STATEMENT MADE BY CHIEF MINISTER ON INTER-STATE BOUNDARY ISSUE DURING THE BUDGET SESSION OF THE MEGHALAYA LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY, ON MARCH 7, 2022.
Mr Speaker Sir,
At the very outset, I am grateful for this opportunity to make a Statement on the very very important matter relating to the Inter-State Boundary Issue.
Sir, ever since the State of Meghalaya came into existence, the Inter-State boundary dispute between Assam and Meghalaya as defined by the North Eastern Areas (Re-organisation) Act 1971 has been a bone of contention between the two States.
Sir, the 12 (twelve) areas of difference furnished by the State of Meghalaya vide their letter No POL.78/2010/209 dated 8th August, 2011 are 1. Tarabari, 2. Gizang, 3. Hahim, 4. Langpih 5. Borduar, 6. Boklapara, 7. Nongwah-Mawtamur 8. Khanapara-Pillangkata, 9. Deshdoomreah, 10. Block-I & Block-II, 11. Psiar and Khanduli and 12. Ratacherra.
Sir, on 23rd July, 2021 at Shillong in a meeting between the Chief Minister of Assam and Chief Minister of Meghalaya and on that day, it was decided that 6 (six) areas of difference i.e. Tarabari, Gizang, Hahim, Boklapara, Khanapara-Pillangkata and Ratacherra would be taken up for consideration in the first phase.
Subsequently, another 5 (five) rounds of meetings between both the Chief Ministers were held.
In the meeting between the Chief Minister of Assam and Chief Minister of Meghalaya on 6th August, 2021 at Guwahati, it was decided that Regional Committees headed by senior Cabinet Ministers and Local MLAs and other officials as members will be constituted from both sides for the 6 (six) areas of differences. These Regional Committees will be tasked to jointly visit the 6 (six) areas of differences. It was decided that the criteria to be followed will be based on the 5 Mutually Agreed Principles, e.g. 1. Historical Perspective, 2. Ethnicity of Local Population, 3. Contiguity with the Boundary, 4. People’s will and 5. Administrative Convenience as the yardsticks.
In pursuance of the above decision, the Government of Assam vide Notification No. BPDD 173/2017/172 dated 23rd of September, 2021 and Government of Meghalaya vide Notification No. POL.68/2015/194 dated 7th September, 2021 notified the three Regional Committees for 1. Ri Bhoi, 2. West Khasi Hills and 3. East Jaintia Hills. The Committee for Ri Bhoi was headed by the Hon’ble Deputy CM, Shri Prestone Tynsong along with Hon’ble MLAs and Officials of the District. The Committee for West Khasi Hills was chaired by Hon’ble Minister, Shri Renikton Lyngdoh Tongkhar and other MLAs and officials of the District. For East Jaintia Hills, the Committee was chaired by Shri Sniawbhalang Dhar, Hon’ble Cabinet Minister, other Ministers, MLAs and officials of the District and these Committees were given the terms of reference which include– inter alia to coordinate with the counterpart Regional Committees to jointly visit the villages, interact with the local communities and interact with other stakeholders. The Regional Committees were to submit their reports to their respective Governments at the earliest.
On 16th of November, 2021 at Guwahati in a meeting between the Chief Minister of Assam and Chief Minister of Meghalaya it was decided that the three Regional Committees of each of the States will submit their reports by 30th November, 2021 to their respective Chief Ministers and may undertake further visits to their respective areas, if felt necessary.
The three Regional Committees of Assam and Meghalaya have conducted joint inspections, visited the six areas of difference, carried out consultations not only with the villagers and local communities living in the areas but also with other stakeholders like traditional heads, District Councils and civil society organisations.
During the process of conducting these visits, a total of 22 visits and meetings were done by these three different Regional Committees. The Chief Minister of Meghalaya and Chief Minister of Assam had a meeting in Guwahati on the 22nd December, 2021 and decided that the Regional Committees of both the states will share their reports with their counterparts by 31st December, 2021.
For this end the Chief Minister of Meghalaya and Chief Minister of Assam met on 12th January, 2022 wherein it was decided that the reports of the Regional Committees will be consolidated and the joint report of both the States will be submitted to the Chief Minister of each State so that the matter can be taken up with the Government of India.It was decided that any other areas/ villages situated outside the area of difference shown in the maps submitted by Meghalaya vide their letter No. POL.78/2010/209 dated 8th August, 2011 will not be considered.
