The Prayas ePathshala

Exams आसान है !

10 May 2024 – The Hindu


Border Issue between Assam and Meghalaya

  • Less than a month after the Assam-Meghalaya border deal to largely address the contentious sectors received approval from the Union cabinet.
  • The governments of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh decided to form district-level committees led by cabinet ministers in order to put an end to their long-standing border conflict in a timely way.
  • This has started the process for the two States to deal with the matter based on the “give-and-take” or “fifty-fifty” approach that Assam and Meghalaya used to resolve their differences in six of their twelve problematic areas.

Why is there a boundary dispute between Arunachal Pradesh and Assam?

  • Boundary issues exist between Assam and all the northeastern states that were formed out of it.
  • Meghalaya initially became an Autonomous State in 1970 and a full-fledged State in 1972, whilst Nagaland became a State in 1963.
  • In 1972, Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram became Union Territories, and in 1987, they became States, separating from Assam.
  • The “constitutional boundary,” according to the newly formed States, was set by the political administration of Assam without seeking input from the tribal stakeholders.
  • Additionally, they asserted that the contested areas had historically been ruled by tribal chieftains prior to Assam and that the “imaginary boundaries” created during British administration were carried over to Assam after India’s independence.
  • Arunachal Pradesh’s problem is primarily related to a 1951 report that was written by a subcommittee led by the state’s first chief minister.

 What is the origin of the disagreement?

  • There are disagreements between Arunachal Pradesh and Assam at over 1,200 locations along their 804 kilometre border.
  • The border disputes began to surface in the 1970s and were more frequent in the 1990s.
  • But the problem actually began in 1873, when the British administration imposed the inner-line regulation, which erroneously distinguished between the plains and the frontier hills that would subsequently be known as the North-East Frontier Tracts in 1915.
  • The North-East Frontier Agency (NEFA) was established in 1954, following a notification based on the 1951 assessment that indicated 3,648 sq. km of the “plain” region of the Balipara and Sadiya foothills are being moved to the Assamese districts of Darrang and Lakhimpur.
  • Since 1987, Arunachal Pradesh has been commemorating its statehood with great fanfare, looking towards China. However, the inability of the people residing in the transferred regions to partake in the festivities has been a source of dissatisfaction.
  • According to Arunachal Pradesh leaders, the tribes that had traditional rights over these areas were not consulted and the transfer was made unilaterally.
  • According to their Assamese counterparts, the 1951 delineation is legitimate and constitutional.

Have the two States attempted to resolve their boundary dispute before?

  • Between 1971 and 1974, there were multiple attempts to draw the border between Assam and NEFA/Arunachal Pradesh.
  • In April 1979, a powerful tripartite committee including the Centre and the two States was established to break the impasse by drawing the boundary using maps from the Survey of India.
  • By 1984, 489 km of the interstate border north of the Brahmaputra River had been drawn, but Arunachal Pradesh rejected the suggestions and claimed most of the territory that had been transferred in 1951.
  • In 1989, Assam protested and filed a case with the Supreme Court, alleging Arunachal Pradesh of “encroachment.”
  • A local boundary commission led by one of the SC’s retired judges was established in 2006.
  • This commission, in its September 2014 report, advised both States to engage in dialogue to establish a middle ground and suggested that Arunachal Pradesh be given back some of the regions that were ceded in 1951. This was unsuccessful.

The Interstate Boundary Commission’s Need:

  • The establishment of an Independent Interstate boundary commission should be the first priority in resolving this problem, given the parties’ conflicting claims and its complexity.
  • The commission should ideally develop a solution after carefully considering the interests of all parties involved through a consultative study.
  • The federal government using the contested property after paying both states compensation is one possibility.
  • As acknowledged by stakeholders, alternative options include paying one state and giving territory to the other or giving the disputed area to both the states in question equally.
  • Once a solution has been developed and approved by the states, the Court may assume the position of a guardian and seriously consider its capricious actions.

What are the possibilities that this time a solution will materialise?

  • The Assam-Meghalaya border deal has given rise to expectations that the Assam-Arunachal boundary dispute will be settled. This is because the Centre is pressuring the northeastern States to put an end to their territorial disputes by August 15, 2022, the nation’s 75th anniversary of independence.
  • Furthermore, the common consensus is that the sister states in the area are better positioned to expedite the resolution.
  • Assam and Arunachal Pradesh have decided to establish district-level committees that will be tasked with conducting joint surveys in the disputed sectors in order to find practical solutions to the long-standing issue based on historical perspective, ethnicity, contiguity, people’s will, and administrative convenience of both States. This follows the model adopted in the exercise to resolve the dispute with Meghalaya.
  • Twelve of these committees, comprising the districts that share the line, have been decided upon by the two States.
  • There are eight districts in Assam that border Arunachal Pradesh, which comprises twelve districts in total.

Steps Ahead:

  • The real border positions can be determined via satellite mapping, which can help resolve boundary disputes between the nations.
  • One possibility for resolving an interstate conflict is to bring the Inter-state Council back to life.
  • The Inter-state council is mandated by Article 263 of the Constitution to investigate and offer advice on disputes, talk about issues that affect all states equally, and offer suggestions for improving policy cooperation.
  • In order to address issues pertaining to social and economic planning, border conflicts, interstate transportation, and other issues of shared concern to the states in each zone, zonal councils must be reestablished.
  • India is the perfect example of variety and unity. However, the cooperative federalism mentality must be ingrained in both the federal government and the state governments in order to further solidify this unity.

Select Course