“Scientific” Demarcation of Assam-Mizoram Boundary Through Satellite Imaging

The Northeast Space Applications Center will start satellite mapping of the Assam-Mizoram border areas to help demarcate the inter-state boundaries scientifically.

In January, Home Minister Amit Shah suggested that the NESAC use the same technology to map forests and demarcate inter-state boundaries.

The North Eastern Space Applications Center (NESAC) has been roped in to conduct satellite mapping of the Assam-Mizoram border areas to help demarcate the inter-state boundaries scientifically, following a suggestion made by Home Minister Amit Shah months ago. has gone.

NESAC is a joint venture between the Department of Space, Government of India and the North Eastern Council (NEC). NEC is an advisory body constituted under the North Eastern Council Act 1971 as the nodal agency for the economic and social development of eight states-Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura.

Shillong-based NESAC already uses satellite technology for flood management in the region. Home Minister Shah, who heads the NEC, also heads the NESAC.

The major objective of NESAC is to provide remote sensing and geographic information to support activities on development, natural resource management, disaster management, education and health care services, and infrastructure planning in the region.

In the NEC meeting held in Shillong on January 23 this year, Shah suggested that NESAC use the same technique for mapping forests etc. in border areas for scientific demarcation of boundaries between states. The process has reportedly started now. Shah had also chaired a meeting of the NESAC during his visit to the Northeast last month.

The crux of the controversy is that Mizoram rejected the 1933 demarcation of districts done by the British, saying the Mizo tribal chiefs were not consulted at that time, while Assam supports the 1933 demarcation. Mizoram supports the Cachar Inner Line of 1875 under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation of 1873.

When Mizoram got statehood in 1987, Mizo tribal leaders raised the border dispute claiming that Assam had taken away their land.

Since then, the border has been a site of constant conflict. In October 2020, clashes left several people on both sides injured and resulted in the closure of Mizoram’s lifeline, National Highway 306, for 12 days. Around 20 shops and houses were torched and more than 50 people were injured in the clashes. A few days before this on October 9, similar violence took place on the border of Karimganj (Assam) and Mamit (Mizoram) districts.

Recently, six – five Assam Police personnel and a civilian were killed in a shootout between Assam Police personnel and their Mizoram counterparts. At least 60 people from Assam were injured in the clashes in the border town of Vairangte.

Satellite imaging uses images of the Earth as captured by sensors deployed on satellites revolving around the Earth. By using various image processing techniques, both qualitative and quantitative properties of the landscape can be detected.

Various earth surface features such as rivers, forests, mountains, as well as their characteristics such as whether the forest is deciduous or coniferous, whether the river water is clean or polluted, can be determined. residential areas, slums and illegal settlements; Garbage and other forms of solid waste; And different types of crops and plants are mapped.

Based on this data, scientific demarcation of boundaries can be done. High-resolution satellite imagery analysis can also provide early warning of conflict at the border. Apart from establishing protocols that reduce the possibility of border conflicts, the government may also explore this option.