Assam, Meghalaya sign pact to resolve 50-year-old border dispute
Assam and Meghalaya signed an agreement on Tuesday, resolving their five-decade-old border dispute in six of the twelve locations. The agreement was signed by the chief ministers of the two states, Himanta Biswa Sarma and Conrad Sangma, in the presence of Union Home Minister Amit Shah, who hailed it as a "historic day" for the Northeast.
Why does this story matter?
The agreement intends to settle disagreements in six "areas of disagreement," which account for nearly 70% of the total boundary along the 884.9 km border between the two states. Even though both states saw several governments in the past, none of them were able to resolve the issue. It remained a major issue during the 12-year tenure of former Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi.
What is the issue?
Meghalaya was carved out of Assam in 1972, under the Assam Reorganisation Act, 1971. However, it was challenged later, resulting in a dispute in 12 border areas. Since then, there has been a long dispute regarding development in both areas. The difference in readings recorded during the demarcation of the new state is considered to be the major cause of the dispute.
Negotiation process between the two states started in August 2021
Thirty six villages constitute the six locations, covering a total area of 36.79 square kilometers, for which an agreement has been reached. In August 2021, the two states formed three committees each to investigate the issue. The committees were formed after two rounds of negotiations between Sarma and Sangma, who chose these areas to be first resolved. Neighboring states also participated in the process.
Demarcation will take place after a survey: Sangma
"A survey will be done by the Survey of India with both states' involvement, and when that's done the actual demarcation will take place," Conrad Sangma, the Chief Minister of Meghalaya, said. "36 sq km comes under the 'area of differences', roughly including about 18 sq km area in both Assam and Meghalaya," he added.
Which are the 12 regions of dispute?
Upper Tarabari, Gazang reserve forest, Hahim, Langpih, Borduar, Boklapara, Nongwah, Matamur, Khanapara-Pilangkata, Deshdemoreah Block I and Block II, Khanduli, and Retacherra are the 12 regions which are part of the Assam-Meghalaya border dispute.
70% of border issue has been resolved: Amit Shah
"Today is an important day for the dispute-free northeast. Ever since Modiji became the PM, he has worked continuously for the pride of the northeast," Amit Shah said at the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) office. "70 percent of the border dispute has been resolved," he added. The meeting was attended by 11 Meghalaya government representatives and nine Assam government representatives.
Several border disputes recently resolved in northeast
Shah also highlighted all the agreements that have recently been reached in the northeast. "In 2019, there was an agreement between the armed groups in Tripura. The Bru Reang Agreement (was) signed on January 16, 2020...The historic Bodo Accord was signed on January 27, 2020, ending the 50-year-old problem...Then, Karbi Anglong agreement was reached in September 2021, and today this agreement", Shah said.