Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma described as the ‘best solution’ his state’s agreement with Assam to end their five-decade-old border dispute in six contested locations and said a resolution will be achieved for the remaining six areas in a limited time.
He credited the political will of the central government and the state governments concerned for finding a solution to this vexed issue.
“No solution is perfect. But this is the best solution that we have come up with. We will come out with solution for the remaining six areas in limited time as well,” Sangma told PTI in an interview in New Delhi.
Assam and Meghalaya had on March 29 decided to end their border dispute in six of the 12 contested locations along the 884.9-km border between the two states.
There are 36 villages in the six places, covering an area of 36.79 sq km, with regard to which the agreement has been reached.
According to the joint final set of recommendations made by three committees formed by these two states, out of 36.79 sq km disputed area taken up for settlement in the first phase, Assam will get full control of 18.51 sq km and Meghalaya 18.28 sq km.
Out of the 12 points of dispute between Assam and Meghalaya, the six areas with relatively less critical differences were taken up in the first phase.
On resolving the issue completely, Sangma said there is a long way to go but a start has been made.
“We have built trust among people of the region. We have laid principles on the basis of which not just Meghalaya or Assam, but other states may also come out with resolutions,” the National People’s Party leader said.
Sangma said finding the solution was not an easy decision, but for the political will of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah.
He said there is a feeling inside everyone’s heart as to why it took so many years for this dispute to end.
“I only wish to say that political will was needed. I think the leadership we have in Centre, Assam and Meghalaya, the communication and overall understanding, this was advantageous for us,” Sangma said.
He said Prime Minister Modi takes a personal interest in the development of northeastern region.
“There is a special interest and concern for the people of northeast and the entire region,” Sangma said.
He said both the prime minister and the home minister want that all border disagreements, especially between northeastern states, must be resolved immediately.
“There is a very clear vision from PM sir. He has said since the beginning that if the nation wants to grow then northeast must also grow. Northeast is like part of a body. If that body part is not healthy then the whole body cannot be healthy. So PM sir has focused a lot in the northeast,” Sangma said.
Meghalaya was carved out of Assam as a separate state in 1972 but the new state had challenged the Assam Reorganisation Act, 1971, leading to dispute in 12 border locations.
Sangma said this agreement has started the ball rolling for other states also.
“They will be motivated. They would think if Meghalaya and Assam can do it, then why can’t we?” the chief minister said.
Asked about complaints of some people living in the border areas that their respective states got a raw deal, Sangma said, “There would be people who may not be happy and we are trying to accommodate their views.”
He said it is very important to empower the people of the northeast.
“I think economic investments and overall economic development of the northeast is the key to ensure that we have a stable region in India. Because if we are economically weak, infrastructure is not there, then it will make us more vulnerable,” Sangma said.
To a question about the assembly polls due next year, he said his government has done its best in roads, water, health sector and for self-help groups.
“We have overall improved the efficiency of governance. We have improved delivery mechanism. We have made five times more roads than that were made in previous five years. We have made 1,800 km rural roads in four years. It is a record. It has never happened in the past,” Sangma said.
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