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MARITIME BOUNDARY DISPUTE WITH INDIA AND MYANMAR AND WAYS OF EFFECTIVE DEALING
INTRODUCTION 1. Delimitation of sea boundary is a long lasting problem between

Bangladesh and her neighbours like India and Myanmar. With the depletion of land resources and increase in population, these countries are going to depend increasingly on sea-resources. Delimitation of EEZs and continental shelves have therefore, become very important, especially after India's discovery of 100 trillion cubic feet (TCF) of gas in 2005-06 and Myanmar's discovery of seven TCF of gas at about the same time. 2. Bangladesh has laid too much emphasis on the sea dispute resolution

with her neighbours rather than halting it years after years. India and Myanmar want to settle the boundary dispute by applying 'equidistance method' while Bangladesh is leaning towards 'equitable solution' as she would have to surrender a great area of sea regime, if equidistance method is applied. The method of delineating the baseline as adopted by Bangladesh based on its sea peculiarity is not expressly covered by Article 7 (2) of United Nations Law of the Sea Convention 1982 (UNCLOS III). Both India and Myanmar have taken the advantage of this gap in law and has insisted on equidistance method of delimitation of maritime boundary. The negotiation talks over the years being unfruitful and recent aggressive and hostile action oh Myanmar paved the way for Bangladesh to pursue her neighbours to opt for a compulsory arbitral tribunal under the LOS Convention. PRE HISTORY 5. Bangladesh was the first country among the South Asian countries who

declared her jurisdictions on territorial waters, economic zones, and continental shelf. In 1974, she claimed her maritime boundary through a

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national legislation in the parliament, known as the Territorial and Maritime Zones Act 1974. Bangladesh had a negotiation with both India and Myanmar on maritime boundary issue in the same year. Since then, there were series of meetings with the representatives and dignitaries of both the countries in the intervening years. Later, negotiations were held with India in 1982 and with Myanmar in 1986 and recently during 2008. As a matter of fact, negotiations remained inconclusive with both India and Myanmar. In recent past on 1 st nov 2008 impeding by bgd navy vessel the drilling and offshore gas exploration of mayanmar has further aggrevated the matter and made the boundery demarcation issue an internation one.

MARITRIME BOUNDARY DEMARCATION SYSTEM 7. EQUITY METHOD In this method, equitable principles, including all

relevant circumstances, should be used by the parties in their settlement. It will be in such a way that no one is getting looser. Factors to be considered are (1) configuration of coasts including any special features, physical and geological structure and natural resources of the continental shelf, reasonable proportionality between extent of continental shelf and length of the parties' coasts, considering actual or potential effects of other continental shelf. It further considers total population living in the coast, their dependability on sea and coastal population ratio with total population of the country. 8. EQUIDISTANCE METHOD In maritime boundary delimitation an

equidistance line is defined as a line every point of which is equidistant from the nearest points on the territorial sea baselines of two States. Geometrically it is wrong as the earth is round while we calculate it on plane chart. 9. EQUITY OR EQIDISTANCE? Equity method tries to find out the

most favourable solutions among all related maritime countries. It considers many factors likel population living in the coast, their dependability on sea and
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coastal population ratio with total population of the country. This can be an implication for Bangladesh-India-Myanmar. If the proposed arbitration is contested a transitional arrangement may be made by negotiation. On the other hand equidistance line is a line every point of which is equidistant from the nearest points on the territorial sea baselines of two States. It is the method that must be employed in the territorial sea in the absence of agreement or special circumstances. Opposite or adjacent countries determine base line and try to divide the the water in two equal part. But it is not applicable for adjacent countries. UNCLOS- Part V clearly states that this matter should be solved in equity method Again Equity is a long tested method as it helped number of maritime dispute to close to an end. The Anglo-French Continental Shelf Arbitration of 1977, The 1982 Continental Shelf Case of Tunisia and Libya, Federal Republic of Germany, Denmark, Federal Republic of Germany and Netherlands in north sea describes the equity method. RECENT SITUATION 10. India, under the New Exploration Licensing Policy, offered 55 blocks

(24 deepwater blocks beyond 400m bathymetry) for exploration in the Bay of Bengal in 2006. The map published by India clearly showed that blocks D-23 (8,706sqkm) and D-22 (7,790sqkm) have overlapped Bangladesh's block 21 declared in 1991. Our ministry and high official were not that much aware of the matter. Once the attention of the Ministry was drawn to such reports, it said that it is hard to say for sure how much the Indian blocks actually overlapped Bangladesh territory as the map can be deceiving and does not specify the exact geographical position of the Indian blocks. But visually it is found that the Indian blocks appear to have overlapped our block 21. Due to strong pressure from the media about such floating of international tenders by India encompassing our blocks of EEZ, Bangladesh finally lodged official protest against the 'encroachment' through the Indian High Commissioner. We should have pursued the case with India with the aim of stopping
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exploration legally in D-22, 23 and registered our strongest protest as India had done in 1974 and again in 2008. 11. Myanmar on the other hand made significant gas discovery in A1 and

