AGARTALA/SILCHAR, May 8 (IANS): River erosion has made the job of Border Security Force (BSF) guards increasingly difficult and dangerous along the India-Bangladesh border, says a senior BSF official.
"The erosion of river banks along the border has led to the collapse of the barbed wire fence, and damaged roads and border lines in many areas," the official told IANS.
"The situation is critical in southern Assam where erosion caused by the Kushiara river (in Karimganj district) has made border patrolling very risky," he said.
Five states - West Bengal, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Assam and Tripura - share a 4,096-km border with Bangladesh, of which 2,980-km lies on land while 1,116 km is riverine.
Barring West Bengal, the other four states lie in India's northeast and share a 1,880 km border with Bangladesh.
"Seasonal floods and heavy rains have made the border fence collapse and damaged border roads in many areas in the past couple of years, creating difficulty for foot and vehicular patrolling along these stretches," the official pointed out.
According to the official, porous border areas along the rivers are hotbeds of crime, including smuggling and illegal infiltration.
"The collapse of border fencing and roads has allowed perpetrators to have a free run of unlawful activities," he said.
"Large stretches of unfenced border areas have added to the difficulties of BSF troops," the official pointed out.
To overcome these problems, India and Bangladesh have agreed to construct embankment on their sides of the border. However, construction work has not yet started.
"Delay in visits by the joint technical teams of India and Bangladesh and acquisition of land has again created trouble in the construction of embankment," the BSF official said.
He said the Indian side sometimes with the help of the public works and water resources departments of states placed cemented blocks along the riverine areas.
But Bangladesh had been laying stones on their side, causing further erosion on the Indian side.
"As the two countries share 54 common rivers, the riverine boundaries are a major headache for the BSF," he said.
According to a report of the union home ministry, the total length of India-Bangladesh border sanctioned to be fenced is around 3,437 km, out of which around 2,761 km of fencing has been completed.
As a pilot project, 277 km of floodlighting in West Bengal has also been completed.
However, the report said the government has decided to undertake additional floodlighting in 2,840 km along the India-Bangladesh border.