Border fencing along India-Bangladesh border affects locals

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HT Correspondent

Tura, Sept 3: Local residents of South Garo Hills on Sunday raised its demand for rehabilitation and compensation of villagers close to the India – Bangladesh border in Siju-Rongara area of the district in Meghalaya.

National People’s Party (NPP) leader Rakkam Sangma, who is leading the campaign on behalf of the people in a release said, “The demand of the people is genuine and state and central government should pay urgent attention to resolve the issue”.

He informed that recently they have submitted their plea to MoS (Home) Kiren Rijiju through Tura Lok Sabha MP Conrad K. Sangma. “NPP chief Conrad Sangma has endorsed the demand of the India-Bangladesh Border Grievances Committee”, he informed, while saying that compensation is a must for the people, who have lost their land due to erection of India – Bangladesh border fencing.

Rakkam said that over 200 plus families were affected in Siju – Rongara area of South Garo Hills due to erection of fencing. “We have visited the sites at various locations and found that the hundreds of families have been badly affected. They have been displaced and had to abandon large portions of their land that was inherited from their forefathers and were the sources of their livelihood,” said Rakkam.

In most area, people had large orchards, which are now on the other side of the fencing.

NPP delegation has found that more than 80 families were living outside the border fencing and they have had the worst situation to face amongst all. “Most of them are BPL families without any facilities (MGNREGS), water, electricity, medical aids. They are also under constant threats from outside the border,” said the NPP leader.

More than 100 acres of agricultural land is now under ‘No Man Zone’ mainly due to the border fencing not following guidelines leading to huge losses to the original inhabitants.

“We urge upon both the government of Meghalaya and the Union Government of India to take serious note of this issue and to make enquiry of the affected families. They should take measures to provide immediate relief and seek a long term solution to the issue,” he added.

Rakkam felt there was an immediate need for the government to revisit the construction of the fencing or pay compensation to the displaced families. “Most have moved to the Indian side but there are many that are still there and live like refugees,” he said.

He informed that NPP South Garo Hills unit would form a committee to look into the matter and send another report to the state and central government.

“We strongly appeal to the Government of Meghalaya to act on this issue and without further delay and to bring to the knowledge of the central government,” said the release.

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