CM bats for introduction of goods trains in Meghalaya
Chief Minister Conrad Sangma added that goods train will not only benefit the people of the state but will also help the government in cutting down costs.
Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma on November 17 said that the government is ready to engage with the concerned stakeholders on the issue of introduction of goods trains in Meghalaya.
Stating that the government is working towards finding a middle path; a kind of a consensus with the stakeholders, to bring at least goods train to Byrnihat, Sangma said, “At least, let’s find a way to try and get goods trains, if not passenger trains, to the state immediately.”
He added that goods train will not only benefit the people of the state but will also help the government in cutting down costs. Stating that the state has incurred huge financial costs because of thousands of trucks coming into the state during the pandemic, Sangma said, “If we have the railways then we would have been able to get the goods at an economical rate and we would not have the exposure to truck drivers coming in and going out.”
When asked about the anti-railway groups’ protests against the project since Meghalaya does not have any mechanism to check influx, Sangma, said that the government is talking about goods trains and not passenger trains.
“Obviously goods train means goods and products which will be for the people and that will help the people in general so there is no question of influx,” he said, adding that felicitation centres have been set-up in Mendipathar, which has a railway station, to check individuals coming into the state.
On the reason why Garo people have welcomed the goods train wholeheartedly unlike in the Khasi Hills region, the chief minister said that from the government’s point of view it wants goods trains coming in on both sides.
Referring to Mendipathar and how the town in North Garo Hills have been benefitted after goods trains were introduced in the region, the chief minister said, “Today people are selling their vegetables to Guwahati. People who are selling vegetables at Rs 100 – Rs 200 or Rs 300 a day, are earning Rs 2000 or Rs 3000 per day. The different products that are coming in, which used to cost much higher in Mendipathar earlier, today, are cheaper than in Dudnoi or Krisnoi,” he said.”
The chief minister also assured that only when the people feel comfortable, the government will consider allowing passenger trains.
“Let’s hope Mendipathar is a good example of that and people have benefited hugely in Garo Hills because of the goods trains in Mendi,” he reiterated.
Sangma, however, said that the railway line issue is complicated in Meghalaya because it is linked to many factors - one of which is the demand for the implementation of the Inner Line Permit (ILP).
“Our Government of India is still holding on to it (ILP resolution passed by the state Assembly in 2019) and still has not given us a clear reply on this, so the discussion mode on the issue is going on,” he informed.
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