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Relocation row: HPC, state govt to meet ‘one final time’ on June 7

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SHILLONG, May 7: The Harijan Panchayat Committee (HPC) and the state government will meet “one final time” on June 7 to try and reach a consensus on the relocation of 342 families residing in Harijan Colony.
A delegation of the HPC held a closed-door meeting with state government representatives on Tuesday to discuss the way forward. The government made it clear that it wants to complete the relocation process early.
After the meeting, Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong told reporters the relocation will be permanent. He said the HPC wants one more meeting before both sides come to a conclusion.
Stating that there are still concerns, Tynsong said the settlers have been staying there for a long time and they have their sentiments.
“The intention of the government is clear. No matter what Mr. A, B, C or D says, we are firm on the decision of relocation. We will make sure that relocation happens in the interest of the people of the state,” he said.
According to an RTI reply, out of the 342 families to be shifted, only 194 have either one or two members as employees at the Shillong Municipal Board (SMB) or other government departments while 148 are not employees of any department.
Tynsong said the matter pertaining to the RTI reply has been referred to the Director of Urban Affairs and MUDA and it is being verified.
Recalling that some documents got burnt in a fire that occurred in the SMB quarters in 1996, he said the Director of Urban Affairs had in 2008-09 directed MUDA to conduct a fresh survey. He said many employees have their families.
Meanwhile, Jagdeep Singh Kahlon, who is the general secretary of the Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Management Committee, termed the meeting as fruitful but inconclusive.
On the RTI reply that 148 settlers are not government servants, he said there is no truth in it.
Stating that the matter was surveyed in 2007, he said both the HPC and the state government had agreed that 342 families there have government employees. He also said the demand for additional land still exists.
“We also want an amicable solution to the matter. Once we take the consent of the people, we will disclose everything,” he said.
HPC president Gurjit Singh said 342 people residing in the colony are government employees and that their forefathers have also worked. This colony is not meant only for the government employees, he said.
“We have been staying here for more than 200 years. We are asking for resettlement of the 342 families based on whatever claims and documents we submitted in the High Court,” he said.

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