India, Bangladesh to swap enclaves from midnight

New Delhi, July 31 (IANS) With effect from midnight on Friday, India and Bangladesh would swap small enclaves of land in each other’s possession – bringing in to effect the implementation of the 1974 Land Boundary Agreement.

The 111 Indian enclaves in Bangladesh and 51 Bangladeshi enclaves in India would be exchanged pursuant to the Land Boundary Agreement and the 2011 Protocol, instruments of ratification of which were exchanged during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Dhaka in May.

Following Modi’s visit and the historic LBA ratification, both sides have been busy working out the modalities for exchange.

As a first step, both sides have been working at ascertaining the nationality options of the enclave residents. The office of the Registrar General of India, Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics and district magistrate, Cooch Behar (India) and deputy commissioners of Lalmonirhat, Panchagarh, Kurigram and Nilphamari (Bangladesh) worked systematically and in a coordinated fashion to collect the options from the residents.

The actual option taking exercise was carried out by 75 teams operating in the enclaves in India and Bangladesh from July 6-16. Thirty observers from both sides were present in the enclaves during this survey period. Data from this joint exercise is now being verified by the India’s registrar general and the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, said an official statement.

After successfully completing the exercise of ascertaining nationality options, the ground has been prepared for the movement of residents who want to move from an Indian enclave to the Indian mainland. Both governments are working closely together to facilitate trouble-free movement of these residents before the stipulated date of November 30.

“July 31, 2015 will thus be a historic day for both India and Bangladesh. The day marks the resolution of a complex issue that has lingered since independence. It also marks the day from which enclave residents on both sides of the border will enjoy the benefits of nationality of India or Bangladesh, as the case may be, and thus access to civic services, education, healthcare and other facilities provided by the two governments to their respective nationals,” said the statement.

Other steps with regard to implementation of the 1974 Land Boundary Agreement and 2011 Protocol are underway in accordance with agreed modalities between the Indian and Bangladeshi governments, it said.

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