The State government has not consulted with the opposition on the ins and outs of the Umling checkpoint and facilitation centre, senior Congress legislator Ampareen Lyngdoh told Highland Post today.
“We have no idea what the people are talking and complaining about. We heard that the Tourism Department has prescribed certain norms but we don’t exactly know what it is saying and as the opposition we have not zeroed down on the merits and demerits of those norms because the government did not invite us for our consultation,” she said.
The Shillong East MLA said that the junior coalition partners inside the ruling Meghalaya Democratic Alliance government should “find out what’s going on” but, if they do not, she promised that the Congress will in the next Assembly session.
Meanwhile, hoteliers in the state capital told Highland Post today that the problem with the Umling checkpoint is that most tourists are reluctant to take the mandatory Covid-19 tests at the facility.
Tourists are meant to produce a negative Covid test report at the checkpoint, failing which they have to undergo either a rapid antigen test (RAT) or RT-PCR. The latter is more accurate but also more expensive at Rs 1,000 per test. The result is also only available in around 24 hours. The RAT costs Rs 500 and takes roughly 30 minutes to come back.
While the cost may not put off individuals, those tourists coming to the state in groups could end up coughing up several thousand rupees to enter Meghalaya.
While the RAT result is available in less than an hour, the Umling checkpoint is hardly a spot most people would want to wait around in. Situated bang on the road, there is little to no space, other than the vehicles they travel in, to spend that half hour.