By Aafaque Hussain
WILLIAMNAGAR: While the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) is marred by scams and controversies in Khasi Hills, the villagers of Williamnagar under East Garo Hills are making the best benefit out of the Union Government scheme in improving the connectivity of inaccessible villages of East Garo Hills.
One third of the population of Samanda C&RD Block reside on southern side of Simsang River and this area is sandwiched between Durama Hills and Simsang River.
The only way for the people of this area to reach Williamnagar is to cross the Simsang River and the river allows crossing it by vehicle for only four months in a year and rest of the year the only way to cross the river is by traditional boat called “ring” in local language.
Since an under construction bridge is eluding them for past 30 years, every day hundreds of vegetable vendors, students, teachers, patients and others find it quite a challenge to cross the river. However, after inception of MGNREGS, the VECs across the river took up many useful works to improve communication and 5 VECs came together and decided to construct a suspension footbridge jointly and approached the District Administration.
The Meghalaya Integrated Basin Development and Livelihood Promotion Program (MIBDLP) supported the project by way of providing the Critical Gap Funding and also getting the project technical vetted by IDFC.
East Garo Hills Deputy Commissioner Vijay Kumar Mantri said that the Meghalaya Integrated Basin Development Livelihood Programme is contributing 18.5% of the Project Cost under Convergence.
The rest of the project cost is being funded by MGNREGS and community contribution.
Reacting to a query, he said that the project has made 80% physical progress and will be completed by the end of September.
It is learn that the proposed bridge will be of great help for the inhabitants of other side of Simsang river as it will greatly help vegetable sellers and students who have to come to Williamnagar in a boat .