On Wednesday, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma met his Arunachal Pradesh counterpart Pema Khandu and announced that the two North-eastern states will form district-level committees to resolve the longstanding border disputes in a time-bound manner. Sarma said this was the second chief ministerial-level meeting between the two states over the boundary issue in a series of tweets.
The two northeastern neighbors had previously met over the issue on January 24 this year during which Arunachal Pradesh climbed down from its initial demand of transfer of 1119.279 sq km land to 859 sq km.
“We decided to form district-level committees in both the states to resolve the issue in a time-bound manner. “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,” the Assam chief minister said. The terms of reference of the committees were also finalized at the meeting, Sarma said.
Assam Border Area Development Minister Atul Bora, and chief secretaries and senior officials of both the states were present at the meeting. Assam and Arunachal Pradesh share an 804.1-km-long border and there are 1,200 points of dispute along with it. Arunachal Pradesh has a grievance that the re-organization of North Eastern states unilaterally transferred several forested tracts in the plains, that had traditionally belonged to hill tribal chiefs and communities, to Assam. After Arunachal Pradesh achieved statehood in 1987, a tripartite committee was appointed which recommended that certain territories be transferred from Assam to Arunachal. Assam contested this and the matter is before the Supreme Court.
Arunachal Pradesh was a centrally-administered region initially after Independence and became a Union Territory later, before attaining full statehood in 1987. Besides Arunachal Pradesh, Assam also has boundary disputes with Meghalaya, Nagaland, and Mizoram, and soon after assuming office in May last year, Sarma has been making efforts to resolve these through negotiations.