Bangladesh Reasserts Claim on Vanishing Island

Anisur Rahman/Dhaka
Bangladesh Reasserts Claim on Vanishing Island
Bangladesh today claimed sovereignty over New Moore island, a bone of contention between Dhaka and New Delhi, despite claims by Indian researchers that the tiny island had disappeared under rising sea levels.

The uninhabited island, is known as South Talpatti in Bangladesh, was 3.5 kilometres long and 3.0 kilometres wide before it was engulfed in the Bay of Bengal.

"Be it there or disappeared, under the Radcliff map (drawing the 1947 partition line), it falls within sovereign territory of Bangladesh," Foreign Secretary Mirajul Quayes told newsmen at a press briefing.

He added that the location of the South Talpatty, called New Moore Island in India, fell on the eastern side of the demarcation line between Bangladesh's Khulna and India's Chabbish Pargana district meaning "Bangladesh has the sovereign authority over it."

The demarcation line, named after Sir Cyril Radcliffe, became the border between India and Pakistan after the partition of British India in 1947 while Bangladesh was part of Pakistan at partition until its 1971 independence after nine months of Liberation War, crucially backed by India.

Additional foreign secretary retired navy commodore Khurshid Alam, a maritime boundary expert, added that while India dubs it an "island" Bangladesh called it an unstable "sandbar formation" or "low tide elevation" which appears during he high tide and disappears during the low tide since early 1980s.

The assertion of Bangladesh sovereignty over South Talpatty came days after newspaper reports quoting a research finding of the West Bengal's Jadavpur University said the 3. 5 kilometres long and 3.0 kilometres wide island disappeared beneath the waves due to rising sea levels and erosion.

"There's no trace of the island anymore.

After studying satellite images, I confirmed this from fishermen," Sugata Hazra, a professor from the School of Oceanographic Studies at Jadavpur University in Kolkata said last month.

The island is thought to have been created by a cyclone only about four decades ago near the world's largest Sundarbans mangrove forest shared both by Bangladesh ad India.

Foreign ministry officials earlier said Dhaka through asserted Bangladesh's sovereignty over South Talpatty since 1980 and revived it during maritime boundary talks with India last year.

In the early 1980s, the two countries had political and diplomatic tensions surrounding the claim over the South Talpatty but the issue became dormant during subsequent military regime of ex-president HM Ershad.
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