Bangladesh and India began talks on Monday in Dhaka to thrash out a pact on the sharing of Teesta river waters with Dhaka saying that even an interim agreement would suffice. The deliberations took place ahead of summit level talks expected to take place in New Delhi next week.
Official dates of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's New Delhi visit have not been announced so far. It is likely to begin Jan 11.
Water sharing of the Teesta river will dominate the two-day secretary level talks of the Joint Rivers Commission, The Daily Star reported Monday.
Bangladesh is hopeful of reaching an agreement at the talks and Dhaka has submitted a draft agreement proposal to India.
"If it is not possible to reach a long-term agreement we may go for an interim agreement," Sheikh Wahid-Uz-Zaman, secretary of the water resources ministry who led the Bangladesh delegation, was quoted as saying.
Indian Water Resources Secretary Umesh Narayan Panjiar is leading an eight-member team at the talks.
Besides the Teesta water sharing, the talks will include sharing of waters six other rivers - the Dharla, Monu, Muhuri, Dudhkumar, Khowai and Gomti.
Dredging of the Ichhamoti river will also come up for discussion, the newspaper said quoting an unnamed official from the water resources ministry.
"Basically we will discuss the quantum of water sharing. I hope we will reach a consensus," said the official.
Drastic fall in the water flow of Teesta during the lean season, especially in February and March, seriously hampers irrigation in Bangladesh, official sources said.
The talks Monday were preceded Sunday by a meeting new Indian High Commissioner Rajeet Mitter had with Foreign Minister Dipu Moni.
"As close neighbours, both the countries don't have any alternatives to joining hands and working together to ensure peace and stability in the region," Moni told the envoy.
The envoy said India is eagerly waiting for the Bangladesh prime minister and hoped that the visit will open a new chapter of friendly relations between the two countries.
Referring to the Ganga Water Sharing Treaty signed during the previous tenure of Hasina (1996-2001), Dipu Moni said Bangladesh is keen on holding out hands of cooperation in water related issues.