Dhakha, Bangladesh: Bangladesh has demanded 40,300 square nautical miles (snm) of maritime area in Bay of Bengal, in keeping with the Territorial Waters and Maritime Zones Act formulated in 1974, said Foreign Minister Dr. Dipu Moni, replying to a question raised by treasury bench member Rasheda Begum Heera in the Jatiya Sangsad (Parliament) yesterday.
"As per the demand, the unsettled area with Burma is about 19,702 square nautical miles and with India it is 8,714 square nautical miles. There is no initiative from the government side to conduct survey on the unresolved maritime area with India and Burma," said the FM.
"According to international laws, it is not lawful to carry out a survey by any country alone in the unsettled maritime areas," Dipu Moni said, apprehending that it may create unnecessary tension among the neighbouring countries.
“Bilateral talks between Bangladesh and Burma to resolve the dispute on the maritime boundary began immediately after Independence and it continued till 1986,” the FM said answering the question from opposition BNP member Mohammad Harunur Rashid.
“After 22 long years, a technical level meeting on fixation of maritime boundary with Burma resumed in March 2008 and three meetings - two in Dhaka and one in Rangoon - were held so far. The next meeting is likely to be held in Rangoon next month," the Foreign Minister added.
“A diplomatic protest note will be sent to the United Nations against the (maritime) claims of India and Burma,” the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed told Parliament while responding to questions during her weekly question time in the House.
The Bangladesh permanent mission at the United Nations is preparing the note in consultation with local and international experts. It will be submitted to the United Nations at the earliest opportunity, she added.
“The government is also trying to resolve the disputes with India and Burma through bilateral diplomatic channels,” the PM said referring to meetings with Burma in the last couple of years for demarcation of their territorial waters.
The deadline for officially registering Bangladesh's claim for its maritime boundary is July 27, 2011, the PM said adding her government would do the same well ahead of the timeline.
Burma and India had made their submissions to the UN for their extended continental shelf on December 16, 2008, and May 11, 2009, respectively.
“Bangladesh would have to submit its claims to the UN for over 150 nautical miles or more area beyond 200 nautical miles of the extended continental shelf of the Bay of Bengal by July 27, 2011,” the PM said in the Parliament session.
The Prime Minister said the preparatory work is on under supervision of the Foreign Ministry. The Commission on Limits of Continental Shelf (CLCS) will make its recommendations after examining all facts, which is a time consuming matter, she added.
“Bangladesh has already declared 12 nautical miles of the Bay of Bengal as its territorial waters, 18 nautical miles as contiguous zone and 200 nautical miles as economic zone according to the Territorial Waters and Maritime Zones Act, 1974,” Hasina said
“The area of extended continental shelf claimed by Bangladesh is 29,000 square nautical miles, which is in conflict with the claim of Burma and India reviewing their claims submitted to the UN,” she added.