Ball in Centre’s court: Himanta on Assam-Meghalaya border solution

Guwahati, Jan 23 (PTI) Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Sunday said the ball was in the Centre’s court to take a final call on the recommendations forwarded by Assam and Meghalaya to resolve a part of the long-standing boundary disputes between the two neighbouring states.

He however hit out at the Congress for opposing the proposed give-and-take’ formula for solving the border row and maintained that it was the grand old party of the country that had led to entire states being carved out of undivided Assam.

He also alleged that the Congress, which had been in power in the Centre as well as North Eastern states for most of independent India’s history, had refrained from solving the boundary disputes so that neighbouring states are forever engaged in conflict with each other.

Addressing a press conference here, Sarma said, The ball is now in the Centre’s court. We have submitted our recommendations to Union Home Minister Amit Shah.

It is up to them when they call us for further discussions, he added.

Sarma and his Meghalaya counterpart Conrad Sangma had on January 20 placed recommendations of three regional committees formed by the two states to look into disputes in six areas before Shah in New Delhi.

According to the final set of recommendations given by the committees, out of 36.79 sq km of disputed area taken up for settlement in the first phase, Assam will get control on 18.51 sq km and Meghalaya the remaining 18.28 sq km.

Three committees each were formed by the two state governments in August 2021 after two rounds of talks between Sarma and Sangma to resolve the border dispute in a phased manner.

Out of a total 12 points of disputes, six areas with relatively less critical differences have been taken up in the first phase.

Meghalaya was carved out of Assam as a separate state in 1972 and it had challenged the Assam Reorganisation Act, 1971, leading to the border dispute over the shared 884.9 km long border.

The Congress has been vocal in opposing the give-and-take’ formula, leading the chief minister to take on the party.

He said, The Congress had carved the entire area of the state of Meghalaya from Assam. It even transferred Assam’s capital to Meghalaya. They do not have the right to protest now.

The capital of undivided Assam was in Shillong, which became the headquarter of Meghalaya after its formation, while Dispur in Guwahati was chosen as Assam’s new capital.

Sarma said, The border disputes are due to Congress’s blunder. They had hurriedly formed new states out of undivided Assam and left the boundaries undefined.

On boundary disputes with other Northeastern states, Sarma said the differences with Arunachal Pradesh will be solved in due course of time’. Though no talks are on with Mizoram as of now, Assam’s Border Area Development Minister Atul Bora is in contact with the Home minister of the neighbouring state on the issue.

The Nagaland issue is before the Supreme Court and we can expect a verdict in perhaps two-three years, he added.