Sunday, August 23, 2009


South Talpatti is an offshore island, situated in Bay of Bengal. It is situated two kilometer from the mouth of international border river Hariabhanga. Its area is about 10,000 square meters and it is increasing. Bangladesh and India both claimed this Island but Bangladesh claimed it strongly about 10 years later from when it is discovered. There are no people living in South Talpatti Island because of its unstable geographic condition. India has hoisted their flag in South Talpatti Island and they established a base of their Border Security Force (BSF). No decision is concluded which country is the real owner of this Island. Technically Talpatti falls under the Bangladesh-India border. But the eventual determination of the island's sovereignty will have a major impact over the location of the states' maritime boundary further offshore when it is negotiated between Bangladesh and India. Its sovereignty will have the impact on our security against our independence also.

We want to dedicate this paper to Prof. Dr. Mohammad Abdur Rob, highly reputed professor Dhaka University and Vice Chancellor of Manarat International University, who researches for different geopolitical issues of Bangladesh and who is the single person who researched completely about South Talpatti Island. He always will be my inspirer to love Bangladesh.
We would like to thank Md. Abu Hassan Faruk, Lecturer in Bangladesh Studies, Manarat International University for supervising the whole research and suggestions those were very much important to finish it properly.
Mr. Abul Kalam Azad, Acting Librarian of MIU Library and lecturer in Business Administration should to be thanked for his kind help to prepare this research by suggestion and technical helps.
We are very grateful to Md. Golam Mustafa, Assistant librarian of MIU for his help of personal experience of South Talpatti. His village is near to Talpatti. Mr. Arif Hossain, Assistants of Librarian of MIU Library are also to be thanked because of his help and co-operation to have books easily about our research in library and for providing us special technical facilities.
Particulars Page No.
1.1 Introduction 5
1.2 General Consideration 6
1.3 Study Area 8
1.4 Significance of the Study 9
1.5 Objectives 11
1.6 Methods and Materials 11
1.7 Results and Discussion 12
1.7.1 Geographical Location and Geographical Characteristics of
South Talpatti 12
1.7.2 History of South Talpatti 15
1.7.3 International Laws of Sea 18 Sea and Baseline 20 Maritime Zones 21 Dispute Settlement Mechanism 23 Principles of Settling Boundary Disputes 23
1.7.4 Debate on the claim of South Talpatti 25
1.7.5 Rationality of Bangladesh in respect of claiming the South
Talpatti Island 28
1.7.6 Security Threat to Bangladesh 30
1.7.7 Findings 32
1.7.8 Suggestion 32
1.8 Conclusion 33
Bibliography 34
1.1 Introduction
Bangladesh is a country which is surrounded by India in most sides. Bangladesh has a small border with Myanmar also. Bay of Bengal covers the southern part of border of this country. South Talpatti is an island situated in the Bay of Bengal at distributaries of Hariabhanga River, an international border river among Bangladesh and India.
There are a number of conflicts are going on between Bangladesh and India from the independence of Bangladesh. Some of them are Farrakka Barrage, Tista Barrage, Water distribution of international rivers, transit of remote lands of Bangladesh situated in India etc. Most of them are related on geopolitical problems. One of the problems is south Talpatti /New Moore islands proprietorship settlement problem.
Most of the conflicts are started from earlier times and continuing till now. Each of them resulted from Radcliff award of the period of betel experience of Indo-Pakistan division in 1947. Problem related South Talpatti is also a result of that experience.
It is said that people knew about South Talpatti / New Moore Island two decades before of its discovery. But that was sunk under sea water. After a storm, in 1971 this island came to know by administrations of Bangladesh and India. The debate on this island started at that time. Liberation war of Bangladesh was going on that time which made their administration lagging behind to claim for the new island. After the liberation Bangladeshi administration was so busy for reconstruction of the country and couldn’t give emphasis on this case. From the beginning a number of debates with collection of evidences held between two countries about this offshore island. At 1980 Bangladesh claimed strongly for the first time and that is continuing. This Island is geopolitically very important to Bangladesh in the future economic and political security concern.
1.2 General Consideration
Bangladesh, officially the People's Republic of Bangladesh is a country in South Asia. It is bordered by India on all sides except for a small border with Burma (Myanmar) to the far southeast and by the Bay of Bengal to the south. Together with the Indian state of West Bengal, it makes up the ethno-linguistic region of Bengal. The name Bangladesh means "Country of Bengal" in the official Bengali language.
The borders of present-day Bangladesh were established with the partition of Bengal and India in 1947, when the region became the eastern wing of the newly formed Pakistan. However, it was separated from the western wing by 1,600 kilometers (1,000 mi) across India. Political and linguistic discrimination as well as economic neglect led to popular agitations against West Pakistan, which led to the war for independence in 1971 and the establishment of Bangladesh. After independence the new state endured famines, natural disasters and widespread poverty, as well as political turmoil and military coups. The restoration of democracy in 1991 has been followed by relative calm and economic progress.
Bangladesh is the seventh most populous country in the world and is among the most densely populated countries in the world with a high poverty rate. However, per-capita (inflation-adjusted) GDP has more than doubled since 1975, and the poverty rate has fallen by 20% since the early 1990s. The country is listed among the "Next Eleven" economies. Dhaka and other urban centers have been the driving force behind this growth.
