NEW DELHI, May 7 � Despite the hue and cry, India and Bangladesh are close to endorsing the recent land swap deal according to the External Affairs Minister, SM Krishna.
The External Affairs Minister�s remarks came at the end of the first meeting of the India-Bangladesh Joint Consultative Commission (JCC) attended by Foreign Affairs Minister of Bangladesh, Dr Dipu Moni here today.
Stating that there are few countries in the world, whose destinies are as interlinked as ours,� he said. �We share the longest land borders with each other. Many of us share the same religious beliefs, language, customs and aspirations. We deeply appreciate the initiative taken by the Government of Bangladesh to honour the �people of India� and the �Indian Armed Forces� for their contribution to the liberation of Bangladesh, a cause which is very close to our hearts.�
�The signing of the India-Bangladesh boundary strip maps by our Plenipotentiaries is almost complete, except for a few which are also likely to be completed very soon,� announced Krishna during a joint media interaction.
Sources said that India and Bangladesh have signed majority of the maps though survey work remains in some areas.
India and Bangladesh share a 4,096 km land boundary covering the five States of West Bengal, Assam, Tripura, Meghalaya and Mizoram.
The Assam Government has claimed that Assam will get 1,240 acres, against 193 acres it has ceded. Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, had claimed India does not physically possess any of the lands that are to be swapped. He also said that no land in India�s possession had been given to Bangladesh in the deal.
�Dr Dipu Moni and I have reviewed the progress in bilateral cooperation in all areas, including trade, connectivity, power, water resources, security, border management, infrastructure, people-to-people contacts, culture, environment, education, among others,� he said.
Meanwhile, India assured Dr Dipu Moni that it remains committed to an early solution on the issue of sharing Teesta waters. Since water sharing is a sensitive issue, in accordance with the traditions of consensual decision-making in India�s democratic polity, internal consultations are on amongst stakeholders.
Krishna said the Coordinated Border Management Plan is now in operation, and will help reduce incidents on the border, including illegal and criminal activities.
�The JCC reviewed cooperation in the power sector. The work on power inter-grid connectivity is progressing and we are hopeful that 500 MW power would flow from India to Bangladesh during the summer of 2013.
�We are also moving ahead with the setting up of 1320 MW coal-based joint venture power plant which is expected to be commissioned by 2016. We welcome the participation of Bangladesh in power projects in India, particularly in the North-Eastern States of India,� said Krishna.
On the Tipaimukh project, it has been agreed that a Sub-Group under the Joint Rivers Commission would be constituted to look into all aspects, including the Prime Minister�s proposal for joint participation in the project, Krishna said.
�Following the positive experience in Meghalaya, we hope to open new border haats along the International Border in the States of Tripura and Mizoram, as well.
�Our focus now is to ensure timely delivery on the contracts that have been signed by the Government of Bangladesh. So far, projects worth more than USD 810 million have been agreed upon and five contracts worth USD 83 million have been signed. The first consignment of buses has arrived in Dhaka and deliveries of railway rolling stock will start by the end of the year,� he said.
On the trade and investment front, the decision by India in 2011 to grant zero duty access to all goods from Bangladesh has opened new opportunities for expansion of bilateral trade, he informed.