Govt justifies eviction at New Shillong Township

SHILLONG: Meghalaya urban affairs minister Ampareen Lyngdoh has justified the eviction drive of illegal settlers at Umsawli where the New Shillong Township (NST) is coming up. She said the court had termed those evicted from the area as "encroachers". The settlers belong to various local communities.

Lyngdoh told reporters that notices to illegal settlers were not required as the court verdict on October 20 had pronounced the Meghalaya government as the owner of the lands at Umsawli.

Last week, Meghalaya Urban Development Authority (MUDA) had conducted an eviction drive at Umsawli to pave the way for construction of the New Shillong Township but Civil Society Women's Organization (CSWO) had protested against the eviction drive.

Lyngdoh, however, told reporters that the government was ready to discuss the issue with the affected people provided they did not take law in their hands. Lyngdoh expressed concern over the delay in starting the work of the NST project even as she emphasized that the new township would ease the congestion in Shillong.

Earlier, on Monday, the people who were evicted had converged near the Meghalaya secretariat building in protest against their eviction. The affected people, backed by social and political activists, castigated the government for evicting the settlers from Umsawli and Mawlong-Mawtari areas. Nevertheless, the MUDA iterated that the people who were evicted were "encroachers".