Kushiyara River The non-binding agreement covering the Kushiyara River is the first time that a water-sharing arrangement between the two countries had been signed since the 1996 Ganges Water Treaty (GWT). The Kushiyara River forms on the India-Bangladesh border and is a distributary of the Barak River. It is also an important source of water resources for farmers, boatmen and fishermen in both countries. The pact is expected to facilitate water projects in both south Assam (India) and Sylhet (Bangladesh) regions. According to media reports, Bangladesh plans to withdraw water from the Kushiyara to cultivate crops on land in Sylhet.
Teesta River While progress has been made with the Kushiyara River, this is not the case for the more important waterway, the Teesta. The sharing of the Teesta River, a major transboundary river, has long been a contentious issue between India and Bangladesh. The river, a tributary of the Jamuna (Brahmaputra), begins in the Teesta Kangse glacier and flows through the Indian states of Sikkim and West Bengal before entering Bangladesh. Given the rainfall deficit in West Bengal (India) and Rangpur (Bangladesh), there has been growing water demand in both countries. Further complicating matters, both countries have built diversion dams (or barrages) on the river, roughly 100 kilometers part. The Gajaldoba barrage in India irrigates approximately 920,000 hectares in West Bengal while the Teesta barrage in Bangladesh irrigates 750,000 hectares, further putting pressure on the river’s water resources.
At present, there is no binding water-sharing treaty regarding the use and allocation of Teesta River. For years, Bangladesh has sought to secure such an agreement. From 1983 to 1985, an ad hoc water-sharing agreement of the Teesta was in place. Under this agreement, India was allocated 39 percent of the flow volume, while Bangladesh would receive 36 percent. In 2011, it appeared that a water-sharing agreement for the Teesta River during the dry season (December to March) was likely, with plans to sign an agreement in September that year. Under the draft interim agreement, India would have been allocated the right to 42.5 percent of the water resources, giving Bangladesh the remaining 37.5 percent. India, however, pulled out of the deal, apparently due to strong opposition from West Bengal state’s chief minister, Mamata Banerjee, who is still in office.
Feni River Approximately 116 kilometers long, the Feni River begins in Tripura state (India) and flows southwest to the Chittagong Hill tracts in Bangladesh. At the recent JRC meeting, India requested an early signing of an interim water-sharing agreement on the Feni. Both India and Bangladesh finalized the design and location of the water intake point on the river to meet the water-drinking needs of Sabroom town in Tripura. This was agreed in accordance with the India-Bangladesh October 2019 MOU on the subject. Under this MoU, India may take 1.82 cubic feet per second of water from the river until an agreement is signed. Bangladesh, however, has expressed concern that this arrangement could affect its Muhuri-Feni Irrigation Project.