On Board Air India One: India and Bangladesh will not sign a deal on sharing of waters of Teesta river during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Dhaka in the wake of strong reservations to the move voiced by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

“The deal on Teesta will not be signed in this visit. Unless we find something which is acceptable to everybody, there is no point signing the agreement," highly-placed sources told journalists accompanying Singh to Dhaka on Tuesday morning.

They said "there is no point of having an agreement just for the sake of agreement and the Centre has to engage the West Bengal government more intensively and sit with the Bangladesh government to thrash out a deal".
   
"We need more time and need to sit with both West Bengal government and Bangladesh to arrive at an acceptable agreement," said the sources.
   
Asked about reports that Mamata had objected to giving Bangladesh 33,000 cusecs of water, as mentioned in the final draft of the interim treaty for Teesta water-sharing instead of 25,000 cusecs in the initial draft, the sources made it clear that no figure was mentioned in any draft.

Mamata opted out of the visit to Bangladesh with Singh as she was stated to be upset with the final draft of the Teesta water-sharing treaty, creating a diplomatic embarrassment for the Prime Minister on his maiden bilateral visit to Bangladesh.

The sources said there was no question of having arrived at any agreed quantum of water-sharing between India and Bangladesh because the two countries have not undertaken any joint measurement of the availability of water in Teesta.
 
While India and Bangladesh have separate figures about the water availability, no joint survey was done so that they could decide on the quantum of sharing the waters, particularly during lean season from October to April, they said.
   
The idea behind an interim accord was that a joint survey is undertaken and criteria finalised about availability of water in catchment areas of Teesta and the kind of alluvial soil downstream of the river before going for a permanent agreement.
   
The sources said the Teesta agreement should be carefully crafted and this is acknowledged even by Bangladesh because of its ramifications for sharing of waters of other rivers flowing through the two countries.

They said there was immense scope for cooperation between India and Bangladesh in view of "enormous complementarities" between them in a range of economic activities, including power and connectivity.

(Agencies)