Meghalaya: Punjabi Lane settlers to be relocated to SMB quarters
Group clashes In May 2018 resulted in curfews for over a month

Shillong: The Harijan Panchayat Committee (HPC) in Shillong has decided to agree to relocate from Punjabi Lane but with certain conditions.

This development comes after a meeting between Meghalaya government with HPC on Monday at the Secretariat in Shillong.

Briefing the media following the meeting, Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong, who is also the chairman of the High Level Committee formed to look into the relocation of the families, informed that they (HPC) have agreed to relocate but with certain conditions, which were submitted and we have discussed in today’s meeting.

The state government has asked the Urban Affairs department to prepare a blueprint with a detailed proposal and, once that is done, it will be communicated to the HPC. 

“Another meeting will be held with the HPC and they will sit and discuss with their community and take a final decision,” said Tynsong.

He informed that no timeline has been set but they expect to complete the details likely before May 10 or 15.

Asked what were their condition, Tynsong said the HPC wants a separate location for all the 342 families.

“They also questioned whether once a unit is constructed, they will be able to own that unit, generation to generation…these are the issues they wanted to get the details of from the government. So we have instructed the Urban Affairs department to prepare the details,” stated Tynsong.

The deputy chief minister added that they are yet to finalise the place for relocating the families but have identified two to three places.

Asked if the government has appealed the HPC to withdraw its petition in the high court, Tynsong said right now this is the second meeting after the court intervention and the government will continue to do this till they reach a conclusion. “Once we agree on the same lines then we will jointly file an affidavit to the HC to close the case,” said Tynsong.

Meanwhile, HPC secretary Gurjit Singh said, “The families or the land holder want a 200 sq metre plot and the government has to bear the construction expenses so that families can reconstruct their individual houses.” 

The HPC secretary said the government had offered them apartments in a multi-storey building which they have refused.

The majority of 342 families are government employees, while some have their own businesses that they have established over the years. 

Asked if there were any illegal settlers in Punjabi Lane, Singh said there were no illegal settlers, as established after a joint census was carried out in 2008.

The issue of relocating the people living at Punjabi Lane has been a long-pending issue where past governments have also tried to look into the matter but till date there has been no outcome.

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