Dispur: The second Chief Ministers’ Level Meeting held at Assam Administrative Staff College here Friday between Assam and Meghalaya to resolve the vexed border issues between the two states, decided to constitute joint inspection teams named as ‘Regional Committees’ to find out lasting solutions to border issues.
Friday’s meeting which was a follow up of the first meeting held on July 23 in Shillong to discuss border disputes, was attended by Assam Chief Minister Dr. Himanta Biswa Sarma and his Meghalaya counterpart Conrad Sangma along with their colleagues in the Council of Ministers and top bureaucrats.
The meeting decided to form three Regional Committees to be headed by three Cabinet Ministers from each state to undertake joint inspections in disputed areas and find mutually agreeable solutions.
It may be noted that border disputes between the two states exist in 12 areas. However, the Chief Minister Level meeting between the two states decided to narrow them down to six areas.
Upon solution of vexed issues in six areas, subsequent initiatives will be made to solve other border disputes involving a more complex nature.
On the insistence of Chief Minister Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma, the meeting also decided to adopt a phase-wise strategy to address the disputes on the basis of a long-standing bond between the two states. The six areas of differences have been categorised into three regions, as the Regional Committee to be constituted with 10 members – five from each state will be undertaking joint visits to six areas of disputes namely Tarabari, Gizang, Boklapara, Pillangkata, Ratacherra and Hahim.
The three Cabinet Ministers from Assam to head these committees will be Minister Information and Public Relations etc Pijush Hazarika, Minister Agriculture etc. Atul Bora, and Minister Transports etc Chandra Mohan Patowary. Beside the Cabinet Ministers, the committees will have MLA, bureaucrats and public representatives.
The committees will carry out joint visits to the areas of differences and talk to all stakeholders and village heads and draft their report containing their recommendations within 30 days.
As a term of reference, the committees will take into account historical perspectives, ethnicity, people’s perception, administrative convenience and contiguity for preparing the report.
Later addressing a joint press conference, Chief Minister Dr. Sarma termed the border talks between Assam and Meghalaya as very fruitful as both the states exuded pragmatism and respect for each other for solving the outstanding border issues in a time-bound manner.
He said, “Though we have disputes on 12 areas, after threadbare discussion, we have decided to narrow down our differences to six areas and we have decided to adopt phase-wise approach to solve one problem and go for another”.
He also said, “Assam and Meghalaya share long historical bonding. If we can take a common agenda of strengthening our longstanding friendship, both the states can contribute significantly to the growth of our nation”.
He said that though differences are there between the two, both the states should engage in for amicable and harmonious talks to minimise the areas of differences. He also advocated for new framework of pragmatism to take the border talks to their logical conclusion.
Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma while sharing his views said that Meghalaya wants to find out border problems with Assam and has positive wills. He maintained that as both Meghalaya and Assam respect each other, the need of the hour is to keep an open mind to resolve the boundary issues.
He also said that the meeting was very constructive as he radiated strong political will to find solutions to the border issues which according to him should have been solved long ago for the mutual progress of both the states. A PowerPoint presentation was also given during the meeting. Several Cabinet Ministers from both states, Chief Secretaries, other senior officials were present during the meeting.