Bangladesh will get water of the Teesta River no matter what, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said on Tuesday.
“Bangladesh is situated downstream of the Teesta. So no one can stop the water from flowing down here,” she said during a press conference in Ganabhaban.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is also strongly optimistic about resolving the Teesta issue within the tenure of the incumbent Indian and Bangladesh governments, she added.
The prime minister held the conference to brief the media about the outcome of her four-day state visit to India.
In response to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s proposal to share water from other transboundary rivers instead of Teesta, the prime minister said she had given another alternative proposal to the chief minister.
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Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina answers reporters’ questions about the outcomes of her state visit to India in a press briefing at Ganabhaban on Tuesday BSS
“I asked her to redirect the water of other [transboundary] rivers to the Teesta on their side and then release the water to us,” the prime minister told reporters.
She said India would have to release Teesta water to Bangladesh as they would have no other option during the monsoon.
“We have to take initiatives to reserve Teesta water so we can use it during dry season.”
Referring to BNP’s dissatisfaction that the Teesta deal was not signed during her visit, Hasina asked why BNP kept mum when India built the Gazaldoba barrage on Teesta River when they were in power.
“Moreover, the then government decided to build another barrage in Bangladesh. Now we are suffering the consequences of those decisions,” she said.
Teesta issue aside, the state visit was overall successful and the relationship between Bangladesh and India gained new momentum, the prime minister told reporters.
She said she had not expected to be greeted by her Indian counterpart at the airport.
“I had no idea that Prime Minister Modi would come to receive me,” she said. “I was so surprised!”
Bangladesh signed 11 deals and 25 memorandums of understanding (MoUs) with India during the prime minister’s visit. One of the MoU is on defence cooperation between the two countries.
Asked about that MoU, the prime minister assured that it was not a binding agreement.
“The MoU does not make us obligated to purchase arms [from India]. We are getting $500 million from India at 1% interest for 20 years as per the MoU. That is all there is to it,” she said.
“We have signed defence MoUs with China, Belarus, Russia, Turkey, France, Kuwait … more deals will be signed with Bahrain, Canada, Malaysia, the Philippines ... We purchase military hardware from several countries when necessary. So, I do not understand why there are so many questions about this MoU,” she added.
She said there was nothing to hide regarding the deals signed with India.
All deals signed with foreign countries are approved by the Cabinet first, she added.
The prime minister said there was nothing to be frustrated or worried about the deals made with India.
She said she did not do politics for personal interests. “I serve the country and am working for its development. I will not allow anything that might hurt our country’s interests.”
Hasina further said Bangladesh must maintain cordial relationship with the neighbouring countries.
“Friendship with all, malice to no one – this was the policy adopted by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. It is also the guiding factor of our foreign policy,” she told reporters.
The prime minister said the
two countries had signed 13 agreements and MoUs worth around $9 billion on cooperation between various public and private organisations.
She said she had also accepted Mamata Banerjee’s proposal of importing 500MW electricity from West Bengal.
The prime minister also said that she had invited Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for another state visit to Bangladesh next year.