Mylliem MDC Ronnie V Lyngdoh has backed the Rs 1,300 crore road widening project to connect Shillong to Tamabil in Bangladesh as a potential boon to farmers and of overall benefit to the people of Meghalaya.
The project garnered negative publicity recently after the chattering classes reacted furiously to trees being cut in Upper Shillong for the road expansion.
“This road project will be a boon to all, especially farmers of our state. We have seen how this Covid-19 pandemic has affected farmers, much of whose produce has been wasted,” Lyngdoh told Highland Post. “We have a huge potential to trade with Bangladesh and, if we have a good road system, our produce will never be wasted again. At present trucks that go to Bangladesh get stuck for several hours and weak and narrow bridges all along the route hinder trade and also pose a danger to the lives of the people.”
Good road communication would mean that the time it takes to travel to from Shillong to Bangladesh would be same as it would take to get to Guwahati from the Meghalaya capital.
“The environment is crucial and I share every concern related to the environment but people have suffered enough because of traffic congestion in Upper Shillong,” the Mylliem MDC said. “There are students who don’t reach their school on time and some have even missed their exams because of extreme traffic jams in Upper Shillong. People should understand that Upper Shillong is a gateway to entire districts, like West Khasi Hills and South West Khasi Hills.”
On environmental concerns, Lyngdoh pointed out that compensatory afforestation is built into the project. Everything has a lifespan, including the pine trees at Upper Shillong.
“We can replant beautiful trees and have a much better road. Forest degradation in Shillong is lower compared to various parts of West Khasi Hills and other districts and the compensatory afforestation should be carried out there in those areas that crucially need it,” he said. “Looking at the larger picture and the overall economic and social benefit to the people, it was decided that a few trees can be sacrificed.”
He also said that when he was MLA, a group was engaged to conduct the social impact assessment and it held meetings with headmen of various Dorbar Shnongs in Mylliem constituency, all of whom were in favour of the project as it will ease traffic congestion in the area.