GUWAHATI: The State government had separate meetings with all political parties and student organizations on the Assam-Meghalaya boundary disputes. The government took this move today before taking the final decision on the vexed border issue.
While BPF and AIUDF extended their in-principle support to the steps initiated by the government as of now, Congress expressed some reservations. Student organizations said they would visit the disputed stretches and express their opinions.
Representatives of the Congress, AGP, AIUDF, BPF, AJP, Raijor Dal, CPI (M) etc., attended the first meeting held with Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma in the chair.
The Chief Minister had his second meeting with the leaders of the AASU (All Assam Students' Union), ABSU (All Bodo Students' Union), ARSU (All Rabha Students' Union), AGSU (All Gorkha Students' Union), GSU (Garo Students' Union) etc.
At both the meetings, the Chief Minister briefed the modus operandi adopted by both the state governments to resolve the boundary disputes between them. The Chief Minister also sought suggestions from the parties and organizations on the vexed boundary problems.
"As part of an endeavour to bring a permanent and lasting solution to the decades-old border disputes, we held an interaction with representatives of political parties and student organizations. We sought their cooperation in our mutually-agreed principles to solve the long-pending problem.
"We have prepared a roadmap for amicable settlement based on the recommendations of the three regional committees with representatives from both states. Our efforts to resolve the border row have started bearing fruits with the identification of six of the 12 areas of differences for resolution in the first phase," the Chief Minister said.
After the two meetings, Education Minister Ramesh Pegu said, "The two-state governments discussed claims and counter-claims over border areas between the two states till 2011. The total area of the six disputed stretches under discussion now is 37.3 sq km. And of this, Assam will get 18.5 sq km, and Meghalaya will get 18.8 sq km. The two states will prepare a proposal and send it to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). After approval from the MHA, both the Assemblies will have to pass the proposal."
The six disputed stretches are – Hahim, Pillingkata, Gizang, Tarabari, Baklapara and Ratacherra.
Talking to the media, Durga Das Boro of the BPF said, "We need to solve this 50-year-old problem by striking a happy medium. We are happy that the Chief Minister has shown us a ray of hope on this front. The state had around 70 rounds of talks with Meghalaya on border disputes in the past. Each time, both parties agreed to maintain status quo, but did precious little to solve it."
Leader of Opposition Debabrata Saikia of the Congress said, "We also want a permanent solution to the problem. We want that the government should lay the matter for discussion in the Assembly before taking the final decision."
AASU adviser-in-chief Samujjal Bhattacharjya said, "We appeal to both the state governments to find an amicable solution. We will give an opinion after visiting the disputed boundary stretches. And the government agreed to our proposal."