Centre, northeastern states unhappy at slow border fencing

Agartala, June 27 (IANS) The Union Home Ministry and the state governments of the northeast region have expressed discontent over the slow progress of fencing work along the India-Bangladesh border, an official has said.

“Various state governments and MHA (Ministry of Home Affairs) have expressed dissatisfaction over the slow progress of works for erection of fencing along the India-Bangladesh border,” a senior Tripura home department official said.

“The MHA had sanctioned erection of barbed wire fencing along the 4,096-km India-Bangladesh border around 15 years back. So far, approximately 3,000 km has been fenced,” he said.

“To accelerate the work of fencing, the MHA had engaged five central government agencies and state PWDs (Public Works Departments). The performance of National Buildings Construction Corporation Ltd. (NBCC) and National Projects Construction Corporation Limited (NPCC) is very poor in this regard,” the official said on condition of anonymity.

Union Home Ministry’s Border Management Secretary Susheel Kumar, who is on a visit to Tripura and earlier visited Meghalaya, Assam and West Bengal, asked the NBCC and NPCC to speed up their work and to complete the fencing in Tripura by March 2017.

The other central government agencies working for border fencing are the Engineering Projects (India) Ltd, Border Roads Organisation and the Central Public Works Department.

“MHA has asked all the agencies to complete the border fencing works in the rescheduled timeframe,” the Tripura official added.

“As per international norms, the barbed wire fencing is being erected 150 yards from the zero line of the border. Where there are problems, the fencing is being erected at the Zero Line after consulting the Bangladesh government,” he added.

Tripura government officials told Union Secretary Kumar that pending land acquisition cases, protests by the local people and delay in getting forest clearance are some of the major hitches in completing the fencing in time.

Kumar has said district magistrates and collectors have been asked to talk to the people in case of any negative public perception regarding the fencing.

He also said the state government officials should amicably resolve the issue of shifting the population along the border.

On Sunday, Kumar held a meeting with Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar and discussed various border-related issues, besides interacting with the BSF troopers.

(Sujit Chakraborty can be contacted at sujit.c@ians.in)

–IANS

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