THE ASSAM-ARUNACHAL PRADESH BORDER DISPUTE

Assam Chief Minister and his Arunachal Pradesh counterpart signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) over the long-standing border dispute between the two states.

The dispute:

  • The two states share a roughly 800-kilometre long border.
  • The disputed areas the MoU deals with are 123 border villages, which span 12 districts of Arunachal Pradesh and 8 districts of Assam.
  • Before North East Frontier Agency or NEFA (former name of what is now Arunachal Pradesh) was carved out of Assam in 1954, a sub-committee headed by then Assam Chief Minister Gopinath Bordoloi had made a set of recommendations in relation to the administration of NEFA and submitted a report in 1951.
  • In line with the recommendations of this report, around 3,648 kilometres of the plain area of Balipara and Sadiya foothills were transferred from NEFA to Assam.
  • When Arunachal was made a Union Territory in 1972, it contended that several forested tracts in the plains that had traditionally belonged to hill tribal chiefs and communities were unilaterally transferred to Assam.

Past efforts to resolve this issue

  • In 1979, a high-powered tripartite committee was constituted to delineate the boundary on the basis of Survey of India maps, as well as discussions with both sides.
  • While around 489 km of the 800 km were demarcated by 1983-84, futher demarcation could not take place because Arunachal did not accept the recommendations and claimed several kilometres of the 3,648 sq km, which was transferred to Assam in line with the 1951 report.
  • Assam objected to this and filed a case in the Supreme Court in 1989, highlighting an “encroachment” made by Arunachal Pradesh.
  • To resolve the dispute between the states, the apex court appointed a local boundary commission in 2006, headed by a retired SC judge.
  • Several recommendations were made some of which suggested Arunachal Pradesh get back some of the territory which was transferred in 1951 however, nothing came of it

SOURCE: THE HINDU, THE ECONOMIC TIMES, PIB

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