Monday, April 15, 2024

Conrad plays down members’ concerns on border issues


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SHILLONG, Feb 20: Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma on Tuesday tried to simplify the complexity associated with the interstate boundary row and the root causes of many problems faced by the border residents while assuring that efforts are on to resolve the row once and for all.
In his reply to the motion on the problem faced by the people in the disputed sectors, he said successive governments maintained the status quo on the interstate boundary row.
Three layers of administration – the Meghalaya government, the Assam government, and the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council (KAAC) – have added to the complexity, he said.
“Discussions are going on because we have differences,” he said, insisting one should understand the boundary dispute before talking about it.
On the recent incident at Jatalong in the Ri-Bhoi district, Sangma said: “A report from the deputy commissioner said there was destruction of a foundation stone erected by the KAAC at Jatalong in the Block II area.”
Denying that Meghalaya allows Assam to undertake constructions in the disputed sectors, he said the people stopped the works many times. “We have amicably resolved complaints from the Assam chief minister,” he said.
He said at this point, one needs to realise that there is a difference in the administration of the Assam government and the KAAC.
“A lot of things are done by the KAAC but we think it is the Assam government. We have to segregate the (state and) district administration from an autonomous council,” Sangma said, citing an FIR lodged by a ranger of the KAAC.
“Nonetheless, our chief secretary wrote to his Assam counterpart requesting the withdrawal of the case against four individuals,” he said, adding that the Assam CM gave a positive response.
“We hope to resolve the issue soon,” he said, agreeing that micro incidents continue to happen even though talks are going on at the level of the CMs.
He, however, said the two governments have been able to resolve tension whenever such incidents happen.
On tax collection, Sangma said a decision has been taken to maintain the status quo. “The areas where tax collections are taking place are not in the Meghalaya-administered area, but we will take action if there are such cases,” he said.
He said he could not comment on or react to illegal collection of tax, as indicated by an MLA (Charles Marngar), in KAAC but he can take up the matter with his Assam counterpart, who in turn can sound the KAAC.
He further said development projects in the disputed sectors would be done in consultation with the deputy commissioners concerned, as agreed upon by the two states. This applies to the centrally sponsored schemes such as JJM and PMGSY, he added.
He claimed the funds for development along the border have been increased and the government is giving necessary attention to ensure the projects are not hampered.
“One of the members said 8-9 villages were under the administrative control of Assam in the Tarabari sector. After the first phase of the MoU, Assam withdrew from the Tarabari sector, setting a good example in moving forward,” Sangma said.
He admitted the sector lacks teachers and the local authorities are working on this.
“One has to understand these are sensitive areas and that we have to handle things on a case-to-case basis. We cannot expect everything will be smooth and done in a short time but we are moving in the right direction,” he said.


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