A3 gas fields/block, in Rakhaine coast that lies in the Bay of Bengal, offshore from the Myanmar town of Sittwe and is only about 100 km from Teknaf coast of Bangladesh. Daewoo of Korea, which is the operator of A1 and A3 gas fields with gas reserves of around five to six trillion cubic feet owns 40% stakes whereas two Indian Companies - Gas Authority India Ltd and a subsidiary of Oil and Natural Gas Corporation - hold 30% and the remaining 30% is held by Myanmar. It has already agreed to export gas to China and India. What is very disturbing to note is that we hardly knew Myanmar had already declared blocks overlapping our blocks in the EEZ areas which we have claimed in 1974. Myanmar also stopped our survey vessel to work in our EEZ areas. Finally the Ministry called the Myanmar Ambassador drawing attention of his government to the news items published regarding allocation of undemarcated areas to conduct survey for exploration of oil and gas in the Bay of Bengal. 12. The latest incident that makes us so aware happened on 2 November

2008. Myanmar had been conducting an oil and gas exploration project with the aid of a South Korean company, Daewoo in a disputed area of the sea. Nearly 50 men and four ships were employed in the exploration work in Block AD-7, escorted by two of Myanmar warships. As an initial response to the exploration work, three Bangladeshi navy ships BNS ABU BAKAR, BNS MADHUMATI and BNS NIRVOY went to the spot to challenge Myanmar advancements. But their navy in turn responded by alleging the Bangladeshi ships of trespassing. Consequently, Bangladesh have initiated multi- national diplomatic efforts in which, the issue was raised with China, a friend of both nations, while also urging Seoul to ask the South Korea-based company hired by Myanmar to stop their activities in the disputed waters.

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13.

On October 9 of this year, Bangladesh served legal notices to India

and Myanmar to settle the disputes over maritime boundary claims before a UN tribunal as it decided to take the issue to a compulsory arbitration under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. WAYS OF EFFECTIVE DEALING - FEW SUGGESTIONS 14. Already Bangladesh served legal notices to India and Myanmar to

settle the disputes before a UN tribunal. That may get an effective solution. Side by side the following steps may be taken: a. State Level Visit Visit by the head of the state may melt the

ice in relationship among the countries. The visit should not be whimsical and should bear a particular goal. Our Prime Minister may visit and also invite their Heads of the states and delegations.

b. Diplomatic Efforts Whole hearted diplomatic efforts should be continuing. An effective and expert diplomatic dealing can do much in this matter. As a peace loving country we believe in friendly discussion. We can do it in a regular basis to get an effective result. For the diplomats it is prime requirement to have sufficient knowledge on the issue. c. Timely Survey of EEZ Bangladesh has a time bar to claim the maritime boundary. Within mid 2011 we must deposit our claim to UN. To be on a strong footing we must not delay doing that. Otherwise our neighbours will take a chance to exploit that lapse. So we should survey our water as early as possible and put up the same well in time. d. Forming up of Special Maritime Boundary Committee Special Maritime Boundary committee may be formed so that they can stick to the matter. They may suggest and guide the government in effective way so that the government can take the right decision in time. Experienced or retired hydrographers, geologists, maritime lawyers and other scholars may form the board.

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e. Seeking Help and Advice from Friendly countries No one can move alone in modern world. Diplomatically, we may seek help from our friendly countries and organizations. In multinational forum we may put up the matter. China and USA can play vital role here. But it should be considered as a last means of solution. f. Trade All three countries have pre historic economic relationship among them. We may exploit that to get a better relationship. Bi- lateral or tri-lateral treaty may find a better way to make a soft relationship in between. g. Making Own Defence Strong All suggestions above are with a good faith and with a view to have a friendly solution. But if it fails we should not be helpless. We should make our hand strong being ready in all aspect to give a hard blow as or when necessary. Our armed Forces should have effective plan to face any unfavourable situation.

CONCLUSION 15. With the changing crises of food and fuel the world is going to

depend upon sea. The enormous Bay of Bengal resources increased its importance more than ever. Realizing that truth Bangladesh declared her jurisdictions on territorial waters, economic zones, and continental shelf through the Territorial and Maritime Zones Act 1974. Since then meetings and negotiation process is continuing with her neighbours. India and Myanmar seek for equidistance method which is not applicable for adjacent countries. On the other hand, Bangladesh is on a right footing as she asks for equity method. Several meetings were held between India and Bangladesh on maritime boundary issue but ended without any positive result. In another maritime boundary issue (Talpatti Island) the two countries agreed to a joint survey to determine the mid-channel of the Hariabhanga river to finally settle the dispute. But that never took place as India was afraid afraid of their wrong claim.

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18.

We want a peaceful solution of the issue. For that we should also look

for the bi lateral relation, diplomatic and state level visit, trade and other buffering measures.

RECOMMENDATION 19. With above discussions the recommended measures that the a.

government may take into consideration are as follow:

Special Maritime Boundary committee may be formed to


Diplomatic efforts like state level visit and meeting may be Our armed forces should be ready and strengthen to fight

suggest and guide the government in effective way. b.


c. continued to get an easy solution. against.

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