Posted by: Andi Arsana | September 18, 2008

Bangladesh-India talks: tiny island and river flow

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The talks between Bangladesh and India concerning their maritime boundaries began on 15 September 2008 for a three-day negotiation. The existance of a tiny island and the direction of the river flow are two main issues in the discussion.  The term “island” used for the feature called South Talpatty (by Bangladeshi or) Purbasha (by Indians) seems to be inaappropriate. It does not meet the criteria of an island as set in Article 121 of the Law of the Sea Convention (LOSC) since it is submerged during high tide. Even though the negotiation was termed as a “fruiteful” one, it seems that not much progress in maritime boundary delimitatio is achieved.

However the definition of island does not seem to be the main sourve of disagreement between the two, but the flow direction of  Hariabhanga river. As per the rule set by Sir Cyril Radcliffe in 1947, “if there is a river on the border, then the mid-current of the river will be the borderline.” Therefore, the identification of the river flow is crucial. However, India and Bangladesh failed to agree whether the mid-current f the river passess on the western or eastern side of Purbhasa, which should lead to the terminal point of land borderline.

Failure in determaining the terminal point of  landborder means failure in defining the starting point for maritime boundaries. Therfore, the talks to delimit maritime boundaries between the two States in the Bay of Bengal cannot resume. More talks in the future are required.



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