Geographically, the country straddles the fertile Ganges-Brahmaputra Delta and is subject to annual monsoon floods and cyclones. The government is a parliamentary democracy; however, political rule was suspended under emergency law for two years from 11 January 2007 to 17 December 2008.[5] Bangladesh is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, the OIC,SAARC, BIMSTEC, and the D-8. However, Bangladesh continues to face a number of major challenges, including widespread political and bureaucratic corruption, and economic competition relative to the world.
Bangladesh is a democratic country. From the primary period, Bangladeshi people are trying to practice democracy by passing different obstacle. Some obstacle came from its internal part and some of them were directed from neighboring countries. From the beginning India used to interrupt our peace by threatening on our border. Different times they captured a large portion of our country unjustly. India is trying to establish sovereignty on South Talpatti Island as their continuous unjust movement. India is appeared as a great threat of our independence by creating pressure on our economy and politics. They are trying to capture our lands and to destroy our usual bio-diversity by making Dams and barrage on international rivers, and forcing to get mineral resources from sea and lands. We have observed the impact of India on our administration which is come from the result of these threats of them and making our administrative power unstable. It is a great threat for our country.
As I mentioned above that Bangladesh is a hugely populated country with small area. So, each portion of land with its resources is very important for us. So, by any cost we should to protect South Talpatti Island which will give us strength to keep the sovereignty on the whole Bangladesh also.
1.3 Study Area
The island is located in the coastal, shallow Bay of Bengal immediately south of the international border river, the Hariabhanga, flowing between Satkhira district of Bangladesh and South 24 Parganas district of West Bengal, India. The island lies at about 21°37′00″N 89°08′30″E. In the fig-1 on next page shows South Talpatti Island’s geographical location presented by elaborated map.
Fig.-1: Location of South Talpatti Island
Source:, 2009.
1.4 Significance of the Study
Since ancient time, the sea has been used for fishing, maritime trade and commerce. The oceans of the world have gained greater and greater prominence with the vast growth in global seaborne trade and requirement of national jurisdiction over maritime domains covered by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Today no nation can afford to turn away from the sea and that’s why it is now called the unexplored Frontier or the last Frontier as the Sea only can now provide the alternative to land resources. Maritime security is a broad concept that includes panoply of notions such as maritime safety, freedom of navigation, Sea Lines of Communication (SLOC) security, protection of sea resources and territorial disputes. Another key premise of security dynamics is the need to understand the huge dependency on sea-borne trade and the growth of regional navies. There are several reasons behind the process of robust modernization and build-up of naval forces in the region. Given these trends, maritime security is therefore becoming increasingly important to the stability and economic growth of Bangladesh. The two main maritime security challenges include ensuring that the sea-lanes remain open to the flow of goods and resources and preventing inter-state maritime conflict that might arise out of exploration and exploitation of sea resources. It is very much evident from our geography, seafaring and shipbuilding traditions and commercial ties with the countries of the region that Bangladesh is an important maritime state. The lengthy coastline, SLOC in the Bay of Bengal, and as per the UNCLOS, 1982, which provide us with a vast maritime area consisting of Internal water, Territorial sea (TS), Contiguous Zone (CZ), Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and Continental Shelf (CS) bears testimony to the fact. However, Bangladesh’s security considerations continue to be dominated by developments on land with maritime affairs being perceived merely as an extension of these activities. But in the emerging security environment, Bangladesh’s dependence on the sea will increase in terms of trade, energy resources, shipping, sustainable exploitation of marine resources, research and exploration and maritime boundary issues could be seen as critical dimensions of maritime security. Military and intelligence gathering activities by foreign nations in or over others EEZ are becoming more frequent due to the accelerating pace of globalization; the tremendous increase in world trade- the rise in the size and quality of the navies of many nations and technological advances that allow navies to better utilize oceanic areas. Other conflicts result from the increasing scarcity of resources, the growing threat to the marine environment, and concerns with safety of sea lanes. At the same time, coastal states are placing increasing importance on control of their EEZs. Of the 1700 warships expected to be built during the next few years, a majority will be smaller, coastal patrol vessels and corvettes, suggesting even further coastal State emphasis on control of their EEZs. Indeed, because of the sea ‘rush’ atmosphere which surrounds the exploitation of maritime resources, jurisdictional claims have even tended to ‘creep’ beyond and the 1982 UNCLOS has introduced new uncertainties and conflict points into the region particularly, in regard to claims on EEZ, CS and related maritime boundaries. Maritime boundaries and territorial disputes are contentious, and lack of agreed boundaries could hamper effective regional cooperation, thus reducing maritime security. Such unresolved boundary issues will impair maritime security, likely to lead to misunderstandings and compromise sustainable use of natural resources to the detriment of all in the region. It is imperative that various methods of defining and delimiting boundaries are applied to the benefit of all as the extension of maritime jurisdiction and resultant boundary dispute and competing/conflicting claims and uncertain jurisdiction and geopolitics are creating inequities and adding unnecessary stress to relations between states. As states strive to protect their sovereignty, sudden changes to maritime force structures can translate into a more dangerous maritime security environment. Conflicting claims can impinge on perceptions of security and can be applied to both maritime space and disputed territory. Unresolved maritime boundary poses a threat to maritime security and the scope and dimension of such threat are becoming more complex and serious with the passage of unexplained and undue delay. Bangladesh and India could neither carry out demarcation of maritime boundary nor resolve sovereignty dispute over the South Talpatti in the last 34 years and could soon be at conflict with each other over sharing of gas /oil resources of EEZ, undertaking activities like surveillance and fishery patrol. Within 2011 the maritime boundaries between Bangladesh-India will be finalized and a huge area will go to the owner of South Talpatti. On the other hand, the recent incursion of Myanmar’s naval warships escorting oil and gas drilling platforms into Bangladesh waters in the Bay of Bengal is an alarming development and is indicative of a threatening posture of Myanmar on the issue. Bangladesh is also constrained in its claim to an extended CS beyond 350nm from the baselines due to non delineation of maritime boundary. So, we can say the significance on the study on “Geographical Significance of South Talpatti in Security Concern of Bangladesh” is immeasurably huge.
