On the last day of the ongoing autumn session of Meghalaya Legislative Assembly, Replying to a short duration discussion moved by Nongpoh legislator Mayralborn Syiem in the Assembly Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma on Thursday informed that the entry point at Umling in Ri Bhoi district will be ready by this month even as he assured that the government is committed to ensure setting up of entry-exit points is completed at the earliest to further strengthen the mechanism of checking influx into the state.
Sangma also announced that the registration process at the Umling entry point will start within this calendar year.
Stating that the state government has not stopped the construction of the entry point at Umling, he said in fact, the work for the construction of the Facilitation Centre at the Umling has already started and that the state government has prioritized the setting up of the entry point at Umling as it is one of the main entry points to the state.
He said it was with this in mind the land belonging to the transport department at Umling was identified in 2019. The land was ideal, as it was government land and was spacious to allow free movement of vehicles.
Earlier, the state government on March 13, conveyed the administrative approval and sanctioned the total estimated cost amounting to Rs 15.92 crore for construction of facilitation centre (entry point) at Umling by limiting the current year expenditure to Rs 50 lakh and the amount was released to the chief engineer PWD (Buildings) on May 28, this year.
However on September 29, the state government based on the advice of the Empowered Sanctioning Committee meeting held on September 23, had de-sanctioned the administrative approval of Rs 15.92 crore for construction of the entry point at Umling and instead for the same location had sanctioned an amount of Rs 285.75 lakh for a pre-fabricated structure that will serve as a facilitation centre at the entry point, Sangma said.
“This decision was taken to ensure that the facilitation centre is completed at earliest, which will also ensure that it serves as a COVID-19 screening centre,” he added.
Once the facilitation centre is ready and notified as per the provisions of sub-section (1) of Section 17 of the Meghalaya Resident Safety and Security Act, 2016, the District Task Force will designate the officials who will be in charge of the Facilitation Centre as per Rule 8 of the Meghalaya Resident Safety and Security Rules, 2017, which will comprise officials from the Police, Tourism and other relevant departments.
The facilitation centre will also house officials from the Health Department for COVID-19 screening.
Apart from Umling, the chief minister also said that the facilitation centre at Mendipathar Railway Station in North Garo Hills is expected to be completed by December, this year.
Stating that his government is committed to ensuring that the process of land acquisition and setting up of facilitation centres is done at the earliest at all entry and exit points, Sangma said 24 locations had been identified in the phase-I, out of a total of 41 for setting up of these entry and exit points, for which land acquisition process is at various stages of progress.
“The state government is keen to ensure that the setting up of the facilitation centres is done at the earliest so that the mechanism of checking influx as envisaged in the Meghalaya Resident Safety and Security Act, 2016 is strengthened,” he said.
On the status of the land acquisition process in the various identified locations, the chief minister said the land acquisition in respect of entry and exit point at Athiabari in West Khasi Hills has been completed and land has been taken over by the Tourism Department on November 24, 2018. The PWD has been asked to submit revised estimates for the construction of the facilitation centre.
He said in West Jaintia Hills, land has been identified in Khanduli and Saphai for setting up of entry-exit points adding the process of land acquisition is nearly completed at Khanduli and land will be handed over soon to the Tourism Department after compensation is released to the landowner by the Deputy Commissioner.
Sangma said the government has identified 5 locations for setting up of entry-exit points namely, Malidor, Ratacherra, Mooriap, Lakasein and Umkyrpong in East Jaintia Hills. The Tourism Department has released an amount of Rs. 55, 85,454 in respect of location at Ratacherra and Rs 8,22,537 in respect of Lakasein.
At Ratacherra which is an important entry and exit point in the state, the Deputy Commissioner of East Jaintia Hills has stated that the land belonging to the Jaintia Hills Autonomous District Council (JHADC) is suitable for the setting up of the entry-exit point. The matter has been taken with the JHADC through the District Council Affairs Department on March 9, 2020.
In West Garo Hills, four locations have been identified at Medhipara, Abhirampara, Phulbari Ghat and Singimari Trijunction. The amount for the land compensation has been released to the Deputy Commissioner and the process of land acquisition is in progress.
In South West Garo Hills, of the three locations identified, i.e. Mirjumla, Junjuni (Boldamgre) and Aidoba (Janggal) Road, the land acquisition process in respect of Junjuni has been completed and land has been handed over to the Tourism Department on May 28, 2020.
In North Garo Hills, Seven locations namely, Dainadubi, Manikganj Mendipahar Railway Station, Mendipathar Bazar, Kaldang and Bajengdoba have been identified in Phase I. The entry point at Bajendoba is the most important entry point for which land at Berubari has been identified by the Deputy Commissioner and the process of land acquisition for the same will be initiated. For setting up of entry/exit points at Dainadubi, a plot of land has been identified at Sarangma – Chima Apal, for which the Deputy Commissioner will be initiating the process of land acquisition, he said.