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India-B’desh ratify historic land deal

India-B’desh ratify historic land deal
This will enable the two countries to exchange land enclaves in each other’s territory. Foreign secretaries of India and Bangladesh signed and exchanged the instruments of exchange in the presence of Prime Minister Modi and his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina. Modi was accompanied by Chief Minister of West Bengal Mamata Banerjee.

Indian Parliament, a few weeks ago, unanimously approved a Constitution Amendment Bill to give full effect to the Land Boundary Agreement of 1974 with Bangladesh and the related 2011 Protocol. The pact is aimed at the acquiring of territories by India and the transfer of territories to Bangladesh through retaining of adverse possession in pursuance of the 1974 agreement between the two nations. Assam, West Bengal, Tripura and Meghalaya all fall under the bill. According to a joint census conducted by both the countries, there are 111 Bangladeshi enclaves in India that houses 37,369 people while 14,215 people have been residing at 55 Indian enclaves in Bangladesh.

Speaking at a joint briefing with his Bangladeshi counterpart, the Prime Minister said: “The visit is at a historic moment. We have resolved a question that has lingered since Independence. Our two nations have a settled boundary. It will make our borders more secure and people’s life there more stable. Our Parliament’s approval of Land Boundary Agreement reflects the consensus in India on relations with Bangladesh.”

“We accepted the settlement of the maritime boundary last year. It is evidence of the maturity of our ties and our shared commitment to international rules. So, we stand at a moment of huge opportunity in our relationship. Prime Minister (Sheikh Hasina) and I recognize that.”

Modi further added: “We will work together to harness the rich potential of our relationship. And, we will address our challenges in a spirit of friendship and from a position of mutual trust and confidence.” He also emphasized the importance of trade and commerce between the two countries.

Announcing a new line of credit of $2 billion to Bangladesh, he said: “Our development partnership is scaling new heights. The quick implementation of the line of credit of $800 million and full disbursement of $200 million in grant is a tribute to our cooperation. We are pleased to extend another line of credit of $2 billion to support infrastructure and other development activities in Bangladesh.”

Modi also expressed his optimism on the two countries’ cooperation to prevent illegal activities. In a major boost to connectivity between India and Bangladesh, two bus services were flagged off on Saturday by Modi, his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina and West Bengal Chief Minister 
Mamata Banerjee. 

The bus services — Kolkata-Dhaka-Agartala and Dhaka-Shillong-Guwahati — will link West Bengal to three North Eastern states of India via Dhaka. People of the North Eastern states of Tripura, Meghalaya and Assam, which share extensive boundaries with India’s eastern neighbour, would benefit from the two services. The spotlight invariably was on the Teesta waters, one of the most emotional issues for Bangladesh in its relations with India. Bangladesh and India share 54 rivers but none evokes as much passion in Bangladesh as Teesta.

But water being a state subject, the Centre cannot hope to conclude a deal on sharing Teesta water without getting Mamata Banerjee on board. Negotiations on Teesta are on for the past 18 years. The Prime Minister also met West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in Hotel Pan Pacific Sonargaon, Dhaka, for around 20 minutes, prior to their meeting with Sheikh Hasina.

They discussed the Teesta issue and later, in the evening Modi addressed a press statement along with Hasina claiming that: “I am confident that with the support of state governments in India, we can reach a fair solution on Teesta and Feni Rivers.” He added: “Our rivers should nurture our relationship, not become a source of discord. Water sharing is, above all, a human issue.”

As per the 2011 agreement on Teesta, which is yet to be signed, allows “mutual understanding” on sharing the Teesta’s water equally. But Bangladesh complains that the flow of Teesta has reduced at their end.

Agreement on coastal shipping, which will boost bilateral trade and Indian Economic Zones to promote Indian investments in Bangladesh was also signed. Consent over new border haat (market) at Kamalasagar in Tripura and cooperation in space technology was also inked.

“Power supply from India to Bangladesh will grow from 500 MW to 1100 MW within two years. The 1320 MW Rampal power project is making progress. Together we can do more in power sector. Connectivity by road, rail, rivers, sea, transmission lines, petroleum pipelines and digital links will increase,” Modi said.

“Our development partnership is scaling new heights. The quick implementation of the line of credit of $800 million and full disbursement of $200 million in grant is a tribute to our cooperation. We are pleased to extend another line of credit of $2 billion to support infrastructure and other development activities in Bangladesh,” he added. Modi also visited the National Martyrs’ Memorial and paid tribute to the soldiers who died in the Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971. He also visited the Bangabandhu Memorial Museum dedicated to the founder of Bangladesh, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. 

At a glance
Exchange of letters on Modalities for implementation of 1974 LBA & its 2011 Protocol
Bilateral Trade Agreement
Agreement on Coastal Shipping between Bangladesh and India
Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade
Bilateral Cooperation Agreement between BSTI and BIS on Cooperation in standardisation
Agreement on Dhaka-Shillong-Guwahati bus service and its protocol
Agreement on Kolkata-Dhaka-Agartala bus service and its protocol
MoU between Coast Guards
MoU on prevention of human trafficking
MoU on prevention of smuggling and circulation fake currency notes
MoU for extending a new line of credit of $2 billion by govt of India to Bangladesh
MoU on Blue Economy and Maritime Cooperation in the Bay of Bengal, the Indian Ocean
MoU on use of Chittagong and Mongla ports
MoU for a project under IECC of SAARC
MoU on Indian Economic Zone
Cultural Exchange Programme for 2015-17
Statement of Intent on Bangladesh-India Education Cooperation (adoption)
Agreement between BSCCL and BSNL for leasing of international bandwidth at Akhaura
MoU between University of Dhaka & CSIR for joint research on oceanography of the Bay of Bengal
MoU between University of Rajshahi and Jamia Milia Islamia University
Handing over of Consent Letter by IDRA to LIC to start operations in Bangladesh
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