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Assam-Meghalaya border dispute partially resolved

  • Category
    Polity & Governance
  • Published
    5th Apr, 2022

Context

Signing of Assam-Meghalaya deal to resolve the border dispute between the two countries.

What was the border dispute between Assam and Meghalaya?

  • During the British rule, Assam consisted of the present-day Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya and Mizoram, which later became separate states.
  • The long-standing dispute between Assam and Meghalaya began in 1972 when Meghalaya was carved out of Assam under the Assam Reorganisation Act, 1971.
  • The border issues came about as a result of different readings of the demarcation of boundaries in the initial agreement for the new state’s (Meghalaya’s) creation.

The Assam-Meghalaya border dispute includes the areas of Upper Tarabari, Gazang reserve forest, Hahim, Langpih, Borduar, Boklapara, Nongwah, Matamur, Khanapara-Pilangkata, Deshdemoreah Block I and Block II, Khanduli and Retacherra.

About

What are the salient features of border agreement between Assam and Meghalaya?

  • Through this deal Assam and Meghalaya have partially resolved a 50-year-old border dispute in six of the 12 sectors along their 885-km boundary.
  • The deal was signed by Chief Minister of Assam Himanta Biswa Sharma and his Meghalaya counterpart Conrad Sangma in the presence of Union Home Minister Amit Shah.
  • The six disputed sectors whose issue has been resolved are Tarabari, Gazang, Hahim, Boklapara, Khanapara-Pillangkata and Ratacherra under the Kamrup, Kamrup (Metro) and Cachar districts of Assam and the West Khasi Hills, Ri-Bhoi and East Jaintia Hills districts of Meghalaya.
  • Out of the total disputed area of 36.79 sq. km land in the above six areas of Assam will get 18.51 sq. km and Meghalaya will get the remaining 18.28 sq.km.

What lays ahead?

  • The resolution to 70% of border dispute has been found by this deal.
  • The position of the remaining 6 areas is likely to be cleared very soon through an amicable settlement between the states.

    Major inter-state disputes in India
    Inter-State Border Areas
    Assam and Mizoram 164.6 km
    Assam and Meghalaya 884.9 km
    Assam and West Bengal 127.0 km
    Assam and Tripura 46.3 km
    Assam and Manipur 204.1 km
    Assam and Arunachal Pradesh 804.1 Km
    Assam and Nagaland 512.1 km

    Assam – Nagaland

    • Boundary: 434 kilometer
    • Area of dispute: Assam districts of Sivasagar, Jorhat, and Golaghat.

    Gujarat – Rajasthan

    • Area of dispute: Mangadh Hill, located on the border of the two states. Gujarat claims half of the hill, while Rajasthan claims the entire hill is theirs.

    Karnataka- Kerala

    • Area of dispute: district of Kasaragod

    Orissa – West Bengal

    • Area of dispute: 82 villages under Jaleswar and Bhogarai blocks in Balasore district

    Arunachal Pradesh and Assam: 

    • Area of dispute: Arunachal Pradesh claims territory in Assam based on history.

    Others

    • Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand: Himachal Pradesh is contesting Uttarakhand over six places of Dehradun district, adjoining its Shimla district.
    • Bihar and UP: The inter-state boundary between Bihar and Uttar Pradesh continued to fluctuate due to the frequent change in the course of rivers.
    • Haryana and UP: Likewise, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh's fluctuating boundary was sought to be solved in the 1970s. But issues are still not resolved.
    • Haryana and Punjab: Punjab and Haryana are locked over the transfer of Chandigarh to Punjab, and part of the Fazilka sub-district of Punjab to Haryana. 
    • Orissa and Andhra Pradesh: Between Orissa and Andhra Pradesh, the boundary dispute relates to 63 villages falling presently in Orissa. But neither government has asked for Central intervention.
    • Orissa and Jharkhand: Similarly, Orissa and Jharkhand have a boundary dispute relating to seven villages of the Mayurbhang and Keonjhar districts. Orissa has claimed territories in the former princely states of Seraikela and Kharsuan, now in Jharkhand.
    • Orissa and Chattisgarh: Orissa is locked with Chhattisgarh over three villages of Naupada district. Orissa and West Bengal are also stalemated over five villages of Balasore and Mayurbhanj districts of Orissa.

How does the Constitution deal with inter-state disputes?

  • At the time of independence in 1947, India consisted of 571 disjointed princely states and provinces directly governed by the British. 
  • The States Reorganization Commission (SRC) constituted in 1953 after nearly two years of study, merged them into 14 states and six union territories (UTs).
  • Currently, they have grown into 28 states and eight UTs, making a total of 36 entities.
  • The draftsmen of India’s constitution had erred grievously in ignoring the problem of interstate disputes, especially interstate boundaries.
  • The constitution makes no provision for a swift and binding decision of such disputes.
    • Article 262 is on the adjudication of disputes relating to waters of inter-state rivers or river valleys. There is no comparable provision on disputes on land.

How does SC deal with disputes arising between States?

Article 131

  • Article 131 of the Constitution of India vests the Supreme Court with original jurisdiction over any dispute arising between the states or between the center and state.
  • SC has original jurisdiction in any dispute:
      1. between the Government of India and one or more States
      2. between the Government of India and any State or States on one side and one or more other States on the other; or
      3. Between two or more States
  • (if the dispute involves any question (whether of law or fact) on which the existence or extent of a legal right depends)
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