India – Bangladesh Relationship – Continue

Other Cooperation

#Land Boundary Agreement(LBA)

Brief History

  • Attempts have been made to arrive at a comprehensive settlement of the land boundary between India and Bangladesh (the erstwhile East Pakistan) since 1947. The Nehru-Noon Agreement of 1958 and the Agreement Concerning the Demarcation of the Land Boundary between India and Bangladesh and Related Matters of 1974 (referred to as 1974 LBA) sought to find a solution to the complex nature of the border demarcation involved.
  • However, three outstanding issues pertaining to an un-demarcated land boundary of approximately 6.1 km, exchange of enclaves and adverse possessions remained unsettled.
  • In 2011 both nations announced an intention to swap 162 enclaves, giving residents a choice of nationality.
  • Indian Parliament in May 2015 passed the constitutional amendment bill regarding the land boundary agreement with Bangladesh.This was 100th constitutional amendment act of India… This is to allow the operationalisation of the 1974 India-Bangladesh Land Boundary agreement.

The 2011 Protocol ensures that the India-Bangladesh boundary is permanently settled with no more differences in interpretation, regardless of the government in power.

Major Agreements

  • The 2011 Protocol results in a fixed demarcated boundary in all the un-demarcated segments, exchange of 111 Indian enclaves in Bangladesh with 51 Bangladesh enclaves in India and a resolution of all adversely possessed areas.
  • In the exchange of enclaves, India transfers 111 enclaves with a total area of 17,160.63 acres to Bangladesh, while Bangladesh would transfer 51 enclaves with an area of 7,110.02 acres to India.

Impact and achievements of LBA 

  • The exchange of enclaves will mitigate major humanitarian problems as the residents in the enclaves 
  • Its been recognised as a major diplomatic victory by both the countries
  • Reduce insurgency by better border management
  • Solution to illegal migration
  • Its a template to solve other border disputers 

#Settlement of Maritime Disputes

In a landmark judgment, the Hague-based Permanent Court of Attribution (PCA) has awarded Bangladesh an area of 19,467 sq km, four-fifth of the total area of 25,602 sq km disputed maritime boundary in the Bay of Bengal with India

The UN Tribunal’s award has clearly delineated the course of maritime boundary line between India and Bangladesh in the territorial sea, Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and continental shelf within and beyond 200 nautical miles (nm). Now, Bangladesh’s maritime boundary has been extended by 118,813 sq comprising 12 nm of territorial sea and an EEZ extending up to 200 nm into the high seas.

In addition, the ruling acknowledged Bangladesh’s sovereign rights of undersea resources in the continental shelf extending as far as 345 nm in the high seas, taking Chittagong coast as the base line. The verdict has been broadly accepted by both the countries as a positive development for further consolidation of friendly relations especially given the geo-strategic/political significance of greater Indian Ocean region and South Asian sub-region.

Security and Economic implications for India

  • Some are of the scholars’ opinion that the ruling could provide force for the new Indian government to ratify the Land Boundary Agreement and reach an understanding on sharing the waters of the Teesta river with Bangladesh.
  • The verdict would contribute towards establishing strategic partnerships among the nations sharing borders in the Bay.
  • The award is expected to have positive impact on emerging multilateral forum like BIMSTEC. It may be noted that India has already settled its maritime borders with Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Thailand. Similarly, Bangladesh’s maritime issues with Myanmar are resolved.
  • The PCA award assumes strategic significance against the backdrop of China’s close ties with Bangladesh and its growing interests and activities in the Bay region for which India is worried. Now the settlement of maritime disputes between India and Bangladesh may have a restraining influence on the expansionist designs of China.
  • Both the countries have accepted the award as it will open the door for exploration of oil and gas in the Bay—the site of huge energy reserves.
  • The verdict has recognised India’s sovereignty over New Moore island and received nearly 6000 sq km of the contested zone where the island had once existed.
  • India’s discovery of natural gas in 2006 took place in a creek which is situated about 50 km south of the mouth of the Hariabhanga river within the contested zone. The lingering maritime dispute stood in the way of exploration of hydrocarbons in the Bay region. Such as in December, 2013, Australian firm Santos withdrew from two sea-blocks citing security and maritime dispute with Bangladesh.
  • Now India’s policy makers could chalk out a long-term strategy for the economic development of the Bay region. To realise its goals, New Delhi may forge bilateral or multilateral partnerships under the framework of sub-regional grouping like BIMSTEC

Implication for Bangladesh

The award has huge economic significance for a small state like Bangladesh. It has cleared the obstacles for Dhaka to open up its waters for foreign firms to explore and exploit hydrocarbons in the Bay. So long, Bangladesh’s maritime dispute with India is believed to have deterred many international petroleum companies to invest in the sea-blocks previously offered by it.

The United Nations Convention of Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) gives a nation 12 nm of territorial control and ensures sovereign rights to explore, exploit and manage natural resources with 200 nm of EEZ.

The economic prospects of the Bay region have increased enormously after Myanmar and India discovered huge natural gas deposits beneath the sea. It is reported that Myanmar discovered 7 trillion cubic feet of hydrocarbon deposits in the region. This was followed by India’s discovery of another 100 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. This prompted Bangladesh—a nation with limited resource base and high demand of energy,to search for offshore energy resources.

In 2008, Bangladesh government divided its claimed territorial sea and EEZ into 28 sea-blocks and leased them to multinational companies to meet its growing energy needs.But Bangladesh was eventually compelled to suspend exploration as both India and Myanmar objected to it.Successive discoveries of massive natural gas have made the delimitation of maritime boundary all the more significant.

  • Economically, Bangladesh is a major gainer. Now, Dhaka is in a position to invite foreign companies to explore oil and gas resources in its maritime zones.
  • It would definitely help Bangladesh to compensate gas shortages in its gas turbine-run industries and plants and contribute to the country’s economic development.
  • India’s ONGC stands a good chance to win lucrative contracts in Bangladeshi offshore gas and oil fields.
  • The verdict is also good news for millions of fishermen in both the countries. The amicable settlement has opened up vast sea areas which were not available to them in the last four decades.
  • Moreover, both the countries could enhance cooperation in the conservation of the rich bio-diversity of the Sunder bans.
  • By clearly delineating the maritime boundary between the two nations, the verdict could help boosting coastal and maritime security in the region. Before the award, both India and Bangladesh could not undertake cooperative measures due to the vexed problem. The verdict has now cleared the hurdles of strengthening security in the maritime front.
  • Furthermore, precise demarcation of maritime boundary would assist in preventing the cases of transgression by fishermen of both countries. The PCA award is really a “win-win” situation for both the countries, as described by the Bangladesh foreign minister, if they follow it up with concrete action.


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