Guwahati (Assam) : Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and his Meghalaya counterpart Conrad Sangma on Friday held a meeting and agreed to resolve border issues between the two states in a phase-wise manner focusing first on the less complicated areas of the dispute.
In their meeting in Guwahati, the chief ministers agreed to form three committees to be headed by ministers of both the states to first focus on six of the 12 areas of dispute between the states. Sarma and Sangma were meeting within two weeks after they first met to discuss the issue in Shillong on July 23.
The second chief ministerial-level meeting between Assam and Meghalaya was held at Assam Administrative Staff College here and was attended by cabinet ministers and top bureaucrats from both states.
Addressing a joint press conference after the meeting, Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said, “Though we have disputes on 12 areas, after threadbare discussion, we have decided to narrow down our differences to six areas and we have decided to adopt a phase-wise approach to solve one problem and go for another. Assam and Meghalaya share long historical bonding. If we can take a common agenda of strengthening our longstanding friendship, both the states can contribute significantly to the growth of our nation.”
He further said that though differences are there between the two, both the states should engage in for amicable and harmonious talks to minimise the areas of differences.
He also advocated for a new framework of pragmatism to take the border talks to their logical conclusion.
Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma said, “Both Meghalaya and Assam respect each other, the need of the hour is to keep an open mind to resolve the boundary issues. The meeting was very constructive.”
Notably, border disputes between the two states exist in 12 areas. However, at the meeting, the two states decided to narrow them down to six areas. Upon solution of vexed issues in six areas, subsequent initiatives will be made to solve other border disputes involving a more complex nature.
According to the official statement, it has been decided to form three Regional Committees to be headed by three Cabinet Ministers from each state to undertake joint inspections in disputed areas find mutually agreeable solutions. Each committee will have five members from each state, including Cabinet ministers, bureaucrats and local representatives.
The six areas of differences have been categorised into three regions, as the Regional Committee to be constituted with 10 members five from each state will be undertaking joint visits to six areas of disputes namely Tarabari, Gizang, Boklapara, Pillangkata, Ratacherra and Hahim.
The three cabinet ministers from Assam to head these committees will be Information and Public Relations Minister Pijush Hazarika, Agriculture Minister Atul Bora, and Transport Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary.
Besides the cabinet ministers, the committees will have MLA, bureaucrats and public representatives. The committees will carry out joint visits to the areas of differences and talk to all stakeholders and village heads and draft their report containing their recommendations within 30 days.
As a term of reference, the committees will take into account historical perspectives, ethnicity, people’s perception, administrative convenience and contiguity for preparing the report.