The land acquisition policy of the Mamata Banerjee government has become an obstacle in the setting up of border outposts (BOP) in West Bengal.
BOPs are essential for checking trans-border crimes like smuggling,human trafficking and illegal trade in currency.
Around 223 new BOPs have been sanctioned for West Bengal. But the construction of 207 BOPs proposed in the districts of North 24-Parganas,Nadia,Murshidabad,Malda,North and South Dinajpur,Darjeeling,Jalpaiguri and Cooch Behar have not started as land has not been acquired for them.
On September 2011,the Union Home Ministry sent a letter to the state government asking all district officials to finalise the pending land acquisition process for the BOPs, but till now no concrete steps have been taken.
The letter (memo number 11013/14/2006-BM-III) mentions that the work for 207 BOPs has been held up as land acquisition is pending till date.
Since the scheduled date for completion of these BOPs is March 2014,it will now be difficult to complete the work within the scheduled date at the current pace of land acquisition.
The Union Home Ministry also sent several reminders,asking the state government to furnish details of land acquisition in these districts. The Centre also sent Rs 158.35 crore this year for border development.
Senior officials said that according to the plan,most of the proposed BOPs would be set up on farmland. Hence,there have been strong protests from villagers in these nine districts.
According to the documents accessed by The Indian Express,BOPs in 29 areas in North 24-Parganas,22 in Nadia,10 areas of Murshidabad,16 areas of Malda,22 in South Dinajpur,30 in North Dinajpur,5 in Darjeeling,23 in Jalpaiguri and 50 areas in Cooch Behar are awaiting land acquisition.
Setting up a BOP requires around 200 acres of land,and most of the proposed BOPs will require around 100 acres of farmland. As a result,the land and land reforms department has not cleared any of the proposals.
Home Secretary Basudeb Banerjee admitted that most of the BOPs are on hold due to land acquisition problems. But it will be sorted out,he added.