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Supreme Court miffed over delay in fencing of Indo-Bangladesh border

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday expressed its “strongest displeasure” over the manner in which fencing along the India-Bangladesh border is progressing and told the Union Home Ministry to furnish all details to the court.

Describing the affidavit filed by the Home Ministry as an “exercise in vagueness with no specific details”, the bench of Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman directed the ministry to furnish all the details relating to the fencing of the remaining 61.49-km stretch.

“We are extremely unhappy with this kind of response,” observed Justice Gogoi and directed the Union Home Ministry to file by February 14 the details of the plans to set up physical barriers on the 61.49-km stretch.

The Centre in its affidavit has said that of the remaining stretch, work on 13.38-km stretch has been undertaken and is likely to be completed by July 2018. It excludes a 300-metre stretch of the elephant corridor.

As court was told that the work on 13.38-km stretch would require 18 months, the bench wondered why so much time is needed for constructing physical barriers.

“We want to know why you want 18 months. You are playing with the court,” the bench said as it was told that some time would be required for taking permission from Bangladesh.

“Why you need Bangladesh’s permission? You really don’t need it,” Justice Gogoi said with Justice Nariman saying: “We should be moving forward and not side-stepping and moving backwards.”

Pointing out that the remaining 48.11-km stretch is riverine, the government has said that a committee comprising representatives of the Central Public WEorks Department, Border SXecuity Force and the Assam government has suggested that for the construction of “physical infrastructure” (barriers), there is a need to prepare a detailed project report based on hydrological data.

The court was told that considering the geological features and the terrain, this activity may take considerable time. “It may take three years and the work is likely to be completed beyond 2020.”

However, for covering riverine stretch by non-physical barriers, the BSF is testing the available technologies through a pilot study in Jammu, the ministry told the court.

Meanwhile, the court on Tuesday instructed the Assam Chief Secretary, the Registrar General of India and the State Coordinator of National Register of Citizens (NRC), Assam, Prateek Hajela, to be present in the court on February 14 in connection with the updation of the citizens’ register in Assam.

The exercise also includes verification of the people who claim to be the residents of Assam but were living in different parts of the country prior to 1971 — the cut-off date for the identification of illegal migrants from Bangladesh.

The hearing would take place in the judges’ chambers.

The apex court had on December 17, 2014, passed a string of directions, including an order to the Centre to complete fencing work along India-Bangladesh border within three months to check illegal cross-border influx of Bangladesh nationals into Assam and streamline the process to deport them back.

Source: Zee News