The Ministry of Home Affairs’ (MHA) alleged indifference has led Assam to lose large stretches of fertile land to Bangladesh.
In a bid to check illegal influx and movement of jehadis and militants, the MHA, had in 1987, undertaken Phase I of a massive project comprising 857 km of fencing, nearly 3,000 km of roads and 22 km of bridge along the India-Bangladesh border. The fencing under Phase I was single type.
The Phase III of the project, which is currently underway, was awarded to National Building Construction Corporation (NBCC) to replace the single- type fencing with a composite type. Earlier this year, the deputy commissioners of two Assam districts bordering Bangladesh had informed the MHA and the State government about the realigning of the fencing by NBCC along the India-Bangladesh border.
However, lack of proper planning has resulted in India losing out on vast stretches of land, as the fence was built deeper into the Indian territory, than the stipulated 150 metres from Zero Line separating the two countries. On some stretches, the fence is 900 metres from the Zero Line.
“The rework led to large stretches of arable Indian land falling into ‘no man’s land’ beyond the fence,” said Anurag Goel, deputy commissioner of southern Assam’s Karimganj district in his letter dated March 13.
“The NBCC officials told me that MHA awarded the Phase III work to replace the existing fencing with composite type on the existing alignment. There is no provision for fresh land acquisition in Phase III,” the DC said.
“This is a question of India’s territorial integrity. We want the project to be put on hold and a probe ordered,” said senior Asom Gana Parishad leader Hitendra Nath Goswami.