Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Traditional bodies oppose new railhead in Meghalaya

The proposed expansion of railways in Meghalaya has stumbled upon yet another roadblock as traditional bodies have backed Khasi Autonomous District Council’s decision not to allow setting up of a rail-head at Byrnihat, officials said.
KHADC chief executive member Titostar Chyne said that a meeting was convened Friday with all village headmen and traditional chiefs to discuss the proposed railway head from Tetelia in Assam to Byrnihat in Ri-Bhoi district.
“Today’s meeting was convened following the state government’s repeated messages to the Council seeking consent. We have not issued our consent in the past. We are only reiterating our stand,” Chyne told PTI.
“And today we were backed up by the voices of traditional heads and chiefs in the areas affected by the railways,” he said.
The Council’s chief said the traditional chiefs have “unanimously” made their view clear on the issue.
Meghalaya chief minister Conrad K Sangma had last year said the state government will engage with all stakeholders to find a way forward for the introduction of goods train till Byrnihat in Khasi Hills region of the state.
Several organisations in the Khasi Hills region of Meghalaya have been opposing the construction of the 20.5 km long Tetelia-Byrnihat railway line.
The anti-railways lobby in the state has been protesting against introduction of railways fearing an influx of outsiders into the state as a consequence of introduction of this cheap and popular mode of transport.
Meghalaya joined the railway map of India when the first passenger train linking Mendipathar in North Garo Hills district with Dudhnoi in Assam was flagged off by Prime Minister Narendra Modi via a video link from Railway Stadium at Maligaon, Assam on November 29, 2014.
Of the total length of 19.75 km of the Mendipathar-Dudhnoi railway line, 10.26 km falls in Assam, and 9.49 km in Meghalaya’s North Garo Hills district. However, since then the railways have not been able to make much headway in the hilly state.

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