Tuesday, September 27, 2022

All stakeholders to be involved in boundary talks: Conrad


Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma on Monday gave assurance in the assembly that all stakeholders would be involved in the second phase of the boundary talks with Assam, even as he urged the opposition TMC members not to “play politics” on the issue.
“This is a sensitive issue and is not an issue to play politics. Please refrain from playing politics,” Sangma said in the course of his reply to a volley of queries raised by opposition chief whip George Lyngdoh during the Question Hour and iterated that the government intends to engage all the stakeholders during the second phase, just like it was done during the first phase of the talks with Assam.
“Discussion is a process, (it) is not an event of a single day. Therefore, the process has (just) started. It is not that we have concluded the discussion and hence, as this process moves forward, all stakeholders, all different people, public in general will be consulted and only then (we) will move ahead with the discussion,” Sangma said.
However, when Lyngdoh said that stakeholders were not involved in the first phase of the border talks, the Chief Minister asked the TMC legislator to refrain from “lying” in the house.
“It is sad that the member (Lyngdoh) is misleading the house and I can completely say that it is a lie,” the Chief Minister said.
Lyngdoh rose to ask the Chief Minister to refrain from using words like “members are lying” and reminded him that he cannot cast aspersion on members as per rules and procedures of the house.
The TMC legislator asked, and maintained that people were “up in arms” and did not want to be part of Assam.
Furthermore, Lyngdoh informed that the KHADC (Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council had passed an official resolution opposing the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).
In the first phase, agreement was reached with the Assam government in six areas that included Tarabari, Hahim, Pilangkata, Khanapara, Ratacheera and Gijang. In the second and final phase six other areas including the Block I and II, Langpih and others areas would be taken up for resolution.
Sangma informed the house that several meetings and public hearings took place with the stakeholders before the agreement on the six areas of differences was sealed.
Moreover, he said that MLAs, MDCs, NGOs besides the local population of the border areas were consulted during the first phase and then the agreement was signed with Assam regarding settlement of dispute in the six areas of difference.
The Chief Minister said that on any issue it is not always possible to have everyone on board, but general consensus is taken to seal an agreement and move forward. “The issue to resolve the boundary dispute with Assam has remained pending for 50 years,” he pointed out.
Urging the TMC legislator to “be careful” about what he spoke in the house, Sangma retorted that it wasn’t a press conference. “Just because a few individuals and organizations were unhappy with the agreement that doesn’t mean that discussions were not held with them,” the Chief Minister said.