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VPP blames middlemen for delays in land acquisition

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The party justifies Centre’s threat to withdraw key road projects

SHILLONG, July 2: The Voice of the People Party (VPP) has asked the state government to eliminate middlemen from the process of land acquisition while requesting the public to be the facilitators in the implementation of projects such as roads essential for the development of the state.
This followed a threat from the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) to cancel vital road projects sanctioned for the state because of the Meghalaya government’s inability to resolve land acquisition problems.
“Understandably, the MoRTH had to threaten to abandon the proposed road projects in the state over the delay in the acquisition of land partly because of the involvement of the middlemen,” VPP spokesperson, Batskhem Myrboh said on Tuesday.
Asking the state government why it cannot deal with the landowners directly, he said: “Land acquisition through agents for the Shillong Western Bypass led to an exorbitant rate of compensation which ultimately had to be revised. This caused unnecessary delay in the process.”
He said the VPP would like to request the people of the state to facilitate the implementation of roads and other projects essential for the development of the state.
Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma, who recently held a meeting with Union Minister Nitin Gadkari in New Delhi, said the ministry is concerned about the problems of land acquisition, which is not happening at the pace expected by them.
During the meeting, Sangma told Gadkari that the state government is on the verge of completing 100% of land acquisition for the Shillong Western Bypass. The ministry was updated about the land acquisition hurdle in certain stretches running for a few kilometres.
The ministry also raised concerns about issues related to forests, to which the government clarified that 90% of the issues have been resolved while the remaining ones will be resolved in a couple of months, the chief minister said.
According to Sangma, the ministry took strong exception to the delay in land acquisition proceedings and asked the state government to bypass those areas where land acquisition proceedings have been delayed for long.
The VPP’s Lok Sabha member from Shillong, Ricky AJ Syngkon sought Gadkari’s intervention in the deplorable condition of National Highway 6 connecting Meghalaya with the Barak Valley in Assam.
In a letter to the Union Minister, Syngkon stated: “I want to draw your kind attention to the National Highway 6 which is a primary national highway that passes through  the states of Meghalaya, Assam, Tripura, and Mizoram NH links. Some of the very important cities and towns in these four states include Jorabat, Shillong Jowai, Silchar, Aizawl, and Agartala and terminates near the India/Myanmar border.”
He said the section of road that falls under the East Jaintia Hills district of Meghalaya is in a deplorable state, especially the stretch from Jowai to Ratacherra where travellers have to go through a great ordeal.
“The situation gets even worse during the monsoon season and people are often stranded for days to get to their destination,” he added.
Stating that this issue has been ongoing for a few years now and is causing great hardship from economic losses to loss of precious human life, Syngkon said, “I urge your good office to kindly intervene and take immediate and necessary measures on this issue to alleviate the pain of the citizens of the states mentioned above. I would also appreciate it if we could discuss this in person for the long-term plans for this road.”

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