SHILLONG, Apr 20: A legislator from the ruling National People’s Party (NPP) on Friday told the Meghalaya Assembly he was embarrassed to hear from people living in the border areas that they can easily identify which territory belongs to Meghalaya and which belongs to Assam merely on the basis of quality of roads.
NPP legislator from Jirang, Sosthenes Sohtun while tabling a call-attention motion during the last day of the Budget Session narrated an incident during his election campaign.
“I asked the people in the border areas how they can identify which land belongs to Meghalaya and which belonged to Assam. Their reply was simple, the ones with pucca (black topped) roads is in Assam while those with kutcha (dusty) roads belongs to Meghalaya,” the Jirang legislator said.
Jirang constituency is in Ri-Bhoi district with many villages bordering Assam.
On reports of construction of PMGSY roads by Assam in Meghalaya territory, Sohtun said that he visited the site and found out that the work was in progress.
He also informed the House that the West Guwahati MLA, Ramendra Narayan Kalita had written to the state government requesting for cooperation.
The NPP legislator urged the Meghalaya government to construct roads for the benefit of the people living in the border areas.
Sohtun said, “People living in the border are denied benefit of good roads, power and health infrastructure.”
He also said that areas along the border with Assam need more developmental works so that people have a sense of belonging to the state.
In his reply, Deputy Chief Minister, Prestone Tnsong informed the House that on April 17, the Executive Engineer PWD (Roads), Nongpoh Division reported to the government that Assam was constructing the two roads – Umsohbar-Belakhowa and Bakhlapara to Jimbarigaon and the areas located under these roads falls with Meghalaya.
“Prima facie, on the basis of information as available with the PWD, the construction of roads is on Meghalaya territory and should be stopped immediately. As can be seen from the report submitted by the EE Nongpoh information stone plague indicating that the existing kucha road was carried through MGNREGA scheme under Jirang Block. Moreover, the roads have been sanctioned under PMGSY Meghalaya and is under tendering stage,” Tynsong said.
“This issue has also been included as an agenda item in the meeting with Deputy Commissioner, Kamrup district, Assam,” the Deputy Chief Minister added.
He also said that Assam without further communicating has unitarily decided to start construction of the roads in the areas which falls inside Meghalaya even as he added that the government will take all necessary steps to stop the road construction.
The Deputy Chief Minister also informed that since Jimbarigaon, Belakhowa and Ranibari are under Meghalaya the PWD has prepared DPRs for three roads in Jirang area – “Bakhlapara to Junbarigaon (2.225 km), Junbarigaon to Belakhowa (8.608 km) and Pahamshru to Ranibari (4 km).
“These DPRs have been accorded sanction by the Ministry of Rural Development under Batch I of 2018-19 during 9th April 2018. The sanctioned amount for these roads is Rs 222.16 lakhs, Rs 875.68 lakhs and Rs 686.81 lakhs respectively. All these works are full stage works upto metalling and blacktopping. It is also reported that the alignment for the two roads currently being undertaken by Assam authorities will overlap with the alignment of the DPRs sanctioned by Meghalaya,” the Deputy Chief Minister in-charge PWD (Roads) said.