TEESTA TREATY (Syllabus: GS Paper 2 – IR)

News-CRUX-10     1st July 2024        
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Context: During the recent state visit of the Prime Minister of Bangladesh to India, the Prime Minister of India announced that a technical team would soon visit Bangladesh to discuss conservation and management of the Teesta river.

Teesta Treaty

  • Background of Dispute: The Teesta River disputes trace back to the 1947 Boundary Commission report by Sir Cyril Radcliffe, delineating boundaries between West Bengal (India) and East Bengal (Pakistan, later Bangladesh).

oDuring East Bengal's period as part of Pakistan, there was minimal dialogue on water issues between India and East Pakistan.

  • Geographical Context: The Teesta River originates in Sikkim and flows through West Bengal and Bangladesh. India claims 55% of its water.
  • Interim Water-Sharing Arrangement (1983): An interim agreement allocated 36% of Teesta’s waters to Bangladesh, 39% to India, with 25% remaining unallocated.
  • Recent Developments: Post the Ganga Water Treaty, a Joint Committee of Experts prioritized the Teesta. In 2010, a draft agreement presented by Bangladesh was accepted by both countries.

Proposal for Teesta River Water Sharing

  • Origin and Flow: The Teesta river originates from Tso Lhamo Lake in north Sikkim at an elevation of 5,280 meters. It flows approximately 150 km in Sikkim and 123 km in West Bengal before entering Bangladesh.
  • Geographical Coverage: In Bangladesh, the Teesta river travels 140 km and finally empties into the Bay of Bengal. Its floodplain in Bangladesh spans 2,750 square kilometers.
  • Catchment Area Distribution: The river's catchment area is primarily in India, covering 83%, with the remaining 17% in Bangladesh. Despite this, it significantly supports Bangladesh's agriculture and population.
  • Water Sharing Agreement: In 2011, a proposed agreement suggested India would receive 42.5% and Bangladesh 37.5% of the Teesta river's waters from December to March annually.
  • Current Status: Since 2011, the Teesta water-sharing agreement remains pending, affecting bilateral relations between India and Bangladesh and impacting water management strategies in both countries.

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