The Federation of Riwar Mihngi Local Dorbar (FRMLD) and pressure groups have expressed concern over the dilapidated condition of the road from Siatbakon to Dawki.
This particular stretch of road is part of the four-lane expansion project from Rilbong in Shillong to Dawki on the Indo-Bangladesh border.
JJ Roy Khongmawloh, the president of the FRMLD, said that the condition of the road has been dilapidated since 2020 with no one taking interest in repairing it. This despite funds for the project having been sanctioned and compensation paid to landowners.
“The only thing left now is for work to start,” Khongmawloh said. “But we were only given false promises. They first said that due to the monsoon the work couldn’t be started but now even in the dry season it has not taken off.”
When the federation’s representatives met Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong, who is also the Minister in charge of Roads, they were told that there was interference from “some groups” that prevented the National Highway Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd (NHIDCL) from carrying out the work.
“But the company executing the work and even the NHIDCL said that they have their own reasons for which they could not start the project,” Khongmawloh said, adding that the public stands to lose a great deal if the road project does not go ahead.
In the years gone by, this road, originally built during British times, was considered to be one of the best in Khasi Hills. It was an important trade route as it linked up to the integrated check post (ICP) at Dawki that serves cross border trade into Bangladesh. It was also key to the growth of tourism.
The ICP is a centre for facilitation of bilateral trade between India and Bangladesh as well as for the movement of passengers across the international border.
“But due to the conduct of the government and the company with regard to this particular road, it has impeded the economic activities of the people in the area,” Khongmawloh opined.
Meanwhile, the general secretary of the Riwar Mihngi Exporters and Miners Association, Nestarlin Khongkhlad, said that if the contractors executing the work are finding it difficult to start the work due to some impediments from some groups they should clearly inform the authorities.
“If they are making allegations they should have some basis and at the same time they should inform us so that we can shoulder some of the responsibility,” he said. “The problems they are facing are a greater crisis for us the residents.”
Today a joint action committee (JAC) was formed comprising the FRMLD and pressure groups in the area and it will lead protests in front of the NHIDCL office in the coming days.