Should Jaiñtia Hills welcome railways? Cabinet minister and Khliehriat MLA Kyrmen Shylla has a different opinion.
According to him, a meeting should be convened in Jaiñtia Hills to seek the views of the people as to whether they are in favour of the railway line.
It may be noted that recently there was a proposal from the State government and NPP legislators from Jaiñtia Hills for shifting the railway project to Jaiñtia Hills in view of the staunch opposition by certain pressure groups to the railway project from Byrnihat to Shillong.
Speaking to media persons here today, Shylla said that nothing has been finalised on the proposal for the railway project in Jaiñtia Hills.
He however said that the government should try to understand the mind of the people and find out the pros and cons of railways in Jaiñtia Hills.
According to Shylla, there are many in Jaiñtia Hills who support the railway project and there are also others who are against it.
“We should do proper homework before coming to any conclusion on this issue. If there are benefits we should go for it and if it has any ramifications, we should not,” he said.
The minister said that though there was a plan to call a meeting of the people to find out whether they want railways or not, there is no hurry to call for such a meeting.
Recently, cabinet minister Comingone Ymbon who also hails from Jaiñtia Hills had said he welcomes the idea of introducing a railway in Jaiñtia Hills as it would benefit the people of the region.
According to Ymbon, if the railway comes, people in the Jaiñtia Hills region will benefit. “We have so many resources like limestone, like coal, which if transported by trucks (would cost) almost Rs 2,000 per ton. I think if we transport by railway maybe it will be Rs 500 per ton and Rs 1500 will come to your pocket,” he said.
The State government all these years failed to convince the pressure groups from Khasi Hills to connect the State capital with railway head.
The Central government had put on hold the 22-km Tetelia-Byrnihat railway line and the 108-km Byrnihat-Shillong railway line due to opposition by pressure groups.
The pressure groups feel that railways would bring a large-scale influx of outsiders into the State.
So far only Garo Hills is connected with railways. The Mendipathar railway station has helped local farmers in transporting their goods to Assam and other parts of the country.