Dhaka, August 30: Bangladesh and India are set to sign a deal next week to exchange 162 “enclaves” to end their border disputes, pending since 1947, during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's historic visit here.
“We expect a deal to be signed on exchanging the enclaves during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit next week,” a home ministry official said.
His comments came as Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's foreign affairs adviser Gawher Rizvi earlier said the two sides intend to agree on the swap to end the historic border disputes during Singh's September 6-7 Dhaka tour.
“We are trying to address all outstanding border issues during the Indian premier's visit,” he said on monday after reviewing the progress of proposed deals with visiting Indian national security adviser Shivshankar Menon.
The enclaves, where pockets of one country's territory are surrounded by the other, appeared as “islands of land” as a major cross border issue after the 1947 partition of the Indian sub-continent.
The ownership arrangements, however, were made centuries ago as the then local kings exchanged pieces of lands of their estates winning or losing in gambling.
Home minister P Chidambaram last month said surveyors found the population in 162 enclaves on Bangladesh-India frontiers to be 51,000 as a process was underway for a tangible decision to end the protracted cross-border problem by next month.
The figure is much less than what was assumed earlier,” he said at a joint news briefing with his Bangladesh counterpart Sahara Khatun in Dhaka.
He added that several of the enclaves even had no residents apparently indicating that the enclave problems could easily be resolved as the two neighbours were expected to reach a decision on exchange of enclaves during Singh's Dhaka visit.
Officials said 3,000 acres of Bangladesh land are inside India while India has around 3,500 acres of land inside Bangladesh.
Chidambaram had said the issues of lands in adverse possession were also “nearly resolved” as the problems with such lands as well as the un-demarcated 6.5 kilometers borders were expected to be fully settled during Singh's visit.
Joint teams of Bangladesh and Indian officials on July 18 concluded the crucial joint census to count population in 162 enclaves on both sides of their pours borders after days of comprehensive exercises.
Bangladesh and India share over 4,000 kilometers of common porous borders, of which 6.5 kilometers were still un-demarcated while the two countries have 162 such enclaves, 111 of them being Indian ones inside Bangladesh and the rest 51 being Bangladeshi ones inside India.
Chidambaram said 34,000 people currently lived in 111 Indian enclaves inside Bangladesh while the rest 17,000 were residents of the 51 enclaves.
According to an earlier unofficial estimate the population of 111 Indian enclaves was around 100,400 while the 51 Bangladeshi enclaves inside India contain 44,000 people.
Officials said 3,000 acres of Bangladesh ‘adversely possessed lands' are inside India while India has around 3,500 acres of land inside Bangladesh. PTI