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Centre asks states to develop border areas

By R Dutta Choudhury

GUWAHATI, June 18 - The Government of India is of the view that the governments of the states having international border should play a crucial role in border management as only deployment of forces is not adequate to deal with the situation. The Centre feels that the people living along the international border areas should also be involved in border management and that can be done only through overall development of the border areas.

Highly placed sources in the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) told The Assam Tribune that the Government of India is ready to extend support to the states having international border for the development of the border areas, while the concerned state government would have to play a crucial role in this regard.

Sources pointed out that Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh has already started a series of meetings with the governments of the states having international border so that the issues can be addressed properly to ensure overall development of the border areas to improve border management. He convened a meeting with the states having international border with China in Gangtok last month where the issues relating to the development of the areas along the international border were discussed.

The Union Home Minister recently held a meeting with the governments of four states having international border with Myanmar in Aizawl and called upon the states to intensify the pace of development along the border. He asked the states to improve road communication, health care facilities, education facilities in the bordering areas.

He also said that the states should increase number of police stations and outposts near the international border areas. Increasing the strength of the police force in the bordering areas with Myanmar is vital because of movement of militants from their bases in the neighbouring country and because of lack of adequate police presence, the people living near the international border are often at the mercy of the militants. This problem should be addressed immediately so that the people can be involved in effective border management, sources added.

It may be mentioned here that a report of a high powered committee formed to suggest measures to improve management of the India-Myanmar border is pending before the Cabinet Committee on Security Affairs headed by the Prime Minister. The committee, in addition to recommending border area development, suggested replacement of the Assam Rifles with the Indo-Tibetan Border Police along the border with Myanmar.

MHA sources said that the Union Home Minister is planning to hold a meeting with the states having border with Bangladesh soon. However, the date of the meeting is yet to be finalised.

Sources also pointed out that the Centre has been providing funds to the states having international border under the Border Areas Development Programme and it is up to the states to ensure that the funds are properly utilised. Moreover, it is primarily the responsibility of the states to ensure infrastructure development including improvement of the roads, health care facilities, etc., and the Centre can only extend its helping hand to the states through the border areas development programme, sources added.

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