Kushiyara River Agreement
India and Bangladesh struck an interim water sharing deal for the Kushiyara river in September 2022, the first such arrangement between them in 25 years. In 1996, the Ganga water treaty was signed.
The water dispute between India and Bangladesh is one of the most intractable problems between the two countries. In Sheikh Hasina’s (Bangladesh Prime Minister ) latest visit to Delhi (September 2022), the river water issues were deliberated upon to settle the concerns, most notably the Teesta river water dispute.
An agreement on the Kushiyara river also gets inked. It is an ongoing effort to solve the two countries’ water-sharing issues. The next stage is to settle the Teesta water conflict.
Common Rivers between India and Bangladesh.
India and Bangladesh share 54 rivers between them. Almost all Bangladesh’s rivers have their source in India or pass through India. Of these, seven rivers have been identified earlier for developing the framework of water-sharing agreements on priority. During the recent meeting in Sep 2022, India and Bangladesh agreed to include eight more rivers for data exchange.
Common Rivers between India and Bangladesh
How do the two Solves their water issue?
By Joint River Commission.
The India-Bangladesh Joint Rivers Commission met for the first time in 12 years in Sep 2022. They made some progress on how to share water in rivers that both countries use. They also decided to add eight more rivers for which India will provide flow information. But there wasn’t much progress toward a deal on the Teesta river.
The Joint River Commission was established in 1972 under the peace treaty between India and Bangladesh to settle matters of mutual concern on the border and border rivers. The JRC is chaired by both nations’ Ministers of Water Resources.
Meetings are held under this commission to obtain mutual benefits from the rivers between the two nations and to debate river-related problems regularly.
Let us now study the water conflict between India and Bangladesh. Their long-standing disagreement has been a source of stress between the two nations for many years; the problem revolves around allocating the Teesta and Ganga rivers’ waters.
Water dispute between India and Bangladesh
India and Bangladesh have been at odds over how to share the water from rivers that span both nations for decades. The two countries have not agreed on a fair way to share the waters of the Ganges, Brahmaputra, and Teesta river basins. As a result, the countries have often resorted to legal action to resolve the dispute.
Bangladesh filed the most recent case in 2003 in the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA). Bangladesh went in for arbitration over the delimitation of maritime boundaries under the United Nations Convention on Law of Sea (UNCLOS) on October 8 2009. The court concluded its hearings in 2013 in the Hague. The United Nations tribunal ruled in favour of Bangladesh, ending the four-decade-long dispute between India and Bangladesh. The UN tribunal awarded 19,467 square kilometres, four-fifth of the total disputed area of 25,602 sq km in the Bay of Bengal, to Bangladesh.
Present Water Disputes
There are two major long-standing water disputes between India and Bangladesh – the Teesta river dispute and the Ganges river dispute.
Ganga river dispute
It is a deal to share surface waters at the Farakka Barrage based on “equitable” distribution.
The Ganga river dispute has been a source of contention between the two countries over the last 35 years since the sacred river flows from India to Bangladesh. Several bilateral discussions have failed, with no permanent solution for water sharing established.
Meanwhile, in 1996, Indian Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda and Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina agreed to create a 30-year water-sharing arrangement expected to be renewed after thirty years and is about to expire soon. Both parties will likely extend the Ganga Waters Treaty, signed in 1996 and set to expire in 2026.
Teesta water-sharing issue
The Teesta River flows through India and Bangladesh as a tributary of the Brahmaputra (called Jamuna in Bangladesh). It runs south across West Bengal before entering Bangladesh, beginning in the Himalayas at Chunthang, Sikkim.
The Teesta Barrage dam contributes to irrigating the lowlands between the upper Padma and the Jamuna rivers.
No treaty has been reached to address the Teesta water-sharing issue between India and Bangladesh, which has been a source of contention between the two countries since 1986.
What are the hurdles to the Teesta agreement?
Compared to the Teesta river accord, the Kushiyara agreement is considerably smaller in scope. The Teesta deal will include West Bengal, which has concerns about the idea.
The Kushiyara agreement did not require a nod from states like Assam, from which the Barak emerged and branches into Kushiyara and Surma.
Significance of Kushiyara water sharing agreement
The Kushiyara agreement will help the residents of southern Assam and Sylhet, Bangladesh. India has increased the timeframe during which flood-related information is sent in real-time, which would aid Bangladesh in combating its yearly floods.
The Kushiyara is one of the major rivers in North-Eastern Bangladesh. It is a transboundary river that originates on the India-Bangladesh border as a branch of the Barak river that enters Bangladesh along 24° 53′ north latitudes and 92°32′ east longitudes after flowing westward from Silchar in Cachar district (India). It is about 160 kilometres and carries 85% flow of the Barak river.
The Kushiyara River flows through Assam, India and Bangladesh. It originates as a distributary of the Barak River on the India-Bangladesh boundary when the Barak divides into the Kushiyara and Surma.
During the rainy season, the Kushiyara can reach a depth of 10 meters. This river crosses over Bangladesh’s Zakiganj, Golabganj, Fenchuganj, Balaganj, Rajnagar, Maulvi Bazar, and Nabiganj areas.
Origin and course of Kushiyara river
The parent river of the Kushiyara river, the Barak, begins in the Indian state of Nagaland, and tributaries create its basin area from Manipur, Mizoram, and Assam. The Kushiyara runs westward from its origin at the Amshid bifurcation point, forming the border between Assam, India and the Sylhet District of Bangladesh. The Kushiyara runs for a distance of about 160 km.
A brief about Barak River
The Barak River originates from the Manipur hilly areas of India. Barak is one of the major rivers of North Eastern India, draining parts of six states and flowing further into Bangladesh. Within India, the regime of the river comprises two distinct parts –
- the Hilly catchment areas
- the alluvial plain to which the name “Barak Valley” is usually applied.
The Cachar plains are produced by the alluvial deposits of the Barak river, which runs across the region from east to west. The main valley is shaped like an amphitheatre, surrounded on three sides by hills and extending onto the plains of Sylhet in Bangladesh to the west. The hill ranges surrounding the valley and supplying it with water and sediment are among the youngest in the world, with varying phases of morphotectonic development and geological composition.
There are primarily two ranges in this basin: Meghalaya and Purvachal. Garo Hill, Jaintia Hills, and the Barail Range are all part of the Meghalaya range. Mizo hill and Manipur hill make up the Purvachal range.
Barak is divided into two branches in the Karimganj district of south Assam. The north branch is known as the Surma River, and the south is the Kushiyara river. Both enter into the Sylhet depression of Bangladesh.
The lower water flow of the Kushiyara and Teesta during the winter months raises severe considerations about the influence of climate change on South Asian rivers, which might have a negative impact on populations and induce migration. Bangladesh has noted the low water flow in its rivers during winter as a cause for worry since it harms its agricultural industry.
In conclusion, the water-sharing deal between India and Bangladesh is a positive step forward. It is the first arrangement between the two countries in 25 years and will help improve their relations. It is also an excellent example of how cooperation can be achieved on water issues, despite the many challenges involved.