Dhaka: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said the ratification of the over 40-year-old Land Boundary Agreement was a bridge to join hearts and cited a media report that compared it to the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Addressing a gathering of intellectuals at Dhaka University, Modi said the Land Boundary Agreement is not just about land being exchanged but “an agreement to join hearts”.

He quoted a newspaper report that compared the inking of the LBA to “no less significant than the fall of the Berlin Wall”.

His comments came as India and Bangladesh in a joint declaration — titled “Notun Projonmo – Nayi Disha” — said the two prime ministers, Modi and Sheikh Hasina, “gave directives to the concerned officials on both sides for expeditious implementation of the 1974 Land Boundary Agreement and its 2011 Protocol on the ground”.

Both reaffirmed their commitment to extend all facilities to the residents of the enclaves and ensure that the rights of all citizens are protected, it said.

On Saturday, both countries ratified that LBA and the 2011 protocol to give effect to the exchange of 162 land enclaves in each others’ possession.

On the Teesta river sharing deal, which could not be inked with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee yet to give her assent, Modi said that acknowledged that some tasks were still to be accomplished. He said he believed that panchhi (birds), pawan (wind), and paani (water) needed no visa — and that the Teesta issue had to be resolved with a human approach.

He said he has to take his states along in whatever decision is taken. “I will try to find a resolution, on that I give my assurance. Koshish jaari rehna chahiye (we must continue to try).”

The joint declaration said that Hasina requested Modi for “immediate conclusion of the Interim Agreement on Sharing of the Water of Teesta as agreed upon by both the governments in January 2011”.

Modi conveyed that deliberations are underway involving all stakeholders with regard to conclusion of the Interim Agreements on sharing of waters of Teesta and Feni as soon as possible. The two prime ministers noted that discussions on various aspects relating to sharing of waters of the Manu, Muhuri, Khowai, Gumti, Dharla and Dudhkumar rivers were taking place at technical levels under Joint Rivers Commission and asked the concerned officials for taking expeditious action to conclude the sharing arrangements at the earliest, the joint declaration said.

In his address at Dhaka University, Modi said if he was to describe the bilateral ties in one sentence, then India and Bangladesh are not just “paas-paas” but also “saath-saath”.

“People think that we are ‘paas-paas’ but now the world will have to accept that we are not just ‘paas-paas but ‘saath-saath,” he said to loud applause.

He began his speech in Bengali, saying “Kemon acho Bangladesh, aamra tomakey sathey niye cholbo, amar bangla kemon boloto” (How are you Bangladesh, we want to take you along.. how is my Bangla).

Praising Bangladesh’s development indices, in women empowerment, mother and child nutrition, education, girl child protection, he said Indian states could learn form Bangladesh on its achievements.

Modi said Saarc countries still were in the dark and their villages had no access to electricity, but if India, Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh worked together, this darkness would be dispelled. He said Bangladesh helped India transport equipment for a power plant in Tripura, and now Bangladesh was receiving 100 MW of power from that power plant.

He also spoke of shared potential in sectors such as solar energy and space.

He said the European Union had developed a lot because of better connectivity and today no country could work alone, as the whole world has become interdependent. He said India and Bangladesh had recognized this fact, and this was reflected in the 22 agreements that had been signed during this visit. He congratulated the farsighted leadership of Bangladesh for accomplishing this.

“We will walk saath saath, and even run together,” he said and proposed that both could enhance their defence cooperation. Referring to the $2bn Line of Credit, he said India wanted to give the enhanced amount as Bangladesh has utilized the earlier LoC very well.

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