GUWAHATI: West Gauhati MLA Ramendra Narayan Kalita feels that some forest rules hinder the development of the villages along the Assam-Meghalaya boundary, and it has led some fringe dwellers of the state to side with the neighbouring state.
AGP MLA Kalita is one of the members of the regional committees of Assam on border issues. Talking to The Sentinel, he said, "My West Gauhati LAC has several villages bordering Meghalaya. The Assam government cannot provide land pattas in forest areas. Nor can it develop villages in forest areas due to a few forest rules. However, the forest rules in Meghalaya are different from ours. They provide land pattas, power connection and water supply to villagers in forest areas. They construct roads to fringe villages. It made some fringe dwellers in Assam side with Meghalaya during the recent hearings of the regional committees of the two states.
"Meghalaya takes advantage of this situation in the border villages. Of course, there are allegations that some people from Meghalaya were instrumental in building the villagers' opinion in their favour.
"Bakhalapara is a Garo-inhabited border village in my LAC. During the recent hearing by the regional committees of the two states, the majority of families (60:40) of this village expressed their willingness to side with Meghalaya.
"Doloipaham is also in my LAC on the upper side of Rani. It has no road connection, let alone other developmental works. The government has sanctioned funds for a road to the village. However, a few existing forest rules don't allow us to construct roads to Doloipaham. "I feel we need to relax some of the forest rules in some specific areas for the sake of development. I will try to bring this issue to the notice of the government in the next Assembly session."