With diplomatic relations heading downwards Dhaka does not believe its engagement with India will yield any better results for the interests of the nation.
This is particularly true in relation to the Teesta River, whose water share was sought by the Bangladesh government for years now with no visible traction on India’s behalf. Most of the 315 km long rivers water lies in India whereas some 113 km of the river are within Bangladesh.
Now the Ministry of Water Resources has sought the assistance of China to implement a project titled “Teesta River Comprehensive Management and Restoration Project” with a $938.27 million loan.
Without any cooperation of India the floods have led to large scale erosion leaving property submerged annually. Moreover most of the existing embankments have also been damaged by erosion due to the lack of proper management.
India on the other hand constructed four dams for hydro-electricity in Sikkim and two irrigation projects in West Bengal to make matters worse for Bangladesh without any consultation from the lower riparian country.
The dams on the Indian side cause flooding downstream in Bangladesh for two months of the year during winter resulting in damage to Bangladesh.
Bangladesh and India have tried to implement a water sharing deal however the West Bengal’s Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee blocked it from being realised.
If the Chinese finance the river management project it would ensure flood control and adequate water supply in the greater Rangpur region leading to food security, economic prosperity and development of communications.
According to a letter sent to the Economic Relations Division (ERD) the Ministry of Water Resources has also sought to build a photovoltaic power plant under the proposed project.
Previously Bangladesh sought assistance from the World Bank and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) without any success however some Chinese companies have already expressed their interest in joining the project.
In 2016 a LoI was signed between the Bangladesh Water Development Board and the Power Construction of China (Power China) with which a feasibility study and master plan was prepared to implement the project.
Bangladesh will now send relevant documents to the Chinese embassy in Dhaka for the project seeking Chinese funds.
Bangladesh has awarded several mega-projects to Chinese companies including the Padma Multipurpose Bridge and the Karnaphuly river dual-tunnel.
The Chinese companies have also been awarded contracts to develop several southern and eastern airports. Air and naval bases are also being established with the technical cooperation of China in strategically important areas to safeguard Bangladesh’s sovereignty.
China is assisting in areas where India failed to help in decades.