What are the issues and concerns related to the historic Land Boundary Agreement between India and Bangladesh ?

Published: December 12, 2019

India and Bangladesh signed an agreement to operationalize the Land Boundary Agreement (LBA) in 2015. It was signed between PM Narendra Modi and his Bangladeshi Counterpart Sheikh Hasina during his first visit to Bangladesh. 

The operationalisation LBA paved way for exchange of 162 enclaves which was under control of either countries as per the 1974 pact. Under the agreement 111 border enclaves were transferred to Bangladesh in exchange for 51 that became part of India. It also settles the question of citizenship for over fifty thousand people living in these enclaves.  

The 119th Amendment Bill was passed to ratify the land boundary agreement between the countries. While India gained 510 acres of land, Bangladesh got 10,000 acres of land. It allowed India to redraw its boundary with Bangladesh via exchange of enclaves in Assam, West Bengal, Tripura and Meghalaya. 

A recent report by a civil rights organisation highlights that protest and resistance, have continued even a few years after the agreement. There continuities in the problems that existed in the pre-LBA years, though the nature of problems have changed.

In case of India, it has now shifted from the issue of identity crisis prior to the LBA agreement to issues of poor governance as well as a conflict of interest between Centre and the State government. 

Problems faced by the enclave dwellers – 

  • Problem of land acquisition
  • Lack of proper occupation
  • Lack of basic infrastructure such as electricity, proper roads
  • Intense politicisation of enclaves and camps 
  • Discord between Centre and State 

Way ahead – 

  • Synergy required between Centre and State government
  • Occupational opportunities required for local citizens 
  • Proactive involvement of the State government in the redistribution of land 
  • Timely execution of planned projects
  • Participation of NGOs and community involvement

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