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Assam, Arunachal Pradesh to form district-level committees to solve border dispute

The announcement came after Sarma met his Arunachal Pradesh counterpart Pema Khandu in Guwahati to discuss the decades-old inter-state boundary dispute. The two chief ministers had earlier met in January for the first official talk.

Written by Tora Agarwala | New Delhi |
Updated: April 20, 2022 5:34:29 pm
Himanta Biswa Sarma met his Arunachal Pradesh counterpart Pema Khandu in Guwahati.

After Meghalaya, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma is now focusing on the border dispute with neighbour Arunachal Pradesh. Sarma Wednesday said that district-level committees would be formed by both states to resolve the issue in a “time-bound manner.”

The announcement came after Sarma met his Arunachal Pradesh counterpart Pema Khandu in Guwahati to discuss the decades-old inter-state boundary dispute. The two chief ministers had earlier met in January for the first official talk.

In a series of tweets, Sarma said: “The district committees will undertake joint surveys in the disputed areas to find tangible solutions to the long-pending issue based on historical perspective, ethnicity, contiguity, people’s will and administrative convenience of both the states.”

Khandu said that the “positive enthusiasm for resolution on both sides is very encouraging.”

In August 2021, Sarma told the state Assembly there were at least 1,200 areas of dispute along the border with Arunachal Pradesh, and that the two states were working toward resolving them.

The dispute dates back to colonial times. Arunachal Pradesh, which was earlier part of Assam, has witnessed frequent flare-ups along its over-800-km boundary with its parent state. Clashes were first reported in 1992, and since then there have been several accusations of illegal encroachment from both sides, and intermittent clashes. The matter was taken to the Supreme Court in 1989.

The most recent tensions were reported in January at the site where the Likabali-Durpai road is being built in Arunachal Pradesh’s Lower Siang district—Assam claims that some parts of the road, under construction since 2019, fall under its Dhemaji district.

Assam Border Area Development Minister Atul Bora, chief secretaries, and senior officials of both states were present at the meeting on Wednesday.

Bora said that 12 district-level committees each in the two states would be formed. “Joint surveys will be carried out by the district-level committees in disputed border areas to find out amicable solutions to the issues,” he said, adding that resolution would lead to “all-round development and welfare of the people living in border areas.”

In March, Assam and Meghalaya signed a pact, announcing the resolution of six out of 12 sites of conflict along the border.

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