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Sunday, September 21, 2008

India Bangladesh Maritime Boundary

Sep 16th, 2008 By Sindh Today Category: India
Sep 16 (IANS) The location of a tiny island and the flow of a river into the Bay of Bengal are the main points of negotiation as India and Bangladesh discuss their maritime boundary after a gap of 28 years.

The island is called South Talpatty by Bangladesh and Purbasha or New Moore Island by India. The flow of Haribhanga river’s channels around it is one of the principal points of dispute between the two neighbours.

As per the rules drawn up by Sir Cyril Radcliffe for demarcating the border when India was partitioned and Pakistan was created in 1947, if there is a river on the border, then the mid-current of the river will be the borderline. Since its emergence in 1971, Bangladesh has been identifying its border according to the Radcliffe rules.

Bangladesh officials claim that the main channel of the Hariabhanga river flows through the west side of South Talpatty while their Indian counterparts claim the eastern channel is the main flow, The Daily Star newspaper said Tuesday.

The island is still in formation, visible only during low tides, emerging in the estuary of the Hariabhanga river, the bordering river in the south-western part of the country.

‘We’ve just started talks and the discussion has been very cordial,’ said M.A.K. Mahmud, additional secretary to the foreign ministry, who is leading the 15-member Bangladesh delegation at the three day talks that began Monday.

The northern reach of the Bay of Bengal is shared by India, Bangladesh and Myanmar. While India is both conducting its off-shore operations and allocating blocks for exploration to foreign multinationals, the latter approach is adopted by Bangladesh and Myanmar too.

In recent years, claims of overlapping territories have piled up with the three, particularly Bangladesh and India, challenging each other’s decisions.

Dhaka is claiming rights over an exclusive economic zone for extraction of marine resources, the New Age newspaper said Tuesday.

In the absence of an accepted exclusive economic zone, India and Myanmar recently opposed Bangladesh’s offshore block bidding for exploration of oil and gas even within the territorial sea of the country.

Also under discussion is the issue of continental shelves in the bay. The UN Convention on Law of the Sea allows a country to claim 350 nautical miles as its continental shelve.

Bangladesh and India had last held talks in 1980 to iron out differences on the contentious maritime boundary in the resource-rich Bay of Bengal.

Dhaka says New Delhi has been lukewarm to talks on maritime boundary, but its officials also blame their own lack of preparation and expertise to counter the Indian claims.

As signatories to the UN convention, Dhaka and New Delhi must submit their claims to the UN by 2011 and 2009, respectively.
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