New Delhi: Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai is reportedly meeting West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in a bid to settle the Teesta water sharing agreement. The West Bengal CM had earlier written a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh raising objections over the Farakka Barrage water-sharing with Bangladesh.
In her letter, Mamata said that a majority of water from the Farakka barrage was going to Bangladesh instead of remaining in India.
Slamming it as a man-made conspiracy, she wrote, "It seems there was a deliberate and highly irresponsible move to keep the entire matter a secret... This looks like a man-made disaster planned on the one hand with finesse and aplomb to plunge West Bengal into a crisis and on the other hand to provide 'water' bonanza to Bangladesh... There has been mischief afoot and criminal conspiracy cannot be ruled out..." Banerjee urged the PM to take action against it.
Reportedly, two gates were broken at the Farakka Barrage leading to a total drainage of 82801 cusecs of water into Bangladesh when the country is only supposed to receive 35,000 cusecs of water.
Excess water drainage to Bangladesh from the Farakka considerably reduced the water level of the Bhagirati in India. The feeder canal which supplies the Bhagirati, should receive at least 40,000 cusecs of water. However, because of the current excess drainage, it is receiving only 20,000 cusecs of water.
Water level at the barrage has gone down from 72 feet to 65.8 feet. Despite previous work orders for the two gates to be repaired, nothing has been done so far.
The NCTC affair:
This is Mamata's second letter in a row. On Friday, she had written another letter to the PM, lashing out at the setting up of a national counter-terror agency, arguing that such a body will compromise with the states' powers. The National Counter Terrorism Centre is expected to start its operations on March 1. While several states, most of them non-Congress, came together in its bid to stop the NCTC from launching, the Centre has remained firm.
Mamata even skipped the inauguration of the NSG hub in Kolkata on Saturday, that was to be inaugurated by Home Minister P Chidambaram, as a means of protest. Her name was deleted from the programme brochure prepared by the state government.
The Ministry of Home Affairs has, however, assured that the NCTC will, in no way, compromise with the states' independent working. Chidambaram insisted that security is a joint responsibility of the state and Centre, and that the Centre's approach on issues like terrorism and naxalism was uniform and not "state-specific".
Home Secretary RK Singh added that the NCTC was being set up so that there is coordination between the states and the states and the Centre. "No court has defined it as unconstitutional. If all states work separately and there's no coordination, then how can we fight terrorism?" he asked.
Meanwhile, the BJP, trying to make the most of the widening rift between the Congress and the TMC has declared its doors open for Mamata. Said Balbir Punj on Saturday, "She has been a part of the NDA and the doors are still open for her. We are not surprised at the differences created between the Congress and Mamata Banerjee. Mamata... NCP... they have all lost faith in the UPA."
Meanwhile, former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah has said that he is sure Chidambaram will be able to explain his stand to the states. "This is a federal structure. Centre and state have certain priorities. The Centre and states must cooperate with each other, especially in the security of the country. Nothing should be done to harm the federal structure. I am sure the Home minister will explain his stand to the states."
Mamata Vs Government: Points of Difference
- Mamata opposed FDI in retail.
- Mamata opposed setting up of the Lokayukta saying it will undermine the states' power.
- Mamata opposed the government on the Lokpal Bill.
- The TMC chief also disagreed with the government on pension reform.
- Mamata had taken on the government on price rise.
Mamata has used the federal argument in her previous standoffs too. While arguing on the FDI in retail, she said that if it were allowed, the states will lose economic power and will become subservient to the Centre.