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Union Cabinet set to clear agreement today
SPL CORRESPONDENT
 NEW DELHI, Nov 21 – In what might spell further trouble for the beleaguered Tarun Gogoi Government, the Union Cabinet is all set to clear the land swap agreement with Bangladesh on Thursday. At least 268.39 acres of land belonging to Assam would be transferred to Bangladesh.

The Constitution Amendment Bill, circulated for clearance at tomorrow’s meeting of the Union Cabinet, ironically comes at a time when Gogoi Government is under attack from the Opposition as well as its allies like BPF over the issue of illegal migration from Bangladesh.

According to highly placed sources, the Cabinet proposal titled Constitution Amendment Bill for Implementation of India-Bangladesh Land and Boundary Agreement and Protocol to Land Boundary Agreement is likely to spell further trouble for the Tarun Gogoi Government.

Interestingly, contrary to claims, Assam is not going to gain any land but lose over 200 acres of land in Karimganj and Dhubri districts, according to the Cabinet note being moved by the Minister of External Affairs, Salman Khursid.

The proposed Bill once cleared by the Cabinet is set to be tabled in the Parliament for passage. With the BJP already opposing the agreement, it might though prove to be tight nut to crack for the UPA Government to have both the Houses endorse the Bill, which would essentially mean redrawing the map of the country.

According to sources, adverse possession of land to be acquired by India is only in West Bengal, Meghalaya and Tripura. While adverse possession of land to be transferred to Bangladesh is in the three States of Assam, West Bengal and Meghalaya, a fact that might be difficult to sell for the Tarun Gogoi Government.

India would acquire a total land area of 2,777.038 acres. The land to be acquired in the North-east includes Meghalaya (240.578 acres) and Tripura (138.41 acres).

While adverse possession of land to be transferred to Bangladesh is 2,267.682 acres. Of the total land identified to be so transferred, Assam would part with 268.39 acres. The State Government would transfer land in Karimganj district (74.54 acres) and Dhubri (193.85 acres), sources said.

Meghalaya would swap 41.702 acres of land with Bangladesh. The State, however, would also gain possession of land from the neighbouring country.

As reported earlier, Bangladesh Government has been pressing India to expedite the ratification of the LBA-1974 and the protocols signed in 2011. At the last Home Secretary-level talks, Bangladesh told the Indian delegation that early ratification of the protocols would pave the way for implementations of the provisions of the agreement and lay the long-pending boundary related issues at rest. Both sides agreed to exchange strip maps already signed in a time-bound manner.

Despite attacks of both the AGP and BJP, besides other players like All Assam Students Union, the Chief Minister has been claiming that Assam stood to gain from the proposed agreement between India and Bangladesh on the contentious issue of resolving borderland in adverse possession of either side.

“The agreement would be beneficial for Assam. We will gain more land than Bangladesh does once the land swapping pact is signed between India and Bangladesh,” Gogoi had then stressed.

AGP has on the other rejected the land swap agreement, while the BJP has accused the Tarun Gogoi Government of following a Bangladeshi appeasing policy.

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