Mukul skips bridge inauguration

SHILLONG: Upset over the stand of villagers opposing for the second time the inauguration of suspension bridge across the Simsang river in Williamnagar, neither the Chief Minister Mukul Sangma nor the local legislator and Social Welfare Minister Deborah Marak turned up to inaugurate the project on Saturday.

The Chief Minister was scheduled to inaugurate the 175-meter suspension bridge connecting Kosighat in Kusimkolgre all the way to Chachatgre village but he along with Marak decided not to attend the inaugural function due to the negative attitude of the villagers who had expressed reservation over politicians inaugurating the project.

Two months ago, the Chief Minister could not inaugurate the project due to the stiff opposition from the people and the Bolkinggre VEC secretary Gretwil Sangma had alleged that neither the Chief Minister nor the sitting Tura MP PA Sangma helped financially to construct the bridge.

The villagers of five villages Bolkinggre, Chachatgre, Asabibra, Ganingbibra and Ganinggre village employment councils (VECs) had claimed that they had contributed their daily MGNREGA wages for the construction of the bridge and each family had also contributed wages of a hundred days of labour for the bridge, beginning in 2011.

However, Bolwin Momin , the Secretary of the Committee on hanging bridge construction said over phone on Saturday that a programme was organized by the committee for the Chief Minister to inaugurate the project, but he did not turn up.

He, however, acknowledged the contribution of the Government especially the help rendered by the local MLA Deborah Marak by way of allotting cements, Nokma, Napak Mahari and others of Kusimkolgre and Chachatgre villages, former legislator Marcuise Marak and Sengbat Marak a local businessman.

According to Momin, only some villagers were opposing the inauguration citing sentimental reasons.

When contacted, Deborah Marak said that the Chief Minister was upset over the stand of the people who objected to the inauguration of the bridge.

She said whether it is the funds from MGNREGS or basin development, the money was of the Government and villagers should not have resorted to protest.

She said Rs 19 lakh was awarded for the construction of the bridge under the basin development programme. Moreover, Marak had also helped the villagers by allotting cements to construct the bridge.

“We are very much unhappy over the negative stand of the villagers”, Marak said.