Unfenced borders a threat to security

At a time when the nation is haunted by the issue of illegal migration, unfenced parts of the India-Bangladesh border are once again in the news in the wake of recent ethnic clashes in Assam.

The fencing of the border in West Bengal commenced way back in 2005, but even after seven years since its inception, the project is far from completion, thanks to the lack of coordination of the state and central government and land acquisition issues.

According to a Home Ministry report, prepared by its department of Border Management, West Bengal shares 2,217 km of border with Bangladesh, of which, back in 2005, the Centre identified a stretch of 1,528 km that is to be protected from border infiltration and smuggling, by erecting barbed fences which was supposed to be completed by March 2010, but in the last seven years, only 1,219 km has been fenced leaving the 309 km stretch of the Bangladesh border in Bengal unfenced.  This is the longest unprotected stretch among the five Indian states of Assam, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Tripura and West Bengal that share the country's 4,097 km international border with Bangladesh. The unfenced border in Assam is about 9 km; 90 km in Meghalaya; 126 km in Tripura and in Mizoram it is 146 km.

The revelation came at a time when the after-effects of the ethnic clashes between the Bodos and the Bengali Muslims (most of whom allegedly migrated from Bangladesh) have crossed the geographical boundary of Assam and descended to other parts of the country. The Central government directly carries out the task, but the role of state is to help in acquiring the identified land stretch or making it encroachment-free. 

Though, the first phase--a stretch of 507 km was completed within the stipulated period in 2008, in the second phase- a stretch of 1,021 km, the Centre had to extend the deadline on several occasions due to problem regarding acquisition of land. People living near border areas in several districts such as Jalpaiguri, Cooch Behar, North and South Dinajpur, Malda, Murshidabad, Nadia and North 24 Parganas began to resist the move as the fencing was to come up on their paddy fields or homestead lands.

In fact due to thier resistance, the government was compelled to extend the deadline till March 2010 instead of February 2009, yet it was successful in completing only 712 km of the 1,021 km of the fencing leaving an entire vast stretch open for illegal infiltration.“There are issues with land acquisition for setting up border outposts, as each requires about three acres of land and the BSF recently approached us over the matter. In the past three months, nobody has told us that work is held up due to non-availability of land. Let the Centre bring the matter to our notice, we will surely help, a government official told Deccan Herald.

Comments (+)