SHILLONG, Oct 08: The non – issuance of a No Objection Certificate (NOC) for the construction of the two-lane road project in South West Khasi Hills (SWKH) district on the part of the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC) has miffed Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong who has termed this decision as a ‘hasty’ one.
The state government had recently requested the KHADC to issue NOC for the proposed construction of the re-aligned two-lane road project from Nongstoin-Wahkaji-Phlangdiloin- Ranikor after the earlier proposal which include uranium-rich Mawthabah-Domiasiat was cancelled.
The decision to cut off the area was taken at a meeting held between the chief minister Conrad K Sangma and the officials of the National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL) on September 25.
However during a meeting convened on October 1, the KHADC announced its decision not to grant the NOC following strong opposition registered by the anti-uranium groups which include the Khasi Students’ Union (KSU) and Hynniewtrep Youth Council (HYC).
It may be mentioned here that the two-lane project for construction of the 68 km Nongstoin-Domiasiat-Mawthabah road was sanctioned under the SARDP-NE at a cost of Rs 470 crore.
In this backdrop, Tynsong said that the KHADC should have consulted the state government before taking a final decision on the matter.
“I don’t understand. Even the KHADC chief HS Shylla should not have taken a final decision in that way. Why not he approach the government or why not meet me let us have a joint meeting I will explain to them. Why should he take a final decision on his own? He should not have done that,” he said here on Monday.
“If he (Shylla) cannot decide he should have consult me and come to the government then we will discuss jointly. We will also call all the stakeholders including the NGOs,” Tynsong added.
Pointing out that the opposition from the NGOs was against the name of the road which is Nongstoin-Wahkaji-Mawthabah-Phlangdiloin-Ranikor, he said,”… which even me I personally feel may be the plan of the central government is to mine the uranium.”
Tynsong also informed that he and the chief minister Conrad K Sangma during a meeting with the Union minister for road transport and highways, Nitin Gadkari had discussed the matter and was able to convince the ministry to cut off Mawthabah and Domiasiat from the project.
“In view of this, now the road (as per new proposal) will only go from Nongstoin-Wahkaji-Phlangdiloin-Ranikor,” he added.
“If they are not clear, the door is always open for discussion be it KHADC, be it JHADC, be it GHADC please come to the negotiation table with the government and I am there to explain because ultimately the people of that area will suffer because I have been there I really feel pity (for them),” he said.
Asked if there is a way out to resolve the issue, he said as per the latest rules of the Land Acquisition Act that in case if the district council does not comply within 3-4 months, the state government can take a call on this if it is in the interest of the public.
To another query, the minister said the need for obtaining the NOC from the concerned district council was mandatory as per the LA Act.
Admitting that the apprehension of the NGOs was based on a notification where it mentioned that the road is for facilitating uranium mining, he however said that is why the state government insisted that the ministry removed that.
“Even Gadkari also is not aware that it is for facilitating uranium mining as it was not there. This project is being sanctioned under SARDP which is a special programme for entire North Eastern states,” he said.
Stating that the state government is also equally concern about uranium mining, Tynsong reminded in view of this, the state government had also taken a strong and clear stand that mining of uranium will not be allowed in the state.
“In fact, both the state government and the KHADC had also said no to uranium mining then what else you have doubts. Do you think we don’t need government or district council anymore? Now what is the problem for you to allow construction of the road. I don’t see any problem but if you don’t trust the government and the district council then what do we do,” he said while stating that the government will continue to make the stakeholders understand about the matter with the expectation that they too will respect the decision taken by the government in as far as uranium mining is concerned.