In a major breakthrough for the Bangladesh government China has promptly agreed to finance the Teesta river management programme.
The Bangladesh government proposed the “Teesta River Comprehensive Management and Restoration Project” estimated to cost $938.27 million to protect the country from floods and land erosion as a result of various Indian schemes up-river.
India constructed four dams for hydro-electricity in Sikkim and two irrigation projects in West Bengal to make matters worse for Bangladesh without any consultation.
The dams on the Indian side cause flooding downstream in Bangladesh for two months of the year during winter resulting in damage to Bangladeshi properties and agriculture.
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 therefore extending the hardship for Bangladeshis.
The river management project in Bangladesh 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 has awarded several mega-projects to Chinese companies including the Padma Multipurpose Bridge and the Karnaphuly river dual-tunnel, which are advancing rapidly.
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.
Bangladesh government has taken up 21 river management programmes and is working with development partners to implement them gradually.