Par panel approves bill on Indo-Bangla agreement

A parliamentary panel is learnt to have approved a bill to give effect to the India-Bangladesh Land Boundary Agreement (LBA) recommending that the interests of state governments and the people be kept in mind.

The “unanimous” report of the Standing Committee on External Affairs, headed by Congress member Shashi Tharoor, on the Constitution (119th Amendment) Bill, 2013 is likely to be tabled in Rajya Sabha next week, informed sources said.

bd-indiaThey said the report has taken into cognisance most issues raised by Trinamool Congress, which had put its foot down to block the accord with Bangladesh in 2011 ahead of a visit to Dhaka by then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The issues, raised by TMC, primarily relate to protection of national interests, the interests of all states bordering Bangladesh and those of the people likely to be affected by the proposed accord.

The sources said safeguards had been added in the proposed bill to ensure that the Centre would take the state governments concerned into confidence while implementing the various provisions of the land boundary agreement.

The UPA-II government had last December managed to introduce the Constitution amendment bill to facilitate the swap of land enclaves with Bangladesh, amid din and high drama which saw members of Trinamool Congress and Asom Gana Parishad trying to snatch copies of the proposed legislation from the then External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid.

It was later referred to the Standing Committee.

The bill amends the First Schedule of the Constitution to give effect to the Indo-Bangla agreement on acquiring and transfer of territories between the two countries on May 16, 1974. The First Schedule of the Constitution defines the area of each state and Union territory which together constitute India.

The legislation is aimed at ratifying the LBA between India and Bangladesh under the Indira-Mujib pact of 1974 to exchange areas and people on either side of the border.

India will exchange 111 enclaves measuring 17,160 acres to Bangladesh and receive 51 enclaves covering 7,110 acres. Almost 51,000 people reside in these enclaves.

The territories involved in the exchange are in Assam, West Bengal, Meghalaya and Tripura.

-Business Standard