Present India-Bangladesh land exchange pact not acceptable: Mamata
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Saturday night virtually ruled out accepting the proposed Land Boundary agreement with Bangladesh in the present form under which 161 adversely held enclaves are to be exchanged between the two countries.
In a hard-hitting Facebook post, Banerjee said it was difficult to "accept the present proposal of giving away land to Bangladesh without agreement from the state government" and consent of the locals living in the transferable areas.
"It must be noted that our state of West Bengal will get only about 7,000 acres of land but will have to recede nearly 17,000 acres of land to Bangladesh. This cannot be accepted without taking into confidence and consent of the local people who live in the transferable areas," she said.
"Though we maintain friendship and good relations with Bangladesh, but it should not be at the cost of the people of West Bengal," she wrote.
Accusing the central government of leaking a letter regarding the proposed agreement to the media, the chief minister said she has discussed the issue several times with the ministers of external affairs during the last two years.
Refering to the proposed Teesta Water sharing Agreement with Bangladesh, which was also in limbo following her objection, Banerjee said the central government had said something in the "draft stage" but proposed "something totally different" in the final stage.
Attacking the central government, Banerjee wondered why it was hurrying to give away "our land and our water without the consent of the state government".
"What type of politics the Central Government is trying to play? Recently, they have disturbed the peaceful situation in Darjeeling. Earlier also, they gave away land from Assam and Tripura to the concerned country," she said.
Asserting that interests of the states could not be compromised in such a way, Banerjee "strongly" urged the central government to follow the established federal norms of the country in the interest of overall well being of the country and its people.
The union cabinet had in February approved the draft of the bill for implementing the LBA of 1974 and the protocol to it inked in 2011.
The swap envisages the transfer of 111 enclaves with an area of 17,160.63 acres to Bangladesh while 51 enclaves with an area of 7,110.02 acres will be transferred to India.
A 6.1 km undefined border - of the over 4,000-km boundary - stretch will be demarcated with the bill's passage.
The Constitution (119th Amendment) Bill, 2013 for implementation of the LBA is yet to be introduced in the monsoon session of parliament following objections from Banerjee's Trinamool Congress and other parties including the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
(Posted on 25-08-2013)