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(By Ibankyntiew Mawrie)
The proposal for the re-development of Barik Point in Shillong is at the conceptualisation stage, Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong said on the fifth day of the Meghalaya Assembly Autumn Session on Thursday.
Replying to a question raised by Congress MLA Ampareen Lyngdoh, Tynsong said that discussions and consultations with inter-related departments and other stakeholders are still on, and hence, the details of the proposed project cannot be revealed at present.
He also informed that a designing competition was held in June last year, where architects and designing firms were invited to take part.
“From Urban Affairs, (the) invitation was floated under the nomenclature - ‘Re-development/Re-Designing of Barik Point’. Five firms took part, and we declared one winner,” Tynsong said.
On being asked whether the Detailed Project Report (DPR) was prepared for the proposed project, Tynsong said that the quotation was specific for designing and not for preparing the DPR.
Tynsong also replied in the affirmative when asked by Lyngdoh on whether the staff and officers of the PWD Department (Roads and Building) would be provided space in the new project.
“It is mandatory that views and suggestions submitted to the department are taken into consideration. We are fully accommodating these views,” Tynsong said in response to a suggestion given by the East Shillong legislator to include the local MLAs in the consultation process.
Taking the stand, Nongthymmai MLA Charles Pyngrope asked whether the (Barik) shopping mall is included in the project. To this Tynsong said that the project is inclusive and that he has sought notice for a question on the details of the designs submitted by the winner of last year’s competition.
“Shopping malls are a thing of the past. We request that if you consider any design, avoid a shopping mall and use the space for something else,” Pyngrope suggested.
Replying to a question raised by Mawsynram MLA Hima Shangpliang, Tynsong said that they gave five lakh rupees to the winner of the design competition, three lakh rupees to the first runner-up and two lakh rupees for the second runner-up.
On the other hand, Rangsakona MLA Zenith Sangma questioned the aim of the conceptualising of the project.
“In a hill station like Shillong, we need walking space; let there be open space, a breathing space,” Sangma said while requesting the state government to include stakeholders from Garo Hills during the consultation process.
“The question of Khasi, Jaintia and Garo does not arise. We are one,” Tynsong said in response to Sangma’s request.
This statement, however, did not go down well with Sangma, who asserted that he was not speaking on communal lines.
“I was referring to Garo Hills region, and the name of the region is after the indigenous community,” Sangma said.
“Views and suggestions will be taken into consideration,” Tynsong said.
Responding to Sangma’s earlier question, Tynsong said that the aim of conceptualising the project is to re-develop the space since, at present, Barik Point looks “pathetic”.
Barik Point’s re-development has been seen as a contentious one, especially by many NGOs and civil society organisations. On Nov 7, seasoned activists like Agnes Kharshiing, Angela Rangad and Tarun Bhartiya also voiced their concern against the project along with ‘Fridays for Future’ coordinator Joel Kyndiah.
Previously, the United Democratic Party (UDP) had opposed the project with party adviser and former deputy chief minister Bindo Lanong stating that the land could be used for better purposes, including providing a small parking lot for Shillong Civil Hospital.
(Edited by Andre Kongri)