1.5 Objectives
The main objectives of the study are:
1. To find out the geopolitical significances of South Talpatti.
2. Rationality of Bangladesh in respect of claiming the South Talpatti.
3. How can we solve the problem of South Talpatti.
1.6 Methods and Materials
We, the group of four members are assigned and supervised to study on this important topic by our honorable teacher Abu Hassan Faruk. We got a tremendous help from him. We collected the outlines and lectures on the whole assignment and according these we submitted our synopsis on the study to him at the beginning. We called for a meeting of all five group members and most of them were present that informal meeting. We decided to read articles on the study for a small period and collected useful information. We got most of them at Public Library, Dhaka and Internet. We got some information related on it from internet. At the end we merged the whole information and sorted them. The summary of this information is noted in our final copy of the study.
1.7 Results and Discussion
South Talpatti Island as it is known in Bangladesh or New Moore Island or Purbasha in India is a small uninhabited offshore island that emerged in the Bay of Bengal in the aftermath of the Bhola cyclone in 1970. There is no permanent settlement or any other station located on the island. Its sovereignty is disputed between Bangladesh and India.
1.7.1 Geographical Location and Geographical Characteristics of South Talpatti
South Talpatti is emerged along the shallow continental shelf of the Bay of Bengal under the administrative jurisdiction of shyamnagar upazila in satkhira district. The island is situated in the coastal shallow seas on the Hariabhanga estuary along the south of the border line marked by the Hariabhanga River flowing between Satkhira district of Bangladesh and Bashirhat police station of the district of 24 Parganas in the West Bengal (India). South Talpatti Island is situated between 2137 North latitude and 8912 East longitude. It has been formed by the alluvium deposits carried by various distributaries of the Ganges-Padma river system. The shape of the island is almost round and appears crescent-shaped when seawater slides down during ebb tide.
The island is about two kilometers from the mouth of the Hariabhanga. The mid-channel flow of the river Hariabhanga is running by the west coast of the island. To the direct north of the South Talpatti Island lies Talpatti, the extreme south-western mainland of Bangladesh and to the south the unbounded Bay of Bengal. The total area of the island at present is approximately 10 square kilometers. The area of the landmass of the island fluctuates between approximately 7 sq km and 14 sq km during the highest and lowest height of high and low tides. The emergence of the Island took place immediately of the devastating cyclone hit the south Gangetic delta region in October 1970.
The remote sensing image of the island was taken in 1974 for the first time by ERTS land resource satellite of the United States. At that time the average area of the island was 2,500 sq meters. Subsequently, various remote sensing coinages and surveys showed that the area of the island had been expanding gradually and at present the average volume of the total emerged landmass is about 10,000 sq meters. At present, a number of submerged shoals are being visualized on the north and southeast side of the island near the Hariabhanga estuary. The most recent satellite pictures show the existence of a vast submerged landmass in the shallow seawaters around South Talpatti. These data indicate that the total area of South Talpatti Island will surpass 25 to 30 sq km within the next one or two decades.
South Talpatti Island is about 3.5 km at length to the north and south and about 3 km width at the most across east and west. The newly emerged land is stretching more along the north and southeast of the Island. Siltation at the western part of the island is being hindered following the mid-channel flow of the Hariabhanga river. The highest elevation of the island is only 1.3m high above the sea level. A shallow lagoon has been formed from the middle to the last fringe of the northern post with the gradual lowering of the northern elevation. The northern part of the lagoon is open and the eastern and western side is bound by narrow strip of land-arms. The lagoon remains almost dry all the time excepting high tide. The bottom of the lagoon is muddy.
Average depth of the coastal sea stretching ten kilometers surrounding the South Talpatti Island ranges between 3m and 5.5m only. The deep oceanic creek - swatch of no ground is positioned straightway about 43 kilometers south of the island. Innumerable shallow submerged sandy tracts have been formed in almost three sides of the island saving the west. The geological expansion tendency of the island is basically prolonged to southeast direction from the northwest. Examination of the coastal geophysical condition proves that South Talpatti Island and its submerged landmass on the north is connected with the mainland Talpatti (Bangladesh) to the north by shallow submerged alluvium depositional soil. The average depth of this submerged depositional streak during ebb tide remains only between 2 and 2.5m.
The influence of the Bay of Bengal in the land formation of the southern part of South Talpatti Island fashioned by the twin-rivers of Hariabhanga and Raymangal is enormous. On the southern part of the Island coastland mingled with mainly sand and clay is found while on the north and east sediment-clay and clayey plain land is observed. Coastal mangrove forest is being raised along the south and southeast coast of the Island for the last few years.
