What is Indo-Bangla land swap deal, why PM Modi made a U-turn on the issue: Explained

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday announced that his Government would not compromise on national security and utilise land transfer agreement with Bangladesh in such a manner that it serves the long-term security interests of Assam.

PM Narendra Modi

What is the Land Boundary Agreement?

  • The land swap deal known as Land Boundary Agreement (LBA) was signed between fprmer PM Manmohan Singh and Bangladesh's Sheikh Hasina in Dhaka in September 2011.
  • Under the agreement the zig-zag Indo- Bangladesh border will be redrawn and made much straighter.
  • As per the agreement, each country will have to transfer area under adverse possession and enclaves to the other one.

What will happen under the deal?

  • Under the agreement, India will receive 111 enclaves spread over 17,000 acres from Bangladesh and will hand over 51spreading over 7,110 acres to it.
  • Bangladeshi enclaves mean land with people belonging to the country but encircled by Indian Territory.
  • India will also acquire 2777.038 acres adverse possession areas and transfer 2267.682 acres adverse possession areas to Bangladesh.

The genesis of the Land Boundary dispute

  • India and Bangladesh have a common land boundary of approximately 4,096.7 km. 
  • The land boundary between two countries was determined as per the Radcliffe Award of 1947. 
  • The original deal between the two nations was originally signed in 1974. 
  • In 1974 LBA, both countries agreed to exchange the enclaves of land which was in their territory.

How many people live in these enclaves?

  • In Indian side, the enclaves of land lie in the States of Assam, West Bengal, Meghalaya and Tripura.
  • In some cases, there are even Indian sub-enclaves within Bangladesh enclaves and vice-versa.
  • The population in all the enclaves is estimated to be around 51,549 people in total of which 37,334 are reportedly Indians in Bangladesh.

How it will benefit the people living there?

  • People living in these enclaves are surrounded by territory of another country which means they are bereft of development benefits.
  • Further, straight border will help in better management.

What does Parliamentary standing committee said regarding the land Bill?

  • The Parliamentary Committee urged the government to table a constitutional amendment that would pave the way for a land swap deal.
  • It said the Bill will pave the way for broader bilateral ties with Bangladesh.
  • It has asked the government to carry out effective consultations with concerned State Governments to ensure smooth implementation of the agreement.
  • The committee urged the Centre to take measures to check bonafides of Bangladeshi residents who shall be given Indian citizenship.

BJP's U-turn on Land Boundary Agreement

  • When the UPA-II tried to move the constitutional amendment bill in Parliament, BJP opposed the move.
  • The then leader of Opposition Arun Jaitley said that there was no question of transferring land to Bangladesh.
  • He said territory of India is a part of the Constitution. "It cannot be reduced or altered by an amendment to the Constitution." 
  • Now, PM Modi, during a rally in Assam promised to enforce the agreement.
  • He said it will help in curbing illegal migration from Bangladesh.

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