China to Build Bridge, Conduct River Management on River in Bangladesh that Has Been Source of Water Rights Dispute with India

On June 22, state-owned firms, Chi­na Con­struc­tion 7th Engi­neer­ing Bureau and Chi­na Con­struc­tion Inter­na­tion­al, were award­ed a $44 mil­lion con­tract (in an all cash exchange) for con­struc­tion of a bridge project across the Teesta Riv­er in Bangladesh (includ­ing unspec­i­fied riv­er man­age­ment projects), sit­u­at­ed in the north­west­ern part of the coun­try.

The Teesta Riv­er, which flows through both, India and Bangladesh, has been at the cen­ter of water resource dis­putes between the two coun­tries.  It remains one of the points of con­tention in their bilat­er­al rela­tion­ship. Although Chi­na is not a direct ben­e­fi­cia­ry of the river’s resources, Chi­nese influ­ence is alleged to be a con­tribut­ing fac­tor to the trou­ble­some riv­er resource pol­i­tics with Bangladesh. The source of the Teesta Riv­er on the Indi­an side is Tso Lamo lake, which sits just 4 km from one of India’s bor­ders with Chi­na that has been prone to dis­pute.

Con­struc­tion will com­prise of a 1.49 km main bridge, 2 km of approach roads, and 6.3 km of riv­er man­age­ment projects along the Teesta Riv­er.  Once the bridge is com­plet­ed, it is expect­ed to reduce com­mut­ing dis­tanced between two major high­ways on oppo­site sides of the riv­er by 80 km, and thus boost the local econ­o­my.