Assam-Arunachal Pradesh end border dispute
Polity & Governance
28th Apr, 2023
Assam and Arunachal Pradesh chief ministers signed an agreement to settle the decades-old inter-state boundary dispute between the two states.
What was the dispute about?
- Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, which was earlier a part of undivided Assam, share an 804 km long boundary.
- While there were no tensions reported initially, frequent issues eventually came up.
- During British rule, there was a law which involved setting boundaries between plains and hills. This was later known as North East Frontier Tracts (NEFT).
- However, after independence, the Assam government was in control of the NEFT. This, in 1954, became the North East Frontier Agency (NEFA) and in 1972 became Arunachal Pradesh.
- It is essential to note that Arunachal Pradesh was a Union Territory in 1972 and gained statehood only in 1987.
- However, a 1951 report claimed that over 3,000 sq km of the area from Arunachal Pradesh had been transferred to Assam.
- While Arunachal Pradesh has constantly held that this area was transferred without the consent of its people, Assam has maintained that the transfer was legally carried out.
What is in the pact?
- The pact will bring settlement to 123 villages located along areas the two north-eastern states share.
- Under the pact, both the state governments have agreed that it will be final with regards to these 123 disputed villages and neither of the states will make any new claim related to any area or village in future.
- Removal AFSPA: The government has withdrawn the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act from most of places in Assam, 15 police stations in 6 districts in Manipur, all but 3 districts in Arunachal Pradesh, 7 districts in Nagaland, and entire Tripura and Meghalaya.
Who has the power to resolve Inter-state disputes?
Article 131 is the main provision in the constitution regarding centre-state / inter-state disputes
- The Parliament has the sole responsibility to take decision for altering any region of any state.
- However, the consultation of states is to be taken, which is not binding on the Parliament.
- The decision of parliament is also not binding on the states.
- To solve inter-state disputes, the Supreme Court has the sole power to make decision.
List of major Inter-state border disputes in India:
- Karnataka- Maharashtra: The Belgaum district (came under Karnataka in 1956) is arguably part of one of the biggest inter-state border disputes in India.
- Assam-Mizoram: The border dispute between Assam and Mizoram is a legacy of two British-era notifications of 1875 and 1933, when Mizoram was called Lushai Hills, a district in Assam.
- The 1875 notification differentiated Lushai Hills from the plains of Cachar and the other demarcated boundary between Lushai Hills and Manipur.
- While Mizoram became a state only in 1987 following years of insurgency, it still insists on the boundary decided in 1875.
- Assam, on the other hand, wants the boundary demarcated in 1986 (based on the 1933 notification).
- Mizoram says the 1986 agreement is not acceptable as the Mizo civil society was not consulted at that time.
- Assam-Nagaland: The Nagaland State Act of 1962 had defined the state’s borders according to a 1925 notification when Naga Hills and Tuensang Area (NHTA) were integrated into a new administrative unit. Nagaland, however, does not accept the boundary delineation and has demanded that the new state should also have all Naga-dominated areas in North Cachar and Nagaon districts.
- Haryana-Himachal Pradesh: The Parwanoo region (next to the Panchkula district of Haryana) has had the spotlight over the border dispute between the two states.
- Himachal Pradesh-Ladakh: Himachal and Ladakh lay claim to Sarchu, an area on the route between Leh and Manali.
- Meghalaya-Assam: The problem between Assam and Meghalaya started when the latter challenged the Assam Reorganisation Act of 1971, which gave Blocks I and II of the Mikir Hills or present-day Karbi Anglong district to Assam.