Agartala, July 29: The NDA government at the Centre has already taken the initiative to resolve the long pending boundary disputes between the northeastern states.
As part of the initiative, a high-level meeting was held in Silchar, headquarters of the Cachar district in Assam, last week between officials of Tripura and Mizoram in the presence of senior officials of Survey of India — the country’s national survey and mapping organisation under the department of science and technology.
Tripura revenue secretary Swapan Saha, who led the state’s delegation, said he had firmly rejected the Mizoram government’s claim over the Bethlingshib area close to Phuldongshai in Jampui Hills of North Tripura bordering Mizoram.
“We have a 109-km border with Mizoram but this is the only place of territorial dispute. The Mizoram government lays claim to Bethlingshib on the basis of a gazette notification issued by the pre-British undivided Assam government in 1933,” said Saha.
He said apart from being contiguous within Tripura all other records, including the voter list of 50-odd Mizo families living there, point to Bethlingshib as an inalienable part of the state.
“Bethlingshib is not negotiable, we categorically told our Mizoram counterparts during the discussion,” said Saha.
The officials accompanying Saha said the Survey of India has started discussions with all other northeastern states to settle long-pending boundary disputes.
“All states of the region like Assam, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur have all disputes over boundaries. In 1985, the dispute over boundaries between Assam and Nagaland had resulted in clashes and casualties,” Tripura officials quoted the Survey of India officials.
“They said the Survey of India experts are keen to use toposheet or topographic sheet containing detailed information about an area like roads, railways, settlements, canals, rivers, electric poles, various offices and installations to locate areas of dispute and settle rival claims.
“The Survey of India officials may also have take up joint surveys of these disputed areas by officials representing rival states to resolve the issue,” one of the officials said.
Survey of India director S.K. Singh told the officials of Mizoram and Tripura that a new round of discussion would take place and a joint visit to the Bethlingshib area might be undertaken.
However, Saha had insisted that Bethlingshib was very much in Tripura while agreeing to a second round of discussions.
On June 28, Mizoram chief minister Lal Thanhawala requested home minister Rajnath Singh to ensuresettlement of the Mizoram-Assam boundary dispute and Singh had assured him of an early initiative.
Assam’s Cachar and Karimganj districts have border disputes with Kolasib district of Mizoram and on several occasions there have been clashes in the area.
“But now the Union home ministry is serious about resolving the dispute finally through amicable discussions and on the basis of Survey of India records,” said Saha.