Signed! India and Bangladesh in Memorandums on Water, Gas

  • The two Prime Ministers inaugurated a project for LPG export.
  • Bangladesh has also made an important decision on the touchy issue of water.
  • The joint statement did not mention the controversial national citizenship, or the NRC in India.

On the third day of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to Delhi Sunday, Hasina inaugurated a drinking water project which will be supplied to Sabruma town in Tripura from Feni river water. However, the issues that many have been pressing in Bangladesh— such as India’s greater support for the Teesta river water sharing or Rohingya repatriation— have not seen signs of significant progress.

Bangladesh and India are South Asian neighbors. Relations have been friendly, although sometimes there are border disputes. In December 1971, India intervened in the Bangladesh Liberation War, on behalf of East Pakistan, and helped secure its independence from Pakistan as the country of Bangladesh.

The joint statement of the two countries did not even mention the context of the controversial national citizenship, or the NRC in India. For the past several years, any Indo-Bangladesh meeting at the top level has been at the center of curiosity, such as the Teesta agreement or the Rohingya withdrawal. At the meeting of Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Hasina in Delhi on Saturday, there was no dramatic turn in all those issues. Bangladesh has agreed, however to export Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) to the northeast of India.

The two Prime Ministers also inaugurated a project for LPG export. In this project, the LPG will be brought from Bangladesh to the Bulgat Bottling Plant in Tripura and then the liquid gas will be supplied to various places in northeast India. It will provide LPG cylinders at a very low transportation cost and in a very short time.

Bangladesh’s Ministry of Power, Energy, and Minerals said in a statement that Bangladesh is not exporting any natural gas. In a joint venture with the government of India, a joint venture company of Bangladesh will export LPG from Bangladesh to Tripura, India, the statement said. According to the government, the two countries have agreed that LPG will be exported to India to meet the demand of the country.

Bangladesh has also made an important decision on the touchy issue of water. They have agreed to supply 1.12 cusecs of water from the Feni river to provide drinking water in the Sabroom city of Tripura. The two leaders have also instructed the Joint River Commission to prepare a structure for sharing water for seven common rivers, including Feni— though Teesta is one of the seven. Officials in both countries, however, say the structure could lay the foundation for a possible Teesta deal in the coming days.

Prime Minister Modi said, “I got the opportunity to inaugurate three more bilateral projects with Sheikh Hasina. Last year, we launched 9 projects through video conferencing. Including projects of inaugurated today, we have launched a dozen projects in a year.”

Liquefied petroleum gas, not to be confused with liquified natural gas, are flammable mixtures of hydrocarbon gases used as fuel in heating appliances, cooking equipment, and vehicles. LPG is also referred to as simply propane or butane, and is increasingly used as an aerosol propellant and a refrigerant.

Among the seven agreements signed in Delhi, the first was about the standard operating procedure or procedure for using Chittagong and Mongla ports in Bangladesh. Chittagong and Mongla ports will be used in India, but no ports for India to use in Bangladesh were on that list. The Joint Statement did not contain the context of the controversial NRC or national citizenship in India.

India is describing the NRC as their internal affairs, while BJP leaders, including Home Minister Amit Shah, are threatening many NRC-cancellations to be deported to Bangladesh. In this background, Bangladesh wanted the NRC to have nothing to worry about, that assurance came from India’s highest level. At least none of them were reflected in the joint statement of the two countries, however.

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Benedict Kasigara

I have been working as a freelance editor/writer since 2006. My specialist subject is film and television having worked for over 10 years from 2005 during which time I was the editor of the BFI Film and Television.


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