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2016 inherits burden of unfinished projects
SHILLONG: The State Government stares at a series of unfinished projects in 2016 which will be an additional burden for the government as these projects have been pending for long. The almost jinxed Crowborough Hotel project, the perennial delay in the completion of New Shillong Township project, the Greater Shillong Water Supply Scheme phase III, Umiam-Jorabat road are some of the schemes which had taken many years for completion. Moreover, there was not much progress on setting up of Medical Colleges in Shillong and Tura. An official source said that the plan to shift TB Hospital (Reid Chest Hospital) at Jhalupara, where the Shillong Medical Collge was to come up, to Umsawli was the main reason for the delay in the construction of the Medical College. The government has been waiting for the completion of new TB Hospital at Umsawli for the last few years to start the construction of Medical College at Jhalupara. The construction of much awaited permanent Legislative Assembly building is yet to start as only the Expression of Interest for design was called by the government.
There were also promises by the government by way of assurances in setting up of Pinemount like ‘international’ schools in parts of the state, and transforming Polo market into Times Square like shopping complex among others. Sources said that the reason for the prolonged pending of projects is due to the fact that the government does not incorporate any punitive clause in the agreement which should have ensured speedy completion of the projects fixed by government. Another reason is lack of political will to ensure speedy implementation of projects and a case in point is the intervention of High Court of Meghalaya to speed up the expansion of pending Umroi airport. Though there is still delay in handing over of swapped land to Defence authorities due to the protests from local residents in Ri-Bhoi coupled with lingering issue of anomalies in the compensation paid to the land owners, the intervention of High Court has helped the state government to acquire land from the defence authorities to start the expansion work.
Another pending project is the expansion of Baljek airport at Tura which has not been made functional after its inauguration in October 2008 by former President Pratibha Patil. Despite the government acquiring land for expansion of the airport, no further development took place. Among other pending road projects, the delay in construction of the small portion of Umsning by pass has slowed down the inauguration of the entire Umiam-Jorabat four lane project started in 2010. There were change of many deadlines to complete the project. The construction of much awaited Shillong-NongstoinTura road is also on a slow pace due to the delay in land acquisition process. There is no progress on the expansion of road (NH 44) from Jowai to Malidor in Assam-Meghalaya border as the land required for the project will have to be acquired again with the new rates compared to the old rate fixed in 2013. Moreover, the NHAI is yet to deposit any amount of money for land compensation. Though the inauguration of abattoir at Mawlai Mawiong was set for this month, the date is yet to be fixed by the concerned department.
The Inter-State Bus Terminus (ISBT) project for Shillong and Tura is hanging fire despite various assurances of the state government While there is no limit to the land acquisition spree in the New Shillong Township which is yet to shape up as per plan, the Nongmensong Housing project for the dwelling units had also hit hurdles after the state government has scrapped the agreement with the executive agency Hindustan Prefab Limited leaving the government to find new contractors. Another pending project on setting up of Music Academy is mired in controversy. Though funds were allotted four years ago, the Music Academy is yet to be constructed by the state government.
The report submitted by the CAG following an inspection carried out with the Arts and Culture department, said that administrative sanction for construction of the Meghalaya Music Academy was accorded by the Meghalaya government under Special Plan Assistance on March 21, 2011. However, another administrative approval and sanction for setting up of an Institute for Music, Heritage and Culture under Special Central Assistance was also accorded on March 31, 2012 for an amount of Rs.28.42 crore. Meghalaya Government Construction Company Limited (MGCC) which was asked to carry out the work prepared an estimate under the title ‘Construction of Music Academy’ under Special Plan Assistance (SPA) amounting to Rs.28.42 lakh. The audit team observed that construction of the Music Academy was stipulated for completion in 2014-15, at an expenditure of Rs.17,49,82,916 apart from other expenses of Rs.2,99,610 for construction of boys’ and girls’ hostels. The cash book revealed that Rs.75 lakh was released to MGCC in 2012, however till February, 2015)even after a lapse of almost three years, neither utilization certificate nor physical/financial progress report was submitted by MGCC.