Context: Recently during Bangladesh’s PM visit to India, out of slew agreements signed, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed on sharing of waters of the Kushiyara river.
About Kushiyara River:
It is a transboundary river demarcating the Indo-Bangladesh border as branch of Barak river. which originates in northern hills of Assam and then it flows further creating the border between Nagaland and Manipur states.
Significance of Kushiyara agreement:
- The agreement aims to address the changing nature of river which floods during the monsoon and goes dry during winters when demand of water is relatively high because of crop season in Sylhet (Bangladesh).
- Under the agreement, Bangladesh will be able to withdraw 153 cusecs (cubic feet per second) of water from Kushiyara which solve the water-scarcity in Sylhet.
- The water of Kushiyara will be channeled through Rahimpura Canal (8-kilometres long) which has been used for hundreds of years for transporting water from Kushiyara River to subdivisions of Sylhet (Bangladesh) such as Zakiganj, Kanaighat, Benaibazar.
- In winters, utility of the canal goes down, as the volume of water reduces substantially affecting the cultivation of wide variety of vegetables for which Sylhet is famous. Additional water of Kushiyara through Rahimpur Canal will ensure steady supply of water for irrigation of agriculture fields of Sylhet.
India’s objection before signing the agreement:
India objected the withdrawal of water when Bangladesh carried out dredging of canal and connected channels of water in Upper Surma Kushiyara project as Kushiyara forms part of border between two sides.
India now signed the agreement citing “economic benefits” overweighing over security concerns as Sylhet has fertile plains which will get access to water from Kushiyara river and will give economic boost through production of vegetable benefitting bordering states of India, Bangladesh and abroad.