Rajya Sabha passes LBA
Rajya Sabha today passed constitution amendment bill on Land Boundary Agreement with Bangladesh to settle decades-old boundary disputes with India.
Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj placed the bill before the Rajya Sabha around 5:00pm, our New Delhi correspondent reports.
The bill has been passed without any major hurdle since there is an agreement among the key parties on the much-talked-about issue.
Tomorrow, it will be moved to the Lok Sabha to facilitate exchange of enclaves, transfer of adversely possessed areas and demarcation of un-demarcated border, according to diplomatic sources in New Delhi.
After discussions over the contentious issues for months, the Indian cabinet approved the constitution amendment bill yesterday.
The BJP wanted to amend the bill keeping Assam out of its purview apparently as part of its political calculations in the state where assembly elections are slated for early next year. But the ruling party had to include Assam in the bill in the face of strong resistance from the main opposition, the Congress Party.
The bill has to be passed in each House by a majority of not less than two-thirds of the members of that House. And it will require ratification by at least half of the members of the state legislatures of West Bengal, Assam and Meghalaya before it comes into effect.
The clearing of the bill by the cabinet came a day after the top leadership of the BJP and the RSS discussed the issue with their Assam leaders on Monday night. They decided to include Assam, sensing if the bill excludes the state, it would have no chance of passage in Rajya Sabha, where the BJP lacks majority.
The bill's approval indicates the BJP government's resolve to get it cleared in parliament, bringing all parties on board, say analysts.
According to diplomatic sources in Dhaka and New Delhi, if the bill is passed, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi might visit Bangladesh sometime next month.
FACTS ABOUT LBA
The LBA has three components. One is un-demarcated land boundary of approximately 6.1 km in three sectors in Bangladesh's Nilphamari and India's West Bengal, Muhuri River in Bangladesh's Feni and Belonia in India's Tripura, and Lathitila-Dumabari in Bangladesh's Moulvibazar and India's Assam.
The other two are exchange of 162 enclaves and over 5,000 acres of adversely possessed land.
India will transfer 111 enclaves with 17,158 acres of land and a population of 37,369. The enclaves are spread across four districts in Bangladesh -- 12 in Kurigram, 59 in Lalmonirhat, four in Nilphamari and 36 in Panchagarh.
The 51 Bangladeshi enclaves, all located in Cooch Behar of West Bengal, have 7,110 acres of land and population of 14,215.
Once the exchange is done, Bangladesh will have a net gain of around 10,000 acres of land.
The exchange of enclaves will fulfil a major humanitarian need to mitigate the hardships that the enclaves' inhabitants had to endure for over six decades for lack of basic amenities and facilities.
In respect of adversely possessed land, India will get 2,777.038 acres and transfer 2,267.682 acres to Bangladesh.