What is the Namsai declaration? What is the background behind the Namsai declaration? What are the Key Highlights of the declaration? Why do inter-state border disputes remain unresolved? Read further to know more.
To settle boundary conflicts, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh signed the “Namsai Declaration.”
Out of 123 contested villages along the boundary between the two states, 37 places have been resolved as of the date of the declaration.
What is the Namsai declaration?
- The Namsai Declaration, which aims to reduce the inter-State border dispute affecting 123 villages, was recently signed by Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and his Arunachal Pradesh counterpart Pema Khandu.
- On December 26, 2007, Arunachal Pradesh presented a local commission with a list of these villages.
- The proclamation states that the only border disputes between Assam and Arunachal Pradesh will be those brought up before the regional commission in 2007.
- The Assam and Arunachal Pradesh interstate boundary will be realigned as the two states strive to resolve their long-standing border issues. The boundary realignment will be based on a line drawn by a committee in 1960.
- The Namsai district in southern Arunachal Pradesh is headquartered in Namsai.
The background behind Namsai declaration
- The controversy stretches back to the British Empire, when they introduced inner line control in 1873.
- The North-East boundary tracts were eventually referred to the British-delineated planes and frontier Hills in 1915. Today’s Arunachal Pradesh is made up of these Northeastern boundary tracts.
- In 1954, the administrative authority was transferred to Assam, and the frontier tracts were given the new name Northeast Frontier Agency (NEFA).
- However, a subcommittee led by the chief minister of Assam issued several recommendations regarding the management of NEFA in 1951.
- According to the committee’s report, Assam’s Darrang and Lakhimpur districts received 3648 sq. km. of the plain region that had previously been in Arunachal Pradesh. This notification’s rejection by Arunachal Pradesh has become a point of contention.
- In 1954, it was given a new name—North East Frontier Agency—and given to the Central government.
- Arunachal Pradesh, which became a union territory in 1972, has a complaint that Assam was arbitrarily given control over a number of forested tracts on the lowlands that had historically belonged to hill tribal chiefs and clans.
- Present-day The North East Frontier Tract, which became Arunachal Pradesh in February 1987, was governed by the Governor of Assam on behalf of the President of India.
- A tripartite committee was established following the statehood of Arunachal Pradesh in 1987, and it made recommendations for the transfer of several Assamese regions to Arunachal Pradesh.
- The boundary between the two states is 804.1 kilometres long. The Supreme Court is hearing arguments in this case after Assam objected.
- The boundary between Arunachal Pradesh and Assam will be realigned in order to settle a long-running conflict using the line drawn on 29 topo-sheets by a high-powered committee in 1960.
Why did the demarcation become a bone of contention?
- According to Assam, the delineation set forth in the 1951 announcement is legitimate and constitutional.
- However, Arunachal Pradesh maintains that its residents were not consulted prior to the move. It was arbitrary, flawed, and no Arunachal Pradesh tribal leader was contacted. The tribes also paid taxes to the Ahom kings, and AP had customary rights over these areas.
What steps were taken to handle the boundary dispute between Assam and Arunachal Pradesh?
- Out of 800 km in 1983–1984, 489 km were marked as boundaries. The suggestions were rejected by Arunachal Pradesh, preventing further demarcation.
- In 1989, Assam brought a lawsuit before the Supreme Court exposing encroachment by Arunachal Pradesh. In 2006, the Court established a commission. In its report, which was submitted in 2014, the commission urged debate and consensus-building as a means of resolution.
Key Highlights of Namsai declaration
Some of the major highlights of the declaration are discussed here.
Boundary line delineated by High-Powered Tripartite Committee taken as a basis of Namsai declaration.
- The declaration specifies that both states would use the boundary line that was drawn and signed on 29 toposheets by the High-Powered Tripartite Committee as the notified boundary during the year 1960 as the foundation for realigning the border.
- 12 Regional committees: In order to jointly verify 123 villages, both states decided to form 12 “regional committees” that each covered 12 districts in Arunachal Pradesh and their corresponding districts in Assam.
- They will consider historical context, administrative convenience, contiguity, and the public’s desire to define the interstate boundary when making their recommendations to the respective governments.
- Regarding 37 villages, both parties had general agreement.
The final decision on the basis of regional committees:
- Based on the recommendations of the regional committees, the ultimate choice will be made.
Distribution of villages of Namsai declaration:
- 28 villages that are part of Arunachal’s constitutional border would still be included.
Assam would retain possession of three villages for which Arunachal withdrew its claims.
- Six villages could not be found in Assam, and if they are there in Arunachal, they will remain there.
Why do inter-state border disputes remain unresolved?
- Though the 1956 States Reorganization Commission was founded on administrative convenience, the reformed states were mostly based on the notion of one language, one state.
- Geographical Complication: Geography has added another layer of complexity, as many rivers, hills, and woods literally traverse two states.
- Large portions of the northeast outside of Assam have been labelled on colonial maps as “deep forests” or “unexplored,” respectively.
- Indigenous Communities: In general, indigenous communities were left unattended. When the “need” arose, boundaries would be drawn for administrative ease.
- The differences were not resolved by the 1956 delineation.
- It was still not solved when Assam was divided into new states (Nagaland in 1963, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Tripura, and Manipur in 1972, and Arunachal Pradesh in 1987).
- The exact border locations can be mapped using satellite technology to resolve boundary disputes between the states.
- An alternative for settling an interstate disagreement is to revive the Inter-state council.
The Inter-state council is mandated by Article 263 of the Constitution to resolve disputes, examine issues that are relevant to all states, and offer suggestions for more effective policy cooperation.
- Similar to this, it is necessary to resurrect Zonal councils in order to debate issues that affect states in each zone equally, such as interstate transportation, border conflicts, and social and economic planning.
- India is a wonderful example of harmony in contrast. The centre and state governments must both adopt the cooperative federalism mindset, nevertheless, if they want to further cement this unity.
UPSC Civil Services Examination, Previous Year Questions (PYQs)
1. Which was the Capital of Andhra State when it was made a separate State in the year 1953? (2008)
Article written by Aseem Muhammed