Shillong, Sept 14: Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K. Sangma on Friday said that his government has decided to take all stakeholders on board before taking any decision to move forward with the proposed railway projects.
The Chief Minister made this statement after the NPP-led Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA) government held a review meeting to understand the status of proposed railway projects in the state.
The review meeting chaired by the Chief Minister in the Main Secretariat, took stock of the pending railway projects where officials from the North East Frontier Railway also attended the meeting.
The Chief Minister told reporters after the meeting that the General Manager of the North East Frontier Railway had presented the sanctions accorded by the Centre for the two projects – Tetelia to Byrnihat and Byrnihat to Shillong where the budget was allotted for both the projects close to Rs 8,000 crore.
“During my multiple meetings with Union Railways Minister, Piyush Goyal, he had expressed concerned about railway projects that were sanctioned for Meghalaya. But because of local concerns, both the projects have been stopped as of now,” Conrad said.
Asked about the stand of the MDA government, the Chief Minister said, “we would now discuss with other cabinet colleagues, political parties and take stakeholders into account before deciding how to move forward. We feel that it is an important economic development that is there in every part of the world. It is something we feel it will change the economic scenario in our state, and it is an important infrastructure that our state requires. There are lot of concerns among the local people and different organizations. It is the duty of the government to understand that, so that the local sentiments are not hurt. So, we need to balance it out, and take things forward.”
The Khasi and Jaiñtia region of Meghalaya was yet to be connected by railway line, while the Garo region has entered the railway map of the country as the Dudhnoi-Mendipathar railway line has become operational.
Stating that the state government will take measures to overcome the hurdles, the Chief Minister said, “It is important as a government that we discuss all concerns, and take all stakeholders, political parties into account before we move forward with important decision and important development aspect like this. Different concerns need to be addressed, and we will discuss and decide how to take things forward.”
The construction of the proposed railway line about 20.5km from Tetelia in Assam to Byrnihat in Meghalaya has been stopped inside Meghalaya after a protest by the Khasi Students Union (KSU) at the railway project site at Ronghana village in Ri-Bhoi district on May 27 last year.
Around 2.3km of the railway line falls within Meghalaya and the rest in Assam.
The KSU made it clear that it would discuss the issue related to introduction of railway line only after the Meghalaya government started implementing strong mechanisms to check influx in the state.