Shillong, March 22: The Opposition in Meghalaya Assembly today called for immediate review of the boundary MOU signed with Assam by the previous MDA government even as the Chief Minister Conrad Sangma went ahead with the reconstitution of Regional Committees for starting the second phase of boundary talks between two states.
Moving the special motion, Congress MLA Charles Marngar lamented that the government did not fully considered the recommendation made by the previous regional committee while adding that several villages in Khanapara and Pilangkata sector including the ASTC camp and Dreamland Resort are now under Assam
Recalling that the government in 2011 had claimed over 2.29 sq km of land within Khanapara and Pilangkata sector, he added that the state was now left with only 0.55 sq km and has lost around 1.74 sq km just because of the MOU
According to Marngar, even in West Khasi Hills, several villages under Khasi Syiemship were included in Assam while in East Jaintia Hills district out of 11.20 sq km, Meghalaya has got only 6.42 sq. km and the state has lost around 4.78 sq km in Ratacherra sector besides fully losing the ownership of Malidor river
Accusing the Government of violating para 20 of Sixth Schedule of as well Assam Re-organisation Act 1969 and North East Reorganisation Act 1971, he said that no prior consultations were held with traditional institutions of the state before entering into the MOU with Assam
Nongpoh MLA Mayralborn Syiem said for the second phase of talks, there was a need to deliberate on the matter first while recalling that there is discontentment in few sectors about the outcome of the first phase of talks
Pointing out that several villages have to be regained in Block 2 area as Synjuk Ki Rangbah Shnong has already written to the Government about 22 villages, he added that the stakeholders need to keep their political affiliations aside and work from brain and not by heart on the matter.
Nongrekm MLA, Ardent Basaiawmoit said that the MDA is not the only Government which is serious on the matter and the previous governments were more transparent and careful while dealing with the issue
He said that under this MOU, Meghalaya has given around 18.19 sq km to Assam while 18.6 sq km of land is with Meghalaya
“In this situation where do we stand to gain and how can we allow the leadership to hand over more than 18 sq km to Assam,” he said
In his reply, Chief Minister Conrad Sangma said that the documents and claims submitted by the Government in 2011 has been the basis of the negotiations with the Assam Government and they are facing many challenges because of that report.
Citing an example, he said that when the Committee conducted a public hearing in West Khasi Hills, around 21-22 villages were shown to be part of Meghalaya in that report but then people from 36 villages came and said they want to be in Meghalaya but the name of these 13-14 villages were not there in the report.
According to Chief Minister, some villages like Malang Salbari and Tarabari sector were claimed by the Meghalaya Government in 2011 report, but these locations were shown as part of Assam in the map.
He also said that there were instances when few villages were put up in the report but during public hearing, many villages came out saying they want to be in Meghalaya
He also said that people’s were also taken into confidence while resolving the issues as in many villages, people said they wanted to be in Meghalaya and the villages were included in Meghalaya and similar approach was adopted and villages were included in Assam as well.
Sangma also said that the earlier MoU signed with the Assam government was in keeping with the larger interest of the people, adding that of the 36 disputed villages, Meghalaya has established right over 31
Stating that the inter-state boundary issue was a politically and socially sensitive one, the chief minister reiterated that there would never be a ‘perfect solution’ but endeavour has to be made for the best possible solution, adding that the issue was between two neighbouring states and not between two different countries.
Informing that the Central leaders have asked him to ensure that the momentum is not lost for resolving the border dispute, the chief minister also announced the re-constitution of the regional Committees for the second phase of talks.