‘Border mgmt, terrorism pose challenges’For a huge potential for a stronger intra-regional connectivity that the BBIN (Bhutan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal) region holds, effective border management and growing terrorism remain big challenges facing the effective implementation, according to a new report on the sub-regional grouping.
For a huge potential for a stronger intra-regional connectivity that the BBIN (Bhutan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal) region holds, effective border management and growing terrorism remain big challenges facing the effective implementation, according to a new report on the sub-regional grouping.
“There is no doubt that enhancing inter-BBIN connectivity will pave the way for greater economic opportunities. The question, however, is how the BBIN nations will deal with the concomitant risks and challenges of opening up their borders,” said the report released by the Observer Research Foundation (ORF), a New Delhi-based think-tank, following a detail study on the challenges facing the BBIN.
Nepal and Bhutan have open borders with India, while New Delhi has recently started sealing frontiers with Bangladesh. The movement of people among the four countries is common for education, employment and tourism.
“While the bulk of travel of persons across BBIN border is for the legitimate purpose, the proliferation of cross-border crime undermines the smooth management of boundaries,” the report said.
The Motor Vehicle Agreement (MVA) signed on June 15, 2015 is a key component of this BBIN initiative. The MVA would regulate passengers, personnel and cargo vehicular traffic between the BBIN countries.
The Asian Development Bank has identified a total of 30 road projects worth $8 billion over the next five years to fill and upgrade critical connections in the BBIN area.
Stressing the need to step the growing extremism in Nepal, Bangladesh and Bhutan for making the BBIN possible and safe, the report said, “controlling the movements of extremists, radicals and insurgents groups is a big challenge for the border security organisations”.
“Although the Bangladesh government has been working on stricter counter-terror measures, including efforts in controlling terror financing, there has been a rise in incidents of radicalism and military on its soil in the past few years,” it pointed out.
The report has also raised concern about the security situation in Nepal that could come as a stumbling block for the implementation of the BBIN. “Nepal’s weak infrastructure at airports and borders increase the possibility of the country being used as a transit by the various groups. Thus there is an immediate need to upgrade infrastructure at the entry points in the country to monitor the movement of people,” it said.
The ORF has suggested preparing digital profiling of people who travel, setting up smart fencing along borders, controlling legal and illegal movements, exchanging information among countries to tackle extremism, making a strong integrated check post, among others.
Along with border management and tracking down terrorism, Bhutan’s resistance to the BBIN is another challenge for its implementation. Bhutan’s National Assembly endorsed the BBIN agreement two months ago amid widespread protests, but there is strong resistance from the opposition and the transport entrepreneurs. The assembly is yet to endorse the MVA.