Cyclone and tidal bore often strike the coastal lands along the Bay of Bengal including South Talpatti Island. This natural hazards renders significant influence in both the geophysical processes of land erosion and sedimentation in South Talpatti Island. Some times the island is totally plunged by seawater at the time of devastating storm, high tide or flooding.
The following geomorphologic patterns are found in the small area of South Talpatti Island:
(a) Tidal floodplains;
(b) Tidal bogs and wetlands;
(c) Shoals formed by river deposits;
(d) River borne clayey lowlands;
(e) River eroded continental coast in the east; and
(f) Sandy-beach in the southeast.
River borne sediment and clay played pivotal role in the formation of the island. Accumulation of comparatively bigger granular sand is particularly noticeable in the south and west of the Island.
1.7.2 History of South Talpatti
South Talpatti was first detected by fishers of Sundarbans. During the Liberation war, South Talpatti came to known by Indian administration. They didn’t make delay to announce its sovereignty. They did it so fast and without any obstacle because of the weakness of Bangladeshi weak administration during the war. Bangladesh couldn’t claim for this island and Indian administration recorded this debatable island as their land. British naval authority included it as New Moore Island by the help of Indian administration. In 1974, American satellite ERTS detected the exact location in sea of the island. Then “National Remote Senses Agencies” which is situated in Hyderabad of India using a series of collected satellite photos made a complete feature with map and rich information on South Talpatti Island. They collected information to prove their legality to their ownership of this island. In that year, Bangladesh and India organized a two-sided conference but no strong demand came from Bangladesh side to clear the debate on this island. In 1974, Bangladesh made agreements with 6 foreign companies about search mineral oil and natural gas in the Bay of Bengal. During that time the debate about this island started in Bangladesh. Different newspapers wrote a lot of features on it and Bangladesh recorded this island as the part of their lands. Bangladesh committed a strong drive to collect information about it and recorded this island as South Talpatti Island. Until 1979, a huge debate was going on about the ownership of this Island. At the end, Ziaur Rahman, the ex-president of Bangladesh discussed formally with Indian prime minister when he was visiting Bangladesh in a regular tour in April 1979. Ziaur Rahman proposed Indian prime minister to send a joint team to survey the island. But Indian prime minister didn’t response properly. Then Indian prime minister promised to representatives of prime minister of Bangladesh when they went to Delhi tour in May. India promised to send detailed information of South Talpatti.
India announced the sovereignty of South Talpatti before 1980 and B.S.F raised Indian flag and constructed a concrete sign of ownership. Indian government and different journals and newspaper spread propaganda expressing ownership and right of India on South Talpatti. They were very active to show the world that this island is owned by India. On the contrary, Bangladesh was quiet about sovereignty of South Talpatti because of administrative weakness and weak foreign policies.
In 1980, Anandbazar newspaper of Kolkata published about a new raised island named Purbasha. In 1975, Indian River Survey board recorded that new raised island which was used to remain sunk most of the time as Purbasha Island. Images collected from satellite by Bangladesh got the evidence of Purbasha. But for avoiding technical difficulties, Indian government denied the existence of Purbasha and declared that Purbasha and New Moore is same island. At the same time India started to avoid Bangladesh on the South Talpatti issue. But Bangladeshi people became united to establish the sovereignty on South Talpatti. The unity became stronger day by day to get the ownership for that island. In 1980, in every city including Dhaka, people committed a great movement against the illegal acquirement of South Talpatti. Bangladesh government decided to ask help from international community as UN. But Indian government remained steady to deny every logic and demand of Bangladesh. During the period of Murarji Deshair, short time prime minister of India, softness between two country in this issue was seen and a environment of discussion to reach a decision was created. Two countries came to a compromise for sharing information to finalize the issue. After the political reorder of India Bangladesh found Raziv Gandhi who was the prime minister of India that time, very uncompromising about the island. The environment of discussion became freeze and new policies came over the whole process. After a short freezing period two countries came to a decision for establishing a neighboring relation between them.
In 1981, Bangladesh and India went ahead to a conflict for own the South Talpatti Island. In May of that year India sent a war ship named “Shondhaoik”. Bangladesh protested against that adventure of India. But Indian administration refused it by declaring that the voyage was for survey only. Bangladesh couldn’t satisfy in the answer and took that event as illegal army instigation of India against our independence. Bangladesh sent three ships for protesting the Indian ship instantly and demanded to Indian Army to go back. But India didn’t respond and they became more active to establish a naval outpost. Till now India continues to keep in possession of South Talpatti. They are continuing different activities to gain possession of this island by different logic.
During the tenure of care taker Government Bangladesh had non conclusive talks with India from 15th – 18th September 2008 on maritime boundary issue. Bangladesh team was led by the ten additional foreign secretary M .K Mahmud while Rear Admiral B R Rao led Indian delegation. The discussion featured discussion on ownership of South Talpatty Island, initial starting point for demarcating maritime boundary, exclusive Economic Zone in the deep sea and other technical issues. There were heated arguments regarding direction of flow of Hariabhanga River. The ownership of South Talpatti Island is directly related with the direction of flow of Hariabhanga River. Bangladesh and India also failed to come to agreement on starting point for settling maritime boundary. Bangladesh proposed to settle it through drawing north- south line on equity basis .India informed the meeting that it would submit its claim to UN between may and June of 2009.Dr Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury Advisor Foreign Affairs to Care Taker Government pleged to contest and challenge India’s submission if it is done without settling dispute with Bangladesh. He said that it would be done to safeguard national interest.
