For now, the Umling points will function as tourist facilitation centers, as well as COVID-19 screening points Credit: Representational image

Shillong: The much-awaited inauguration of the Umling entry and exit point, a prefabricated structure at the border area in Ri-Bhoi district, has been postponed to December 21.

The inauguration ceremony, which was earlier scheduled for December 16, has now been deferred to coincide with the restarting of tourism in the state. The Meghalaya government had earlier announced that the state will start welcoming tourists starting December 21, well in time to deal with the Christmas rush.

“We also want the tourists visiting the state to witness the inauguration ceremony,” a senior government official told EastMojo.

The entry and exit points at Umling will be the first to be set up in the state out of the 18 identified under the Meghalaya Residents Safety and Security Act (MRSSA). The project is the result of long standing demand from pressure groups to put a check on “unabated influx of outsiders” in the state.

Considering the pandemic and a rush of tourists during the holiday season, the Umling points will function as facilitation centers, as well as COVID-19 screening points for tourists.

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Earlier, Rs 15 crore was sanctioned to set up the facilitation at Umling, but the same was de-sanctioned. The government later decided to set up prefab structures at the entry-exit points at Umling and, an amount of Rs 2.8 crore was released for this purpose.

After threats of agitation from pressure groups, Chief Minister Conrad Sangma had earlier in December said his government was committed to ensuring a mechanism in place to deal with the issue of influx and illegal immigration.

However, opposition leaders and pressure groups have expressed concerns over the fact that a single entry gate will not be sufficient to put a check on influx.

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