‘Durable rehabilitation policy needed for border enclave dwellers’

Kolkata, June 5 (IANS) Ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Bangladesh, a report released by a leading think tank stressed on the need for a durable rehabilitation policy for the people residing in border enclave enclaves.

India and Bangladesh are set to ink the long-awaited Land Boundary Agreement (LBA) during Modi’s visit to the neighbour nation and the highlight of prime minister’s Dhaka visit beginning June 6 is the LBA pact.

The historic LBA provides for transfer of 111 adversely held enclaves with a total area of 17,160.63 acres t Bangladesh, while Dhaka is to transfer 51 such enclaves with an area of 7,110.02 acres to India.

Over 51,000 people reside in these enclaves and are now virtually stateless.

According to the ‘India-Bangladesh Connectivity: Possibilities and Challenges’ report released by the Observer Research Foundation here, the execution of the agreement needs a lot of consideration since, according to the agreement, the two countries will be able to exchange enclaves located in each other’s territory.

This inevitably calls into question the process of rehabilitation of the people who have been residing in these enclaves.

“Since India will receive more enclaves from Bangladesh, more people will be entering the country. Therefore, there needs to be a proper and durable rehabilitation policy for these people so that they can be assimilated quickly with as few hassles as possible,a the report said.

Supervised by Rakhahari Chatterji, researched by Garima Sarkar and authored by Anasua Basu Ray Chaudhary and Pratnashree Basu, the report assesses the benefits and adverse impacts of cross-border connectivity, keeping in mind the complex issues of security, environment, displacement and rehabilitation.

Shedding light on the LBA, it said the deal is expected to offer a better quality of life to the people who, till date, did not enjoy basic human rights including access to schools, hospitals and other basic amenities. These people were stateless, for all intents and purposes, the report said.

“The problems related to the demarcation of the maritime boundary were recently put to rest by the verdict of the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration, which awarded Bangladesh 19,467 sq. km of the 25,602 sq. km sea area of the Bay of Bengal, which India gracefully and readily accepted,” the authors noted.

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