The Union Cabinet is all set to consider a proposal to amend the Constitution for implementing a protocol for exchange of land with neighbouring Bangladesh which was agreed between the two sides during PM Manmohan Singh’s visit to Dhaka last year.
Though New Delhi and Dhaka agreed for a protocol to implement the 1974 India-Bangladesh Land Boundary Agreement during the PM’s visit last year, the constitutional amendment has been necessitated in wake of the fact that the agreement involves acquisition and cessation of territory in form of exchange of land enclaves on either sides.
According to the agreement, India will be ceding control of over 17,000 acres of land spread across 111 enclaves within Bangladesh while it will gain over 7,000 acres spread across 51 enclaves located in our territory as agreed between the two sides.
However, the issue of potential returnees from the Indian enclaves within the Bangladesh territory remains an issue of concern. Sources said the government has “discussed and dealt appropriately” with this issue with Mamata Banerjee-led West Bengal government for compensation.
Though the protocol with Dhaka was agreed in September last year, the Cabinet has taken up this proposal after the Attorney General suggested the need for a constitutional amendment under Article 368 that will be required for ratification in July this year.
While the proposal moved by the Ministry of External Affairs claims that “written concurrence” of state government has been obtained for the draft protocol, the strained relationship between the West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC chief Mamata Banerjee with the Congress-led UPA government at the Centre is likely to pose an irritant in the proposed move that will require the consent of at least two-thirds of Lok Sabha members present at the time of voting.