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Panel for shifting of Harijan Colony; govt to take over land

Shillong, Oct 7: The High Level Committee (HLC) has recommended the state government to shift the employees of the Shillong Municipal Board (SMB) and others  from Harijan Colony.

The government has also decided to take over the land at Harijan Colony within a week.

The report of the committee was placed before the cabinet on Thursday.

The Urban Affairs department has been asked to find locations for relocation of people at Harijan Colony as per report of the HLC, the chief minister Conrad Sangma told reporters after the cabinet meeting.

The committee had submitted the report to the government on September 28.

The state government had entrusted the high level committee to find a feasible solution for the relocation of the Harijan fromThem Iew Mawlong following the 2018 violent protest at Motphran.

Conrad said the HLC has given a presentation to the cabinet on the recommendations.

He said among the three main recommendations, one is regarding the ownership of the land and another is shifting of the employees of the SMB and other departments from the present site.

Conrad said the process of signing an agreement and taking possession of the land by the state government and the SMB from the Syiem of Hima Mylliem has already started.

“A tripartite agreement between the Syiem of Hima Mylliem, Urban Affairs and the SMB has been signed and the final procedure to actually take over the possession of the entire land is in process and it should be completed within a week’s time,” he said.

According to the chief minister, the HLC has also recommended the process of shifting the SMB office from the Bishop Cotton road , to a temporary location at the old MBDA office.

In SMB office, different quarters were made to accommodate the permanent SMB  employees of Harijan Colony.

Regarding shifting employees of other departments, Conrad, however, said there are close to about 57 families and out of these 50 percent have already move out from Harijan Colony to different locations.

“The committee has also recommended that we should further request others also to shift from Harijan Colony and go to designated locations which their parent departments will give,” he said.

The chief minister said the HLC has also recommended the urban affairs department to workout a possible location for relocation of other people who are presently residing at Harijan Colony but are not employees of government.

“For this purpose, the urban affairs department has been asked to workout the mechanism, come up with a proposal and present it to the cabinet and post that, after examining all those aspects,  the government will take a call” he said.

To a question on the eviction of Harijan Colony residents as per law, the chief minister said, “There is a process of eviction and all these processes have to be followed so therefore, Urban affairs department will go into all those aspects and come with a recommendation to the government.”

Earlier on April 10,  the High Court of Meghalaya in its order had asked both the state government and the Harijan Panchayat Committee (HPC) to maintain status-quo with regards to the issue.

When asked about the matter, the Chief Minister said the state government is ready to challenge the court order.

“We will challenge the status quo. If there is a status quo that has been ordered by the high court then we will definitely challenge that status quo order,” he added.

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