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State sticking to 12 areas of difference, says Meghalaya CM; Conrad, Himanta to meet at Shillong on Friday

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GUWAHATI: Assam chief minister, Himanta Biswa Sarma will meet Meghalaya chief minister Conrad K Sangma to discuss the vexed inter-state boundary issue in Shillong on July 23.

Sarma will be in Shillong for the meeting one day ahead of the visit of Union Home Minister, Amit Shah to Meghalaya on July 24.

Sangma told reporters on Monday that the Assam chief minister will be in Shillong on July 23 and the two chief ministers will hold talks on the boundary issue.

Sangma met Himanta in Guwahati on July 17 and discussed the need to find an amicable solution to the decades old boundary dispute between Meghalaya and Assam.

“The Assam CM and I had a one-to-one meeting for approximately 45 minutes. In that meeting, we have gone through all the areas of differences and discussed many points (which is not appropriate to mention at this point),” he said.

“But what we have decided now is that the Assam CM will be coming to Shillong on July 23, one day before the visit of the Union Home Minister Amit Shah on July 24,” he added.

Sangma informed that a brief meeting between the two CMs will be held at secretariat or any place acceptable to both sides adding “We will be having discussion at a more official level this time.”

The proposed meeting will be attended by Chief Secretaries of both the states. Exchange of presentations and discussion will be held in detail.

He further informed following this, an official meeting between the two states will take place in Guwahati.

“In that we will be going with our full team. The date for that has not been fixed and it will most probably be fixed on July 23, when the Assam CM comes to Shillong for the visit of the Union Home Minister,” Sangma said.

Stating that both sides are keen to find out an amicable solution to end the long pending boundary dispute, the Chief Minister said, “Therefore, we are working on that…it is not a very simple and easy affair but we are very committed to this and we will work and try our best to find the solution to the boundary issue.”

On the statement of Assam chief minister in Assembly that Meghalaya has encroached in 53 areas including 40 in West Karbi Anglong District, and 13 in Kamrup District, the Meghalaya CM said, “In last 50 years, there could have been situations where there could have been movements from Assam side and Meghalaya side but what we are here to understand and move forward is very simple that we want to yes keep the facts of the past in front of us but we need to realise that we need to have a fresh approach to the whole process. That is why both of us are trying to have a fresh approach. We are trying to find out how we can practically move forward. Past aspects obviously need to be kept in mind, it is not that it is not important but if we stick too much with the past, we may not be able to move forward in the future.”

Asked if Meghalaya would stick to the 12 areas of difference where documents have also been submitted to Assam a few years back, Conrad said that the state is sticking to the 12 areas of difference.

The 12 areas of differences includes Tarabari (4.69 sq km), Gizang (13.53 sq km), Hahim (3.51 sq km), Langpih (289.07 sq kms) Borduar (147.83 sq kms), Boklapara (1.57 sq kms), Nongwah-Mawtamur (137.57 sq kms), Khanapara-Pillangkata (2.29 sq kms), Block I&II (1547.42 sq kms), Khanduli-Psiar (76.80 sq kms) and Ratacherra (11.20 sq kms).

The Chief Minister said that the state has been sharing and presenting documents relating to the twelve areas of differences in different meetings to the Assam side.

“There is nothing to hide about that based on what we have mentioned in our claims. Again, this entire approach will require a fresh look to the whole thing and therefore we will try to balance out historical facts, the current situation and the future,” he added.

With regards to the support sought from the autonomous district councils (ADCs) to share land documents pertaining to the interstate border, the Chief Minister said that ADCs are important and reports have been taken and more reports will be getting from them also.

“…as a state and a government, we need to do our homework to the absolute micro level so that everything can be taken up in a proper manner. That homework is being done,” he said.

Sangma further informed that he had started discussing with political parties which will be followed by more discussions with other stakeholders.

“There will be field visits that will be done and there could be joint field visits that could happen – so all these are on the cards,” he said.

Whether he would also convene an all-party meeting ahead of the meeting, the Chief Minister said the government will take the views of everybody on board.

“It is a process so during the process we will continue to meet everybody. We will try to resolve and keep everybody’s concerns in mind so it may not be possible that I will meet everybody before July 23 but July 23 is a starting point where we will start meeting and discussing,” he said.

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