India-Bangladesh: Feni Conundrum [International relations;Indo-Bangladesh] (GS-2, IR)

India-Bangladesh: Feni Conundrum [International relations;Indo-Bangladesh] (GS-2, IR)

Updated on 8 November, 2019

GS2 International Relations
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In news:

  • The Union Cabinet has approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Bangladesh on the withdrawal of 1.82 cusecs of water from the Feni river by India.

  • The drawn water will be used for drinking water supply scheme for Sabroom town in Tripura.

  • The approval will have retrospective effect, on the MoU that was signed between the two countries during Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to India.


Location of Feni river:

  • The Feni River, which forms part of the India-Bangladesh border, originates in the South Tripura district.

  • It passes through Sabroom town on the Indian side.

  • Feni meets the Bay of Bengal after it flows into Bangladesh


 

History of Feni River dispute:

  • According to the Indian government, there has been no water-sharing agreement between the countries on the Feni previously.

  • In 1958, Feni river issue was taken up between India and Pakistan in 1958 during a Secretary-level meeting in New Delhi.

  • During that time, Bangladesh was known as “East Pakistan”.

 

Significance of Mou on Feni river:

  • Drinking water supply to South Tripura

  • Augmentation of drinking water supply in Sabroom, a border town.

  • Presently, the drinking water in Sabroom has high iron content and inadequate.

  • Agreement on water sharing on other inter-state rivers.

  • In the Joint Rivers Commission (JRC) agreed upon to collect data and prepare water-sharing agreements seven inter-state rivers.

  •  Interstate rivers include Manu, Muhuri, Khowai, Gumti, Dharla, Dudhkumar.

 

Way-Forward:

  • Improving connectivity 

  • It will solve India’s Problem of connectivity issue to Northeastern states.

  • Expedition of bridge built on Feni for hassle-free transport of goods and passengers. 

  • Interstate waterways-In line with agreement between Indian and Bangladesh on desilting rivers and canal for low-cost navigation

  • Economic cooperation 

  • Hydroelectric power can be harnessed between both countries.

  • Can help develop manufacturing and service sector in the northeast.

  • Regional water management

  • Tri-nation initiative on common basin management of the Ganges that should include India, Bangladesh, and Nepal.

  • Separate River commissions leaves room for confusion, disharmony, and disagreement.

  • A provision for arbitration in order to resolve all types of disputes.


 

Increased cooperation between both countries is a boon until it does not affect the local population and Sundarban ecosystem which is life line to people, flora and fauna across borders. Hence, continuation of  joint patrolling of waterways and replenishing freshwater supply to the sundarban ecosystem as agreed upon in 2011.

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