Meghalaya High Level Committee Recommends Relocation of 'Illegal Settlers' From Sweepers' Colony

Meghalaya High Level Committee Recommends Relocation of ‘Illegal Settlers’ From Sweepers’ Colony

The High Level Committee (HLC) headed by the Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong has recommended the state government to shift the employees of the Shillong Municipal Board (SMB) and other departments from the Sweeper’s Colony at Them Iew Mawlong.

The Urban Affairs department has been asked to find locations for relocation of “illegal settlers” as per report of the HLC, which was placed before the cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma here on Thursday.

The report of the committee was submitted to the government on September 28.

The HLC was constituted by the state government to find a feasible solution for the relocation of the Sweeper’s Colony from Them Iew Mawlong following the 2018 violent protest at Motphran.

Addressing media persons after the meeting, Conrad K Sangma informed that the HLC has given a presentation to the cabinet on the recommendations that they had for the Sweepers’ Colony issue.

He said that there were three main recommendations that came in regarding the ownership of the land at Them Iew Mawlong, shifting of the employees of the SMB, other departments and relocation of “illegal settlers”.

On the recommendation related to ownership of land, Sangma said that the process of signing an agreement and taking possession of the land by the state government and the SMB from the Syiem of Hima Mylliem has already started.

“A tripartite agreement (between the Syiem of Hima Mylliem, Urban Affairs and the SMB) has been signed and the final procedure to actually take over the possession of the entire land is in process and it should be completed within a week’s time,” he said.

The Chief Minister said that the HLC has also recommended the process of shifting the SMB office from the Bishop Cotton road which is the location where different quarters were made, to a temporary location at the old MBDA office.

He added that the next suggestion was to facilitate the movement of the permanent SMB employees who are staying in the Sweeper’s Colony right now to those quarters that have been made.

On the request for shifting employees of other department, Sangma however said there are close to about 57 families and out of these 50 percent have already move out from Sweeper’s Colony and gone to different locations.

“The Committee has also recommended that we should further request the others also to shift from Sweepers’ Colony and go to designated locations which their parent departments will give,” he said.

The Chief Minister further informed that the HLC has also recommended the urban affairs department to workout a possible location for relocation of other people who are presently residing at Sweeper’s Colony but are not employees of government.

“For this purpose, the urban affairs department has been asked to workout the mechanism, come up with a proposal and present it to the cabinet and post that, after examining all those aspects, this fourth suggestion that was given the government will take a call on that,” he stated.

When asked why not evict them as per law, the Chief Minister said, “There is a process of eviction and all these processes have to be followed so therefore, Urban affairs department will go into all those aspects and come with a recommendation to the government.”

On April 10, the Meghalaya High Court in its order had asked both the state government and the Harijan Panchayat Committee (HPC) to maintain status-quo with regards to the Sweeper Colony issue.

To a query on this, the Chief Minister however maintained that the state government is ready to challenge the court order.

“We will challenge the status quo. If there is a status quo that has been ordered by the high court then we will definitely challenge that status quo order,” he said.

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