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Miffed SC pulls up Centre for ‘vagueness’

Indo-Bangla border fencing 


GUWAHATI, Feb 7:  The Supreme Court on Tuesday pulled up the Centre for failing to complete barbed wire fencing of Indo-Bangla border.

Hearing a PIL (No-274/09), the SC bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi and Rohinton F riman slammed the Central government for not taking up the matter of Indo-Bangla border sealing seriously and directed the Union Home Ministry to file a detailed report in this regard by February 14.

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 riman 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 riman 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 Secuity 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 apex 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 Home Ministry told the court.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court also directed Assam Chief Secretary, Registrar General of India, NRC Nodal Officer, Solicitor General and Home Ministry official to appear for hearing at the judges’ chamber over the NRC update issue on February 14.

During a hearing, the SC division bench asked the officials to be present in the hearing without fail. NRC Nodal Officer Pratik Hajela informed the bench that of the total fixed fund of Rs 908 crore for NRC update exercise, the Central government has so far released Rs 407 crore and Assam government has provided Rs 130 as loan. (With IANS input)