With the inter-State border dispute between Assam and Mizoram flaring up and resulting in the death of six people last week, the Centre could be relying on satellite mapping to demarcate boundaries and settle such disputes, senior officials of the government of India said on Sunday.
Two top officials however, told The Hindu that the Centre has no plans to hold a ‘neutral probe’ into the July 26 firing incident between the two police forces that left five Assam Police personnel dead and over 50 injured.
Return of normalcy and confidence building is necessary in the area and that is why CRPF forces are patrolling the areas under the direct supervision of the Centre, the officials said.
“Both the State governments are cooperating and the Central government is assured that there will be no more border flare-up,” one of the officials quoted above said.
For a more permanent solution to deal with inter-State border issues, the North Eastern Space Application Centre (NESAC) has been asked to map and demarcate State boundaries using satellite imaging.
The idea of using satellite imagery for settling border disputes was mooted by Union Home Minister Amit Shah a few months ago, said one of the officials.
A joint initiative of the Department of Space (DoS) and the North Eastern Council (NEC), the Shillong-based NESAC is already being used for flood management in the region. In January this year, the Ministry for Development of the North East Region (DONER) gave the satellite imagery project to NESAC.
“Since there will be scientific methods in the demarcation of borders, there will little scope for discrepancy and there shall be better acceptability of the boundary solutions by the States,” one of the officials said.
However, an Assam government official, who didn’t want to come on record, contested such a claim. “Disputes arise mainly because there is a difference in perception regarding what constitutes our area and what constitutes their area. For example, Mizoram wants to follow the 1875 notification regarding Lushai Hills but its not acceptable to us,” the official said.
The Mizoram government claimed that a 509 square-mile stretch of the inner-line reserve forest notified in 1875 — under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation of 1873 — belongs to it. The Assam government, on the other hand, maintained that the constitutional map and boundary drawn by Survey of India in 1933 was acceptable to it.