By Sujit Chakraborty, Agartala/Aizawl, July 29 IANS | 5 months ago

The Modi government has taken the initiative to resolve the long pending boundary disputes between the northeastern states, officials said.

"Survey of India (SoI) officials at the behest of the union government have started talks with the officials of the northeastern states to solve the border disputes among the northeastern states," an SoI official told IANS.

The official, refusing to disclose his identity, said: "Based on our toposheet, we would talk to the officials of northeastern states. Our officials accompanied by concerned officials of these states, if necessary, would conduct a joint survey along the disputed borders."

'Toposheet' or 'Topographic sheet' essentially contains information about an area like roads, railways, settlements, canals, rivers, electric poles, various offices and installations.

Survey of India (SoI), India's national survey and mapping organisation under the department of Science and Technology, maintains the toposheet.

Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Tripura, Nagaland and Manipur share disputed borders with one another and occasionally villagers, officials and security forces have engaged in skirmishes over this long pending issue.

Officials of Tripura and Mizoram in the presence of SoI officials met in Silchar, the main town of southern Assam, last week and discussed the border issues between the two states.

"The Mizoram government has been claiming the Bethling hill at Fulldangsai village (along Tripura-Mizoram border) is their territory under the 1933 Assam government gazette notification. We strongly rejected the claim," Tripura revenue department secretary Swapan Saha told IANS.

Saha, who led the Tripura delegation in the Silchar meeting, said: "In the toposheet of SoI, the strategically located hill falls in the Tripura territory. Around 50 Mizo families, residing in the hill, are not only Tripura residents, their names have been enrolled in various Tripura government documents, including electoral lists, for many decades."

SoI director S.K. Singh told the officials of Mizoram and Tripura that they would again meet after a few months and, if necessary, a joint visit would be conducted in the disputed site.

Tripura shares 109 km borders with Mizoram and 53 km borders with Assam.

Mizoram Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla has also sought union Home Minister Rajnath Singh's intervention to resolve the Assam-Mizoram boundary dispute.

"The chief minister recently (June 28) met the union home minister in New Delhi and requested him to intervene in the long pending boundary dispute with Assam," said an official of the Mizoram government, speaking on condition of anonymity.

He told IANS: "Rajnath Singh (who was president of the Bharatiya Janata Party during an election campaign before the 2013 assembly poll in Mizoram) said the border dispute would be resolved if the BJP came to power at the Centre."

Occasionally, the border disputes between northern Mizoram and southern Assam have flared up among the people of the two northeastern states, forcing the authorities and security forces to intervene.

Southern Assam's Karimganj, Cachar and Hailakandi districts share their border with Kolosib district of northwestern Mizoram.

Mizoram, which also shares border with Myanmar (404 km) and Bangladesh (318 km), was one of the districts of Assam till 1973 when the mountainous state became a union territory.

(Sujit Chakraborty can be contacted at sujit.c@ians.in)

(Posted on 29-07-2014)

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