India opposes Bangladesh’s claim on deep sea

Diplomatic Correspondent | Published: 01:08, Apr 18,2021

 
 

India on Friday registered its objection with the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf against a claim of Bangladesh on the continental shelf in the Bay of Bengal, making resolution of the matter difficult, said foreign ministry officials.

The resolution of the Bangladesh’s claim on the continental shelf has been pending with the UN for about 13 years as Myanmar registered some observations on the claim involving outer continental shelf and Bangladesh too put an objection on record contesting the claim of India on the continental shelf, according to Bangladesh diplomats.

India put an objection on record, raising questions about the coordinates used by Bangladesh as a basis for its claim at the UN commission in New York for determining rights on the continental shelf, they said.

They believe that India registered the objection as a pressure tactic as Bangladesh declined to entertain a request to withdraw the objection contesting India’s claim on the continental shelf.

Bangladesh was unwilling to withdraw the objection on India’s claim at the UN commission as the next door neighbour was unwilling to resolve a dispute involving Bangladesh’s right on the ‘grey area’ in the deep sea, they said.

‘The Bangladesh government would submit a reply to the CLCS after examining the statement made by India,’ foreign ministry secretary for maritime affairs unit Md Khurshed Alam told New Age.

A suitable reply would also be submitted at the CLCS about the observations of Myanmar on the claim of Bangladesh in the continental shelf, he said. 

Prime minister Sheikh Hasina raised the matter involving the disputes on the deep sea claims in a meeting with her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi on October 5, 2019 at Hyderabad House in New Delhi, Bangladesh diplomats said.

She handed over a map of the Bay of Bengal to the Indian side asking them to accept Bangladesh’s claim on a part of the ‘grey area’ in the deep sea.

But the matter remained unresolved as the Indian side was seeking an speedy and unilateral withdrawal of Bangladesh’s objection with the United Nations contesting Indian claims involving the continental shelf, with keeping Bangladesh’s claim on the ‘grey area’ pending for an unlimited period, Bangladesh diplomats told New Age.  

The judgements in the maritime delimitation cases involving Bangladesh and Myanmar in 2012 and between Bangladesh and India in 2014 have resulted in a ‘grey area’ in the northern Bay of Bengal involving intersecting and overlapping rights in terms of the exclusive economic zone and continental shelf regimes.

The disputes surfaced as India in 2009 submitted its claim on the continental shelf of the Bay of the Bengal cutting off Bangladesh’s access to the deep sea.

India in 2009 created another dispute with setting a coordinate 2.3 miles inside Bangladesh territory on the official maps India proposed.

Bangladesh immediately lodged separate objections with the United Nations on the matters as the maritime boundary delimitation between the two countries remained unresolved in 2009.

Bangladesh on February 25, 2011 submitted to the UN commission on the limits of the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles from the baseline from which the breadth of the territorial sea is measured.

An arbitration proceeding with India came to an end in 2014 with a verdict fixing Bangladesh’s maritime border with the country.

Bangladesh on March 30, 2016, submitted a list of geographical coordinates of points concerning the straight baseline for measuring the breadth of the territorial sea.

The coordinates of points are Land Boundary Terminus with India, Putney Island, Dakhin Bhsan Char, Cox’s Bazar and Southern end of St Martin’s Islands.

After two years of publishing the Bangladesh government document, India in 2017 raised its objections to the United Nations claiming that the base points used by Bangladesh for drawing the straight baselines ‘are at variance’ with the base points used in the award dated July 7, 2014 by the arbitral tribunal in the matter of Bay of Bengal maritime boundary arbitration between Bangladesh and India.

Myanmar lodged a submission to the United Nations in December 2008 to establish its claim on the deep sea from the west coast abutting the Bay of Bengal, including around the Preparis and Co Co Islands, which Bangladesh disputes.

Bangladesh objected to the Myanmar submission claiming that the areas Myanmar were seeking in the outer continental shelf form part of the natural prolongation of Bangladesh.

The cases on objections submitted by Bangladesh, India and Myanmar are still pending with the United Nations.

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