TUR urges Govt to keep HLC recommendations in abeyance

Harijan Colony issue

Shillong, Oct 13: The Thma U Rangli-Juki (TUR) along with the Meghalaya & Greater Shillong Progressive Hawkers & Street Vendors Association (MGSPHSVA) have reiterated that the suggestions which they have submitted to the High Level Committee (HLC) on July 9, 2018 on the re-development of the Harijan Colony at Them Iew Mawlong for the benefit of the citizens be taken into consideration.
In a joint statement on Wednesday, TUR has stated that the area be redeveloped with proper facilities, including that of water, sanitation and electricity and residential housing for the Mazhabi Sikhs.
“This can easily be done since land behind the area belonging to the Shillong Cantonment Board can also be used for redevelopment and the government can request the same from the Cantonment Board.
Additionally, the Mazhabi Sikhs should be granted security of tenure of residence, TUR stated adding that there was need to further redevelop and beautify the area for the benefit for all citizens.
The organisation said they had already given a drawing of a draft plan to make use of the area, which comprises among others a market for hawkers and street vendors, a dispensary, a creche, a bus and taxi terminal, a public godown, public toilets, along with proper residential units for the Mazhabi Sikhs.
TUR said historically, this area has been susceptible to intimidation and harassment of people in general including customers, petty traders, farmers, taxi and bus drivers from some criminal elements.
“As a result of non-existence of quick redressal from police harassment, some of these experiences have turned into long term resentments. We demand people-friendly, well equipped, transparent and efficient policing to ensure that such acts do not go unpunished and people are safe in this area. This can only be brought about by cooperation amongst the residents, the Hima and the district authorities,” TUR stated.
The organisation also said that the chief minister had already stated that the government would implement the recommendations of the HLC regarding the Punjabi Lane in Them Їewmawlong.
“The HLC did not take the views and opinions of a cross section of society and is comprised of members representing the government. The government constituted the HLC itself and gave the suggestions itself, which is not tenable,” TUR stated, adding that the government did not include any resident of Punjabi Lane in the HLC, or even the local MLA.
“Questions can be asked as to why the government decided the contents and implementation of the HLC report to be a closely guarded secret and not made public for comments. Also, the timing of the release of the report is suspect, with the nearing of the bye-elections to three constituencies of the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly,” TUR stated.
The organisaton further observed that the chief minister’s statement that the residents of Punjabi Lane have to vacate the area within a week’s time creates confusion and a sense of fear for the residents.
It further observed that the statement of the chief minister that the government will challenge the status quo order of the Meghalaya High Court also adds to the sense of confusion and fear of the residents.
Therefore, TUR demands that the government keeps on hold whatever decisions it has made regarding this issue and also that the report of the HLC be made public.
It also demanded the inclusion of all stakeholders in the deliberations on any future plans regarding the area by including the local MLA as well the residents of the area.

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