India-Bangladesh land-swap deal will benefit Assam: Gogoi

Guwahati, April 29 (IANS) In the face of stiff criticism by opposition parties over the India-Bangladesh land-swap deal, Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi Monday said it will, in fact, serve the state’s interest in tackling infiltration, smuggling and promoting trade relations between the two countries.

“I am in favour of the agreement. Assam will not only get some land but also be able to improve relation with Bangladesh further. Good relation with Bangladesh is necessary for the interests of Assam. Checking infiltration and smuggling, and improving trade relations with Bangladesh are all in Assam’s interests,” said Gogoi while addressing the media persons here.

“Though the lands in adverse possessions are in the maps of each country, in reality, they are not in control of either of the two countries. Only the lands in adverse possession will be exchanged. There is no question of state losing land,” Gogoi said, refuting the opposition’s claim that the state will only lose land after the deal.

Gogoi pointed out that Assam will get 397.50 acres of lands from Bangladesh, while the state will part with 267.5 acres as part of the agreement. “I think Assam will benefit from the deal,” he said.

The chief minister said one of the greatest benefits from the land-swap agreement would be Assam would be able to fence off the India-Bangladesh international border.

Opposition parties like the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have opposed the agreement, saying that it will affect India’s sovereignty.

The two parties had also organised a state-wide agitation against the land transfer agreement signed during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Dhaka in 2011 while accompanied by chief ministers of all the northeastern states.

Gogoi also said that the Assam government is working on a mechanism to prevent the chit fund companies from operating in the state in near future and addede that a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) team will visit the state Tuesday to probe the Saradha Group scam.

“The Assam Protection of Interests of Depositors (in Financial Institutions) Amendment Bill, 2013, which was passed by the assembly and is waiting for governor’s nod, will take care of the dubious chit fund companies even before they start operation in the state,” said Gogoi.

“At present the dubious chit fund companies are operating by obtaining trade licenses from municipal bodies or panchayats. Once the amendment bill becomes the law, it will no longer be possible to do so,” he explained.

Gogoi also said that the government has also been exploring the option of setting up a commission to check chit fund companies running business by fraudulent means.

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