SHILLONG: April 10 2022 (PTI Source)
On Wednesday, after signing a deal to resolve disputes in six of the state's border areas with Meghalaya, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said that discussions on the remaining locations would begin by June-July.
Also present at the ceremony was Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who said that it was not feasible to satisfy all parties with the outcomes produced, but the greater good had to be considered.
According to the agreement signed in March, Assam will get 18.46 square kilometres and Meghalaya 18.33 square kilometres of the 36.79-square-kilometre area being developed in the first phase.
This line has been drawn based on recommendations from regional committees that both the state governments formed following a chief ministerial-level discussion on an order issued on July 23, 2021.
The Meghalaya High Court ordered the demolition of entire villages along the border with Assam in December 2011 after finding that many people had been forced to leave their homes due to disputes over land, forest and wildlife. In 1972, Assam was divided into two states: Assam and Manipur. The court ruled that sections of the Assam Reorganisation Act, 1971, violated Meghalaya's territorial integrity.
The two states share a 524-kilometre border. Of the 36.79 square kilometres in dispute, Assam lays claim to 33.43 square kilometres, while Meghalaya claims 3.36 square kilometres.
The six areas included in phase I are Mlamlehi (9.14 square kilometres), Kynshi-Byrnihat (7.06 square kilometres), Phulbari (7.01 square kilometres), Diplai (6.83 square kilometres), Umlathiang (4.98 square kilometres) and Jotsoma (1.81 square kilometres).
"We have had several rounds of discussion at the official level and also at the ministerial level between ourselves and the Meghalaya government. A decision has been taken that we will resolve disputes in six areas in the first phase," Sarma said.
"The land which is currently under the control of Meghalaya will come to Assam, and the land which is currently under Assam's jurisdiction, will go to Meghalaya," he added.
Sarma said that a team of officers from both states would visit the disputed areas within 15 days to work out the modalities for land transfer.
"We have also decided that we will start talks on the remaining disputed areas along the Assam-Meghalaya border by June-July," he said.
Rajnath Singh said that a total of 12 rounds of talks had been held between the two state governments on the border issue.
"I want to thank both the chief ministers for their efforts in finding a solution to the problem. I am confident that with their efforts, we will be able to find a solution to all the problems," he said.
The home minister said that although it was not possible to satisfy all parties with the outcomes produced, the greater good had to be considered.
"There are always some people who are not satisfied with the outcome of any agreement. But we have to consider what is in the larger interest," he said.
Singh also urged both state governments to work together to maintain peace and harmony along their shared border. "I appeal to both states to maintain peace and harmony along the border. I am confident that the people of both states will be able to live in peace and harmony," he said.
Sarma said that although the process of finding a solution to the border issue had been "long and tedious", he was hopeful that it would finally be resolved. "I am confident that with the efforts of both state governments, we will be able to find a solution to all the problems," he said.