Confident of positive outcome during our meeting with HPC on December 7: Sniawbhalang Dhar
By Our Reporter
SHILLONG, Nov 30: The state government is confident of a breakthrough in the matter relating to the relocation of settlers at Harijan Colony from Them Iew Mawlong during the meeting scheduled with the Harijan Panchayat Committee on December 7.
Urban Affairs Minister Sniawbhalang Dhar expressed optimism that the matter would be settled at the next meeting because the state government is attempting to modify the relocation blueprint in response to a request from the HPC.
The High Court of Meghalaya had earlier issued a clear directive to the state government and HPC to make every effort to guarantee that the disputes are settled this year.
The relocation proposal came following a communal clash in the area in 2018 after which the government constituted a high-level committee to suggest ways and measures for the relocation of the settlers from the area.
On March 31, 2021, the state government executed a tripartite lease agreement with the Syiem of Hima Mylliem and the Shillong Municipal Board for taking over the Harijan Colony land and took possession of the land in October, 2021.
On August 31, 2022, four years after constituting the committee, the state government decided to relocate 342 families from Harijan Colony to the existing quarters of the Shillong Municipal Board office on Bishop Cotton Road. The department was asked to prepare a blueprint to facilitate the relocation.
The residents agreed to relocate provided each family was granted 200 sq. metres (approximately 2,150 sq. ft) of land in the European Ward and Rs 20 lakh as construction cost of each house with all facilities.
They also demanded that shifting of the Gurdwara Guru Nanak Darbar, Shiv Mandir, Durga Puja Mandir, Valmiki Ashram, CNI Church and Guru Nanak School would not be acceptable to the community.
It further said about 60 people who earn their livelihood by running shops in the colony must be allowed to operate at the same place.
Disregarding the HPC’s demands, the Urban Affairs department went ahead with the blueprint according to which about 30-40 flats will be constructed in 12 blocks on a 2.5 acre plot of land on the SMB office premises to be allocated to the people whose names have already been submitted in the high court.
The government would demolish the existing buildings as they are not strong and reconstruct the units for which the necessary instructions have been issued, the department had stated.
However, the HPC rejected the blueprint terming it as “incomplete, unsuitable, unprepared, unfair and undemocratic”.