Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to visit Bangladesh on June 6 and 7, during which the two countries will scale up security, defence and connectivity ties and likely seal the Teesta water-sharing pact.
The Centre, in renewed efforts to get the support of West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee for a tweaked Teesta river watersharing formula, has also offered financial assistance for irrigation projects in the state, which goes to the polls in 2016.
The Union home ministry has been alerted about the possibility of Modi taking a land-route via West Bengal to the neighbouring country, which could help the Prime Minister see the Petrapole-Benapole land custom route, through which more than 50% of bilateral trade takes place.
Modi is likely to only visit the capital city of Dhaka.
With the land-boundary agreement with Bangladesh, an ambitious agenda is in the works ahead of the PM’s visit to Dhaka.
“Main achhi khabar leke aaung a ( I will come with good news),” Modi told Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on being reminded about her invite to visit Bangladesh during a telephone conversation between the two leaders soon after the Indian Parliament passed the land boundary agreement.
Modi is keen on not having any troubled eastern border at any cost, sources said. “The PM is very clear that India cannot afford to have an
Af-Pak situation in the eastern border. The threat from the Islamists, the Rohingya issue, the trouble in Thailand, all these situations are a reminder to keep the guard high in the eastern sector,” said a South Block official.
For stepping up defence ties, India will be training military personnel. Trade, transit and connectivity issues will form a substantial part of the agenda. India is also looking for the greater use of the Chittagong port.
External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj is leading the charge as the Centre is pulling out all the stops to conclude the Teesta pact during the visit. Many proposals are on the table, including a revised formula under which India and Bangladesh are looking at 46:46% sharing of water, factoring that 8% of water will come from the rejuvenation of the river.
Out of its share, West Bengal now has to part with 21% of water at Gozaldoba in North Bengal and another 25% would be added through regeneration by the time the river reached Dalia barrage in Lalmonirhat district of Bangladesh. And to sweeten the deal, the Centre is now offering financial assistance for developing ir rig ation infrastructure in the state.
“Don’ t forg et even now West Bengal can only use 25% of the Teesta’s water for want of irrigation infrastructure,” said a source.