Shillong: The Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC) has rejected the Meghalaya state government’s request for a No Objection Certificate (NOC) to acquire over 47,000 square meters of land for implementation of the railway line project in Ri Bhoi district of the state.
The decision was taken after a meeting convened by the KHADC chief Titosstarwell Chyne with the traditional heads of the area in Shillong today.
“We have unanimously decided not to give our consent for land acquisition for implementation of the railway line in the region,” Chyne told reporters.
He informed that the council was compelled to hold the consultative meeting with the traditional heads to get their views following the repeated request from the state government to issue NOC.
The traditional heads including from Raid of Basan Nongskeh, the Syiem Raid Marwet, the Syiem of Raid Nongpoh and different villages are totally on the same page with the council’s view, he added.
The area of land proposed to be acquired is 47,676.63 square meters which fall under Lumnongrim village, Pahamlang village and Rongna village in Ri Bhoi district.
When asked, Chyne said the reason for the council not being willing to give its consent is due to the fear of influx.
“We are only a small tribe compared to the other tribes in the country. That is why we feel that if a railway line comes there will be lots of influx, ” he said.
“That is why we have been demanding Inner Line Permit (ILP) and other mechanisms to protect us. Therefore (in the absence of these mechanisms), we feel that at present the question of railway lines does not arise at all in our region,” the CEM further maintained.
He also reminded that the purpose of the district council is to protect the interest of the indigenous people of the region.
On the stand of the council with regards to the goods train, the KHADC chief said at present the requirement of the state government is very clear that it wants to implement the railway line in the district.
“They have not mentioned whether it is a goods or passenger train but from the council, we stick to our principle that we are saying no to any railway line,” he added.
On granting NOC, if ILP is implemented in the state, Chyne said the council will discuss when that time comes.
He however asserted that it is high time that the state government should come up with effective mechanisms to protect the tribal indigenous people from the unabated influx into the state.
The Centre has proposed two railways projects in the state– the 22-km Tetelia-Byrnihat tracks and the 108-km Byrnihat-Shillong line. The Tetelia-Byrnihat project will be implemented at a cost of Rs 496 crore. However, these projects have faced roadblocks due to strong opposition from different quarters apprehending influx.