The controversial Teesta water sharing issue today figured prominently at a meeting bewteen Bangladesh foreign minister Dipu Moni and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee with the latter saying that she would be 'happy if water can be shared with Bangladesh.'
"The people of Bangladesh want Teesta water. It is their long-standing demand. We appreciate their demand. We will be glad if water can be shared," Banerjee told newsmen at the secretariat in the presence of Moni.
"We will definitely do what we can. We love Bangladesh. We will have to see that Bengal does not face water shortage and Bangladesh also gets water. We will have to see what can be done about this. Therefore we have sought expert opinion. After we get their report we will give our view."
Observing that efforts had been made by some quarters 'to create controversy and confusion,' over the water-sharing issue, she said, "I will appeal to the media not to write anything that may adversely affect relations between the two countries. Remember, this is not a political battle. This is a question of strengthening bonds between two countries."
The Bangladesh foreign minister said that water was always an important issue in any talk between India and Bangladesh.
"I have discussed the issue (with Banerjee). Though the Teesta agreement is a matter to be signed between the two countries, the role of West Bengal was also discussed."
Moni, however, declined to make any comment on the West Bengal government's stand vis-a-vis the Centre on the Teesta water sharing issue, saying that this was an internal matter of India.
"Our cooperation will remain in all matters including the issue of water and we hope our relation will be further strengthened," Moni said.
Appreciating the demand of Bangladesh, Banerjee said, however, that there was water shortage in the Teesta Barrage Project.
"During my visit to North Bengal, I have noticed that they do not get water during the lean season."
Stating that she was not an expert on the matter of water, Banerjee said, "I therefore think that river experts would be able to say best in the matter."
In keeping with the decision, a committee has been formed under river expert Kalyan Rudra about a fortnight back, she said, adding that its report was awaited.
The chief minister had refused to accompany Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Dhaka in September as she was reportedly upset with the Teesta water sharing treaty feeling that the agreement would go against the interests of the state.