Tura, Oct 20: A village in Meghalaya’s West Garo Hills has raised their anger against a construction company for allegedly carrying out massive stone mining without paying them the requisite payment as agreed upon, while also violating agreed terms of the contract.
The villagers of Kilman Gittim under Selsella Block, about 47 km from Tura in West Garo Hills on Tuesday told Hub News that BSCPL Infrastructure Limited failed to comply with the agreement signed between the village and the construction company in 2014.
Locals say that an amount of Rs. 10 lakh was paid, while they carried out mining for close to five years. Kilman Gittim is a small village with about 36 households and most of them depend on agricultural for their sustenance. In 2014, BSCPL company approached the village to ink an agreement for carrying out stone mining and had promised them financial benefits.
However, as the contract with the company expired in June 2019, a person has now surfaced who is planning to setup a private stone quarry, which has irked the villagers.
Locals say that the company had allegedly threatened the Nokma in 2017 and had made him sign a blank legal paper, which is now being used by the person for trying to set up the stone quarry.
Locals further say that road for which the stones were procured – Garobadha to Dalu was completed, however, they were deprived of their benefits. It is to be mentioned that the Garobadha to Dalu road was funded under the Asian Development Bank (ADB).
Initially, few truckloads of stones were mined and taken to the construction site, however, over the months it increased to about 100 plus trucks daily. The villagers became curious as to why such huge mining was taking place. However, they had no clue where to approach for redressal of their grievances.
With much hardship they managed to get the copy of the agreement between the village headman (Nokma) and the company, however, since the agreement was not ‘defined’ clearly, the villagers were left with no options.
Locals say that the company foul played with the village and also filed complaint against the village headman, who was later arrested and released. This incident took place in 2017.
Locals say that agreement for mining was for 2 hectares, however, they continued to mine beyond the agreed area. They even destroyed plantations of the villagers without even paying any compensation.
“My entire rubber plantation was destroyed by them but when I complained they did not even pay for the damage. Now I am stuck with a completely destroyed crop and almost no money,” said Tapjeng Marak, an aggrieved villager.
“There has been a breach of contract as the company used more land”, said Gotjeng Marak, the Nokma of the village.