Tripura to bear 25% of rehab expenditure of fence victims

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Agartala, Jun 11 (UNI) The Tripura Assembly today reaffirmed that the government would bear 25 per cent of the expenditure to rehabilitate families affected by the wire fencing along the Indo-Bangla border in the state.

Altogether 543 families were shifted with adequate compensation.

Replying to a query of CPI(M)'s Pranab Debbarma, Revenue Minister Badal Choudhury informed the House that about 3893 families of nine border sub-divisions had been directly affected due to fencing as their houses and all immobile property fell within 150 yards of the 'zero line' and were fenced out.

The state government had already rehabilitated 543 families with central assistance of Rs 8.5 crores. Cultivable land and parts of some construction of more than 8000 families were affected by the wire fencing.

''We have sent a proposal of Rs 93 crore for rehabilitation of the victims some two years ago and propose to bear 25 per cent of the project cost. But no response has yet been received from the Centre, which virtually affected the rehabilitation process,'' Mr Choudhury said.

He, however, criticised the Central government's fencing plan and stated that there was no bilateral agreement that fencing had to be done beyond 150 yards from 'zero line'.

''According to the Indira-Mujib pact of 1971 during Bangladesh's independence, no country could make any permanent construction along the border, which never meant that fencing would follow the guideline,'' he said, adding because of the execution of the plan the state had been incurrig rehabilitation expenditure.

He also said 30 irrigation projects, 13 institutions, two markets, two schools, nine temples and mosques had come within the 150 yards in six sub-divisions where fencing had been executed and as a result, the state had sought help from the Centre to reconstruct the building along with rehabilitation of more than 8500 people.

Supplementing the revenue minister's statement Chief Minister Manik Sarkar assured the House that his government was sympathetic towards the victims and was in regular touch with the concerned ministries but uttered concern over the role of the Border Security Force deployed in the locations.

''The BSF has not been cooperating with the citizens who are living across the fence,'' Mr Sarkar said adding that most of the time people could not get help from the personnel despite repeated request from the state government.

He said the rehabilitation task would be started as soon as the Centre provided fund for resettlement of the victims in the Indian territory and the state government was looking for safe and feasible land for the purpose.

Meanwhile, opening and closing of the designated gates on the fenced Indo-Bangla border had become a major problem for farmers living in all the 14 border sub-divisions across the state, he said.

''Though there is a clear guideline for the opening and closing of gates along the border, it is not implemented at the grassroot level causing chaos in some areas,'' he said.

Keeping in mind the safety of the Indian villagers whose land went beyond the fencing, the BSF authorities had identified some emergency gates so that people could cross over the fence in case of an emergency but Mr Sarkar assured the members that the state government would discuss the matter with the BSF.

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