HLC submits report of Sweeper's Colony; recommends relocation of “illegal settlers”

The HLC was constituted by the government to find a feasible solution for the relocation of the Sweeper’s Colony from Them Ïew Mawlong following the 2018 violent protest at Motphran.



The High Level Committee (HLC) headed by the Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong has recommended the state government to shift the employees of the Shillong Municipal Board (SMB) and other departments from the Sweeper’s Colony at Them Ïew Mawlong.

The Urban Affairs department has been asked to find locations for relocation of the so-called “illegal settlers” as per the report of the HLC which was placed before the cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Conrad K. Sangma here on Thursday. The report of the committee was submitted to the government on September 28.

The HLC was constituted by the government to find a feasible solution for the relocation of the Sweeper’s Colony from Them Ïew Mawlong following the 2018 violent protest at Motphran.

Addressing the press after the meeting, Sangma informed that in the report, the HLC has given three main recommendations that dealt with the ownership of the land at Them Ïew Mawlong, shifting of the employees of the SMB and other departments and relocation of the “illegal settlers”.

On the recommendation related to ownership of land, Sangma said that the process of signing an agreement and taking possession of the land by the state government and the SMB from the Syiem of Hima Mylliem has already started. “A tripartite agreement (between the Syiem of Hima Mylliem, Urban Affairs and the SMB) has been signed, and the final procedure to actually take over the possession of the entire land is in process, and it should be completed within a week’s time,” he said.

Sangma said that the HLC has also recommended the process of shifting the SMB office from the Bishop Cotton Road, which is the location where different quarters were made, to a temporary location at the old office of the Meghalaya Basin Development Authority.

He added that the next suggestion was to facilitate the movement of the permanent SMB employees who are currently residing in the Sweeper’s Colony to those quarters that have been made.

On the request for shifting employees of other departments, Sangma said there are close to 57 families, and out of these, 50 per cent have already moved out from the Colony to different locations. “The committee has also recommended that we should further request the others to shift and go to designated locations which their parent departments will give,” he said.

Sangma further informed that the HLC has also recommended the urban affairs department to work out a possible location for relocation of other people who are presently residing at Sweeper’s Colony, but are not employees of government. “For this purpose, the urban affairs department has been asked to work out the mechanism, come up with a proposal and present it to the cabinet; and post that, after examining all those aspects, the government will take a call on the fourth suggestion,” he stated.

When asked why not evict them as per law, Sangma said, “There is a process of eviction, and all these processes have to be followed; so therefore, (the) urban affairs department will go into all those aspects and come with a recommendation to the government.”

Earlier, the inventory report submitted by the SMB had stated that a total of 184 employees and their families had been identified as legal settlers. These include families of 128 employees of the SMB and 56 others who are working in the different government departments.

The Harijan Panchayat Committee (HPC), however, is critical of the state government’s forced relocation of the residents of the Sweeper’s Colony from Them Ïew Mawlong. It should be noted that these residents belong to the formerly untouchable caste of Sikhs, whose ancestors were brought more than a century ago by the British administration. In its special leave petition, the HPC had challenged the order passed by the Meghalaya High Court on June 28, 2019, which directed all residents of the area to cooperate with the government’s inventorisation exercise by furnishing all requisite information to the SMB.

On April 10, the Meghalaya High Court in its order had asked both the state government and the HPC to maintain status quo with regards to the Sweeper’s Colony issue.

To a query on this, Sangma maintained that the government is ready to challenge the court order. “We will challenge the status quo,” he said.

TNT-The Northeast Today is now on WhatsApp. CLICK HERE to receive more updates on your phone.

ALSO READ: One arrested for planting IED at NPP’s office; CM says will beef up security for bye-poll candidates