SHILLONG: The New Shillong Township (NST) project faces opposition yet again and those spearheading the protests feel that containing migration from rural areas is the only way to check congestion in the city.
The State Government mooted the NST in order to decongest the city to an extent but the authorities are met with opposition from NGOs and social activists who see ulterior motives in the proposed move.
“The only way to ease congestion (in the city) is to ensure holistic development across the state (in all the district headquarters and block levels) to prevent any internal migration as is the case in Kerala,” social activist Angela Rangad said.
“NST is not going to solve the congestion problem in the city as long as people from villages need to migrate to Shillong in search of employment and other facilities available here,” she added.
Rangad was also of the view that the NST would be of little help to the traffic menace in the city.
“With the opening of the bypass there are no trucks plying in the city, yet we see traffic getting worse by the day. This is because there are too many people with cars in the city,” she said while suggesting that every school should have buses and the ‘taxes should be hiked for people having big cars.’
She also advocated that the Transport department should regulate a system to allow ‘certain cars with certain number plates to ply on certain days.’
Rangad’s view was echoed by CSWO president Agnes Kharshiing who also stressed on the need to develop the rural areas if Shillong was to be free from congestion. “The government can’t plan a town. Let it grow gradually on its own,” she said. She alleged that the idea of the government was not to decongest the city but to bring in more influx even as the ‘traditional customs of the indigenous communities stand neglected and disrespected.’
“There are many ways to decongest the city. Improving the roads, the health centres like PHCs and CHCs etc. in rural areas can prevent migration to the urban,” Kharshiing added.
Meanwhile, FKJGP President Joe Marwein said that the government should let Shillong extend at its own pace.
Hurriedly deciding to bring in companies from outside under the garb of development would only mean more influx which would instead threaten the indigenous society, Marwein felt.
“As far as congestion is concerned, we have witnessed that people have already started realising the present situation (of the city) and most of them prefer to buy land in the suburbs. This trend will help extend the city, if not at once but gradually,” Marwein added.