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Bangladesh responds to India’s objection over maritime boundary

Friday, 24 September 2021


India’s objection to Bangladesh’s amended submission on the maritime boundary to the United Nations is not in line with the international law, the Bangladesh government says.

The Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) will now make a decision considering the positions of both countries.

Based on the verdict by an international court, Bangladesh submitted an amended maritime boundary to the CLCS on Oct 27, 2020, said Khurshed Alam, secretary of the maritime affairs unit in the foreign ministry.

He said, “India has raised an objection against our submission asking the CLCS not to consider our claim. We said it’s neither correct nor even legal,” reports bdnews24.com

The arbitration to settle the dispute on the maritime boundary in the Bay of Bengal between the two neighbouring countries started back in 1974.

As a series of meetings over a long period of time failed to yield an agreement, Bangladesh moved to the international court on Oct 8, 2009. The issue was shifted to the International Court of Justice in the Hague in May 2011.

In 2012, Bangladesh was awarded areas of continental shelf extending beyond 200 nautical miles of the territorial sea baselines by the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea following a conflict with Myanmar.

Later on Jul 7, 2014, the International Court of Justice settled the delimitations of the maritime boundary of 25,500 square kilometres of the disputed area between Bangladesh, India and Myanmar and awarded 19,000 square kilometres of it to Bangladesh.

Based on that verdict, Bangladesh made an amended submission to the CLCS and India wrote to the UN secretary-general raising an objection against the amended submission on Apr 16.

Bangladesh replied on Sept 13 through a letter, which was published on the CLCS website.

India claims that Bangladesh has made a seaward shift of its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and ‘consequently encroaches’ into the Indian EEZ recognised by the arbitration tribunal. “In this regard, Bangladesh has failed to highlight the Grey area in their amended submission,” India said.

According to the rules, in case of a dispute in the delimitation of the continental shelf or maritime dispute, submissions are subject to Annex 1 of the commission procedure, India wrote in its letter. Therefore, the commission should not ‘consider and qualify’ the submission made by Bangladesh, India said.

 “We have no conflict with India regarding the continental shelf. The court has settled it and we have accepted, as they have. Now, India or any other country cannot request the CLCS to ignore our submission. We have raised this point,” Secretary Khurshed Alam said.

WHAT IS CONTINENTAL SHELF

A continental shelf is a portion of a continent that is submerged under an area of relatively shallow water known as a shelf sea. Much of these shelves were exposed by drops in sea level during glacial periods. The shelf surrounding an island is known as an insular shelf.

According to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982, 200 nautical miles from the end tip of the land of a country is considered the continental shelf. At least 200 miles of it is considered the exclusive economic zone which falls under the jurisdiction of that country and it gets the right to use the minerals and maritime resources found there.

The rest of the continental shelf can be used by the opposite or adjacent country for fishing, but minerals are the assets of the country by the bay.

According to the arbitration tribunal, Bangladesh received ownership of 350 nautical miles of the continental shelf. The government has fixed the triangular maritime boundary with Putni Island as the end tip of land for Bangladesh.