Although the International Court of Justice (ICJ) has determined the maritime borders of India and Bangladesh, the two countries ’conflicting positions on the continental shelf claim and baseline objections have raised a new dispute. A conflicting position between the two countries has become clear this year through a series of letters to the United Nations on the demands of the continental shelf.
With the resolution of maritime disputes with Myanmar and India, territories up to 12 nautical miles from the coast of Bangladesh and special economic zones of up to 200 nautical miles have been defined. However, India’s objection to Bangladesh’s demand for the continental shelf after 200 nautical miles has led to this new controversy.
The maritime dispute with India and Myanmar in the Bay of Bengal has been resolved by the verdict of the International Court of Justice. Itals bordered Bangladesh’s maritime borders with Myanmar in 2011 and with India the International Court of Arbitration in 2014.
The current crisis began when Bangladesh drew a new baseline and demanded the continental shelf after two verdicts on maritime borders.
Bangladesh first raised demand for continental shelf at the United Nations in 2011. But after resolving the border dispute with Myanmar and India, the continent modified the demand and resubmitted it to the commission in 2020.
Six months after Bangladesh’s demand for a revised continental shelf, India wrote a letter to the United Nations to oppose it. On April 17, 2021, India sent an official letter to the United Nations to oppose Bangladesh’s demand for the continental shelf.
Recently, Bangladesh has also clarified its position by writing a response letter to the United Nations.
Bijan Kumar Saha, a former official of the Geological Survey of India, has long worked in the inspection of the Indian subcontinent. Bijan Kumar Saha, who last served as senior deputy general manager, said where was India’s objection to the demand for the continental shelf.
“Within the EZ, that means the border, Bangladesh has an advantage there. I’m using the word advantage.
But on the legal continental shelf that Bangladesh has claimed, the Indian government says it is falling into the gray zone and the exclusive economic zone of India. That means it’s less than 200 nautical miles away. “
At the heart of the current dispute between India and Bangladesh over the continental shelf is the baseline of the two countries. Both countries have mutual complaints and objections about this baseline.
The baseline measures 12 nautical miles from coast to sea, 200 nautical miles to special economic zones and then to the continental shelf.
The baseline of the two countries has been determined in the form of points at various places along the coast. Bangladesh has 5 points at the revised baseline and India is divided by 69 points at the baseline.
Bangladesh modified the baseline in 2015 after demarcating the border with India and Myanmar. Based on this baseline, in October 2020, it submitted the demands of the continental shelf to the United Nations Commission. India’s objection to the position of points 2 and 5 of the new Bangladesh baseline.
On 3 August 2016, India wrote a letter to the United Nations opposing points 2 and 5 of the new Bangladesh baseline.
The letter said that if Bangladesh’s maritime boundary is drawn along the new baseline, Bangladesh’s exclusive economic zone falls on the Indian side, where a gray area is marked.
Bangladesh revised the baseline in 2014 following a court ruling on maritime borders. Following this baseline, the United Nations presented its demand for the continental shelf in a revised way in October 2020.
Bangladesh’s statement is that Bangladesh has established the baseline in accordance with the verdict of the court and international law and order.
Bangladesh alleges that India did not change its baseline after the court ruling. The gray area problem remains as India has not changed the baseline. In particular, Bangladesh has objections to points 6 and 69 of the baseline of India.
Retired Rear Admiral Md Khurshid Alam, Secretary of the Maritime Affairs Unit of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has been working on Bangladesh’s maritime borders from the outset.
He told the BBC that Bangladesh had changed its baseline in accordance with the law following the court ruling and submitted the amended continental claims to the United Nations.
“India’s baseline, which is drawn directly from the coast of Balasore, has point 6, ten kilometers from the sea, which is why the gray area is formed.”
He said: ‘Without it, the gray area would not have been created. And point 69, is still 2.3 nautical miles off the coast of Bangladesh. They haven’t withdrawn it since 2009. We said you objected, before things had to be done right. “
How to solve
Bangladesh’s demand for a continental shelf at the United Nations covers an area of 6,600 square kilometers. And the area of the controversial ‘gray area’ is 720 square kilometers.
But Bangladesh claims that this “gray area” will not exist if India modifies its baseline in accordance with the court’s verdict.
Khurshid Alam says the issue of the continental shelf will now be decided by a UN commission. However, diplomatic talks are also continuing.
‘Conversations are held diplomatically. They give cards again and we give cards too. Let’s see if it is resolved diplomatically, they earn two fine points. But perhaps there will be nothing to do diplomatically on the continental shelf, it will be the United Nations.
Regarding the removal of the continental shelf claim, Bijan Kumar Saha, a former survey officer in India, said that regardless of the objections, the continental shelf decision would be based on scientific data; anyone could get it if they wanted to.
“Whether the border between the two countries is land or water, it’s a matter of demarcation.”
“But the Exclusive Economic Zone or Legal Continental Shelf is clearly indicated in the Lodge of the Sea: how many continents can be found after 200 nautical miles, for what reasons, what to do, where to meet. Surely the commission will decide after examine these issues.
All countries have the right to fish on the continental shelf. But the main importance of the continental shelf is due to its underground resources. The country that owns the continental shelf will own the underground resources of this area. The search for oil and gas on the continental shelf and the exploration of any other mineral extraction require the resolution of their disputes.