Case of the nutty Hima Chief

By Lawrence Pherliam Sumer

It is amusing to have across a news report in a vernacular daily on October 28 last which reads “Byrngem ka Hima Mawphlang ban pynsangeh sam umdih na ka Tyllong Um ka PHE”, (Hima Mawphlang wanrs that it would stop supplying water from the PHE source). Having gone through the entire news report, one tends to commiserate with the Hima for the blatant acts of disregard committed by the PHE, as pointed out by the Chief of Hima Mawphlang which is nothing short of “domineering, tyrannical, and despotic. However, as we have always been taught not to jump to conclusions unless we know both sides of the story, the truth of the matter is that this particular “news report” is just “an eye-wash”  and far from the truth. .

It all started with the MeECL, through its transmission arm MePTCL which decided to construct a High Tension power line of 132 KV through the Hima Mawphlang. A  Corporation is expected to display some professionalism when it comes to dealing with the stakeholders they come across from day to day. However, as much as we have seen its poor record in handling the escalation of power bills witnessed recently, it comes as no surprise that even in important cases there is lack of professionalism in its handling. When we look at the Physical Progress Report as on 31st January 2013 of the Transmission Schemes Under Implementation by the Meghalaya Power Transmission Corporation Limited, where this particular Power Line is one of them, the report clearly shows that the Physical progress of the Transmission Lines has been completed. But, the reality is that as of today the Transmission Line is still in its incomplete stage and the Towers had only been erected most recently. Is this professionalism? The report says one thing but the ground reality says another. Secondly and most importantly, when they decided to execute this project they decided to go through the Hima Mawphlang alone without any direct communication with the basic stakeholders who are the landowners. And to put the record straight its very own employee abruptly stated that when the Corporation decides to execute any project of this magnitude they will always deal with the Traditional Chiefs of the Hima. Now, if that is the case, then is the Corporation putting the entire responsibility of such land dealings with the Traditional heads? What about the land compensation money? Does that also pass through these Chiefs? On the other hand, when you have Traditional Chiefs who have been ill advised to take such responsibilities single-handed;ly without taking the consent of all the landowners affected, then what else can we expect but  a “messy affair”. Subsequently meetings were held between the Traditional Chief and the Landowners, but all the meetings ended in a stiff opposition from some of the landowners and rightly so when they see the future of their children in whatever small landholdings they possess.

What is more messy is the fact, that the PHE owns the land through which this Power Line passes and as much as the PHE has been a blessing to the Hima through employment of the local youths, they had actually let out this particular stretch of land to the local populace to use as a means of transporting  their goods. So, now when the PHE sees that the Hima has failed to implement the same, they correctly decided to take it back and fenced  off the land. So, why is there a hue and cry from the Traditional Chiefs that the PHE is acting autocratically with land that actually belongs to the people?

Last but not the least, what is amusing is  the news report cited in the beginning of this article about the decision of the Dorbar of Hima Mawphlang. Further probing suggests there was no Dorbar held and even some of the “Myntri” were not aware about such a decision. Who is behind this news report? Has it been done by the “one man army” who claims to be the Dorbar himself? Who is this person who is trying to hijack the major water source of the State? And the blame game about the lopsided employment by the particular department is ludicrous to say the least. Yes! As Patricia Mukhim rightly stated in her article dated July 26th 2013, that we have considered these traditional institutions as “holy cows” who have failed us consistently and more glaring is the fact that they always fail to protect the rights of their very own people when they should actually be their basic custodian. Sound judgment would conclude that the Hima Mawphlang had actually gained more than what they had sacrificed. Let the people of Hima Mawphlang decide who is right and who is wrong

(The writer is an entrepreneur)

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