India has submitted the complete and some biased information to UN about their maritime boundary. Myanmar also submitted their data. These two countries submitted data which are going to capture a lot of areas of Bangladesh going to be included to them. It is alarming news for us. We have chance of submission within 2011 and if we fail to claim with essential data, we will lose a huge territorial sea.
1.7.3 International Laws of Sea
History of the law of the sea is a narration of the struggles for and against the doctrine of freedom of the sea. In an effort to end the maritime impasse created after the First and Second World War, the United Nations through the International Law Commission convened a conference in 1958, which came to be known as the Geneva Conventions or the First United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS-I). It effectively codified international treaties pertaining to the Territorial Sea (TS), the Contiguous Zone (CZ), the High Seas (HS), the Continental Shelf (CS) and the Fishing and Conservation of living resources of the High seas. The 1958 Convention failed to agree upon the breadth of the territorial seas and the nature and breadth of fishery limits, a Second Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS-II), was held in Geneva in 1960, this narrowly failed to adopt a 6 mile territorial sea plus a 6 mile exclusive or partially exclusive fishery zone for a coastal state.
During the late 1960s, there were negotiations toward further development of the law of the sea specially the deep sea-bed, but eventually the newly-emergent States reached agreement on a wide array of substantive issues raised by historical and modern use of the sea. In an effort to resolve the many disputes over access to various parts of the oceans, and to preempt further and perhaps more serious disputes from arising, the United Nations after consultation and negotiation between more than 150 nations had worked out a draft treaty and placed before the General Assembly in 1982. It was adopted as the Third United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS III). On 10 December 82, UNCLOS-III was opened for signature in Jamaica by states and International Organizations. Bangladesh along with some 119 states & entities signed the convention on the same day. This wide acceptance signifies the importance of the subject matter and the success of the negotiations in finding the common ground. The UNCLOS, however, was an agreement of great import and complexity negotiated by an enormous number of States of greatly varying economic status, political outlook and interests. It took a further 12 years, mainly for technical and legal reasons, for the required 60 instruments of ratification to be deposited at the UN and Convention came into force on 16 November 1994. Agreement for the implementation of Part XI of the UNCLOS- Seabed Mining took further 2 years, mainly for consultations on the seabed mining and finally came into force on 28 July 1996. The 1982 UNCLOS is an enormously complex international treaty which deals with State sovereignty, resource development, international commerce, environmental protection and military activities. This treaty is the principal governing body of law over an area three times as large as all the continents put together. The UNCLOS bridges the gap between centuries-old rights and obligations and the new awareness that the seas are not an inexhaustible resource for those whose geography or economic development facilitates maritime exploitation. Sea and Baseline
The most basic question in the UNCLOS is: what constitutes a sea and baseline? Under the UNCLOS, the sea is defined as being seaward of a "baseline." The rules for drawing baselines are necessarily complex, since they deal with infinitely variable geography and essentially, the baseline from which maritime claims of a nation are measured is the low water line along the coast as marked on that nations official large scale charts. All outward measurements of distance that delineate territorial subdivisions of the sea start from the baseline, as do many measurements used in defining a contested boundary between adjacent States. Where it would be impractical to utilize the low-water line, as where the coastline is deeply indented or unstable or island nation may instead employ straight baselines which must not depart from the general direction of the coast.
These straight baselines remain effective, despite subsequent regression or accretion of the coastline, until changed by the coastal or island nation. Other maritime zones are also measured from the baseline. Maritime Zones
Internal Waters (IW) are all waters on the landward side of a baseline. They are the legal equivalent of the State's land in international law and domestic laws will usually apply in the IW. The TS can extend to a distance of 12 nautical miles (nm) (22 km) from the baseline. Most States have claimed the maximum permissible. Within the TS, the coastal State has the same sovereign rights as on land, except that the ships of all States have the right of innocent passage through the TS. Archipelagic Waters-An archipelagic nation is a nation that is constituted wholly of one or more groups of islands. Such nations may draw straight archipelagic baselines joining the outermost points of their outermost islands, provided that the ratio of water to land within the baselines is between I to I and 9 to I. They have status similar to that of archipelagic waters, except that the ships of other nations have the right of innocent passage through them. The CZ can extend for a further 12 nm beyond the territorial waters that is to say to a total distance of 24 nm (44 km) from the baseline. It may be claimed by the coastal State for the purpose of enforcing its domestic laws relating to customs, immigration, fiscal and sanitation. This transitional zone prevents ships from breaking the law and then staying offshore just out of reach. Exclusive Economic Zones are resource related zones adjacent to the coast and extending beyond the TS. It is perhaps the greatest immediate advance in international law and recognize the sovereign rights of a coastal or island nation to prescribe and enforce its law in the EEZ, extending up to 200 nm (370km) from the baselines for purposes of exploration, exploitation, management and conservation of the living and natural resources of the waters, seabed and subsoil of the zone, as well as for the production of energy from the water, current and winds. Most States have claimed the maximum permissible and in all cases, the TS and the CZ are within the EEZ.
Jurisdictionally, the coastal State has jurisdiction over artificial structures, marine research and marine environmental protection. One could also read this environmental protection right as a duty, as this would be consistent with the title in the relevant provision of the UNCLOS.
