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GPS surveys to resolve Sir Creek dispute

Top scientists from India and Pakistan conducted geologic surveys in the disputed region and a seal of approval is likely soon for a newly demarcated boundary.

The decades-old Sir Creek boundary dispute between India and Pakistan is on the verge of a final settlement. Following the ongoing composite dialogue between the two countries and general improvement in relations, both New Delhi and Islamabad have exchanged final documents related to the boundary dispute after detailed surveys were carried out by joint teams in the Rann of Kutch.

Now the two sides are expected to meet by the end of this month to put a seal of approval on the resolution of one of the most contentious issues between India and Pakistan. Top officials of the Geologic Survey of India, which carried out the surveys using GPS technology, told that the final documents related to the 96 km long disputed stretch of border were exchanged between the two sides at the Wagah border near Amritsar on Feb 11 this year.

Sir Creek, a marshy wasteland, is a matter of contention between the two countries over delimitation of the border and demarcation of the maritime boundary in the Arabian Sea. The deadlock persisted between the two sides despite five rounds of talks since 1969.

The pillars that divide Gujarat and Sindh were erected in 1924 during British rule. But over the years, weather and other factors compounded the problem due to erosion of the mainland. Top surveyors from both Pakistan and India conducted a week-long study in January this year at Sir Creek, took observations of the pillars with GPS technology and later processed the data at Wagah to full satisfaction of both sides.

“During all these observations and processing, top officials of the two sides remained in close contact. So there was no dispute as everything was done scientifically,” said Surveyor Phool Singh, who headed the Indian team. “Azimuth and mutual bearing for entire observations were computed and arc distances were reduced in the final observations,” he said. This means that both India and Pakistan will accept the new boundary being demarcated by the joint team, the officials said.