India And Bangladesh Exchange 162 Enclaves At Midnight

31/07/2015 11:00 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST

NEW DELHI -- It will be a historic day at midnight today, as India and Bangladesh ready to exchange 162 adversely-held enclaves. It marks the resolution of a complex issue that has affected both countries since independence.

Bangladeshi enclaves in India and Indian enclaves in Bangladesh shall stand physically transferred to the other country with effect from the midnight of July 31, according to a statement issued by the external affairs ministry.

"July 31 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," according to the statement.

There are 111 Indian enclaves in Bangladesh and 51 Bangladeshi enclaves in India which are to be exchanged following the 1974 Land Boundary Agreement and 2011 Protocol and instruments of ratification of which were exchanged during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Bangladesh on June 6 and 7 earlier this year.

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, health-care and other facilities provided by the two Governments to their respective nationals.

Following Modi's visit to Dhaka, the MEA said that much work has gone into ascertaining the nationality options of the enclave residents.

"The Registrar General of India, Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics and District Magistrate, Cooch Behar and Deputy Commissioners of Lalmonirhat, Panchagarh, Kurigram and Nilphamari worked systematically and in a coordinated fashion to collect the options from the residents," according to the statement.

Seventy five teams operating in the enclaves in India and Bangladesh conducted option taking exercises from July 6-16, 2015, where 30 observers from Indian and Bangladesh governments were also present in the enclaves during this survey.

The MEA said that the data from this joint exercise is now being verified by the Registrar General of India and Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics.

According to the MEA, work was being done now to move residents who want to move from an Indian enclave to the mainland. Both India and Bangladesh will coordinate the movement of these residents by November 30 this year.

"Other steps with regard to implementation of the 1974 Land Boundary Agreement and 2011 Protocol are underway in accordance with agreed modalities between governments of India and Bangladesh," said a spokesperson.

According to an estimate by the ministry, around 37,000 people are living in Indian enclaves in Bangladesh while 14,000 people are staying in Bangladeshi enclaves in India.

The Indian government has already sanctioned a Rs 3,048-crore package for rehabilitation of the people affected by the exchange of enclaves under the LBA implementation.

The entire process of physical exchange of enclaves and land parcels in adverse possession along with boundary demarcation is expected to be completed by the end of June next year.

India and Bangladesh will print, sign at plenipotentiary level and exchange the strip maps of un-demarcated sectors.

Both governments will facilitate "orderly, safe and secure passage" to the enclave dwellers along with their "personal belongings and movable property" to Bangladesh or India through proper "travel documents", according to a letter exchanged by the two countries.

India and Bangladesh have also outlined the modalities of a complex process of settlement of immovable property. The dwellers will have to provide "details of the records and specifications of immovable property" to the local district administration.

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