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Perspectives on India-Bangladesh Water Dispute: The Farakka Barrage

Abstract

The holy waters of Ganga have proved despair rather than a hope in relations between India and Bangladesh. It was after the initial differences in regard to the construction of Farakka barrage between India and Pakistan that the former had taken almost a unilateral decision to construct a barrage, in particular, to save the port of Calcutta from excess silting. Years after the independence of Bangladesh commissioning of the barrage took place and that was the starting point of a series of bilateral negotiations/agreements to determine the share of water that each side was to receive during the lean season of every year. In the start Indo-Bangladesh relations was marked as honeymoon phase of their relationship with no differing perceptions in sight. However it all took a ‘U’ turn when Sheikh Mujib was assassinated in August 1975 and a series of coup reigned in Bangladesh one after another. At a later stage the sharing of waters at Farakka had become more a matter of politics than of economy as the change over suited the military Generals of Bangladesh, who, apart from all, faced the problem of legitimacy. Difference of social, political, economic and religious bases in India and Bangladesh has added fuel to the fire and the waters of Farakka was paraded before the world community as the most blatant example of India’s “intransigence” against a weak and small neighbour. In between the relationship of love and hate the two had signed three agreements on the sharing of Ganga Waters at Farakka respectively in 1975, 1977 and 1996. The paper aims to examine the different aspects of the two sides and mutual understanding thereupon. The study is beneficial for the countries of the region and outside to keep the fight between bordering neighbours away and help promote regional / global peace in the larger interest of humanity.

Keywords

India, Bangladesh, Socio-economic condition, Agreements and prospect.

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