Assam, Meghalaya try to resolve 6 of 12 border disputes

Guwahati, Nov 16, 2021, IANS

Assam and Meghalaya are expected to resolve their long-pending inter-state border dispute at six of the 12 places by December, the Chief Ministers of the two states said on Tuesday after visiting the disputed areas.

Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, his Meghalaya counterpart Conrad K. Sangma along with other Ministers and senior officials on Tuesday visited the disputed areas along the two northeastern states and told the media that the regional committees, formed for the purpose, must submit their reports by November 30.

Sangma said due to the inter-state border dispute, the implementation of various government schemes and projects and undertaking development have become problematic affecting the welfare of the people.

"Implementation of schemes relating to electricity, water, health have turned complicated and that's why we are trying to resolve the border issues at the earliest. Already 50 years have passed but the border dispute remains and creates various problems often," he added.

Later, the Meghalaya Chief Minister tweeted, "We have given a timeline to the regional committees to send their reports on or before November 30, 2021, to Himanta Biswa Sarma ji and me. Consultation with stakeholders from our respective states will then follow to decide on the best course of action."

Sarma said under the guidance of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah, the Assam and Meghalaya governments are sincerely trying to settle the border dispute at the earliest.

"Both Prime Minister and Union Home Minister are monitoring our efforts. We are not trying to settle the dispute sitting in Guwahati and Shillong. To know the ground realities, historical aspects, sentiments and opinion of the people, we are visiting the exact locations," Sarma told the media.

Sarma tweeted, "As part of a confidence building measure and to find a lasting solution to the decade old inter-state border issue between Assam and Meghalaya, I and Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K. Sangma visited Lower Lumpi in Kamrup and attended a programme there."

"To settle the border dispute in 12 locations, Assam and Meghalaya in August had formed various regional committees led by Cabinet Ministers and officials of the two states to focus on five aspects -- historical facts, ethnicity, administrative convenience, contiguity of the land, willingness and people's sentiments."

According to the Assam Chief Minister, of the 12 locations along Assam's Cachar, Kamrup and Kamrup (metro) districts and Meghalaya's West Khasi Hills, Ri-Bhoi and East Jaintia Hills districts, six disputed locations with lesser complications would be taken up first.

Assam has border disputes with Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya and Mizoram. Assam's border dispute cases with Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh are before the Supreme Court but there are no cases on the inter-state disputes with Meghalaya and Mizoram.

Recently, Assam and Nagaland had signed an agreement to remove state forces from the disputed locations. The Assam Chief Minister recently discussed with his Arunachal Pradesh counterpart Pema Khandu about an out of court settlement of the boundary disputes.

The worst-ever violence along the Assam-Mizoram border on July 26 left six Assam Police personnel dead and nearly 100 civilians and security personnel of the two neighbouring states injured.

The trouble between the states is due to conflicting interpretations of their territorial position. While Mizoram says the boundary line is the one laid down in the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation Act of 1875, Assam backs the 1933 demarcation.