Shillong: Posed by the threat of Meghalaya’s Lyngkhong village in East Khasi Hills District being cut off from the rest of country due to the ongoing international fencing along the India-Bangladesh border, the state government has instructed the National Building Construction Corporation (NBCC) and the district administration to work on the possibility of pushing the fencing towards the zero line.
Fencing work between India (in Meghalaya) and Bangladesh along the 443 km border started between year 2006-2007. Last year, BSF officials shared that out of 443 km, 341.764 km of the border has already been fenced.
“We have instructed the district administration to work out with NBCC on the possibility on how to push the fencing towards the zero line,” said Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong, who also represents the Pynursla constituency under which the said village falls.
Zero line is considered as the border between India and Bangladesh.
The residents of the border village had earlier expressed apprehensions as they live in the fear of being cut off from India once the remaining fencing work resumes. The work has been temporarily halted due to protest from the villagers.
Pointing out that the guidelines of the international boundary is being guided by the Indira-Mujib Pact of 1972, Tynsong said that the fencing is happening due to the international norm.
As per the Indira-Mujib pact of 1972, no permanent structure can be built within 150 yards of the international border. In December 2019, the Bangladesh government had agreed to allow India to erect a barbed wire fencing along the zero line in at least 13 areas along the Indo-Bangla border in Meghalaya.
However, the minister said, “The ground reality is different. We push way closer to the boundary pillar wherever, whatever possible.”
Stating that the NBCC is making sure that it pushes towards the zero line, Tynsong said fencing, specially in isolated villages, has to be well within the international fencing made by the Government of India.
“Now it is under discussion and I have already instructed the district administration and even the NBCC to find out ways and means to take care of this because if the village is outside the fencing, we will have problems,” he added.
According to a BSF official, by convention, the fence is to be built at least 150 yards away from the zero line but that is not the case always as the Border Guards of Bangladesh agree in certain cases for fences to come up nearer the zero line, depending upon the presence of habitation such as in Lyngkhong.
The Government of Bangladesh has given ‘concurrence’ to relaxing this norm in at least 7 such locations along the border in Meghalaya and it was informed that a proposal has been initiated for Lyngkhong too.
At present there are at least 13 such areas where approval is awaited from the Government of Bangladesh which may require years of negotiations to get the agreement.