event said: “Our generation has lost their capability with water. We will be in dire need of it in 5-10 years as we will be renegotiating the Ganges deal and working on the Teesta deal. Water is extremely important.”
When asked about water diplomacy, water resource management expert Professor Ainun Nishat said: “There is a great need for increasing water capability. However, this will not have any effect on the negotiations between India and Bangladesh.
“Many of my protégés have done research on climate change, but if policymakers do not take their findings into account, their work goes in vain,” he also said.
“Of the six countries that comprise the Mekong River Commission, the main four are Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam. They increased their capability together and now those they trained are doing negotiations on rates,” Prof Nishat explained.
The professor explained: “Harvard University provides a course on water diplomacy, but no Indian diplomat has taken it yet.”
However, former Bangladesh ambassador to China, Munshi Faiz Ahmad, expressed a slightly different opinion: “The strong always call the shots. This is an inherent part of diplomacy.
“If a country has the strength, they can snatch it. Because of that, they have to wait patiently for their neighbor to understand their needs and help them. Many countries in the world have water sharing treaties which we can use for reference, but it will not work unless we improve our relations,” the former diplomat said.
This article was first published on banglatribune.com