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7 road projects, border talks, airports in Govt agenda

2017 road map

SHILLONG: The State Government is looking at accelerating the implementation of as many as seven major central road projects in 2017.
In an interview with The Shillong Times on the first working day of the New Year, chief secretary K.S Kropha said the State Government wants to start the road projects, which include Ranikor to Maheshkhola (56 km), Maheshkhola to Baghmara (73 km) for which land acquisition will be held in two phases, Tura-Dalu road (48 km), Shillong-Dawki road that includes construction of Dawki bridge (71.5 km), Shillong Western bypass through Umiam lake (42 km), Nongstoin to Rambrai-Kyrshai road (70 km), Mawshynrut-Athiabari (38 km) and Garobadha-Zigzag-Mahendraganj (52 km).
Kropha said for Shillong-Western bypass, alignment has been completed and the DPR will be finalised soon.
The chief secretary, who is monitoring the schemes, said these major road projects will help boost better connectivity which will in turn change the face of the State.
State to prepare for National Games
Kropha said the State will be prepared for the next National Games scheduled for 2022.
“Though we are yet to receive any official communication, the State will create the required infrastructure for the prestigious event and this will also include necessary land acquisition,” he said.
After Manipur and Assam, Meghalaya will be the third state from the North East to host the Games.
Kropha said the State has better infrastructure facilities than Manipur.
“Once the formal communication comes, we will have to plan a Games Village, stadiums, roads and other infrastructure facilities,” he added.
Entry-exit points to be ready
The chief secretary said land acquisition for setting up of entry and exit points, which will act as facilitation centres, is underway.
The government had promised to set up entry and exit points as per the demand of pressure groups in the State after they gave up their insistence on ILP.
“Land acquisition for entry and exit points is underway and some should be through by this year,” Kropha said.
Assam yet to respond to border talks
The chief secretary revealed that Assam is not responding to the request of Meghalaya to hold border talks at chief secretary and chief minister levels.
Kropha had written a reminder to his counterpart in Assam in October last year on the resumption of border talks, but there was no response.
“The chief minister had also sent a similar letter to his counterpart, but there was no communication from Assam. But we will be writing again to resume the talks,” Kropha said.
There are 12 disputed areas in Assam border claimed by Meghalaya and to substantiate the claim, documental proof was sent to Assam, but the neighbouring state had not responded.
Railway projects
While Meghalaya side has been cleared for the Byrnihat railway project, problem exists in two forest patches in Assam.
According to the chief secretary, Assam is yet to give clearance regarding the forest areas and work can start         only after getting nod from the neighbouring state.
The Centre has already sanctioned funds for the Byrnihat project. As far as Byrnihat-Shillong rail line is concerned, the survey has been completed, but NOC from KHADC is awaited.
Airports
The chief secretary hoped that under the novel Regional Connectivity Scheme of the Centre, both Baljek and Umroi airports will get a facelift.
The project was to be covered under the policy with100% funding from the Centre, but the new guideline of the Centre for the northeastern states is that the funding pattern will be 90:10.
In the last meeting held to discuss the matter, there was an understanding to have 100% funding for the projects, but the recent communication from the Centre is that it will go by 90:10 pattern, Kropha said.
“The government will take a call on whether to sign the MoU with the Centre for the 90:10 pattern,” he said.
Commenting on the overall development of the State in 2017, Kropha said, “We are optimistic that things will get better as we move along.”

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