Saturday, July 13, 2024

Shillong MP hits the ground running


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It is rare for a newly elected Member of Parliament (MP) from Meghalaya to take up the burning issues of the state within the week that he was sworn in. Dr Ricky AJ Syngkon of the Voice of Peoples’ Party (VPP) has shown that he means business and is not going to be in Delhi sitting through a disruptive parliament session while the ruling party tries to score brownie points and the rejuvenated Opposition now with a formally designated leader hell bent on putting the government on notice from day one. After Chief Minister Conrad Sangma met the Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways, Nitin Gadkari he was told in no uncertain terms that the Ministry cannot continue to condone delays and would have no alternative but to scrap the pending road projects. Now the VPP has discovered that powerful middlemen working with a section of politicians and technicians in the government are in connivance with such middlemen. This has happened because from the time Meghalaya was born these middlemen too were born along with it. Two of them, now no longer alive ran their businesses simply by buying land at throwaway prices and selling them to government at exorbitant rates even then. They would get prior information about proposed road projects from their politician friends or high ranking PWD engineers and buy off entire areas at a pittance. In these deals the only ones privy to the information are the Rangbah Shnong whose connivance is contingent for the success of such land deals.
Meghalaya is now a state where landlessness is growing at a phenomenal pace because the affluent have enormous greed for land. It happens to be the only investment whose value rises exponentially. How a society that started off with community land being distributed to married adults so they can have a roof over their heads, now has almost 76% of landless individuals, which also means they don’t own a home and have to take one on rent, thereby exacerbating their poverty. Now that the VPP has taken up the issue of middlemen who connive with the Rangbah Shnong in villages to unreasonably hike up land prices, it will be interesting to watch if they can zero in on these middlemen who are known to all and who strut around knowing that they will be protected by those in power. Dr Ricky Syngkon has drawn the attention of MoRTH, Nitin Gadkari to the state of the existing national highways that have been washed away by the rains and the under-construction highways too that have run into rough weather courtesy the middleman syndrome. If the Shillong MP can follow up on a few priority areas such as roads and air communication it will be a boon for Meghalaya.

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