Wednesday, February 21, 2024

MoU on border dispute: Only executive action done, Parliament to take final call

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Guwahati, March 30: Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Wednesday said that the final call on the Assam-Meghalaya border resolution would be taken by Parliament.

Addressing the Assembly, the chief minister, while making a speech on the “historic” MoU to resolve the 50-year-old year dispute, which was inked between Assam and Meghalaya in New Delhi on Tuesday, said the two governments “have so far performed an executive action which would be subsequently in the domain of the legislature.”

“In the next phase it will be in the legislature’s domain as the Parliament is only empowered to redraw the boundaries. While the Parliament may seek opinion from the state legislatures in cases pertaining to redrawing of boundaries, whatever is approved by Parliament will be final,” Sarma said.

“Boundaries can be redrawn only by Parliament or for that matter by the Constitution. The matter is vested with the government of India and accordingly we had earlier sent a copy of the draft MoU to the central government which directed Survey of India for a preliminary survey,” he said.

The chief minister further revealed that of the 36.79 sq km area in the six “less sensitive” areas were taken up for resolution in the first phase, it has been mutually agreed 18.33 sq km will remain in Meghalaya while 18.46 sq km will be in Assam

Giving details, he said that out of the 11.20 sq km in Ratacherra, 6.42 sq km will be in Meghalaya and the remaining area in Assam.

“While the Borail wildlife sanctuary will remain as it is, Assam has been given the Balacherra grant revenue village, which is an area of 4.78 sq km with control over a river dividing the two states. Meghalaya has earlier had full administrative control over Ratacherra,” Sarma said.

In the Khanapara-Pilingkata area, where the dispute was across a 2.29sq km area, 0.50 sq km has been given to Meghalaya, comprising Maikhuli, Borpathar, and a stonequarry area. “The remaining area, including Koinadhora, ASTC transit post and the areas housing naamghars will remain in Assam,” the chief minister said.

In the Gizang area, the reserve forest area (10.83 sq km) will remain in Assam while 2.9 sq km (comprising Garo-inhabited Amagaon and Gohanimura villages) will be in Meghalaya, he said.

In Tarabari, 4.69 sq km of the disputed area will be in Meghalaya. In Hahim, out of a total area of 3.51 sq km, 3.21 sq km will remain in Meghalaya.

“In Boklapara, which only had a disputed area of 1.57 sq km, two villages (Boklapara and Howla) across 0.56 sq km will be in Meghalaya while two villages (Jimirigaon and Lingkhow) across 1.1 sq km will be in Assam,” Sarma said.

He informed the Assembly that 22 chief-minister level meetings on the Assam-Meghalaya border dispute have taken place so far including 19 chief-secretary level meetings and 13 miniter/deputy commissioner level meetings between the two states.

“There is a sense of satisfaction as the media in south India is also saying that the Assam-Meghalaya model of border dispute resolution should be replicated in resolving disputes even in Karnataka and Maharashtra,” he said.

Sarma further said that the state government was contemplating a similar model for resolving the boundary dispute with Arunachal Pradesh. “Both the chief ministers have had discussions and we have come to a conclusion that the dispute is centred aroud 122 villages across 850 sq km now,” he said.

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