NEW DELHI: The Centre's request to acquire about 300 acres of land in West Bengal for construction of barbed wire fencing along the India-Bangladesh border has been approved by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, sources in the Union Home Ministry officials said on Friday. The state government had been dithering for months over acquiring the land, delaying the construction along the international border, sources said.
With an agreement on handing over the land, the long-delayed construction of the fencing in the West Bengal sector of the India-Bangladesh border is expected to start soon, a Home Ministry official said. India shares a 4,096-km border with Bangladesh. Of this, 2,216 km falls in West Bengal. The state border often courts infamy for illegal immigration and smuggling of cattle and narcotics.
For the construction of the fence, the home minister had sent similar letters to the chief ministers of Uttar Pradesh, Meghalaya, Tripura and Bihar for the acquisition of land in the states. On Friday, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh also reviewed the progress of various projects being undertaken along the borders with China, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Myanmar.
During the meeting, Singh was informed that various projects got delayed due to the non-availability of environment clearances from state governments. Singh asked ministry officials to pursue the matter with the governments concerned, sources said. Singh also reviewed the progress of ongoing projects being executed by the Land Ports Authority of India and the border management division under the Home Ministry.
"There was very good progress and Integrated Check Posts (ICPs) at five border crossing points out of seven approved projects have been completed," read a statement issued by the ministry. Terminals for smooth movement of goods and people at ICP Raxaul and ICP Jogbani on the India-Nepal border, ICP Petrapole and ICP Agartala on the India-Bangladesh border and ICP Attari on India-Pakistan border have been made functional.
At each ICP, facilities have been constructed for customs clearance, immigration, warehouses for storage of goods, approach roads and terminal buildings to adequately handle import and export of goods and entry and exit of people. Work on ICP Moreh on the India-Myanmar border and ICP Dawki on India-Bangladesh border is in the advanced stage of completion. The total approved expenditure for the seven ICPs is over Rs 700 crore, according to the official statement.
The home minister also directed officials to take up construction of an additional 13 ICPs — Hili, Jaigaon, Ghojadanga, Mahadipur, Changrabandha, Fulbari, Rupaidiha, Kawrpuichhuah, Panitanki, Sutarkandi, Sunauli, Banbasa and Bhithamore — and the passenger terminal at Petrapole.