Saturday, April 13, 2024

Whither Shillong master plan?


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The Master Plan for development of Shillong, prepared about a decade ago, has been gathering dust, while the “Scotland of the east” runs a down hill race.

Faced with the complexities of urban agglomeration the Directorate of Town & Country Planning had painstakingly prepared the Master Plan covering all aspects of the growing city’s modern needs. The Master Plan had spared a thought for the Capital’s failing conservancy services, strikingly inadequate parking space, acute housing problem, maddening vehicular traffic on the roads et al. In 1976 it was submitted to the Govt and since then nobody has heard a word about it.

Sources said that the Master Plan has been virtually turned into a “paper plan” owing to lack of “legal backing”. Town & Country Planning Department – a lame duck does not enjoy the authority it needs to translate its plans into reality. Time and again its initiative has been thwarted because of its inability to meet the obstacles since it has no authority under its elbow.

The Assam Town & Country Planning Act, which Meghalaya has adopted, sadly applies only in three pockets of Shillong – European ward, Jail Road & Police Bazar. In the rest of the State it has no applications.

Sources said that the Master Plan had recommended a highway bypass from Barapani to Happy Valley as a means to divert the movement of vehicles along the Highway. But the plan has remained unfulfilled so far.

The Master Plan had envisaged creation of three new markets in Shillong with a view to decentralizing the commercial activities in and around Bara Bazar area. Unfortunately, excepting one at Mawlai, the other two have remained elusive. It had planned to create a market at Rynjah (near Umpling) but the land was “grabbed” by the Meghalaya Transport Corporation for constructing its central workshop.

Sources informed that keeping in view the acute housing problem the Master Plan had envisaged construction of 23,000 housing units by 1991. But the way things are going it would end up building only 150 houses by that time. Land acquisition, sources add, stand in the way of smooth execution of the urban housing schemes. Recently, after a great deal of heckling the Department could acquire 10,000 sq. metres of land for the purpose.

Creation of multi-storied parking lots is an important part of the plan. Unfortunately during past eight years precious little has been achieved. It’s scheme to convert the existing MTC station at Jail Road into a multi-storied parking lot has been frustrated. MTC has already constructed a three storied building of its own. Similar plan for Bara Bazar area has been hanging as the Defence Ministry is unwilling to part with any land. (The Cantonment Board plans to build a marketing complex on the site.)

Much of Shillong’s complexities draw their sustenance from the multiplicity of authorities. Aside from the State Government, the Municipality, Cantonment Board, District Council and the Syiem of Mylliem exercise certain control over the affairs of the town. Each of these institutions undertake projects singularly, sometimes at cross-purposes.


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