Finally, based on the reports of the three Regional Committees, on 29.01.2022, a MoU was signed between the States of Assam and Meghalaya to record the agreed position arrived at between the two States and to conclude the process of joint consultations. The purpose of this MoU is to come to a conclusion to the interstate boundary between the states of Assam and Meghalaya in respect of the 6 (six) areas of difference out of the total 12 (twelve) areas of difference as furnished by the state of Meghalaya vide their letter no POL.78/2010/209 dated 8th August, 2011, for delineation and demarcation with the fixation of boundary pillars on ground.
The copy of the MoU has been submitted to the Union Home Minister on 31st January, 2022, for examination and consideration of the Ministry of Home Affairs.
The above said matter has also been intimated to the Prime Minister on 31st of January, 2022 for his intervention to ensure that the matter be given due consideration and priority by the Government of India to resolve the areas of differences.
Sir, I would now like to go into some of the brief points and details of the MoU that was signed:
A. West Khasi Hills District:
In West Khasi Hills District, there were 3 areas of differences that were taken up in the First Phase-
1. Tarabari Area: Total 8 villages were claimed by Meghalaya namely- 1. Upper Tarabari/ Walkam, 2. Rangkhet, 3. Thangkhola, 4. Chingipa/Chiginde, 5. Doini-Charadonu, 6. Dapbolpara, 7. Balkam and 8. Malang Salbari. Out of these, all 8 villages will come under Meghalaya and this will be based on the reports and the claims given by Meghalaya through Letter No. POL. 78/2010/209 dated 8th August 2011.
2. Gizang Area: Under Gizang Area, there were 3 villages. Out of these 3 Villages, Amagaon and Gohanimara will be in Meghalaya and Malsapara village along with the Gizang Reserve Forest will be in Assam.
3. Hahim Area: In Hahim Area out of the 12 villages that were claimed by Meghalaya namely 1. Rongthali, 2. Ranighat, 3. Athiabari, 4. Thamnaguri/ Sonakuri, 5. Mathaphuta/ Umshiak, 6. Maspara, 7. Moipara, 8. Malapara/ Nalapara, 9. Simrang (Umsaitwait) and 10. Simrang/ Salpara (11). Lejadubi villages will come to Meghalaya and one village namely Thutiapara/ Thutia Bazar will be in Assam.
B. Ri Bhoi District: In Ri Bhoi District two areas of differences were looked into.
1. Boklapara Area: Out of 2 villages that were claimed in Boklapara area, Boklapara village will come to Meghalaya, Jimrigaon village will go to Assam.
2. Khanapara-Pillangkata Area: In Khanapara-Pillangkata parts of the villages of Maikhuli, Pillangkata and Borpathar stone quarry area will be in Meghalaya. Further, in Khanapara area it is agreed that the ASTC Transit Camp to the Police Out Post, Namghar, Assamese inhabited areas of No. 1) Khanapara village and Dreamland Resort will be with Assam. The rest of the areas including the entire apartment complex of Brahmaputra Realtors Pvt. Ltd. will be with Meghalaya. In Patarkuchi area, areas inhabited by ethnic communities of Meghalaya and their religious and cultural places, if any, will be included in Meghalaya during detailed survey. In Maikhuli area, Muamari Beel, which is adjacent to Maikhuli playground will remain with Assam and the Maikhuli graveyard will be with Meghalaya.
C. East Jaintia Hills District:
1. Ratacherra Area: Out of the total 5 villages, three villages namely Malidor, Ratacherra and Border Umperdit will be in Meghalaya. The remaining village of Baleswar Grant revenue village (Ratacharagaon, Natanpur Tea garden and Jalapur Tea garden) will be part of Assam.
Summary of the above:
In summary both the State Governments have agreed on the following:-
(1) Both the State Governments have agreed that no new area of difference shall be added in future beyond the already identified 12 areas of differences.
(2) Of the total of 36 (thirty six) villages claimed by Meghalaya in 2011, a total of 30 (thirty) some fully and a few partially, is being recommended to be within Meghalaya. The details are as follows:
Sl. No. Name of area Number of villages claimed by Meghalaya in 2011 Number of villages recommended to be in Meghalaya
1. Tarabari 8 8
2. Gizang 3 2
3. Hahim 12 11
4. Boklapara 2 1
5. Khanapara-Pillangkata 6 5
6. Ratacherra 5 3
Total 36 30
(3) The areas mentioned above have been arrived through a table-top exercise using spatial technologies and will be more accurately determined during the detailed survey to be undertaken by Survey of India in the presence of the representatives from both the State Governments.
