Union home secretary Ajay Bhalla today urged the senior state bureaucrats to address the pending land acquisition cases in order to expedite construction of border fences and check posts across the bordering areas.
According to an official three major issues were discussed at the meeting. These are the setting up of border fencing, integrated check posts and border outposts. Bhalla is learnt to have stressed on expediting the border fencing work and urged the state officials to complete the land acquisition process so that fencing can be undertaken as soon as possible.
He has reportedly said that border security is the Centre’s priority area and so there is a need to set up more integrated check posts. “The vacant plots can be made readily available but in case where there are habitations, necessary rehabilitation policy has to be arranged for the displaced people as the state government is against forcible land acquisition,” said an official.
However, sources said that facts presented through the PowerPoint presentation by the central team in connection with the construction of border outposts were incorrect following which the state officials and DMs had rectified. There were also errors in the names of areas where outposts are being set up, said a source adding that there were a few discrepancies in the data prepared by the Centre and that of the state government.
State chief secretary HK Dwivedi, home secretary BP Gopalika, director- general of police Manoj Malaviya, land secretary and 10 district magistrates attended the meeting. Bhalla’s visit came on a day when BSF firing in Cooch Behar border killed three, including two suspected Bangladeshi cattle smugglers.
In October, the Centre had extended the jurisdiction of BSF allowing it to carry out search, seizure and arrests within 50km instead of 15 km from the international borders. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had objected to the move and wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying the decision was meant to torture common people and was a serious constitutional impropriety.
Sources said the issue did not come up during the discussion. Bengal shares borders with Bangladesh (over 2,200 km), Bhutan (around 183 km) and Nepal (around 100 km).