Shillong, Oct 7: The High Level Committee (HLC) constituted to look into the relocation of Sweeper’s Colony from Them Iew Mawlong has recommended shifting the employees of the Shillong Municipal Board (SMB) and other departments from Them Iew Mawlong. The HLC has also recommended that the task of finding a suitable location for the residents of Sweeper’s Colony be given to Urban Affairs department.
The HLC, headed by Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong, submitted its report with the recommendation to the government on September 28, 2021. The HLC was constituted by the state government to find a feasible solution for the relocation of the Sweeper’s Colony from Them Iew Mawlong following the 2018 violent protest at Motphran.
Talking to reporters after chairing the cabinet meet on the HLC report on Thursday, Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma said the HLC has made three main recommendations: ownership of the land at Them Iew Mawlong, shifting of the employees of the SMB other departments, and relocation of ‘illegal settlers’.
Ownership of land
On the recommendation related to ownership of land, Sangma said the process of signing an agreement and taking possession of the land by the state government and the SMB from the Syiem of Hima Mylliem has already started.
“A tripartite agreement (between the Syiem of Hima Mylliem, Urban Affairs and the SMB) has been signed and the final procedure to actually take over the possession of the entire land is in process and it should be completed within a week’s time,” he said.
Shifting of SMB employees
The Chief Minister said the HLC has also recommended the process of shifting the SMB office from the Bishop Cotton road, which is the location where different quarters were made, to a temporary location at the old MBDA office.
He said the next suggestion was to facilitate the movement of the permanent SMB employees who are staying in the Sweeper’s Colony right now to those quarters that have been made.
On the request for shifting employees of other department, Sangma said there are close to about 57 families and out of these 50 percent have already move out from Sweeper’s Colony and gone to different locations.
“The Committee has also recommended that we should further request the others also to shift from Sweepers’ Colony and go to designated locations whic their parent departments will give,” he said.
Relocation of ‘other settlers’ from Them Iew Mawlong
The Chief Minister further informed that the HLC has also recommended the urban affairs department to work out a possible location for relocation of other people who are presently residing at Sweeper’s Colony but are not employees of government.
“For this purpose, the urban affairs department has been asked to work out the mechanism, come up with a proposal and present it to the cabinet and post that, after examining all those aspects, this fourth suggestion that was given, the government will take a call on that,” he stated.
When asked why not evict them as per law, the Chief Minister however said, “There is a process of eviction and all these processes have to be followed. So, therefore, urban affairs department will go into all those aspects and come with a recommendation to the government.”
Earlier, the inventory report submitted by the Shillong Municipal Board had stated that a total of 184 employees and their families have been identified as legal settlers. These include families of 128 employees of the SMB and 56 others who are working in the different government departments.
HPC’s opposition to relocation of Sweeper’s Colony and Court intervention
The Harijan Panchayat Committee (HPC) is against the move of the state government to relocate the residents of the Sweeper’s Colony from Them Iew Mawlong.
In its Special Leave Petition, the HPC had challenged the order passed by the Meghalaya High Court on June 28, 2019 which directed all residents of the area to cooperate with the government’s inventorisation exercise by furnishing all requisite information to the SMB.
On April 10, the Meghalaya High Court in its order had asked both the state government and the Harijan Panchayat Committee (HPC) to maintain status-quo with regards to the Sweeper Colony issue.
To a query on this, the Chief Minister however maintained that the state government is ready to challenge the Court order.
“We will challenge the status quo. If there is a status quo that has been ordered by the high court then we will definitely challenge that status quo order,” he said.