SHILLONG, Sep 14: In spite of the Centre already having sanctioned almost Rs. 8000 crores for infrastructural development including the two railway projects in the state, the latter have been languishing due to local concerns.
In this backdrop, Chief Minister, Conrad Sangma conducted a review meeting of the current status of the railway projects in Meghalaya and said that his government would soon take a call on the matter after taking all the stakeholders into consideration.
The two railway projects which include the 21.5 km Tetelia-Byrnihat and 108 km Shillong-Byrnihat rail line have remained non-starters following the stiff opposition from the anti-railway groups.
Having completed the review meeting which was held with railways officials, Conrad later informed that close to Rs 8,000 crore have been sanctioned by the Centre for the infrastructural development including the two projects in the state.
Informing that he had multiple meetings with the Union Minister of Railways Piyush Goyal who had expressed concern about the delay in the implementation of the projects, Conrad said that the construction of the two projects have been stopped as of now.
“We have reviewed and discussed the current status of the two projects. These are projects for which the Centre had already sanctioned the funds but because of local concerns that are there both have been stopped at present,” he said.
Asked about the stand of the NPP-led Meghalaya Democratic Alliance government on the issue, Conrad said that the railway line is an important infrastructure development which can change the economic scenario of the state.
“We feel that it is an important economic development that is there in every part of the world and it is something we feel will change the economic scenario in our state and is an important infrastructure which our state does require,” he said.
Having said that, Conrad however said, “There are lots of concerns by local people and different organizations and it is the duty of the government to really understand that so that the local sentiments are also not hurt so we need to balanced it out and take things forward.”
He further informed the government would soon hold discussion with cabinet ministers and different political parties on the issue.
“We just took stock of the situation and we would now discuss with other cabinet colleagues and political parties and take stakeholders into account and then decide how to move forward,” he said.
NGOs in Meghalaya are demanding for a comprehensive and effective mechanism for checking influx issue before the introduction of railway in the state.
Earlier in December 2016, the Khasi Students’ Union (KSU) reiterated their opposition to the proposed rail link from Assam’s Tetelia to Byrnihat and then to Shillong.
On the proposed railway link, the KSU said it would continue to oppose the projects from Tetelia-Byrnihat and Byrnihat-Shillong till such time the government comes up with strong mechanisms to check unabated influx.
Whether the government would also take measures to overcome the present hurdles to pave way for implementation of the railway projects, the chief minister said, “Yes, absolutely it is important as a government we discuss all these concerns and take all stakeholders/political parties into account before we move on forward with a very important decision and important development aspect like these. So different concerns need to be addressed and we will as I said this is the beginning I thought we need to know what is the current status and then will decide and discussed on how to take things forward.”
The Chief Minister also maintained that the projects are basically railway tracks which can be used for whatever that is required (passenger or transportation of goods).