The Assam government has raised the issue of forest land encroachment with Arunachal Pradesh as the border row with Mizoram continued for the tenth day on Friday with no signs of a thaw.
Assam claims people of Arunachal Pradesh have encroached upon 6,375 hectares of its forest land.
“We were told by officials in Arunachal Pradesh that this was an old issue but they assured to look into the matter after we said it was our duty to point it out,” Assam’s Principal Chief Conservator of Forest A.M. Singh told journalists after top officials of the Forest Department of the two States met in Arunachal Pradesh’s capital Itanagar on Thursday to thrash out their border issues.
The Assam team also raised the issue of about 20 wood-based industries and four coke factories set up in areas of Arunachal Pradesh adjoining reserve forests in Assam.
While the allegedly unlicensed wood-based industries have been blamed for illegal logging along the inter-State border, the coke factories are allegedly being run by coal mines illegally from Tinkopani and Namsai reserve forests in Assam.
The Arunachal Pradesh authorities were reminded of some 50 vehicles carrying timber having been seized in Assam since the 2018-19 fiscal.
Both sides, Mr. Singh said, agreed to nominate a nodal officer each to deal with inter-State issues in unison.
The formal discussion on the Assam-Arunachal front was in sharp contrast with the bad blood on the Assam-Mizoram border where the stand-off extended from southern Assam’s Cachar district to Karimganj district.
Cachar and Karimganj are two of three Assam districts that share a 146.6 km border with Mizoram.
The fresh row on the border had begun in the Lailapur area of Cachar district on October 28. Officials in Karimganj district raised the alarm on Friday after a group of people from Mizoram reportedly set up several bunkers and occupied about 3 km of the district’s Medlichhara forest area.
Jalnur Rahman, Divisional Forest Officer of Karimganj, said he filed a complaint at the local police station against a group of Mizo youth, as sought by the Assam government.
Both Assam and Mizoram Home Department officials said efforts were on to ease the tension along the border for the economic blockade on Mizoram by local NGOs to be lifted.