While the border dispute between Assam and Mizoram turned violent last month, the Assam government is achieving success in resolving border disputes with other states in the region. Days after Assam and Nagaland settled such a dispute and withdrew police forces, today Assam and Meghalaya moved forward to resolve border disputes between the two states.
Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma and Meghalaya CM Conrad Sangma met in Guwahati today for the second meeting between the two over the issue. In the meeting, both sides decided to narrow the dispute to six sites in the first phase, out of the total 12 disputed places. The 6 selected sites are Tarabari, Gizang, Boklapara, Pillangkata, Hahim and Ratacherra. These areas fall in Kamrup, Kamrup (Metropolitan) and Cachar districts of Assam and West Khasi Hills, Ri Bhoi and East Jaintia Hills districts of Meghalaya.
The other six disputed locations are Langpih, Borduar, Nongwah, Matamur, Khanapara-Pilangkata, Deshdemoreah Block I and Block II, and Khanduli. Interestingly, Khanapara-Pilangkata is located just south to Guwahati, and the state guest house of Assam govt, which was used as the official residence by former Assam CM Tarun Gogoi, is also located on a ‘disputed’ location on Koinadhara hill in this area.
The two states agreed to form three committees to resolve the six disputed areas, each headed by one cabinet minister from both the states each as co-chairmen. The committees will have 10 members each, 5 from each state, which will include local MLAs, bureaucrats and civil society members. These committees will undertake joint visits to the disputed sites for survey and study, and will prepare a report with their recommendations to arrive at mutually aggregable solutions. The committees will submit their reports within 30 days.
Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma informed that the committees will take historical aspects, ethnicity, people’s perceptions, administrative convenience and contiguity as their terms of reference while preparing the reports. He has nominated Assam cabinet ministers Pijush Hazarika, Atul Bora and Chandra Mohan Patowary as the co-chairmen for the three committees.
The Assam CM said that the Chief Ministers’ level meeting on Assam-Meghalaya Border was conducted with full respect for each other today. This was their second meeting after the fist one on 23rd July in Shillong. In the first meeting, both the state governments decided to adopt a pragmatic approach and move from status quo to solution.
“Both governments are clear that we want to resolve the differences between the states. There is a strong political will to find an amicable solution. Both agreed that the disputes should be resolved in a respectful manner,” Meghalaya CM Sangma said.
While the Meghalaya govt had presented its views in the first meeting, Assam presented its arguments in today’s meeting. Sangma said that it was decided to take up disputed areas in a phased manner for resolution, as some areas are less complicated, some are slightly more and others are highly complicated.
“We don’t have any dispute from Assam side, but dispute arose because Meghalaya claimed certain territories in these 12 locations. When we met in Shillong, we agreed that all disputes can’t be resolved at one go and we need to take them up in a step-by-step manner. Once the six disputes are resolved, we will move on to the others,” said Sarma on the matter.