Border fencing renders Tripura farmers landless

June 11th, 2008 - 2:36 pm ICT by IANS  

Agartala, June 11 (IANS) An estimated 8,730 families in Tripura, whose homes and farmlands have fallen outside the barbed wire fence being erected along the border with Bangladesh, are leading a life of uncertainty because the government has been unable to rehabilitate them. “Due to scarcity of funds, the government could not rehabilitate those affected families,” said Badal Chowdhury, Tripura’s finance and revenue minister, here Wednesday.

“If the fencing was erected on the zero line of the international border, these problems would not have come up, but Bangladesh insisted on putting up the fencing 150 yards from the actual border,” Chowdhury told the Tripura assembly.

He said 13 government institutions, five temples, four mosques, 44 irrigation projects, two government schools and many markets along the border with Tripura have fallen within the 150-yard belt from the zero line of the border.

“The Tripura government had sent a Rs.930 million proposal to the centre long back to rehabilitate the affected families, but the union government is yet to respond in this regard,” the minister told the assembly.

India has been erecting barbed wire fencing in most parts of the 856-km border that Tripura shares with Bangladesh to check the trans-border movement of militants, illegal migration and border crimes.

The Bangladesh government and its border guards, the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR), have objected to the border fencing at more than 200 places along the border with West Bengal, Tripura, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Assam.

Bangladesh claimed India was building the fence within 150 yards of the border at these 200 sites, violating a 1975 India-Bangladesh agreement, which prohibits the construction of any defensive structure within 150 yards on either side of the boundary.

As many as 700 km of Tripura’s 856 km border with Bangladesh have been fenced so far and work is now in progress in the remaining areas.

“While the central government has recently sanctioned homes for few hundred families under the Indira Awas Yojana (IAY), the state government has spent Rs.100 million to rehabilitate and construct homes of 3,900 affected families,” the finance minister added.

Participating in the heated discussion on the issue in the Tripura assembly, Chief Minister Manik Sarkar said scarcity of land has been a problem in the rehabilitation and the construction of homes for the affected people.

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