GUWAHATI, June 27 � The Government of India is trying to settle all the border disputes with Bangladesh by September this year so that the entire international border can be fenced by the end of the year 2012. This was disclosed by the Union Home Secretary, GK Pillai.
Talking to The Assam Tribune, Pillai said that the current level of cooperation between India and Bangladesh is very encouraging and the Government of Bangladesh has already played a major role by evicting the camps of the ultras and nabbing the leaders of the militant outfits. He said that joint survey to settle the problems like border disputes and adverse possessions is on and these issues are likely to be resolved during the proposed visit of Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh to Dhaka in September.
The Home Secretary said that the pace of construction of fencing along the border with Bangladesh has been increased and after the disputes are resolved, the Government is planning to complete the task by the end of the year 2012. He said that though the fencing is put up 150 yards behind the zero line, in some patches, the Government of India has been able to persuade the Government of the neighbouring country to put up the fencing right on the zero line. The concerned state governments have also given necessary clearance for the construction of border roads and fencing and the Government of Meghalaya did it only recently. He admitted that it is not possible to put up physical barriers on the riverine international border and that is why patrolling by the personnel of the Border Security Force (BSF) has been intensified and more boats have been provided to the border guarding force.
Pillai admitted that the slow progress of implementation of the Assam Accord was unfortunate and there is need for accelerating the pace of updating the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and protection of the rights of the indigenous people. He said that the recent reports on population growth proved that the rate of infiltration of foreigners to Assam has slowed down. But there are reasons to doubt that the infiltrators have fanned out to other parts of India instead of staying in Assam, he admitted.
On implementation of clause 6 of the Assam Accord, which provides for constitutional protection of the indigenous people of Assam, Pillai said that such a demand is likely to be incorporated in the charter of demands to be placed by the ULFA before the Government. If that happens, the issue will come up for serious discussion once again.
The Union Home Secretary expressed the view that putting up of physical barriers on the international border is not a permanent solution to the problem of infiltration and India cannot totally cut off all its neighbours. He pointed out that economic development of Bangladesh would prevent infiltration by a great extent as "no one likes to leave his or her own house permanently."
Pillai pointed out that bilateral trade between India and Bangladesh would not only help the neighbouring country, but it would also be beneficial for the North East and the transportation bottleneck of the region would be removed. He said that movement of different materials to Tripura through Bangladesh has already started and in the long run, the entire NE region would be benefited from transit of goods through Bangladesh. The Government of India is also planning to introduce Guwahati-Dhaka bus and air services within the next couple of years if everything goes according to plan, he added.