Tuesday, April 23, 2024
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UDP asks KHADC to create assets to save land

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ASSAM-MEGHALAYA BORDER DISPUTE

By Our Reporter

SHILLONG, March 13: The Opposition UDP on Wednesday underscored the need to focus on creating more assets of the KHADC along Meghalaya’s boundary with Assam.
Moving a motion for pushing development schemes along the interstate border on the final day of the council’s budget session, the UDP’s Nongpoh MDC Balajied Rani urged the Executive Committee (EC) to shift its focus to the border areas to create more assets of the council.
“We do not see any assets of the council along the border areas. The assets of the council can be seen only in the district headquarters,” he said.
He said the council can initiate programmes such as setting up tourist resorts or homestays in the border areas close to Guwahati. Such assets will help the KHADC strengthen its position to stake claim on those areas, he added.
Rani said the two state governments are making efforts to resolve the long-pending boundary issue. He claimed the Assam government is trying to persuade the border residents to be part of Assam by providing them with roads, water, and electricity.
“I fear the council will be losing a major chunk of its area if our people are enticed to be part of Assam through such developmental projects. I suggest the council adopts a similar strategy for our people residing along the border,” he said.
The Nongpoh MDC said he had requested the Ri-Bhoi district administration to sanction some development programmes for the border residents as the Assam government has encroached into areas belonging to Meghalaya by luring the locals with schemes.
Even the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council is sanctioning developmental programmes in the disputed areas, he pointed out.
Taking part in the motion, Opposition leader Titosstarwell Chyne said he supports the idea of KHADC creating assets along the border since the residents complain about the lack of development on the Meghalaya side.
He said the council should encourage people to register their land with the KHADC, especially when they have the Land Act to issue the land right certificate.
Chyne suggested that the Land Department should ensure keeping records of the land of the border villagers living within the jurisdiction of the council.
He also urged the EC to earmark special funds through the 15th Finance Commission for the border development programmes.
He also advised the EC to appeal to the state government to launch programmes and projects in the border areas, especially when the second phase of the inter-state boundary talks with Assam is in progress.
KHADC Deputy CEM PN Syiem endorsed the opposition’s suggestion and said the EC will examine the feasibility of developing the border areas. He said the EC can start exploring setting up schools and community halls in the border areas.
At the same time, he said the council will request the state government for funds for the border area projects.
Earlier, the UDP questioned the EC on whether they would be able to stake claim to the 2078.01 sq km area in the disputed locations under the jurisdiction of the KHADC to be taken up in the second phase of the border talks between the Meghalaya and Assam governments.
War also wanted to know how the EC will substantiate its claim on the 2078.01 sq km of land in question.
The five areas of differences in the Khasi Hills to be taken up in the second phase include Langpih area in West Khasi Hills (298.07 sq km), Borduar in Ri-Bhoi (147.83 sq km), Nongwah-Mawtamur in Ri-Bhoi (137.51 sq km), Desh Doomreah in Ri-Bhoi (484.72 sq km) and Block-II area in Ri-Bhoi (1,009.88 sq km).
Out of the 25.59 sq km of disputed areas taken up in the first phase, War said that 13.68 sq km had gone to Assam and only 11.91 sq km remained in Meghalaya.
According to him, this only suggests that Assam had gained from the border settlement in the first phase.
He expressed surprise that the 11 NPP MDCs had supported the MoU signed to end the dispute in the first phase of the border talks.
Echoing similar concerns, Chyne said he would like to know the role of the council in the second phase of the border talks.
He reminded that the state government had gone ahead to sign the MoU in the first phase without consulting the KHADC and the traditional heads.
“We do not want the same mistake to be repeated in the second phase of border resolution talks,” Chyne said.
In his reply, Syiem said that the council justified its claim on the 2078.01 sq km area based on the land documents of the various Himas and Raids.
He also said that they will discuss with the boundary committee of the council on how to proceed in the matter.
Syiem stated that the EC will impress upon the state government to involve the council and the traditional heads while moving ahead with the second phase of border resolution talks.

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