Bangladesh Navy has recently added two submarines to its fleet. These two submarines have been procured from China. Questions have come up whether Bangladesh really required buying submarines for such high prices. There are some more questions whether Bangladesh would get embroiled in any strategic equations involving China, United States and India. Quite naturally various opinions are coming from different angles about these issues from both inside and outside the country. On the other hand, speculations have already started to emerge regarding Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's upcoming trip to India with special references to the pending Teesta agreement. Since rivers are the source of our country's lifeblood, people of Bangladesh are eagerly waiting for an amicable settlement of the Teesta issue during this visit by Prime Minister to India.
We often forget about the fact that our country is located on the bank of a sea. The Bay of Bengal covers the entire southern region of Bangladesh. The name Bay of Bengal was given by the British people. Bangladesh has in the meantime peacefully resolved its maritime disputes with India and Myanmar. This is certainly delightful news for us. But the country's people are concerned in what ways and for whose interest our maritime resources would be utilized. The Bay of Bengal is a reservoir of massive unexplored resources. Our country has been able to exercise very little portion of the resources of Bay of Bengal. A great deal of fish and other creatures live inside Bay of Bengal. There are various species of plants and herbs. We may be able to procure valuable minerals and chemicals by making most of these sea resources.
Moreover, huge reserves of gas and petroleum resources are also lying undiscovered at the bottom of Bay of Bengal. The Bay of Bengal is highly important for maritime communication and it is much more vital from military point of view as well. Bangladesh will be mobilizing the newly procured submarines mainly across the Bay of Bengal. How the international quarters would react to the movement of Bangladesh submarines-that is the focal point of recent discussions.
Coming back to water sharing issues, water is highly essential for drinking, cultivation and for many more works. People mainly have to depend on rivers, canals and lakes for freshwater. Moreover, we have to depend on underground water level and mineral water. At the same time rainwater is another source of freshwater. Bangladesh is a riverine country. That's why we cannot imagine our living without rivers and river resources, particularly water.
Population across the world is rising day by day. Demand for freshwater is rising at the same pace. But supply of freshwater is limited. As a result relations between different nations are facing stress and strain over sharing of river waters. Complications regarding the sharing of freshwater may lead to serious conflicts in days to come. Since Bangladesh is totally dependent on rivers, getting the right share of river waters deserves highest emphasis. Therefore, the Teesta pact needs to be settled up without delay.
Bangladesh is our motherland. Rivers are the most vital aspect of our geographical features. The rivers of Bangladesh are inevitable when it comes to our survival. The landscape of Bangladesh was born from the womb of rivers like babies are born from the womb of mothers. Three major rivers Padma, Meghna and Jamuna carry soil sediments and end up in the Bay of Bengal crossing a long way through the country. This is how Bangladesh has become one of the world's largest deltas. If soil sediments cannot be carried by rivers, it will halt the expansion of our landscape which is like killing a baby's fetus inside its mother's womb.
Our Liberation War's slogan was "Padma, Meghna, Jamuna are our address." We found the essence of our selfhood from this slogan. Our country's economy, culture, history and social structure have evolved in the middle of a nature bathed by rivers. It would be difficult to find another nation whose life and livelihood are so strongly bonded with rivers. For this reason the water flow of Teesta River is a major concern for the country right now.
Our rivers like Padma, Meghna, Jamuna and other rivers have changed their pathways many a time while flowing towards the sea. This is a natural phenomenon for rivers to move towards seas and oceans. But this natural pace is now facing interventions from human beings. Efforts are being made to interrupt the natural movement of river water through artificial ways. This is happening by some adverse geopolitical realities. State interest has become more important than the tenets of nature.
Resolving the Teesta issue is now very important to retain the ongoing friendly ties between India and Bangladesh. We need to remember that Teesta is not an isolated issue for Bangladesh. Most of the rivers flowing across Bangladesh are flowing through other states too. 54 rivers have entered Bangladesh from India. Before entering India those rivers had crossed China, Nepal and Bhutan. Therefore, sharing river water is linked with the river management of all the countries of this region. While settling up Teesta issue, it should be remembered that we should not do anything which may cause natural imbalance to the river. Ensuring rivers' survival is another important thing to take care of. All harmful things that damage the water flow, soil sediments and breeding of water creatures of rivers should be avoided. Rivers should be allowed to survive and flow in their own natural ways. Showing a commercial attitude towards rivers should be stopped too. Rivers are nowadays being misused by capitalists for making profits. Rivers and its resources also have been commodified and commercialized to serve capitalistic purposes. Rivers, lakes and canals are being occupied by influential land-grabbers every now and then.
Countries involved in river-related issues should make sure that they should keep away from building up engineering structures on rivers which may cause harm to upstream or downstream nations. Moreover, sincere cooperation should be extended to one another while making policies on river management.
People of Bangladesh are waiting with much enthusiasm to see a successful settlement of Teesta pact during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's forthcoming visit to India. Signing the Teesta pact has now become unavoidable to preserve the friendship between India and Bangladesh. Bangladesh has met almost all expectations of India. It cannot be denied. Now it is India's turn to reciprocate in a friendly way. Our countrymen will be waiting to see a proper accomplishment of this pact. The writer is an eminent politician and President, Communist Party of Bangladesh (CPB)