Integrated Check Posts run into rough weather in India’s West Bengal as land acquisition drags on

NEWS DESK

Work on at least seven Integrated Check Posts (ICP) has not kickstarted in India’s West Bengal, as the land has not been acquired till date. This could be a fresh bone of contention between the centre and the state government, India Today reports.

The issue was revealed by the home ministry in Lok Sabha on Tuesday. MP Sukanta Majumdar had sought a reply from Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) regarding the establishment of ICPs in West Bengal.

The centre has accorded in principle approval for 10 ICPs including the ones in West Bengal. At least seven ICPs in the state face land acquisition hurdles. These ICPs are Hilli, Changrabandha, Gojadanga, Mahadipur, Phulbari at the Indo-Bangladesh border, Jaigaon at the Indo-Bhutan border and Panitanki at Indo-Nepal border.

MHA has said several requests have been made to the West Bengal government for the early acquisition of land parcels at seven identified locations, including Hilli. MHA categorically stated that land has not been acquired till date.

In the absence of land acquisition by Land ports of India (LPAI), the Detailed Engineering Report (DER) has not been prepared yet. LPAI is an aggregator and facilitator of services essential for bilateral/international trade and passenger movement. It is essential for trade: Cargo terminal buildings, immigration clearness counters for drivers and export warehouses.

The government has also approved Full Body Truck Scanners (FBTS) and installation of detection equipment, the MHA said. Both centre and West Bengal governments have often been at loggerheads, and land acquisition has been a key bone of contention.

In November 2021, Union Home Secretary held a meeting with the West Bengal Chief Secretary to discuss pending land acquisition cases for construction of border fence and road projects, Border Out Posts and Integrated Check Posts. But no purported headway seems to have been made.

The home ministry had waded into controversy when it extended the jurisdiction of BSF up to 50 km inside the IB in Punjab, West Bengal and Assam. The BSF powers include arrest, search and seizure. But West Bengal has raised issues similar to the ones raised by Punjab; the issue of centre impinging on the federal structure.

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