Meghalaya: Border issue dominates question hour
Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma

Shillong: The question hour on the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between Assam and Meghalaya on Wednesday saw participation of several legislators participating with the Speaker allowing 50 minutes on the topic.

Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma informed the House that the government held 28 meetings during the first phase of talks to resolve the six areas of differences. 18 field visits were done and nearly 4 meetings were held daily, he said.

He also informed that he met with the heads of Garo Hills Autonomous District Council (GHADC), Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC), MDCs and traditional seven times.

“I had two meetings with political parties. The first was on December 15, 2021, and second on March 7 this year. I also had two meetings with NGOs. One was on December 15, and the other was on February 23,” Sangma said.

The question was raised by Nongpoh MLA Mayralborn Syiem, who lauded the government for pursuing and trying to resolve the issue. Syiem said that despite efforts made the government, there was resentment among the people residing in border areas.

Nongpoh MLA Mayralborn Syiem

“Will the government make an attempt to revisit and review the MoU and try to get back some villages ceded to Assam?” Syiem asked.

The CM responded saying that this was an important issue and involved a complicated process, which previous governments have also tried to arrive at a conclusion. 

“Steps taken were not easy but in the interest of the people of the state, ensuring long- lasting peace. The government went ahead only after thorough consultation with stakeholders,” said Sangma.

The CM once again reiterated that the question of revisiting the MoU didn’t arise.

Addressing the issue of the government trying to get back villages that the state had ceded to Assam, Sangma said that the maximum number of villages had still come under Meghalaya.

He added that in case of other villages, it was decided as per the will of the people as expressed, so both states decided accordingly.

“Villages left out as mentioned by honourable MLA, it is important to discuss in the House? When we say “left out”, what do we mean? Which are these villages? Because if there is a demand for villages that were never in the disputed areas and are way inside the boundaries of Assam, and are not according to the demarcated 2011 map, then it would be wrong to say they have been left out,” said Sangma.

He said the final outcome was based on multiple factors, including past records, the Sixth Schedule, traditional maps and others. Public opinion was sought where large public hearings took place. Apart from contiguous areas, they looked at the overall aspect of giving proper administration to those areas if they were near Assam or Meghalaya.

He was responding to Syiem’s question if the MoU was signed purely based on recommendations of three regional committees. 

Regarding the process of demarcation, Sangma said the government was consulting everyone and hoped to reach a consensus.

Syiem asked if government could carry out the process for the second phase based on the 2011 report submitted by the government of Meghalaya to Assam.

The CM replied saying it was not simple for the present government to tell the Assam government that the 2011 reports were wrong. 

Umroi MLA George Lyngdoh

“It becomes difficult for us to justify a major change, but whenever it’s possible, we try to discuss and adjust. But moving away from the 2011 report would be difficult,” explained Sangma.

He also informed the House that the list to form the new Regional Committee for the second phase has been finalised. 

Umroi MLA George Lyngdoh referred to the MoU, which mentions that any other area or village situated outside the area of differences shown in the maps submitted by Meghalaya govt in 2011 will not be considered. Lyngdoh stated that it was understood there were areas outside the areas of differences that have been claimed by the state but the state government agreed not to discuss on those areas that lie outside of those area of differences.

Also read | Meghalaya: Process to fill up over 1,300 vacancies in govt depts underway

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