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B�desh wanted to usurp reserve forest in Karimganj

By Kalyan Barooah

NEW DELHI, Sept 28 � In what could have increased the discomfiture level of the embattled Tarun Gogoi Government, Bangladesh wanted to usurp a reserve forest in Modanpur-Pallahol area in Karimganj district.

At the fourth meeting of India-Bangladesh Joint Boundary Working Group (JBWG) held here on November 2010, Bangladesh admitted that it adversely occupied Boroibari-Kalabari area in Dhubri district, Modanpur-Pallathol in Karimganj district and Niyamura-Nayagaon area, also in the same district, official records showed.

Subsequently, a joint survey of the adversely held areas was organised when index maps were prepared covering major bends and corners of the adverse possession line. However, Bangladesh did not agree to joint verification of the Modanpur-Pallathol area and it remained incomplete.

It was not without reasons, as surveyors learnt that Bangladesh had included Patharia Reserve Forest along with Pallathol Tea Estate. Though it is a fact that the tea estate is adversely possessed by Bangladesh, but the reserve forest area was notified in 1923, and then it existed as such.

Official records stated that there is encroachment in four sectors of the reserve forest by Bangladeshi nationals. Bangladesh wanted to include the entire reserve forest under adverse possession and even debarred joint verification of the area, records stated. Bangladesh did not even allow Indian officials to survey even in patches where there was no adverse possession.

The Assam Government was intimated about the status and subsequently the Prime Minister�s Office too was told during a video conferencing on the issue in July. The discussion centred around adverse possession held by Bangladesh in Assam sector including undemarcated 3 km at Lathitila-Dumabari.

According to a fact sheet released by Chief Minister, Tarun Gogoi, the Pallathol Tea Estate is held by East Pakistan since partition and though Bangladesh demanded 455 acres, what they got was 74.5 acres according to the Land Boundary Agreement.

Officials of the Directorate of Land Records and Survey say, a major concern was that Bangladesh was preparing index maps themselves without taking Indian officials in confidence. According to Indian surveyors, the index map prepared by Bangladesh extended right up to the existing fencing, while the adverse possession did not extend up to the fencing.

An alarming fact that could land the State Government in a tight spot is that this could be in violation of a provision of the Assam Accord. Clause 9.2 of the Accord states, �Besides, the arrangements mentioned above and keeping in view security consideration, a road all along the international border shall be constructed as to facilitate patrolling by security forces. Land between border and road would be kept free of human habitation, wherever possible.�

The borer fencing on this sector, incidentally, was constructed along the border roads leaving substantial area between actual border and fencing. In case of Modanpur-Pallathol, there was adverse possession but not extending up to the fencing in all the places. Currently, Bangladesh has claimed entire area adjacent to the adverse possession right up to the fencing, where there happens to be no sign of possessing the area, officials complained.

The Directorate of Land Records and Survey issued orders to go for unilateral survey of the area under Indian Territory adjoining Pallathol, where there was no adverse possession and to prepare map accordingly. The Ministry of External Affairs was requested to instruct the Border Security Force to provide logistic support and security for the survey.

According to officials in Pallathol, survey work was initiated but due to difference of opinion between both the charge officers regarding adverse possession, no index map could be prepared jointly though it was to be completed in about a week. As a result, joint stock taking and survey work in patches was required.

But when the minutes of the discussion were under preparation, suddenly, District Magistrate, Maulavi Bazaar regretted their inability to prepare a sign the minute, which was against the accepted procedure.

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B�desh wanted to usurp reserve forest in Karimganj

NEW DELHI, Sept 28 � In what could have increased the discomfiture level of the embattled Tarun Gogoi Government, Bangladesh wanted to usurp a reserve forest in Modanpur-Pallahol area in Karimganj district.

At the fourth meeting of India-Bangladesh Joint Boundary Working Group (JBWG) held here on November 2010, Bangladesh admitted that it adversely occupied Boroibari-Kalabari area in Dhubri district, Modanpur-Pallathol in Karimganj district and Niyamura-Nayagaon area, also in the same district, official records showed.

Subsequently, a joint survey of the adversely held areas was organised when index maps were prepared covering major bends and corners of the adverse possession line. However, Bangladesh did not agree to joint verification of the Modanpur-Pallathol area and it remained incomplete.

It was not without reasons, as surveyors learnt that Bangladesh had included Patharia Reserve Forest along with Pallathol Tea Estate. Though it is a fact that the tea estate is adversely possessed by Bangladesh, but the reserve forest area was notified in 1923, and then it existed as such.

Official records stated that there is encroachment in four sectors of the reserve forest by Bangladeshi nationals. Bangladesh wanted to include the entire reserve forest under adverse possession and even debarred joint verification of the area, records stated. Bangladesh did not even allow Indian officials to survey even in patches where there was no adverse possession.

The Assam Government was intimated about the status and subsequently the Prime Minister�s Office too was told during a video conferencing on the issue in July. The discussion centred around adverse possession held by Bangladesh in Assam sector including undemarcated 3 km at Lathitila-Dumabari.

According to a fact sheet released by Chief Minister, Tarun Gogoi, the Pallathol Tea Estate is held by East Pakistan since partition and though Bangladesh demanded 455 acres, what they got was 74.5 acres according to the Land Boundary Agreement.

Officials of the Directorate of Land Records and Survey say, a major concern was that Bangladesh was preparing index maps themselves without taking Indian officials in confidence. According to Indian surveyors, the index map prepared by Bangladesh extended right up to the existing fencing, while the adverse possession did not extend up to the fencing.

An alarming fact that could land the State Government in a tight spot is that this could be in violation of a provision of the Assam Accord. Clause 9.2 of the Accord states, �Besides, the arrangements mentioned above and keeping in view security consideration, a road all along the international border shall be constructed as to facilitate patrolling by security forces. Land between border and road would be kept free of human habitation, wherever possible.�

The borer fencing on this sector, incidentally, was constructed along the border roads leaving substantial area between actual border and fencing. In case of Modanpur-Pallathol, there was adverse possession but not extending up to the fencing in all the places. Currently, Bangladesh has claimed entire area adjacent to the adverse possession right up to the fencing, where there happens to be no sign of possessing the area, officials complained.

The Directorate of Land Records and Survey issued orders to go for unilateral survey of the area under Indian Territory adjoining Pallathol, where there was no adverse possession and to prepare map accordingly. The Ministry of External Affairs was requested to instruct the Border Security Force to provide logistic support and security for the survey.

According to officials in Pallathol, survey work was initiated but due to difference of opinion between both the charge officers regarding adverse possession, no index map could be prepared jointly though it was to be completed in about a week. As a result, joint stock taking and survey work in patches was required.

But when the minutes of the discussion were under preparation, suddenly, District Magistrate, Maulavi Bazaar regretted their inability to prepare a sign the minute, which was against the accepted procedure.