450 pillars missing from Indo-Nepal open border to be replaced

Patna, March 19 (IANS) After 450 border pillars were found missing along India’s open border with Nepal near Bihar’s east and west Champaran districts, the Sashastra Seema Bal (an armed border force) is moving to plug the gap.

New pillars would be erected soon. The SSB, under the supervision and monitoring of officials of the Survey of India and Nepal Armed forces, are busy constructing the new pillars along the officially demarcated line.

“During our ongoing survey that began last year, 450 border pillars were found missing with few of them badly damaged in the ‘no-man’s land’ along the border of two neighbouring countries,” Manjul Mamgai, an official of the Survey of India told IANS.

There is a 18.2 metre “no-man’s land” between the two countries. But at several places, land grabbers have encroached on it. “After the survey, the SSB will clear the encroachers from the area along the border” Mamgai said.

Mamgai, who is heading a team of surveyors from Dehradun, and is in Champaran at present said over telephone that new pillars would be erected soon.

In all, 1870 border pillars were erected stretching to 180 km from Gandak baraj in West Champaran to Ghorasan’s Jamunia in East Champaran nearly 85 years ago.

“It is serious work with responsibility because missing border pillars have already caused anxiety for concerned officials on both side of the border. The Survey of India is identifying the exact location of the pillars.

Mamgai alo blamed nature’s fury, apart from land grabbers and encroachers on both sides for the plight. “Some border pillars were washed away by heavy floods and others became victim of the changing route of rivers,” Mamgai said.

He said officials of both countries are meeting at Birganj in Nepal on March 21 to look at the issues arising out of the missing pillars and the need to replace them.

Last year it was agreed to install global positioning system (GPS) in the pillars.

According to the agreement, the two countries would set up 83 control points in their vicinity across the 1,880-km border and install the GPS system in all the 8,553 boundary pillars along the border.

This will ensure timely replacement of pillars if they are damaged by a natural disaster or human intervention.

According to a confidential report sent by the field formations of security agencies to the Ministry of Home Affairs, a total of 1,451 border pillars were “missing” while 1,282 had been “damaged” along the Indo-Nepal border.

According to official reports of the Survey of India, 1931 pillars were erected after an agreement between the two neighbours.

An SSB official said the pillars are the only symbolic security structures along the fence-less border of India and Nepal which is notorious for smuggling.

Bihar shares a large part of its border with Nepal, including 10 trade transit points.

(Imran Khan can be contacted at imran.k@ians.in)

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