Meghalaya, Assam begin CM-level talks; States refrain from setting resolution timeframe

Second phase border talks: Conrad, Himanta to visit WJH-KA area in June 

Guwahati, May 24: Assam and Meghalaya on Wednesday initiated the second phase of the chief minister-level border talks to find an amicable and lasting solution to resolve the remaining six “critical” areas of differences, even as both the states refrained from committing to a “timeframe” for completion of the resolution process.

The areas under the second phase of the settlement are Khanduli-Psiar, Block 1 and Block 2, Borduar, Langpih, Deshdemoreah and Nongwah-Mawtamur (Garbhanga).

The meeting directed the three regional committees (headed by Cabinet ministers) of both the states to start visiting the six remaining areas of differences for multiple stakeholder consultations and fact finding, on the lines of the first phase of talks, after which they would submit reports ahead of the second chief minister-level meeting by July-end.

Speaking to mediapersons after holding an hour-long meeting at the Assam State Guest House at Koinadhora here, Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said the members of the three regional committees formed by the two states have been asked to visit the remaining six areas of differences and hold multiple meetings with stakeholders in the areas.

“By the end of June, as a confidence-building measure, both chief ministers will jointly visit the areas bordering Karbi Anglong and West Jaintia Hills where some unrest is there, and meet the residents to know their views,” Sarma said, also referring to a joint chief ministerial visit to Langpih earlier.

Asked whether any timeframe has been set for completion of the border resolution process, the Assam chief minister said that these six areas are “complicated” in nature and so putting a timeframe is probably not a fair idea”.

“But we have agreed to meet again in the month of July to review the progress of the work done by our regional committees. There will be some areas where we can get the reports faster than the others. So in this meeting today, we have consciously decided not to put any timeframe but go ahead with a spirit of friendship, mutual trust and confidence,” Sarma said.

Thanking the Assam chief minister for hosting the meeting, Meghalaya chief minister Conrad K Sangma said “We had a fruitful discussion. This is the beginning of the process to find a solution to the six remaining areas of differences between the two states. In the meeting, we went through different details and reports and different discussions took place. We have asked the regional committees to now start the process of fact finding, go into the details and hold discussions with multiple stakeholders. We hope we will be able to get the reports soon, and during the process, myself and the Assam chief minister will visit the areas bordering Karbi Anglong and West Jaintia Hills where some tension has come in. This visit is mainly to appeal to the people to maintain peace and take them into confidence that we are serious”.

“We expect that in the month of July, we should be meeting again to review the reports of the various regional committees. I am very confident that with the leadership in Assam and the support of the government of India, we assure that we will be able to move forward in this phase also. Things are complicated but we believe that where there is a will there’s a way and we will find a way forward. The trust and friendship that we have had will continue to guide us and ensure that we are able to resolve the problems in these six areas,” Sangma said.

“At the same time we have asked the different departments and the Survey of India to continue with their survey work in the first six areas of differences and complete the process by taking everyone into confidence,” he said.

Apart from Sangma, the Meghalaya delegation at the meeting here comprised deputy chief ministers, Prestone Tynsong and Snaiwbhalang Dhar; minister Comingone Ymbone and senior government officials, including the chief secretary.

On the other hand, the Assam delegation comprised border area protection and development minister Atul Bora besides Cabinet ministers Pijush Hazarika and Chandra Mohan Patowary along with senior government officials including the chief secretary.

The two states had, on August 21, 2022, initiated the second phase of chief minister-level discussions to resolve border issues in the remaining six disputed sites, deciding to take a resolution route similar to the one adopted in case of the “less-complicated” inter-state boundary sites.

The two chief ministers had met at the Assam Secretariat here and decided to form regional committees headed by Cabinet ministers of each state for making site visits and holding stakeholder/public consultations in the six remaining disputed inter-state border sites.

The committees also comprise members from Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council (KAAC) as three disputed sites fall within the jurisdiction of KAAC.

Both states had already notified regional committees which will make extensive visits and interact with residents while adhering to the spirit of friendship to iron out differences and find mutually agreeable solutions in an amicable manner.

It may be recalled that the two states had signed an MoU on March 29, 2022 in New Delhi in the presence of Union home minister Amit Shah after reaching a consensus on six areas, including Hahim, Gizang, Tarabari, Boklapara, Khanapara-Pilangkata and Ratacherra.

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