Foreign Policy Watch: India-Bangladesh

Land Boundary Agreement (LBA) with Bangladesh


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Land Boundary Agreement

Mains level: India-Bangladesh Relations

Union Home Minister has said that the Northeast States will be linked by road and railway to Bangladesh in a year or two under the historic Land Boundary Agreement (LBA).

Land Boundary Agreement (LBA)

  • India and Bangladesh have signed the LBA in 2014 to ensure proper connectivity in the region.
  • The operationalization of LBA lays the way for the exchange of 162 enclaves under the control of either country as per the 1974 pact.
  • Under the Agreement, 111 border enclaves will be transferred to Bangladesh in exchange for 51 that will become part of India.
  • The agreement settles an old land boundary dispute which dates back to colonial times as India transfers 111 border enclaves to Bangladesh in exchange for 51 enclaves.
  • It also settles the question of citizenship for over 50,000 people residing under these enclaves.

Why was such an agreement needed?

  • India and Bangladesh share a 4,096 km land boundary covering West Bengal, Assam, Tripura, Meghalaya and Mizoram.
  • This is the largest among the international boundaries that India shares with its neighbors.
  • On this boundary, some 50,000-100,000 people reside in so-called Chitmahals or Indo-Bangladeshi enclaves.
  • There are 102 Indian enclaves inside Bangladesh and 71 Bangladeshi ones inside India.
  • Inside those enclaves are also 28 counter-enclaves and one counter-counter-enclave, called Dahala Khagrabari.

The inception of the agreement

  • For the first time, a vision to solve this issue had been enshrined in the Indira-Mujib pact of 1972.
  • Accordingly, the India-Bangladesh LBA was signed between the two countries in 1974.
  • However, this agreement need ratification from the parliaments of both countries as it involved the exchange of the territories.
  • While Bangladesh had ratified it as back as 1974 only, it was not ratified by the Indian parliament till 2014.
  • The 119th Amendment Bill 2013 sought to ratify the land boundary agreement between the two countries.

Key features of the LBA

  • The LBA envisages a transfer of 111 Indian enclaves to Bangladesh in return for 51 enclaves to India.
  • The area transferred to India is less than that transferred by India to Bangladesh. In totality, India incurs a net loss in terms of area occupancy.
  • This remained a major concern of opposition from the north-eastern affected states and west Bengal.
  • Also, most of the area concerned is occupied by the tribals of the North-Eastern states and hence the swapping takes away their land rights leaving them more vulnerable.
  • Current Status of the Constitution (119th Amendment) Bill has been passed by the Parliament of India on 7th May 2015.
  • While India will gain 510 acres of land, ten thousand acres of land will notionally go to Bangladesh.
  • This legislation will redraw India’s boundary with Bangladesh by exchanging enclaves in Assam, West Bengal, Tripura and Meghalaya.

Implications of the Agreement

  • It will secure the long-stranded boundary and enable to curb the illegal migration, smuggling and criminal acts across the border.
  • It would help those stateless citizens by granting them citizenship from their respective countries. It would help settle the boundary dispute at several points in Meghalaya, Tripura, Assam, and West Bengal.
  • It would improve the access to underdeveloped north-eastern states and would further enhance the developmental works in the region.
  • It would help to increase the connectivity with south-east Asia as part of India’s North-eastern policy.


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