AT LAST ASSAM INCLUDED IN LBA BILL
Faced with opposition from Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi and the Congress party in Parliament as well as unhappiness from the Bangladesh government, the Indian government on Tuesday reversed its decision on excluding Assam from the purview of its Bill on exchanging land with Bangladesh.
The Bill, a constitutional amendment (119th Constitutional Amendment act of 2013) which will allow the operationalisation of the 1974 India-Bangladesh Land Boundary agreement, was cleared by the Cabinet on Tuesday, including enclaves and “adverse possessions” from West Bengal, Meghalaya, Tripura and Assam, the Director of the Press Information Bureau Frank Noronha was quoted as saying to The Hindu.
An earlier plan by the government to exclude Assam from the land swap arrangement because of fierce resistance from the BJP’s Assam unit ahead of state elections this year has now been shelved.
Once it is cleared in parliament, the bill would pave the way for the historic agreement being ratified by India at a formal signing ceremony expected to take place when Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits Dhaka in June.
After the Cabinet clearance, the business advisory committee (BAC) met to clear tabling the bill on Wednesday in the Rajya Sabha.
Sources said that at the meeting, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj informed BAC members of the government’s decision to include Assam as is in the original agreement.
An earlier meeting of the BAC on Thursday had put off scheduling the bill because many opposition parties demanded the inclusion of Assam. CPI MP D Raja welcomed the government’s decision to bring consensus on the bill by reversing it’s stand.
“At a time the government is being attacked on several domestic policies, it would have been very unfortunate if it failed to carry political parties on foreign policy issues as well,” he told The Hindu.
In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi last week, Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi had urged him to put aside political considerations and include Assam in the agreement for a permanent solution to theoutstanding issue between both issues, adding the “Construction of border fencing will also prevent illegal infiltration of foreigners and subversive elements, smuggling, etc. by sealing the porous border.”
The Hindu had also reported on the Bangladeshi government’s unease over the NDA’s proposed move to exclude Assam.
Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam had indicated that Bangladesh had not been taken into confidence on any changes, and had not received formal intimation from India.
According the agreement, India is to receive 2,777.038 acres of land and to transfer 2267.682 acres to Bangladesh, much of which has already been effected on the ground already.
May 16: India-Bangladesh Agreement inked, not ratifiedIndia has 111 enclaves within Bangaldesh (70 square km)Bangladesh has 51 enclaves in India (28 square km)Most enclaves are in Assam, West Bengal, Meghalaya and Tripura.
September 6: Bangladesh and India signed protocol to pact.
December 18: The Constitution (119th Amendment) Bill, 2013, introduced in Rajya Sabha Bill amended the First Schedule of the Constitution that defines the area of each State, Union Territory.
April 29: Indian Cabinet clears the revised land boundary agreement delinking Assam.
The Indian central government is likely to introduce revised Bill in Parliament next week.
MAY 05, 2015