SHILLONG, June 04: Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA) government on Monday decided to constitute a 7-member High Level Committee (HLC) to find a permanent solution to the growing demand for relocating the Harijans from Them Iew Mawlong (Sweepers’ Colony).
The decision was unanimously taken during the series of meetings convened by the government with all political parties, MDA coalition partners, headmen and hawkers at the Secretariat here on Monday.
Speaking to reporters, Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma said, “As a government we are committed to finding a permanent solution to the long pending issue of relocation of the Sweepers’ Colony.”
The seven-member Committee will be headed by Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong and Principal Secretary, Urban Affairs Department DP Wahlang as the member secretary. The other members include Home Minister James Sangma, Urban Minister Hamletson Dohling, Health Minister AL Hek, Sports Minister Banteidor Lyngdoh and KHADC CEM PN Syiem.
“This committee will work towards finding a permanent solution to the long pending issue of relocation of the Sweepers’ Colony,” he said.
The terms of reference of the High Level Committee is to examine all relevant records and documents relating to the relocation of the Sweeper Colony, Sweeper Lane, Mawlong Haat and to recommend practically feasible solution(s) for relocation of the said Sweeper Colony.
Shillong city has witnessed serious breakdown of law and order due to ongoing violent protest for the past four days with agitators and state security forces at loggerhead following a minor scuffle at Them ïew Mawlong (Sweepers’ Lane) after three local boys were assaulted.
The agitators have been demanding for immediate shifting of the Harijans from the Sweepers’ Lane.
Conrad said the issue of relocation has been pending for a very long time and there are many complications surrounding this. He added that the committee has been asked to complete the job as soon as possible and submit its report at the earliest.
He also informed that work on the matter has already started as the government has asked the urban affairs department to immediately submit a report in details to the High Level Committee regarding the current position of the Sweepers’ Colony.
“We have asked the department to provide all the legal aspects, all the past history and all issues related to authorized and unauthorized occupants of the Sweepers’ Colony so that we can get an actual status of this particular problem that is there right now,” he said.
Appealing to agitators to call off their protest, Conrad said, “After the commitment that is being given by the state government to ensure that a solution is found in this issue, I would like to appeal to all the people who are agitating to kindly not agitate as we need to find a solution to this problem and the solution is not on the streets but on the table and we are ready for discussion and talks.”
The Chief Minister also expressed concern that a large section of the people of the society which include farmers, taxi drivers, daily laborers, hawkers, shopkeepers were badly affected financially and economically during the last four days.
“Therefore I would like to appeal on their behalf that keeping in mind the economic condition of these people and keeping in mind that they also need to earn we should all come together and find a solution in this issue and ensure there is peace in city and state.”
Clearing the confusion about the arrest made against the person involved in assaulting the local boys, Conrad said the individual has been identified as one B. Misa from Sweeper’s Colony, who was arrested within 24 hours after the incident.
“In fact the person is in custody and according to law, a charge sheet is being prepared against him (Misa) and therefore we have already taken action in this regard,” he added.
Earlier, the chief minister had maintained that the prevailing situation in the city is not at all a communal clash. The government had also ordered for a magisterial inquiry to find out the persons behind the alleged “funding” of the agitation.