Bangladesh relaxes norms for India to erect border fence

Agartala, Apr 8: Dhaka has allowed New Delhi to erect fencing along the zero line of the international border so that Indian homes and farms located close to it are not impacted, a Tripura minister said here Friday.

The Indian government has been erecting the barbed wire fence along the 4,095-km India-Bangladesh border in West Bengal, Tripura, Assam, Meghalaya and Mizoram to check trans-border movement of militants, prevent infiltration and prevent border crimes.

As per international norms, the barbed wire fencing has to be built 150-yards inside India from the zero line of the border.

For erecting the fence (at 150-yards from the border line) along the 841-km of the 856-km India-Bangladesh border with Tripura, over 8,730 Indian families homes, paddy fields, lands, farms and other assets had fallen outside the fence (making them) vulnerable, Tripura Revenue and Finance Minister Badal Choudhury told reporters.

He said: (Due) to stipulated distance for putting up the fence, over 19,359 acres of land, including farmland, have fallen outside the fencing in Tripura alone.

Following Tripura governments persistent demand, New Delhi appraised Dhaka about the problems in erecting the fencing at the 150-yards from the boundary and the Bangladesh government has allowed India to erect the fencing at the zero line in certain stretches to save Indian properties and congested human habitations.

The 150-yards norms have been followed in erecting fence along the Indias border with Pakistan, Choudhury added.

The minister said that to rehabilitate the 8,730 families who were affected, the Tripura government had sent a Rs.93 crore project to the central government in 2004, but the latter was yet to sanction any funds for it.

The minister said after erection of the fencing, the trans-border movements of militants, infiltration and border crimes have been reduced to a large extent.

A section of villagers in Tripuras border areas affected by the border fencing work have continued with their agitation since early February to demand that they be settled.

Main opposition Congress legislator Subal Bhowmik, who has been spearheading the protest, told reporters: The Left Front government in Tripura has remained quiet despite the fencing-affected people protesting for the past 10 years for their settlement.

The locals have formed an organisation called Simanta Bhumi Suraksha Committee (border land protection committee) with Bhowmik as its president.