The government has demonstrated a complete lack of political will in relocating the residents of Them Iew Mawlong, the MLA for North Shillong, Adelbert Nongrum, has told Highland Post.
The area near Iewduh, in the heart of Shillong, was the spark for a bout of rioting in mid-2018 that paralysed the state capital. To resolve it, the government formed a high-level committee to study the issue and consider relocating the residents, who are largely ethnic Punjabis working for the Shillong Municipal Board. The area has had a heavy police presence to forestall any more trouble since then.
“If the government had the political will, it should have first taken action against its employees settling there but its lack of political will has failed to resolve this issue to date,” Nongrum said.
He would like to see an immediate relocation of the residents and redevelopment of the area.
Despite being the elected representative of Them Iew Mawlong, which falls under North Shillong, Nongrum was not invited to sit on the high-level committee (HLC) because, he admitted, he had used “harsh” words on the issue.
“I said that I represent the voice of the people and the voice of the people is that they don’t need discussion or debate anymore but an immediate decision and this is the reason they did not include me in the HLC,” the KHNAM legislator said.
According to him, he had used the harsh words because he had been frustrated by what has been a long-pending issue.
“We respect them (the municipal workers) for their service but we are not evicting them. Rather we are relocating them to a better place and we cannot compromise the future because this place has become a haven for various crimes, as well as too congested and unhygienic,” he said.
“We have become problem creators instead of problem solvers and I have to speak the truth even though I am a part and parcel of the government and we don’t want to see action only when election time comes,” Nongrum added.