SHILLONG, April 09: Nongthymmai legislator, Dr Jemino Mawthoh Tuesday expressed concern over random urbanization in Meghalaya, particularly in Shillong that has led to stress and strain in urban living. He was of the opinion that if there are no checks and balances in his random urbanization along with its growing slums, then the state capital could soon be tagged as ‘slum’ of North East.
“This is a matter of serious concern where proper plan and management needs to be put in place while addressing the issue,” Dr Mawthoh said while moving a motion during the Budget Session of the ongoing Assembly here on Tuesday.
According to him, due to this accelerated growth in the population in urban centres of the state and mostly concentrated in Shillong there has been stress and strain as far as urban living is concerned.
Pointing that Shillong has been tagged as the educational hub and Scotland of the East, he said, “But looking at the present situation, the City has lost much of its glory due to this problem which contributed to the root causes of scarcity of water, traffic jams, poor health condition besides affecting the environment.”
Mentioning that 19 slum areas have already been notified, he said if no proper intervention is taken up to check and balance the problem, Shillong will soon be the ‘slum’ of North East in the days to come.
Dr Mawthoh said that the city has further witnessed huge violation of the building laws despite being in the seismic zone V which only leads to rendering its dwellers to vulnerable state of living.
Another factor is the problem of traffic congestion which is due to random and un-planned growth that have emanated from uncontrolled plying of lakhs of vehicles through the narrow city road, he said adding that the proposals on the need to have fly-over and widening of road yet to be materialized till date.
Replying to this, Urban Affairs Minister, Dr Ampareen Lyngdoh while admitting said that the primary cause for the urban congestion may also be viewed from the fact that most of the urban centers in the state have expanded on old towns and prominent villages which is primarily unplanned and characterized by narrow roads and concentric development.
“To worsen the situation further, many new activity centers and shopping centers have been constructed on already congested roads without maintaining any statutory setback or taking other planning considerations into accounts”, she added.
Highlighting on the steps taken by the government, the minister said that the government has envisaged the setting up of New Shillong Township (NST).
“As per the projections of the Master Plan, additional 2 lakh population will be accommodated in the new township project out of the estimated population of 5 lakh in 2011,” she said.
Dr Lyngdoh further informed that so far 370.26 hectares of land has been acquired at a cost of Rs 33.73 crores adding “The department is contemplating acquisition of another 1,200 hectares of additional land for the NST for provision of infrastructure, housing, commercial, institutional, administrative and re-creational uses.”
“In case of other urban centers whereby expansion is taking place in the peri-urban areas, improvement of urban infrastructure is being taken up,” she added.
The Minister also informed that construction of parking lot, flyover and under pass, widening of road and construction of new roads, installation of traffic signal and scientific detection system, development of good terminus, mini bus terminus and taxi terminus is being undertaken by the government.