Dhemaji/Itanagar, July 3: Assam minister Parimal Suklabaidya on Friday visited an area near the Assam-Arunachal Pradesh border following reports of encroachment and destruction of forests in the state's Dhemaji district.
Assam has border issues with Arunachal Pradesh. The environment and forest minister visited Joyrampur-Chilonibasti area as per the direction of Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma. There were reports in late June that the people of Likabali in Lower Siang district of Arunachal Pradesh allegedly have entered Dhemaji district and destroyed forests. Accompanied by Dhemaji MLA Bhuban Pegu and Likabali legislator Kardo Nyigyor and district officials, the minister reviewed the situation and held discussions on steps needed to defuse tension and restore normalcy. He urged the people of both sides of the border to live in peace and harmony.
"We must shun confrontation and resolve our problems in an amicable manner. And for that to happen, we must restore peace and tranquillity and live in peaceful coexistence," Suklabaidya said. He appealed to the local people not to cut trees and to protect the environment as everyone has to bear the brunt of deforestation.
The minister said that people having valid voter identity cards will be provided with cooking gas connections so that they would not require firewood. Suklabaidya asked the Likabali MLA to ensure there is no encroachment and activities like felling of trees are stopped. Nyigyor later said that being the local MLA, it was his duty to receive the Assam minister.
"I appealed to the forest departments of both the states to maintain status quo in the boundary areas as the case is sub-judice in the Supreme court," the Likabali legislator said. He also urged the people of the two states to maintain the age-old bonhomie. The Assam minister also said that as the matter relating to the border dispute with Arunachal Pradesh is pending in the Supreme Court, status quo has to be maintained. The Himanta Biswa Sarma government has been trying to resolve the border disputes with Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Nagaland and Mizoram, Suklabaidya said.
"The Assam government is not only trying to bring about a permanent solution to the border disputes with our neighbouring states at the highest level but also exploring ways for finding a solution by way of an out of the court settlement," he said. There has been tension on Assam's borders with Mizoram and Nagaland. In Guwahati, Assam DGP Bhaskarjyoti Mahanta said that the police responded to the requisition of the forest department which is mandated by the Supreme Court to protect forests from encroachments.
The police have received requisition to protect forest personnel along the inter-state borders of Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Nagaland, Mahanta told a press conference. "The police are there to protect the forest personnel so that they can protect the forests from encroachments as mandated by the Supreme Court," Mahanta said. Suklabaidya, along with the district officials, planted saplings at a place close to the Arunachal Pradesh border on the occasion of Van Mahotsav Week. Assams eight districts - Udalguri, Sonitpur, Biswanath, Lakhimpur, Dhemaji, Charaideo, Tinsukia and Dibrugarh share an 804.1-kilometre long border with Arunachal Pradesh.