The health of Shillong town is deteriorating day by day and the ever-increasing number of vehicles being one of the main causes. Firstly, what makes the government continue to allow more and more vehicles on the roads? The same narrow roads have existed for ages; hardly a few of them have been widened. The stifling jams, the regular sights in the city, are also the prime cause of the slow pace of economic development. Moreover, how could we expect efficiency from this sluggish traffic?
We can draw an analogy between the network of road communication and our food pipe or alimentary canal. We must eat the “right amount” of food every day. What will happen if we eat indiscriminately and excessively? We will have indigestion and vomiting. This way, if we continue consuming heavy food for a longer period, we will develop dyspepsia and ulcer, affecting our overall health.
Almost the same thing is happening with Shillong town. It is literally suffering from traffic gastritis, including smoke pollution. It is not that people are not raising this concern. People have yelled and screamed regularly. They have often written letters to this daily to draw the attention of the government. But very sadly, to no avail!
In the town, it is estimated that about 60% of vehicles are parked at homes by their owners. The heavy blockades that we witness regularly are due to 40% of the total vehicles only. Just imagine what the situation will be with the traffic, in case all people with vehicles hit the roads at the same time on some emergency. The traffic will not move even an inch. Despite knowing this fact, people still cherish their dreams of buying swanky cars and rushing to the motor showroom!
How long will Shillongites have to suffer due to traffic snarls? Come on, wake up. At least now when the election is at hand. Now only can we set out our terms and conditions with our aspirant MLAs. Now only will they intently listen to our grievances. They need us today more than we needed them yesterday. We are proud that the MLAs are walking up to our drawing rooms, some with largesse in hand. So, it is the right time to strike a bargain with them. Do not be content by merely taking a selfie, this will be a disservice to the state!
So, let’s come together and put reasonable pressure upon the respected leaders to include the traffic issues in their respective election manifestos. Come what may, there should be a permanent solution. What is most important is that the government should immediately stop granting fresh permits for new vehicles for at least ten years. The widening of roads and construction of over-bridges /ropeways — wherever viable; and compulsory use of school buses are a few other points to be included in the public demand list. This is a sane demand, not exploitation.
Indeed, smooth road communication only makes way for swift economic growth. This will also give a boost to tourism, creating more employment opportunities. Moreover, are these not all that the aspirant leaders are promising us now? Then why the hesitation? This bargain is for the state; this bargain is in the larger interest of the public. Each vote should be for the “sunshine of development”, not just for a blanket.
Meghalaya Voters: Lessons from History
Democratic principles and values are under threat with today’s generation of unmindful voters, heavily into freebies before the model code of conduct (MCC) stepped in. A glimpse into the past 48 years, especially the last 4 years would help voters a great deal in exercising their franchise wisely so that they don’t cry over spilt milk. In 1975, President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed empowered by Article 352 of the Constitution of India declared emergency from June 25 June 1975 to March 21,1977.
The consequence was that the Congress Party lost in the next elections but Indira repented to come back to power with a thumping majority in 1980.
Voters of Meghalaya have witnessed the drama on coal mining since 2014 when the NGT banned mining and transport of coal though it was too little too late. The MDA govt of 2019 declared 32 lakh metric tonnes of coal having already been mined since 2014, baffling the scientists and technocrats on weights and measures of what is a tall claim of coal barons from Jaintia Hills, West Khasi Hills and Garo Hills! No one read between the lines that with 32 lakh tonnes of coal declared already mined, the higher echelons in the MDA could continue to transport coal until February 27 2023.
The Ksan mines, Krem Iule and Shallang saw the death of poor miners. Two activists were thrashed at Wapung Skur in 2018 November even while the MDA Govt refused CBI enquiry into the matter. The incessant pounding of the 12 and 16 wheeled trucks have tortured the poor Bailey Bridge of Dwarksuid till it snapped into two. Sadly, no one questioned the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI)on how the three bridges from Dwarksuid to NEIGHRIMS bifurcation were executed by them, while leaving the Bailey bridge to the mercy of a private contractor. Is NHAI not aware that Meghalaya is a border state and with China flexing its muscles, this bridge would hamper speedy movement of troops and other logistics should an emergency arise?
At the intervention of the Deputy CM, Prestone Tynsong, the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) repaired the bridge which lasted till November 2022. The Government of India has in Parliament denied any illegal coal mining in Meghalaya. Scientific coal mining is firmly resisted by coal barons as it is unprofitable. Hence the illegal coal mining continues.
In fact, with the aim of helping these privileged few the Chief Minister even planned to grant rat hole mining in a thousand hectares of land for just one entity. This would have devastated the environment beyond repair and right now it is the hottest election issue in Khliehriat areas. Land transfer not being properly enacted by the Dallois and with the District Council in league with the coal mafia, things have just gone haywire. The ones who suffer most as truckers who before 2014 had to pay road tax, pollution test to MSPCB et al and have no option but to force themselves in between the trucks already identified digitally to the enforcement agencies till Jorabat where the Meghalaya jurisdiction ends.
Will Meghalaya coal leaving aside CAA, fake MoUs on contested borders, health care, roads, education, dome collapse, proposed casinos, rich and poor divide bring down the MDA?
It all depends on our voters who hopefully are not affected by Alzheimers or dementia or both. One doubt needs to be cleared. No one can give a sermon to voters whether to betray the rough weather philanthropists a year before polls or not. But voters need to think of the future generation and of children yet unborn.