KHADC awaits legal opinion on railway project

Shillong, June 20: The Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC) is waiting for opinion before taking legal recourse against construction of railway line in Ri Bhoi District.
In the course of his reply on the first day of the KHADC’s summer session on Tuesday, chief executive member, P.N. Syiem informed that the council was consulting the matter with legal experts on how to go about.

According to Syiem, this was necessary since acquisition of land for the railway project was done before the coming of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 into force.
“We are waiting for their (legal experts) opinion before taking a call on this,” Syiem said.

Earlier, Opposition members came down heavily on the Syiem-led Executive Committee for its failure to intervene into the matter, though the EC was very prompt in approaching the judiciary on other issues.

On the demand of the KHNAM MDC Adelbert Nongrum, the CEM said that the council would soon write to the chief minister and Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) to put on hold works for constructing the railway line.

“We would also suggest the state government to review its approach in as far as handling the prevailing law and order situation,” he said while taking into consideration Nongrum’s view that the arrest of KSU members should stop.
Syiem also denied that the Council was having soft corner, while reacting to the allegation of opposition Congress MDC, Process T. Sawkmie.

At present, the construction work of the railway line at Ronghona village under Byrnihat police outpost has been stopped following protest by the KSU on May 27.
Meanwhile, the KHADC has also adopted three official resolutions which sought to protect the rights and interests of indigenous people.
Syiem said that the council has proposed to amend Rule 128 of the Assam and Meghalaya Autonomous Districts (Constitution of District Councils) Rules 1951 in the House in a special session to be convened in October.
Rule 128 of the AD Rules clearly states – “All citizen of India not below the age of 18 years can contest, be electors in the District Council election.”

During the debate on this resolution, members of the Council urged the executive committee to speed up the process of bringing amendment to this Rule.
The other resolutions include, the need to examine trading licenses issued and cancel those without proper documents, and have a relook into the appointment of agent to detect non-tribal labourers without proper documents, which if found not effective the same be scrapped.
“The resolutions we have brought reflected seriousness of the executive committee to protect the identity and interest of indigenous people,” Syiem claimed.

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