Shylla also urged the Meghalaya Government to take up with the Centre the issue of protection of indigenous people’s rights under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) as well as exempt the application of the 1951 refugee convention and protocol 1967, as Meghalaya is at the risk of facing real threat from Bangladeshi refugees in view of global warming.
Shylla said this while replying to a discussion on the motion moved by Nongshken MDC, G.M. Kharpuri who highlighted the plights of residents along the Indo-Bangladesh border in view of the move to erect the border fence at 150 yards away from Zero Line.
Kharpuri sought the intervention of the Council especially when the move to fence the border areas was made without getting the ‘no objection certificate’ from the Council.
“We will urge the State Government to take up with the Centre so that the Centre should move the United Nations to protect the rights of indigenous people under UNDRIP of September, 2007, and exempt us from the 1951 refugee convention and protocol 1967 as we are facing the real danger from environmental refugees from Bangladesh due to global warming,” Shylla said.
According to Shylla, Bangladesh with a population of 150 millions, there were reports which suggested displacement of around 5 millions Bangladeshis due to global warming, adding that Bangladesh is prone to floods, and at the risk of getting submerged due to the rise in sea level.
Shylla said that while areas along the Indo-Bangladesh border should be fenced to prevent illegal immigrants, the border residents and land owners would lose their land if the fence is constructed at 150 yards away from the Zero Line.
Shylla also said that if the fence is carried out at the present situation without proper demarcation of boundary, the border residents have stated that they would lose about 579 acres of land.
He said that areas under the jurisdiction of the KHADC that would come under border fencing is from Nongjri pillar No. MP: 1255 to Pyrdiwah-Dawki pillar No. MP: 1272.
“The fence should come from zero line and the Government should respect by obtaining the NOC from the Council,” Shylla said.
Shylla informed that the Council would write to the State Government on the need to take up the matter with the Centre and the Centre should move the United Nations by impressing the need to protect indigenous people from environmental refugees.
Earlier Kharpuri sought the intervention of the Executive Committee of the Council as the move to constructing the border fence is affecting the people and their cultivable lands.
Kharpuri also quoted the 1975 Indo-Bangladesh Border agreement which states that for so long the permanent boundary between India and Bangladesh has not been demarcated and the present pillars will remain only as ‘working pillars’ till permanent pillars are executed after proper consultation with the local land owners and stakeholders.
She also wondered that the border fencing was taken up without obtaining the NOC from the KHADC.
Kharpuri also said the National Buildings Construction Corporation (NBCC) was allowed to give sub-contract to others, and alleged the state government of pushing it just to please somebody.
“I came to know that the work has been given to Rocky Dhar (brother of a minister),” she said.
Former KHADC CEM and Mawsynram MDC, P.N. Syiem also supported the motion and stressed that the provisions of the Sixth Schedule should be used in this regard.
He also said that the Council should write to the state government that erecting of border fencing should not be allowed without getting the NOC from the Council.