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GIST OF SANSAD TV : Perspective: Inter-State Border Disputes in India

  • Published
    24th Dec, 2022


The Union Home Minister held a meeting with the Chief Ministers of Maharashtra and Karnataka on the border dispute between the two States. Both sides agreed that the States will press their claims further till the judgement of the Supreme Court on this matter and a panel of three ministers each from both the states will discuss on the issue.

The Central government in December 2022 had informed the Parliament that there are boundary disputes arising out of demarcation of boundaries and claims and counter claims over territories between Andhra Pradesh-Odisha, Haryana-Himachal Pradesh, UT of Ladakh-Himachal Pradesh, Maharashtra-Karnataka, Assam-Arunachal Pradesh, Assam-Nagaland, Assam-Meghalaya, Assam-Mizoram. Some matters related to division of assets are also pending between Andhra Pradesh-Telangana and Bihar-Jharkhand.

Points of Discussion:

Main Highlights:

  • Karnataka and Maharashtra are not the only state to indulge in Border disputes.
  • Claims over territories between states, like Assam and Meghalaya or Andhra Pradesh and Telangana are going since the last state reorganisation commission recommended separation of states/region based on language.
  • The Supreme Court took the case for inter-state border disputes in 1970.
  • The SC mentioned that, problems of different states disputes are different and need to be addressed separately.

Reasons for inter-state disputes:

  • Reorganization considerations:When India started carving out states in 1953, the States Reorganisation Commission said territorial readjustments between (states) should not assume the form of disputes between alien powers.
  • Lingual assertion:Several inter-state border disputes have their roots in the reorganisation of states in the 1950s, which was primarily based on language.
  • Colonial division:Many of these state demarcations were based on district boundaries created by the British. For example, partition of Bengal led to present day Assam issue.
  • Inequitable sharing of resources:These territorial contests are part of a larger set of differences over resources between states — over access to river waters.
  • Lack of constitutional mechanism: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.
  • Political opportunism:Frankly, no serious efforts have been made to resolve the disputes. Political parties have used this for vote bank politics.

Suggestions for states to resolve disputes:

  • Maintain the essence of federalism: To focus on idea of integrated India rather than fragmented states.
  • A Geo-cultural approach: People belonging to regions overlapping or disputed areas must consider their Geo-cultural linkages as a base for unity in diversity.
  • Regional separation/division should be based on:
  • Local convenience
  • Cultural linkages
  • Historical ties

Value addition:

Power to resolve 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.

Brief of the Inter-state border disputes in India:

1. Karnataka- Maharashtra:

  • The Belgaum district is arguably part of one of the biggest inter-state border disputes in India.
  • The district has a large Marathi and Kannada-speaking populations and has been at the centre of a dispute for a long time.
  • The area came under Karnataka in 1956 when states were reorganized and till then it was under the Bombay presidency.

2. 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.

3. Haryana-Himachal Pradesh

  • The Parwanoo region has had the spotlight over the border dispute between the two states.
  • It is next to the Panchkula district of Haryana and the state has claimed parts of the land in Himachal Pradesh as its own.

4. Himachal Pradesh-Ladakh

  • Himachal and Ladakh lay claim to Sarchu, an area on the route between Leh and Manali.
  • It is considered a major point where travellers stop when travelling between the two cities.
  • Sarchu is in between Himachal’s Lahul and Spiti district and Leh district in Ladakh.

5. Arunachal Pradesh-Assam

  • Arunachal’s grievance is that the re-organisation 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.

6. 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.
  • Meghalaya contends that both these blocks formed part of the erstwhile United Khasi and Jaintia Hills district when it was notified in 1835.
  • Meghalaya bases its case on survey maps of 1872 and 1929 and certain notifications of 1878 and 1951, while Assam wants to go by the rejected recommendations of the Churachand Committee.

7. Assam-Nagaland

  • The longest-running border dispute in the North East is between Assam and Nagaland, which began soon after Nagaland became a state in 1963.
  • 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.
  • Since Nagaland did not accept its notified borders, tensions between Assam and Nagaland flared up soon after the latter was formed, resulting in the first border clashes in 1965.

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