West Bengal Assembly passes Bill to give land rights to enclave dwellers in north Bengal

West Bengal Assembly unanimously passed West Bengal Land Reforms (Amendment) Bill, 2018 to give land rights to enclave dwellers in north Bengal. The bill will end era of uncertain future for the people residing in those enclaves as it will help them to get full-fledged status as citizens of India, along with all civic amenities and rights. It will also help in distribution of land rights documents people of enclaves in border district of Cooch Behar. The process will result in creation of 13 ‘mouzas’ (administrative district), while rest of area will be amalgamated with existing 31 ‘mouzas’. Plot-to-plot verification has been undertaken to ascertain the ownership status of the land to the dwellers.

Background

Bangladesh and India had exchanged total of 162 enclaves in August 2015 as per historic 1974 Land Boundary Agreement (LBA), ending one of the world’s most-complex border disputes that had lingered for seven decades since Independence. In Cooch Behar, 111 Indian enclaves, spread across 17,160 acres, became part of Bangladesh territory and 51 Bangladesh enclaves, comprising 7,110 acres, joined India. The enclave residents were allowed to either reside at their present location or move to the other country. Around 37,334 people residing in enclaves in Indian side refused to go to Bangladesh, whereas 922 enclave dwellers from Bangladesh side preferred to be in India.

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