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Harijan Colony land row: Land takeover delayed due to sanctioning of fund, Tynsong assures to pursue matter even after bye-elections

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Shillong, Oct 21: Meghalaya Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong on Thursday assured that the government will continue to pursue the matter of taking possession of land at Harijan Colony at Them Iew Mawlong even after the Assembly bye-elections of October 30.

He also informed that the delay in taking possession of the land is due to slight delay in sanctioning of the amount that needs to be paid to the Syiem of Hima Mylliem to taking the land.

Tynsong’s reply was in response to queries on delay in taking over the land after Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma had on October 7, 2021 announced that the government will take possession of the land in question within a week. Additionally, opposition Congress has accused the MDA government of using the issue for political mileage for the upcoming bye-polls to three Assembly seats.

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Delay in taking possession of Harijan Colony land

On the issue of taking over the land at Harijan Colony, also referred to as Sweeper’s Colony, Tynsong said an amount of Rs 2 crore has been sanctioned just few days back as a premium to be paid to the Syiem of Hima Mylliem, the traditional owner of the land. Once this amount is paid to the Syiem of Hima Mylliem, government will move in for physical possession of the land.

Also speaking on the matter of various groups, especially from Punjab, interfering in the issue, the Dy CM said the government understands their concerns for their own community but the state government is following procedures as per the law.

He also said they should not be scared that the government will simply evict the residents from the area, but make proper arrangements before taking any action.

No-cooperation of Harijan Colony residents

He also claimed that the residents of the colony did not cooperate with the Shillong Municipal Board (SMB) for the inventory work when the High Level Committee (HLC) was preparing its report.

“We wanted to know exactly how many were residing there (Harijan Colony). How many work in different departments of the state and how many do not. But they refused to co-operate after three attempts,” claimed Tynsong.

He said the government wants to find out the exact number of residents in order to make appropriate arrangements for them elsewhere.

The HLC, headed by Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong, had 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 Harijan Colony from Them Iew Mawlong following the 2018 violent protest at Motphran. In its report, the HLC has made three main recommendations: ownership of the land at Them Iew Mawlong, shifting of the employees of SMB other departments, and relocation of ‘illegal settlers’.

Also read : HLC on Sweeper’s Colony submits report

Land Transfer Act

The Dy CM also asserted that the takeover will not come in conflict with the Land Transfer Act since the land belongs to the Shillong Municipal Board (SMB). “Let us go back to the agreement between the Syiem of Hima Mylliem and the Shillong Municipal Board in 1954; they should look at that agreement whether the agreement was with the Harijan or with the Shillong Municipal Board,” he said while adding that if the agreement mentions that the agreement was signed between the Syiem and the Harijans, then he has nothing to say.

Tynsong said he had thoroughly studied the subject and the original lease agreement was signed between Syiem of Hima Mylliem and Shillong Municipal Board which proves that the land belongs to the Shillong Municipal Board.

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