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Assam-Meghalaya Border Dispute
- 14 Jan 2022
- 4 min read
For Prelims: Assam-Meghalaya border dispute, Article 263 of the Constitution
For Mains: Interstate-border disputes and related issues and way ahead
Why in News
Ahead of Meghalaya’s 50th Statehood Day celebration on 21st January, the Home Minister is expected to seal the final agreement to end the dispute in six areas of the Assam-Meghalaya boundary.
- Assam and Meghalaya share an 885-km-long border. As of now, there are 12 points of dispute along their borders.
- The Assam-Meghalaya border dispute are the areas of Upper Tarabari, Gazang reserve forest, Hahim, Langpih, Borduar, Boklapara, Nongwah, Matamur, Khanapara-Pilangkata, Deshdemoreah Block I and Block II, Khanduli and Retacherra.
- Meghalaya was carved out of Assam under the Assam Reorganisation Act, 1971, a law that it challenged, leading to disputes.
- Major Point of Contention:
- A major point of contention between Assam and Meghalaya is the district of Langpih in West Garo Hills bordering the Kamrup district of Assam.
- Langpih was part of the Kamrup district during the British colonial period but post-Independence, it became part of the Garo Hills and Meghalaya.
- Assam considers it to be part of the Mikir Hills in Assam.
- Meghalaya has questioned Blocks I and II of the Mikir Hills -now Karbi Anglong region - being part of Assam. Meghalaya says these were parts of erstwhile United Khasi and Jaintia Hills districts.
- Efforts to Resolve Disputes:
- Both Assam and Meghalaya have constituted border dispute settlement committees.
- It has been decided to set up two regional committees to resolve the border disputes in a phased manner and five aspects will be considered while resolving the border dispute.
- They are historical facts, ethnicity, administrative convenience, mood and sentiments of the people concerned and the contiguity of the land.
- Six sites are in consideration in the first phase. These are Tarabari, Gijang, Hahim, Baklapara, Khanapara-Pilingkata and Ratacherra.
- These disputed areas are part of Cachar, Kamrup Metro and Kamrup Rural on Assam's side and West Khasi Hills, Ri Bhoi district and East Jaintia Hills on Meghalaya's side.
- Assam and Border Issues:
- The states of the Northeast were largely carved out of Assam, which has border disputes with several states.
- Assam's border disputes with Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland are pending in the Supreme Court.
- Assam's border disputes with Mizoram are currently in the phase of resolution through negotiations.
- Other Border Disputes between Different States:
- Belagavi Border Dispute (between Karnataka and Maharashtra)
- Odisha’s Border Disputes
- 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, in order to strengthen this unity furthermore, both the centre and state governments, need to imbibe the ethos of cooperative federalism.