Now, China gives loan to Bangladesh for Teesta river project

New DelhiEdited By: Palki SharmaUpdated: Aug 19, 2020, 07:13 AM IST

File photo of Teesta river. Photograph:(ANI)

Story highlights

The Teesta river crisis is China's opportunity to test waters and an opportunity to whip up an anti-India sentiment

China is giving Dhaka a loan of $1 billion for the Teesta river management project.

Teesta is the fourth-largest trans-boundary river in Bangladesh and flows through five northern districts - Gaibandha, Kurigram,
Lalmonirhat, Nilphamari and Rangpur.

At least 21 million people in Bangladesh are dependant on the Teesta river. Now, China is helping Bangladesh with the management project for the river with work expected to start in December. Reports say it was Bangladesh that asked China for $983 million loan.

The river, however, in no way concerns China. Beijing is concerned with just two things - it gets to debt-trap Bangladesh and it is an opportunity for China to control one of India's allies.

Teesta originates in India in Tsolamo. The river flows through Sikkim and West Bengal before entering Bangladesh. It is one of the 54 rivers that enter Bangladesh from India.

The Teesta has been a source of discord between the two countries with negotiations on water sharing dating back to 1951 when Bangladesh was East Pakistan.

Seven decades and a new country later, the negotiations have not quite reached a fruitful end. The negotiations were expedited in 2009 but the water-sharing deal is still pending. Now Bangladesh claims that because of a particular dam on the Indian side the flow of the river is reduced during winters which lead to two-month-long water crisis every year.

Bangladesh has painted India in a bad light and for China it spells an opportunity. It is the first time China is getting involved in a river management project in Bangladesh. 

The Teesta river crisis is China's opportunity to test waters and an opportunity to whip up an anti-India sentiment, it is almost Nepal deja vu and the bad news is that so far it appears to be working.

New Delhi has sent its foreign secretary to Bangladesh Harsh Vardhan Shringla on a day-long visit to Dhaka. India's foreign secretary is expected to call on Prime minister Sheikh Hasina and foreign minister Abdul Momen.

India will also be handing over around 10 broad gauge diesel locomotives to Dhaka. 

Meanwhile, sources say the Teesta project is just one of the many projects that China is funding in Bangladesh. There are at least nine others with the total amount of loan reportedly at $6 billion. It is over and above the $22 billion Chinese loans that Bangladesh has already received, according to Bangladesh media.