Although the geologic continental shelf is simply the extension of the continent out under the adjacent sea, the legal CS is set with very complicated formulas relating to slope of the floor or thickness of the sedimentary rocks on the seafloor etc extending up to 350 nm (650km). A State's rights on the CS exist even without any express claim being made. Rights to the CS pertain to the sea-bed and the sub sea strata, not to the superjacent water column. A coastal State may not exercise full sovereignty over the CS, but it does have the exclusive right to explore and exploit its living and non-living resources, including minerals, oil, and life forms like clams that live fixed to the seafloor. Other nations may lay submarine cables and pipelines across a coastal State's CS. Freedom of the High Seas (HS) comprise all those areas of the sea where no jurisdiction is exercised by a coastal State; usually this is all waters seaward of the outer margin of the EEZ of the adjacent coastal State. They are characterized by the freedom of all States, land-locked or not, to navigate through, fly over, fish upon, conduct scientific research in, lay cables, build artificial islands, etc., provided these activities are carried out with due regard to the rights of other States and for peaceful purposes. Dispute Settlement Mechanism
The UNCLOS incorporates the principles of the Charter of the United Nations in its approach to maritime disputes. States are under two obligations: to settle their differences, and to settle them by peaceful means. When becoming a party to the UNCLOS, a State may, by written declaration, elect to choose a procedure for compulsory resolution of disputes pertaining to rights under the UNCLOS. Parties are free to choose from among: the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea the International Court of Justice; an Annex VIII arbitration tribunal, where the subject of the dispute relates to fisheries, protection and preservation of the marine environment, scientific research or pollution; or an Annex VII arbitration tribunal, the default choice. Principles of Settling Boundary Disputes
Maritime boundary disputes have existed since we began drawing boundaries and with the EEZ extending a coastal State's rights out from 12 to 200 nm, it created many new opportunities for dispute and the newfound petroleum/gas resources of the sub sea strata has added extra incentives for maritime boundary disputes. It is primarily in these instances that international law must look to principles rather than history to settle the dispute. Neighboring States may be opposite or adjacent. Article 15 specifies that neither of these States is entitled, failing agreement to the contrary, to extend their territorial seas beyond the equidistance line between them. But this provision is inapplicable if historic title or other special circumstances make it necessary to use another method. It is not intended here to consider all the possible ways in which solutions may be reached, but to mention only a few basic techniques on which the expert charged with the technical work may build like Equidistance method, Partial Effect, Coastal Length Comparison, The Equi-ratio Method, Methods related to the "General Direction" of the Coastline, The Thalweg Concept, Enclaving, Proportionality and Judicial precedent.
Equity and Equitable Principles: The legal provisions of Articles 74 and 83 which are identical, pertain to the delimitation of the boundaries of EEZ and CS respectively.
Unfortunately for the technical expert engaged on maritime delimitation, an equitablesolution has no objective meaning, and there are many possible ways in which an equitable solution may be approached. Since EEZ and CS delimitations are the basis of most boundary disputes, the UNCLOS simply adopts whatever international law of boundary delimitation exists as its principle for resolving disputes. It can most clearly be stated as: the Parties shall use equitable principles, or equitable criteria, taking into account all the relevant circumstances, in order to come to an equitable result when settling their boundary disputes. Clearly, the result, rather than the means, is the dominant criterion for assessing the suitability of the boundary. Using equitable principles to reach an equitable result does not place great constraints on the actual method employed.
Equity, by its very definition, will be unique for each new fact situation and, of course, geography is infinitely variable. There are many principles that have been put forward as equitable principles which should be invoked: sovereign equality between states, "weight" varying between mainland and islands, relative lengths of coastline, non- encroachment of coastal fronts, natural prolongation of land territory, historic use and economic interests, and degrees of frontal overlap. No one principle is equitable in all instances. At various times an equitable result, it has been argued, is one that divides the relevant and disputed marine waters:
(i) equally;
(ii) in proportion to the lengths of relevant coastline; or
(iii) in proportion to the relevant land areas.
In light of so many “equitable principles," it is easy to see why these issues are so contentious and why at times there appears to be no discernable trend in tribunal decisions. How equitable principles play out is best seen within the context of concrete examples, which indicate that there is no sure answer to maritime boundary disputes.
1.7.4 Debate on the claim of South Talpatti
There is a long term debate is going on for finalizing the real owner of South Talpatti. It is situated in the middle of international boundary and it is situated in the middle of the distributaries of Hariabhanga River in Bay of Bengal. It rose in the continental shelf of Bay of Bengal. It is located in south sea of the end of boundary which is initiated by the "Redcliff Award" rules.
The regional oceanic zone and reserved economic zone of India-Bangladesh couldn't be initiated yet because of different unavoidable natural and political reasons. So these two neighboring country cannot come to a decision on South Talpatti. Each country claimed this island and different processes and debates are going on to get independent sovereignty on it. India agreed to use "12 Nautical Miles" principle to initiate their Oceanic range of boundary in the conference on Oceanic Range Law functioned in Jamaica. Primarily Bangladesh agreed with this principle also but after a period they announced its boundary to follow 10 fathom Abyssal Contour. By these two principles each country got right to claim this island. India showed the logic to get it by Median Line Principle. By this principle, a divisional cross line is stated in the middle of the two adjacent lands the boundary of two countries. This Median Line is defined by geometrical measure and it divided the middle area of two neighboring countries. As the New Moore Island is situated at the west of the median line, India is remaining still to initiate the ownership by "Median Line" formula. India used this formula to initialize the oceanic territorial boundary with Indonesia, Thailand and Srilanka. India accomplished all conflicts by "Redcliff Award" law and the result of accomplished conflicts. By this law the international boundaries of distributaries was initiated by Mid-channel /Thalweg. This conflict accomplishment law is known as "Mid-channel flow principle" or "Thalweg Doctrine".
