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Indian Polity

Arunachal Pradesh and Assam Border Dispute

  • 22 Apr 2022
  • 7 min read

For Prelims: Assam-Arunachal Pradesh border dispute, Article 263 of the Constitution

For Mains: Northeast border disputes and related issues and way ahead

Why in News?

Recently, the Governments of Arunachal Pradesh and Assam have decided to form district-level committees for resolving boundary disputes.

  • The district committees will undertake joint surveys in the disputed areas to find tangible solutions to the long-pending issue based on historical perspective, ethnicity, contiguity, peoples’ will and administrative convenience of both states.

What are the Border Disputes in the Country?

Assam-Arunachal Pradesh:
  • Assam shares an 804.10 km inter-state boundary with Arunachal Pradesh.
  • The state of Arunachal Pradesh, created in 1987, claims some land that traditionally belonged to its residents has been given to Assam.
  • A tripartite committee had recommended that certain territories be transferred from Assam to Arunachal. The two states have since been battling it out in the court over the issue.

Assam-Mizoram:

  • Mizoram used to be a district of Assam before being carved out as a separate union territory and later, becoming another state.
  • Mizoram shares a border with the districts Cachar, Hailakandi and Karimganj of Assam.
  • Over time, the two states started having different perceptions about where the demarcation should be.
  • While Mizoram wants it to be along an inner line notified in 1875 to protect tribals from outside influence, which Mizos feel is part of their historical homeland, Assam wants it to be demarcated according to district boundaries drawn up much later.

Assam-Nagaland:

  • The border dispute between the two states has been going on since the formation of Nagaland in 1963.
  • The two states lay claim to Merapani, a small village next to the plains of Assam's Golaghat district.
  • There have been reports of violent clashes in the region since the 1960s.

Assam-Meghalaya:

  • Meghalaya has identified close to a dozen areas on which it has a dispute with Assam about the state’s borders.
Haryana-Himachal Pradesh:
  • The two northern states have a border dispute over the Parwanoo region, which lies next to the Panchkula district of Haryana.
  • Haryana has laid a claim to a large part of the land in the area and has accused the hill state of encroaching on some of its area.
Ladakh-Himachal Pradesh:
  • The union territory of Ladakh and Himachal both claim Sarchu, a major halt point for those travelling through Leh-Manali highway.
  • The region is located between Himachal Pradesh's Lahaul and Spiti district and Ladakh's Leh district.
Maharashtra-Karnataka:
  • Perhaps the biggest border dispute in the country is between Maharashtra and Karnataka over the Belgaum district.
  • Belgaum has a sizable population of both Marathi and Kannada speaking people and the two states have wrestled over the region in the past.
  • The area used to be part of the Bombay presidency from the time of the Britishers but was included in Karnataka after the states reorganisation exercise in 1956.

Why do inter-state border disputes remain unresolved?

  • Linguistic Idea of Reorganization: Although the States Reorganization Commission, 1956 was based on administrative convenience, states reorganized largely resembled the idea of one language one state.
  • Geographical Complexity: The other complexity has been terrain — rivers, hills and forests straddle two states in many places and borders cannot be physically marked.
    • Colonial maps had left out large tracts of the northeast outside Assam as “thick forests” or marked them “unexplored”.
  • Indigenous Communities: Indigenous communities were, for the most part, left alone. Boundaries would be drawn for administrative convenience when the “need” arose.
    • The 1956 demarcation did not resolve the discrepancies.
    • When new states were carved out of Assam (Nagaland in 1963, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Tripura and Manipur in 1972, and Arunachal Pradesh in 1987), it was still not addressed.

Way Forward

  • Boundary disputes between the states can be settled by using satellite mapping of the actual border locations.
  • Reviving the Inter-state council can be an option for resolution of an Inter-state dispute.
    • Under Article 263 of the Constitution, the Inter-state council is expected to inquire and advise on disputes, discuss subjects common to all states and make recommendations for better policy coordination.
  • Similarly, Zonal councils need to be revived to discuss the matters of common concern to states in each zone—matters relating to social and economic planning, border disputes, inter-state transport, etc.
  • India is the epitome of unity in diversity. However, to strengthen this unity furthermore, both the centre and state governments need to imbibe the ethos of cooperative federalism.

UPSC Civil Services Examination, Previous Year Questions (PYQs)

Q. Which was the Capital of Andhra State when it was made a separate State in the year 1953? (2008)

(a) Guntur
(b) Kurnool
(c) Nellore
(d) Warangal

Ans: (b)

  • In 1953, following the death of Potti Sreeramulu (popularly called as Amarajeevi) due to fast unto death, Andhra State was carved out of Madras Presidency on linguistic basis with grouping of Telugu-speaking northern districts – Rayalaseema and Coastal Andhra, but it was only in 1956 that present-day Telangana was merged in Andhra Pradesh. Andhra Pradesh became the first State to be constituted under the State Reorganisation Act, 1956.
  • Kurnool was the capital of Andhra State; and in 1956, Hyderabad was made capital of Andhra Pradesh.

Source: TH

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