06 Jun, 2015
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India and Bangladesh on 6 June 2015 ratified the historic Land Boundary Agreement between the two countries that will finally allow tens of thousands of people living in 161 border enclaves to choose their nationality. It will also permanently fix the contours of the 4,000 km India-Bangladesh border. This ratification was done on the occasion of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s 2-day state visit of Bangladesh that started on the same day.
All about the agreement
– The Land Boundary Agreement (LBA) between India and Bangladesh was agreed upon initially in 1974, when the Prime Ministers of the two countries signed the agreement to exchange enclaves and simplify the international border. However, the said agreement was not brought into effect due to several reasons, both political and bilateral.
– A revised version of the agreement was finally adopted by the two countries 41 years later, when the Parliament of India passed the 100th Amendment to the Indian Constitution on 7 May 2015.
– Nearly 160 enclaves exist on either side of the border, a historical oddity left after the Partition in 1947. There are 51 Bangladeshi enclaves with about 15,000 people within states like Meghalaya, Tripura, Assam and West Bengal.
– Under the agreement, the enclave residents could continue to reside at their present location or move to the country of their choice.
– Under the agreement, India will have an advantage of 500 acres and 10,000 acres will go to Bangladesh.
– The agreement settles the question of citizenship for over 50,000 people.
– The issue has been a major irritant in ties between the two countries which share a 4,096-km-long border, most of which is porous.
– The settlement of the LBA comes as both countries have settled their maritime boundary. On 7 July 2014, the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration delineated the maritime boundary between the two neighbours, the Exclusive Economic Zone and the continental shelf within and beyond 200 nautical miles.
– With settlement of the boundary, both countries can move towards building border of infrastructure, especially in the north east to boost trade and sub-regional connectivity.
– At least fifteen states in India now have to clear this agreement, which is unlikely to be a problem.