FROM A REPORTER
SHILLONG, Feb 9: Despite strong opposition from various pressure groups in the state over the contentious Railway project, Chief Minister Mukul Sangma on Thursday said that Railway connectivity to Shillong can be a game changer to promote Meghalaya as a favored destition for tourists.
Speaking to reporters Sangma said, “Railway line may not be used only to bring people in search of opportunities in Meghalaya, however, the state should be seen as a destition for tourists. Railway can be taken as an opportunity to promote high end tourism besides also utilizing this connectivity to ultimately take care of the whole market link for various products of our state and also to ensure that all the extra burden on the consumers which is due to the extra cost of transportation due to lack of railway is taken care of.”
Stating that with the completion of Mendipathar railway station in North Garo Hills the people are able to travel to Guwahati at a cost of only Rs.15, he said, “With the coming of Railway the whole cost burden on various commodities incurred by our people can also be avoided.”
The Chief Minister is optimistic that the whole issue surrounding the Railway project will be resolved by the time the government commission the project.
Observing that the fear of Influx is born from what has happened in the past, he said “It is only imperative for us to ensure that there is a much more effective and comprehensive mechanism and even though there is an apprehension raised from certain quarters on this issue, we have taken them seriously.” In connection with the Mendipathar railway station in North Garo, he said the government has suggested that the whole connectivity should be not just with Guwahati but the Railway line should connect with other parts of the country. With regards to the Railway line in Byrnihat (Ribhoi district), he said, “The whole issue of land acquisition has been worked out and the whole alignment and other things have been filized.”
He however said, “As far as Shillong is concerned the whole alignment is worked out the survey work is on, however, the whole exercise for land acquisition has some glitches but that will be overcome.” Asked on the opposition from various NGOs demanding effective laws to check influx before Railway is welcomed, he said “The government has already demonstrated its commitment to deal with this long pending contentious issue of influx and illegal immigration and in fact today (Thursday) I approved one file which includes some proposal for spending for entry and exist points which is one of the measures to check influx.” He informed that the government with an aim to check influx has also created 39 extra posts of labour inspectors and recruitment plus posting has already taken place.
Referring to the Railway project, he said, “Whenever you try to do something new there will always be challenges but the most important thing is the intent and the commitment based on which we dismantle the obstacle and barriers to ensure that the objective is achieved.”