Problem of Trans-Boundary Rivers in Relations of India and Bangladesh

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2015-3-105-113

Y. Sadovnikova, Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences (IMEMO), 23, Profsoyuznaya Str., Moscow, 117997, Russian Federation (

Abstract. The article analyzes the contents of existing disputes over trans-boundary rivers between India and Bangladesh. The aim is to identify the features inherent to the water policies of the two countries and to substantiate opportunities for resolving the problem. Two states share common historical roots and cultural traditions. India has made a significant contribution to the attainment of independence by Bangladesh. Initially, the bilateral relations have had a positive momentum. Yet, they have not always been smooth and cloudless. The problem of trans-boundary water resources plays an important role. It is generally known that India and Bangladesh share about 54 common rivers. 15 years after the Ganges Water Treaty of 1996 was signed, the two countries were extremely close to the agreement on the Teesta waters sharing. However, it did not happen. But the question was not put aside. On the contrary, both sides accelerated efforts to find a mutually acceptable settlement of the situation. The article accentuates the meaning of the Joint Rivers Commission as a crucial institutional mechanism for actual and topical issues deliberation. It has been operating since 1972. The author emphasizes one essential feature reflecting the nature of India and Bangladesh bilateral relations. It is the huge willingness of both countries to form the dialogue aspiring to mutually beneficial cooperation. That is why in spite of existing problems two countries were able to maintain excellent relations. In 2011, during the return visit of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Dakka a number of significant agreements were signed that summed up efforts from both sides. In particular, the paper considers the “Framework Agreement on Cooperation for Development” that outlined obligations of two countries to cooperate in many areas, including water issues. It indicates that contentious problems will be resolved. 

Keywords: India, Bangladesh, trans-boundary rivers, Ganges Water Treaty, Teesta, water disputes

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For citation:
Sadovnikova Y. Problem of Trans-Boundary Rivers in Relations of India and Bangladesh. World Eonomy and International Relations, 2015, no. 3, pp. 105-113.

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