Meghalaya: Colony dwellers want govt to hear their views before relocation


SHILLONG, June 9, 2018: The inhabitants of Sweepers' Colony in the city on Friday appealed to the Meghalaya government to hear their views before deciding on relocating them.

The colony, which houses about 350 families with around 2,500 inhabitants, is located at Them Iew Mawlong.

An altercation at the colony last week led to the assault of three persons, which gave rise to an unprecedented protest following which the protesters demanded relocation of the colony's inhabitants.

As the city limped back to normal, a group of local journalists visited the colony on Friday to cover the distribution of food materials and fire extinguishers by members of United Sikhs, a UN-associated global charity group that advocates civil and human rights.

Harijan Panchayat Committee secretary Gurjeet Singh told reporters that the colony has been there since the British Raj. "We have been here since 1853. We had worked for the British government and, subsequently, we also served the Meghalaya government in various capacities, including as manual scavengers," he said.

He said the government had earlier planned to construct flats in the area but the project did not materialise.

He stated that the high-level committee set up by the government to look into relocation of the colony's inhabitants should also solicit their views.

"We will wait for the committee's report and if they decide to relocate us, we will also have to see whether the new location is feasible," he added.

Mohinder Jeet Singh, ground coordinator of United Sikhs, said the local leaders and inhabitants of the colony should come together for negotiations to restore harmony. They had also put the idea before chief minister Conrad K. Sangma during their meeting with him on June 5, he added.

He said in his opinion the inhabitants should not be shifted from the present location as they had been living there for generations. Instead, he added, the government should construct flats and beautify the place.

TNT News with inputs from The Telegraph