Published: Friday, July 26, 2013

Dipu Moni upbeat

Reaches New Delhi, hopes Indian political parties will see larger picture of land boundary deal

Dipu Moni

Dipu Moni

Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dipu Moni yesterday expressed the hope all Indian political parties would “see the larger picture and act accordingly” on passing the bilateral land boundary agreement in Parliament.
Apart from holding talks with the top Indian leadership today, Moni, who arrived in New Delhi yesterday, will also meet Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley in a bid to ensure his party’s support for smooth sailing of the Land Boundary Agreement (LBA), which is expected to come up in the monsoon session of Indian Parliament beginning on August 5.
“I am very hopeful that the way things have been evolving over the past few years, we will see fruition.
“We have all, on both sides, worked very hard, and I believe that at this juncture, everyone, regardless of the parties, will be able to see the larger picture and act accordingly,” Moni said when asked if she was hopeful of Indian Parliament sanctioning the agreement.
Asked specifically if she would be raising this issue with Jaitley, she said “sure”.
Moni is set to call on Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today at 11:00am at his official residence at 7 Race Course Road and meet Jaitley at his office in Rajya Sabha complex at 5:00pm.
Stating that both Bangladesh and India are working in the same “spirit that we had worked together in 1971″, Dipu Moni hoped that when “people will vote, they will take into account our initiative, our efforts and the fact that we have come so far. It will happen”.
The agreement can be implemented only after a constitution amendment bill is passed by Indian Parliament as it involves exchange of territories. The bill needs to be passed by a majority in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha of no less than two-thirds of the members present and voting.
The agreement envisages transfer of 111 enclaves with a total area of 17,160.63 acres to Bangladesh while there will be transfer of 51 enclaves with an area of 7,110.02 acres to India.
While on the face of it, India does seem to be losing some territory, Indian officials maintained the government has in fact only converted a de-facto reality into a de-jure situation, as these enclaves are located deep inside the two countries with little physical access to these by both.
Though she did not mention the issue of Teesta river water-sharing agreement, which is also stuck, Dipu Moni did emphasise a lot on river water sharing during her speech at a think-tank in New Delhi where she proposed the concept of a Ganges Brahmaputra-Meghna Basin regime involving Bangladesh, India, China, Bhutan, Nepal and Myanmar for joint management of common rivers, harnessing hydro power resources and exploring marine resources and minerals in the sea bed in the region.
Such a regime “would also allow creation of food banks, buffer stocks of commodities and natural resources and strengthen information and technology data bases”, Dipu Moni said.
She said the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna basin regime does not undermine the global order.
Arguing that rivers are a source of life, she said, “They have united us”.
“While people try to find elements to divide, this is one feature, rivers, that unite us. It has the potential to augment all the processes that we have. Let’s grow together and rivers can be basis for that,” she said.
Asked if Bangladesh has concerns about China’s plans to construct dams on Brahmaputra river, she said Dhaka was talking to all its neighbours.
“For us, being lower riparian state, we must talk of any detrimental impact to lower riparian state and we are doing that,” she said.
Dipu Moni, also responded to questions on Nobel Laureate Prof Muhammad Yunus besides the ongoing trial of war crimes committed during the Liberation War.
She said people of Bangladesh had waited for long for justice.