Sangma admits areas close to Assam border neglected

Shillong, June 1 (IANS) Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma Tuesday admitted that developmental activities in areas along the inter-state boundary with Assam have long been neglected but stressed that plans were afoot to develop them.

‘It is sad and quite a surprise that people living in the inter-state border have no civic amenities, but this similar problem is also faced by people in other parts of the state,’ Sangma told legislators in the assembly.

The chief minister was replying to a debate on a motion moved by Leader of Opposition Conrad K. Sangma, suggesting the government have a definite policy and separate department of development of inter-state border area.

‘It has been planned that for the next five odd years a percentage of funds from every department would be earmarked to develop inter-state boundary areas,’ the chief minister informed.

Stating that the firing incident at Langpih, a disputed area between Assam and Meghalaya, was an ‘eye-opener’, Mukul Sangma said: ‘Enough is enough. We need to integrate our thoughts and must utilize this opportunity to address the issue.’

‘We have already floated a tender for construction of an all-weather road connecting Langpih and earmarked funds for Psiar area in the Jaintia Hills,’ he said.

Four people were killed and several injured in the firing by Assam Police personnel at Langpih village May 14, after a clash between tribal Khasis and Garos with Nepali nationals at a weekly market.

Langpih, about 60 km from Guwahati in Assam and 140 km from Shillong, has been claimed by both Assam and Meghalaya as part of their territory.

The chief minister also advocated for convergence of various departments for implementing development programmes along the state’s border with Assam.

Blaming political parties and leaders for their failure to properly explore ways to resolve the inter-state boundary dispute, he said: ‘We must ensure that this problem is not inherited by the next generation.’

Meghalaya has 12 areas of difference with Assam.

Mukul Sangma and his Assam counterpart Tarun Gogoi are scheduled to meet in Guwahati Saturday to find ways to resolve the long-pending boundary disputes.

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