(4) A rough area of 36.79 sq. km in these 6 areas are under differences and after the detailed discussion, surveys and visits being made by the Regional Committees, approximately 18 sq.km plus/minus will come to Meghalaya and 18 sq.km plus/minus will go to Assam.
Ownership of the land will not be affected irrespective of the administrative control by whichever state gets the particular area.
Sir, I am very happy to be able to present this particular statement to the House specially on the Golden Jubilee year of our State. This has been an area which has been under dispute and areas of differences for a very long time and at this point in time while I make the statement, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the leaders in the past who have contributed to bringing this discussion to this level that we are today. There are many former Chief Ministers, there are many former Ministers many former Chief Secretaries and officials who have contributed largely to the discussions and to the details of all the studies that have been done and it is most appropriate for us to recognize the efforts that have been made by them because it was a process. And this process is being moved towards the conclusion today at least in the 6 (six) areas but it would not have been possible for us to come to this level had it not been for the hard work of all the previous Governments all the previous Chief Minsters and the officials and Ministers who have worked very hard.
I also would like to take this opportunity to thank the Regional Committees as was mentioned in my statement, the Regional Committees have visited villages which were never visited before. And to be able to come to a conclusion in this kind of a complicated situation it cannot be done by simply sitting in Guwahati or in Shillong. It has to be done by visiting the areas and meeting the people who are being affected by this decision and it is only because of the hard work that has been put in by the Regional Committees and all the work that has been done by them that we are able to come to this particular MoU today.
I also would like to thank our officials who are really working hard to be able to bring it to this level. I also would like to thank the Hon’ble Chief Minister of Assam who has been a person who has been very supportive and very determined to see that we are able to come to a conclusion and without his will and without the will of the Government of Assam this would not have been possible therefore, I also thank the Hon’ble Chief Minister of Assam for the entire push that has been given from his end. I also would like to mention here sir that whatever solution that we have come out with this has not been something that has been easy for us to do. We have met officially and unofficially in many situations and occasions and tried to come up with the best solution possible and what I have mentioned today here may not be a perfect solution that we would want but we strongly have felt that this is the best solution that we can bring forward today and present to the House and like I said, it has not been an easy exercise, it has been very tough I will be moving to Delhi on the 9th of this month where the Hon’ble Home Minister of the Government of India has called both the Chief Minister of Assam and Chief Minister of Meghalaya to finally discuss on the MoU that was signed and I am very hopeful, Sir that we will be able to announce some positive statement on that particular day based on the MoU that has been signed between the two States the details of which I have shared with this House today. So, with these few words and with this particular clarification on the Interstate Boundary Issue that we are having, Sir, as I have said I am happy to inform that we should be able to come to a conclusion.
I would just like to add before I sit down that one very important aspect which we have tried to follow in this entire process of moving forward is that we have tried to realise and understand that we cannot simply sit down and base our decision on the positions that we have had for the past many decades and we cannot decide also on the basis of only the documentation that we had from whether Assam or from Government of Meghalaya and therefore, the 5 areas or five criteria that we brought in guided us to be able to come to this conclusion and I must say that the dominant criteria out of these five have been the will of the people of that area and the overall ethnicity of the local population. These were the dominant criteria but while saying that a solution is something that different principles and different yardsticks and different criteria can be applied by both the States depending on the situation but we have tried to look at people’s will and the ethnicity as one of the main criteria while also considering the other criteria and the past documentation in order to be able to come to a situation where both the states could come to a conclusion on these 6 areas. So therefore, once again Sir before I resume my seat I thank you for giving me this opportunity to make a statement on this very important issue and once again would like to thank each and everyone who have contributed not just in the present but in the past also to be able to come to this level where on the 50th year and Golden Jubilee of our state that we should be able to come to a conclusion on not just these 6 areas I am very confident that once we are able to resolve these 6 areas and once we are able to come to a conclusion to these 6 areas, which I am hopeful in the next few days we will, I am very hopeful and even the rest of the 6 locations also we will be able to move forward in a very positive direction. So. with these few words and with this statement Sir, I would like to resume my seat. Thank you, Sir