Shillong: The joint regional committee meeting between Meghalaya and Assam began on Wednesday here to resolve the six remaining areas of differences between the two states.
Deputy Chief Minister and Chairman of West Jaintia Hills district regional committee, Sniawbhalang Dhar led the Meghalaya delegation, while Assam Water Resources Minister Pijush Hazarika headed the Assam side as the Chairman of the West Karbi Anglong district regional committee.
The regional committees examined the areas of difference in Block I, Psiar-Khanduli along Meghalaya’s West Jaintia Hills district and Assam’s West Karbi Anglong district.
Dhar while speaking to reporters after the joint regional committee meet Chief Minister level talks, said they will jointly visit the areas of differences in West Jaintia Hills district and West Karbi Anglong district and listen to the people to resolve it “amicably through understanding and mutual respect.
Hazarika said: “We have a long pending border dispute, but I am sure we will be able to settle it amicably.”
Since the Block I and Psiar-Khanduli are areas with a history of disputes between the residents of Meghalaya and Assam, both the Chief Ministers of the states would also be making a joint visit in these areas in the days to come.
Stating that no decision on an “agreed formula” has been taken, Dhar rejected taking a decision to resolve differences in these areas through a “give and take formula.”
“Our first priority of the two committees is to visit these areas and get to know the mind of the people residing there and everything will be resolved amicably,” Dhar said.
“Today is the first meeting of the regional committees from Meghalaya and Assam…We will start working out the formula for resolving the border issue,” he said.
Dhar said that the regional committees have set a deadline to submit reports to their respective governments by August this year. “Work has therefore begun in earnest to achieve that goal,” he stated.
On the recent clash in some of these areas between the local residents of both states, Hazarika said, those indulging in disturbances don’t belong to Assam.
“Miscreants creating disturbance don’t belong to our state. We are very friendly… People of Assam love the people of Meghalaya and I do believe that people from Meghalaya also love the people of Assam,” Hazarika said.
Meanwhile, in the second phase, six areas of differences would be taken up for resolution.
The second phase includes complex areas such as Block I, Psiar-Khanduli in West Jaintia Hills district. Block II, Borduar, Nongwah-Mawtamur and Deshdoomreah in Ri-Bhoi district and Langpih in West Khasi Hills district.
Three committees have been constituted, one each for Ri-Bhoi, West Khasi Hills and West Jaintia Hills districts.
On May 24, Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma and his Assam counterpart Himanta Biswa Sarma held a meeting and decided to make a joint visit to the areas of difference in West Jaintia Hills and Karbi Anglong as a confidence building measure so that an early boundary resolution could be initiated.
Assam also has similar committees and these penels would make field visits, interact with the local residents of the areas of differences, exchange documents and then submit its report to the respective governments.
Meghalaya and Assam have 12 areas of differences and six of them were settled last year through a policy of give and take. The agreement was sealed by a MoU in March 2022 in New Delhi in presence of Union Home Minister Amit Shah.
The next six areas of differences are considered complicated as these include Block I and II, Langpih and some other areas. These areas also are larger in geographical area and are keenly claimed by both sides.