Border fencing: Bengal policy creates hurdlehttps://indianexpress.com/article/news-archive/web/border-fencing-bengal-policy-creates-hurdle/

Border fencing: Bengal policy creates hurdle

Villagers’ consent has been made mandatory by Trinamool govt for acquiring land in border areas

Fencing along India’s porous border with Bangladesh has hit a hurdle at home. Central Public Works Department — the government agency tasked to put fences along the Bangladesh border — has said that most of the work in West Bengal was stuck due to land acquisition problems. With the state government making it mandatory to acquire the land in the border areas only with the consent of the villagers,things have slowed down on the border-fencing front.

“When it comes to fencing along the international border in Bangladesh,we face most of the trouble in West Bengal. The state government has not yet been able to provide us with land for the purpose,” said V K Gupta,Director General,CPWD. The porous border has often been blamed for illegal migration,human trafficking and smuggling of arms,cattle and drugs.

The Ministry of Home Affairs had sanctioned the fencing of 1,530 km along the eastern border in West Bengal,out of which 1,220 km are complete. A crucial length of around 300 km still remains to be fenced,an official explained.

“The eastern border is a tricky case as it also includes riverine patches and marshy lands where we cannot put concrete structure. We are trying to overcome this with the help of engineering and technological solutions,” explained B B Bhatia,ADG (border),CPWD.

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Another official said that since they are putting up fences 150 yards away from the international border,the legalities involved with land acquisition have to be dealt with thoroughly.

“The state government has come up with a new law that for any land to be acquired,the consent of the local villagers will have to be taken into account. If they deny,we cannot go ahead. This is turning out to be a major headache as the state has to deal with these problems now; they are,however,moving at a very slow pace on this,” said a senior official.

“We did not face this kind of trouble in Assam and Tripura,” said another official.

When Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde visited West Bengal this February,Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had promised to expedite the matter.

The CPWD has to construct 11 battalion headquarters and more than 100 additional border outposts for the Border Security Force,starting from Cooch Behar in North Bengal till South 24 Parganas.