Shillong, Sept 15: Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma today said the State government is still looking at other regions of the State for implementation of the railway project.
This was after the railway projects in the Khasi Hills region have faced roadblocks due to strong opposition from different quarters including pressure groups apprehending influx.
Sangma told reporters that the Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) people are correct that there is no question of closing it (railway project) but there is no question of forcing it also.
He said the first project (in Khasi Hills) is facing some hurdles as there are constraints and the government needs to address those concerns and that is taking time.
“In the meantime, certain funds were parked for a certain project and since it is not moving forward obviously the Government of India will ask questions how long will you keep this money. So either we give it back or we divert it to another project within the State itself and try to utilize that money so that it doesn’t go to waste and hence, we are exercising and trying to find out if there are other regions in the State, who would be open to the idea of a railway and that exercise has started,” Sangma said.
“I have expressed the same to the railway minister and the railway minister has told me he is open to that idea. Therefore, we will examine it from that angle and see if there are other projects we can move forward with and if it is there, we would like to do that otherwise it will be a loss for the State in terms of finances as the money has already come in for certain parts of the railway,” he added.
Further, the chief minister said from a development perspective, all want to see that railways should come to the capital and it would improve the overall connectivity, trade and the economy.
“There are challenges, there are concerns and different stakeholders have different concerns and therefore, we would like to carry everybody along so obviously no one is saying we are going to shelve it off but the issue is that there are funds lying for certain projects,” he said while adding “Since if the first one is not moving, we will move with a different option and at the same time we will continue to discuss and engaged with different stakeholders and try to find an amicable way in which we can proceed with the project as it is something good for the state and it can be done in a phase-wise manner – so all options are open.”
On the implementation of ILP to pave the way for railway lines in the Khasi-Jaintia Hills region, Sangma however said ILP is a mechanism in place to address illegal immigrants and concerns of the people but there are other mechanisms that could also be there to address the concerns.
“Therefore, ILP is not the concern, the concern is illegal immigration and infiltration and people feel that ILP or some stakeholders feel that ILP can help in addressing those concerns. There are other ways also which is why we introduced the MRRSA and other mechanisms.
So we feel that discussions are on. Stakeholders have mentioned that these are conditions so let us see how it goes along. We will keep engaging and we will try to resolve the issue,” he added further.