Bangladesh gave emphasis on implementing "Mid-channel flow principle" or "Thalweg Doctrine" to initiate the ownership of South Talpatti Island. Bangladesh government published their intension on it in "Govt. White Paper on South Talpatti Island, 1981". The Image a12 is showing the proposed mid-channel flow law. Bangladesh government opposed India's "Median Line Principle" because this principle is not an international certified law or any kind of convention. International Court executed a verdict for initiating the oceanic territorial boundary between West Germany, Netherlands and Denmark by median-line principle. International used this law to initiate the boundary in North Sea in 1959. Bangladesh indicated this example of using this law as a method only with logic. So, this law cannot initiate the boundary between Bangladesh and India. The confliction could be accomplished only by mid-channel flow principle which is used most of the times. By this principle, there is no confusion that South Talpatti is legally owned by Bangladesh because the island is situated at east of the main-stream of Hariabhanga river. That means, the main stream of Hariabhanga river is flowing by the west side of South Talpatti. If the mid-channel line or Redcliff line is increased to the sea, then the line goes to deep sea by creating a curve to south bank of the island. As answer of the proposal of Bangladesh, India proposed another line based on Redcliff line. They increased the line from the end of Redcliff line directly by the "Same Direction Law". South Talpatti remained New Moore and owned by India as their new proposal.
Fig.-2: Main Flow of Hariabhanga
River and the location of
South Talpatti
Source:, 2009
In second proposal India says that, as the island is situated between India and Bangladesh, so Redcliff’s "Median-line principle" is not appropriate for here. On the other hand India says that this "Median-line principle" is not approved by international or convention. For this reason debate for the island is remaining with more complexity among two neighboring countries. By this time Bangladesh has announced its own territorial sea and exclusive economic zone. Bangladesh initiated that zone by the judgment of abyssal topography and depth of continental shelf. 10 fathom depth was considered to initiate this territorial sea. This method is called 10 fathom abyssal contour. Bangladesh initiated the exclusive economic zone of 200 miles south from coastal area. Bangladesh included territory away from 25 km to continental shelf according to 10 fathom abyssal contour. There is a contradictory natural condition in Bangladesh along with not suitable land property of Funnel-shaped coast line. There is also a pressure of huge population with a little area and lack or mineral assets in Bangladesh. Although there is no international law or convention about territorial sea which announced by Bangladesh but consideration with the equity of international law they demanded this.
1.7.5 Rationality of Bangladesh in respect of claiming the South Talpatti Island
From the beginning of appearance of South Talpatti Bangladesh represented different rationality for proving proprietorship on it. But the harmonically imbalanced administration of Bangladesh couldn’t give emphasis on it very much. Bangladesh submitted different logic and information different times but India didn’t respond enough. Bangladesh offered a joint survey by specialists of two countries different times. Bangladesh has some rationality about their claiming of South Talpatti, they are following:
Firstly, Redcliff Award was used always for initializing the boundary between Bangladesh and India which is established on the mid-channel flow or Thalweg principle. Bangladeshi administration thinks that solution of the problem by this law is most reasonable because of a long experience. By this law the main stream line of Hariabhanga River is considered to initialize the boundary line among two countries. It is clear that the main stream is flowing through western side of the river. By a elaborated and specialized survey on the river and land of South Talpatti can prove the truth.
Secondly, Kolkata based Anandbazar newspaper published a sunken island in Bay of Bengal which was situated at the east of South Talpatti. At first India claimed that and named it Purbasha Island. Images collected from satellite proved the existence of those sunken lands. Really that is not a complete island but a submerged shoal. It is now more clearly that this submerge shoal is raising more and more. One day that will make a link from South Talpatti to Bangladeshi main land. As the main stream of Hariabhanga is flowing by the west side of the island, there is no chance to India having the island more nearer or linked with their main land.
Thirdly, Bangladesh demanded to get equity on initiating its territorial sea and exclusive economic zone by geomorphologic consideration. Bangladesh has a contrary coastal line. So, Bangladesh has announced its territorial sea by 10 fathom abyssal principle already. Bangladesh deserves the right which is given by the Continental Shelf Convention, 1982 and LOS Convention, 1990. By this law based on equity Bangladesh could record South Talpatti Island as own land. But the final initiation of territorial sea and exclusive economic zone will be held based on the location of South Talpatti within 2011. As a result sovereignty on 25000/ 30000 square meter area of sea is depending on the sovereignty on South Talpatti. So, it is a kind of suicide not to give emphasis to get proprietorship of this island because it will create a great loss to Bangladesh.
Fourthly, South Talpatti is a new land of Ganges Delta region. The formation of land or land accretion of this region is going on very actively. Observation says that it is very close that the main land of Ganges Delta will swallow the South Talpatti Island and other Ganges islands. Once the coastal line was situated to far north from today and gradually it swallowed a large portion of sea. Because of huge amount of gradual river siltation process new lands are forming every moment. In this situation that doubtful island will be included to Bangladesh naturally by the Redcliff award law because South Talpatti will be the part of main land of Bangladesh within a decade.
