KOLKATA: On a day Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla landed in Kolkata to hold a meeting with West Bengal officials on the issue of extending the jurisdiction of BSF from 15 km to 50 km, the state Assembly finalised a resolution opposing the Centre’s move.
Minister Partha Chatterjee said the resolution would be tabled on November 16.
“The move is against the federal structure. The Centre took the arbitrary decision without consulting the state government,” he said.
He said if the BSF is allowed to operate within 50 km from the international borders, it will render 37 per cent area of the state’s land under the border force’s control and “clip the state police’s authority”.
The decision regarding the matter was taken at a meeting of the Business Advisory Committee, he added.
The BJP maintained it would oppose the resolution, stating it to be against national interest.
"Why don't they protest against cases of cattle smuggling and infiltration," BJP national vice president Dilip Ghosh asked.
Earlier, TMC chief whip Nirmal Ghosh said the matter will be taken up for discussion on November 17.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has criticised the Centre's move to extend the jurisdiction of the Border Security Force (BSF), alleging that it was an attempt to interfere with the federal structure of the country.
The BJP-led central government had amended the BSF Act to authorise the force to undertake search, seizure and arrest within a larger 50 km stretch, instead of 15 km, from the international border in Punjab, West Bengal and Assam.
The Punjab assembly on Thursday had adopted a resolution against the Centre's decision, calling it an "insult" to the state police and sought its withdrawal.
Meanwhile, the state assembly on Friday passed a resolution, carving out Bally Municipality from the Howrah Municipal Corporation area to help people get better civic amenities.
Municipal Affairs Minister Chandrima Bhattacharya tabled the proposal as the House proceedings began and TMC's Bally MLA Rana Chatteejee and Kandi MLA Apurba Sarkar spoke in favour of the resolution.
Bhattacharya said the decision was taken in the interest of the people, so that they do not travel all the way to Howrah for getting their work done.
Sixteen wards of Bally Municipality were merged with 50 wards of Howrah Municipal Corporation in 2015.
Following the bifurcation, now the number of wards is likely to be rearranged.
The Howrah Municipal Corporation (Amendment) Bill will be tabled in the assembly on November 16, Ghosh said.
The state cabinet approved the bifurcation in January.
"We want to give better amenities to every citizen, hence this decision was taken. If anyone opposes it, they are doing it for political reasons," Bhattacharya later told reporters, replying to a question on BJP's opposition to the move.
Meanwhile, Harischandrapur MLA Tajmul Hussain raised the issue of a skulk of foxes attacking a village in his constituency in the Malda district, injuring around 40 people.
As Forest Minister Jyotipriyo Mallick was not present in the House, he urged Speaker Biman Bandyopadhyay to draw the minister's attention.
Kandi MLA Apurba Sarkar flagged the issue of delay in the construction of Ranagram bridge in Murshidabad district, stating that it is causing immense hardship to the people.
No BJP MLA was present in the House on Friday.
The assembly was adjourned till November 15.
Meanwhile, Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla discussed international border fencing, integrated check posts, border outposts and road projects with top officials of the West Bengal government on Friday, sources said.
West Bengal Chief Secretary HK Dwivedi, Home Secretary BP Gopalika and Director-General of Police Manoj Malaviya were present at the meeting, besides magistrates of at least 10 districts, they said.
During the meeting, Bhalla stressed that the Centre was very concerned about the security at the international borders, a source said.
Among the issues discussed at the meeting were pending land acquisition for construction of borders fences, road projects, border outposts and integrated check posts, he said.
The issue of extension of the BSF's jurisdiction to 50 km from the international border did not come up for discussion at the meeting, the source said.
"At the meeting, there were discussions about land acquisition for barbed wire fencing at the international borders. Total 289 km of the international border is needed to be fenced with barbed wires but it could not completed due to land acquisition issues. Fencing of 107 km of borders is yet to be done," he said.
Meanwhile, senior officials of the state government objected to the proposed plan of setting up border chowks in West Bengal, stating that they were "full of errors", he said.
"There are a lot of mistakes in the proposed plans for setting up the border chowks in West Bengal. Our officers have pointed out the mistakes and placed a report in support of their claims," the source in the West Bengal government told PTI.
West Bengal shares over 2,200 km of international border with Bangladesh, about 183 km border with Bhutan and 100 km border with Nepal.
(With PTI Inputs)