| Meghalaya chief minister Mukul Sangma speaks in the Assembly in Shillong on Thursday. Picture by UB Photos |
Shillong, March 21: Former Meghalaya chief minister Donkupar Roy today asked the state government to push for an amendment of the North-Eastern Areas (Reorganisation) Act, 1971, to get the disputed Blocks I and II restored to the state.
The two blocks are among the 12 areas of dispute between Meghalaya and Assam, the others being Langpih, Upper Tarabari, Gizang reserve forest, Hahim, Borduar, Boklapara, Nongwah-Matamur, Khanapara-Pilangkata, Deshdemoreah, Khanduli-Psiar and Ratacherra.
Roy, while putting forth supplementary questions during question hour in the Assembly, demanded that the state government ask the Centre to alter the act.
The demand came amid reports about the Assam government constructing an entrance gate and a State Bank of India (SBI) building at Sabuda village in Ri Bhoi district.
“The government is seized of the matter (in Sabuda village) and has asked for a report from the Ri Bhoi deputy commissioner based on the ground reality,” chief minister Mukul M. Sangma said in reply to a supplementary query.
Sangma informed the House that steps had been taken to include the areas under Block I and Block II. He said, the state government had handed over the evidence/justification for each of the 12 disputed areas, including the two blocks, to the Assam government.
While Block I comprises areas of difference between Meghalaya and Assam along the West Jaintia Hills-North Cachar Hills boundary, Block II is along the Ri Bhoi-Karbi Anglong boundary.
The 12 disputed areas cover an area of around 2,700 square km, of which the two blocks cover around 1,500 square km.
The chief minister said the two blocks were tagged to the then United Mikir and North Cachar Hills district on April 13, 1951.
“The state government has to push the Centre to amend the act, or else Blocks I and II will never come back to the state,” Roy said.
In reply, Sangma, who could not provide the names of the villages falling under the two blocks, said the state government had taken necessary steps to address the inter-state boundary problem and assured the House that there would be more engagement with the Assam government to resolve the imbroglio.
Looking back, perhaps the root cause of the boundary row between the two states lies within the act. It provided for the establishment of the states of Manipur and Tripura and also for formation of the state of Meghalaya and of the Union territories of Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh by reorganisation of the then existing state of Assam. It, however, did not specify in “black and white” the territorial jurisdiction of Meghalaya.