By Our Reporter
SHILLONG: The New Shillong Township (NST) Project has suffered another blow on Thursday with the agitating group resolving to intensify their protest by demanding that the project be scrapped. Further, the NGOs have also demanded the revocation of the order allotting land to IAS officers at Mawdiangdiang and also threatened to boycott the upcoming district council elections.
Announcing their set of demands at a public gathering held at Malki ground here on Thursday, the affected villagers and conglomeration of pressure groups have demanded that the State Government halt the surveying process at Mawpdang under Raid Nongkrem, Hima Khyrim.
Accusing the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC) and the Syiem of Hima Khyrim, Dr Balajied Syiem of being mute spectators on the issue, the meeting resolved to pressurize the duo to take action, failing which they would be compelled to shut down the Council and forcibly remove the Chieftain.
“The KHADC is not living up to its mandate of protecting the land and forest of the people and the reason for its existence is not met,” RTI Activist Rangad told media persons after the meeting.
She further mentioned that if the KHADC remains a mute spectator then the organisations will put the KHADC under lock and key and also boycott the upcoming district council elections. “The opposition will further intensify the agitation until all their demands to put a stop to the project are met by the government,” she added.
Questioning the government’s motive to acquire the 2000 acres of land despite having 370 acres of land at Mawdiangdiang at its disposal, KSU Mawryngkneng president Wallambok Kharsati said that the non-utilization of the remaining land acquired by the government for the welfare of the people is a matter of great concern.
“What is autocratic on the part of the Government is the decision to allot the said land to the IAS fraternity at a throwaway price which is a slap in the face of the people of the state,” Kharsati said while demanding that government should immediately cancel the allotment of the said land and utilize it for the benefit of the people.
The meeting also raked up the issue of influx alleging that Government is giving the green signals for the construction of big shopping malls and corporate centres in the name of development, which however, will function as the gateway for outsiders to enter the state and displace the local residents from their own land.
Pressing on the demand for the implementation of ILP, Jaiaw MDC and KHNAM working president Adelbert Nongrum said that in 41 years since Meghalaya attained statehood, no law has been enacted to protect the rights and identity of the indigenous community except the Land Transfer Act of 1971.
“The government cannot function like a dictator in a democratic country,” Nongrum said adding that they don’t want any development but for their rights to be heard and respected.
Speaking of development, the FKJGP president Joe Marwein said that if the government is serious about development it should start by developing the rural areas and the border areas. “The government should shift its attention to areas like Langpih and Sabuda and ensure that enough security forces are deployed there rather than concentrating in urban centres”, he added.
Meanwhile, KSU general secretary Auguster Jyrwa maintained that the motive of the Government to acquire the Raid land without the consent of the Hima and the local residents is questionable. Stating that there were never objections earlier when the Government approached the local dorbar heads for any developmental purpose, Jyrwa said that the manner in which Government has handled the NST project creates suspicions and is undemocratic.
The meeting was attended by people from the 6 villages under Mawpdang, along with members of the NGOs amidst heavy security arrangement deployed by the district administration outside the Malki ground.