New Urban Affairs Minister Sniawbhalang Dhar, who was inducted into the role only last week, today ducked the contentious issue of the redevelopment of the Public Works Department (PWD) complex at Barik Point here by issuing a few generalities while keeping mum about his own opinion on the matter.
Dhar said the government would take a decision “for the benefit of the people”, adding that PWD (Roads) Minister Prestone Tynsong would be better placed to answer questions on the subject.
The government’s new idea to turn the complex into a shopping mall has been trashed by several quarters and has even found opposition within the United Democratic Party (UDP), which forms part of the coalition government running the state. Prominent citizens and pressure groups have also come out against the commercial complex idea.
The state government had spent Rs 12 lakh on a competition inviting proposals for the redevelopment of the three acre plot and picked one that would have transformed it into a public park with various amenities. Recently, however, the government appeared to change tack, with Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma saying that the government had to make best financial use of its assets, the implication being that a shopping mall would enrich the state’s coffers while a park would not.
When asked if, as Urban Affairs Minister, he would go ahead with the decision of the department to build an “iconic structure” at Barik Point under the Smart City Mission or a new shopping mall, Dhar said, “We will take the best decision after discussing together.”