For the reason described above, it is clear that Bangladesh has more tangible stand to get the sovereignty on South Talpatti or New Moore. If the mid-line principle is followed, that will be turned to one side.
1.7.6 Security Threat to Bangladesh
Recent Bangladeshi media reports state that following Myanmar submission to UNO, India has also made submission their version of maritime boundary and exclusive economic zone in the Bay of Bengal. Both Myanmar and India have claimed major areas of Bangladesh maritime territory in their submissions. Bangladesh has time till 2011 to make its submission. It appears that recent Bangladeshi efforts to settle the disputes with neighbors through negotiations failed to reach meeting of minds. Rather keeping Bangladesh in good humor our neighbors have made their cases strongly to deprive Bangladesh of its legitimate right. India and Myanmar in recent times also encroached Bangladesh territory to carry out surveys collecting useful information to include in their submissions. Bangladesh has to lodge formal protests soon before hearing starts against illegitimate claims of Myanmar and India over its Maritime Boundary and Exclusive Economic Zone.
India did not even care to inform Bangladesh about itsa submission. Reliable source informed that Indian submission claiming unilateral ownership of South Talpatti, initail demarcation line and Exclusive Economic Zone in the deep sea demonstrate utter disregard to the independence and sovereign reality of Bangladesh. Bangladesh will have bear its burnt for hundreds of years and will loose control of a huge maritime territory to India if it fails to challenge India’s illegitimate claim with reliable and authentic documents in its support. India has submitted its data and information about maritime boundary to UN on 29th June.
If we fail to submit essential and complete evidence with strong foreign policies we will lose a great amount of area from maritime boundary. It will be a major security threat for Bangladesh.
Bangladesh is about a newer country in the world. Bangladesh government established its own army, navy and air force at the beginning of the independence for keeping safe our independence. Bangladesh Army is strong enough but Bangladesh Navy couldn’t be strong enough. We are not able enough to stop unjust frequent maritime movement of neighboring countries. Strength of Bangladesh Navy would be decreased if we lose great areas from maritime boundary. The working are of navy will be decreased and chance of frequent movement will be decreased also.
As a coastal country, Bangladesh has a great dependency on sea for economy. If we fail to make sure the best use of coast, then we have to fall into great sorrow of economic imbalance. Along with Bangladesh is small country that each portion of its land deserves special concern. We should not lose a single inch of land. We should to make sure of the best use of each inch also. We should find out the resources and use them appropriately to develop our country. So, for a security of future economy of Bangladesh South Talpatti has great impact.
It is observed that South Talpatti is going to be linked with mainland of our country. So, if we fail to establish sovereignty on it, we will fail sovereignty on some of our mainland. South Talpatti is only 6000 meter away from our mainland, so it has a great impact to independence on our mainland also.
1.8 Findings
India has gone so forward to claim South Talpatti and a huge area of Bangladeshi maritime boundary. Bangladesh failed to keep harmony with India. Bangladesh should to be prepared enough. There are some reasons are active not to let Bangladesh prepared for it. Mostly they are related with our politics.
In 1971, when the issue is born, East Pakistan could not look after it because of liberation war. East Pakistan became Bangladesh and during the war India claimed and collected information on this island to get sovereignty on it quickly along with helping us to get independence. This double-faced activity of India created doubtfulness from the beginning.
After liberation war, the new administration was not so strong to look after this issue. We could not claim and collect information on this Island that time. A great break down has come to Bangladesh during 1975. Bangladesh claimed for this island in 1979 first. The government of India promised different times about settling the problem but it couldn’t be possible because of political changes of Bangladesh and India. Then Bangladesh should to face different political disaster in the country that we could not stand strongly yet. Till now Bangladeshis has no unity and couldn’t practice a fair democracy here. We think political instability and corruption of politics are the main reason not gets a settlement on the debate of South Talpatti.
1.9 Suggestions
From the discussion above about deficiencies can give us the solution. I have determined some solution that is stated following:
i. We have to be more conscious about our country. For this we should to increase the rate of literacy in our country. Government should to give emphasis to literate people to solve all problems including South Talpatti Island problem.
ii. Government should to give up all kinds of biasness in administration which is the main obstacle against the fair practice of democracy.
iii. Government should also give emphasis to wash away corruption from our country. Administration should to be more dynamic for being prepared for every disaster comes from internal and external part of country.
iv. Bangladesh should to collect enough information on South Talpatti and maritime boundary and prepare a huge amount evidence to claim South Talpatti. A great delay is happened already, there is no time to delay any more. We should to prepare all papers within short period. If we start our work from today within 2011 we will reach at a strong position to claim The South Talpatti along with our attainable maritime boundary.
v. Above all we should to try to practice democracy properly and government should to be concerned on the country.
1.8 Conclusions
For ensuring security of Bangladesh it is very much important to get the sovereignty of South Talpatti. By international laws and geographical state of the island we may easily ask for getting it as ours. But we need a strong leadership and strong foreign policies to stand before international community. People should to be more conscious and united in national interests. Intellects should research more for betterment of our country. We wish by the co-operation with the people of all sectors, government will be successful to ensure the security of Bangladesh.
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