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India and Bangladesh have finished 95 per cent of the work on a new single-layer fence aimed at curbing cross-border crime and securing over 250 villages that fall between the international border and a barbed wire fencing 150 metres away, said BSF chief K K Sharma.
Most of these villages are in West Bengal, while a few are in other Indian states sharing the border with Bangladesh.
The ambitious plan, mooted during a meeting last year with the BSF's Bangladeshi counterpart BGB, has been executed, barring a few areas along the IB which are riverine, like Karimganj in Assam, Sharma told PTI.
"At 95 per cent places it (single-row new fence) has come up. Work is ongoing at remaining few locations," the BSF director general said in an interview.
He said both the forces were trying to curb crimes across the frontier as much as they could. The Indian side was also trying to "bring down" incidents of border killings on the frontier.
"Relations between India and Bangladesh and the two border guarding forces are at their best right now. Such incidents, when they occur, create irritation in the ties. We are committed to ensuring the sanctity of the border and well-being of the population on both the sides," he said.
Instances of cattle smuggling had come down to five-six lakh per year "from a very high figure of 23 lakh".
"We are determined to bring it down as much as we can," he added.
The "major decision" on the new fence was taken by the two sides during the bi-annual director general-level talks between the BSF and the Border Guard Bangladesh held here in October last year.
It affects 148 villages "fully" ahead of the IB fence and 137 "partially" ahead of it. The two countries share a 4,096-km border.
"As the population lives and works here, the fence will have gates for people to cross over to the other side and come back," Sharma had said after signing the joint record with BGB chief Major General Aziz Ahmed.
The BGB DG had said the situation in these villages was "very challenging" and the forces did not want them to get divided by a fence that would affect the lives of the residents.
"We will ensure that there are no objections from our side when the fence is erected. We need a humanitarian approach and it (the new fence) could be done as the present positive relation between India and Bangladesh is an example that is nowhere to be seen in the world," he had said.
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