SHILLONG: The Jaintia Students Union (JSU) has slammed the government’s plans to introduce railways in the Khasi-Jaintia region alleging that the move primarily serves the interests of businessmen outside of the state.
In a statement issued on Friday, the student body also asserted that the government’s main objective behind the introduction of railways in Jaintia Hills is to facilitate the transportation of high-quality cement from the state.
“The cost of cement production is higher in Meghalaya than in Assam, so they want to bring railways to ease the transportation of our cement to other states, benefiting businessmen but not the people of the state. Only a small section of people, mostly businessmen in Jaintia Hills, want a railway in their region,” the statement read.
Reiterating its stance on the mandatory implementation of the Inner Line Permit before introducing railways, the JSU also argued that the introduction of railways could lead to an influx of outsiders and threaten their indigenous culture.
“While railway infrastructure may improve accessibility, it will also increase migration of people from other areas. Such an influx can have social, economic, and environmental impacts on the state,” the statement continued.
Notably, following a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in August, Chief Minister Conrad Sangma had made the announcement that Prime Minister Modi had acknowledged the issue and assured a comprehensive examination of the demand for ILP.
The JSU’s concerns echo those raised earlier by the Jaintia National Council (JNC), which criticised Deputy Chief Minister Sniawbhalang Dhar for suggesting that some Jaintia people had requested the government to bring railways to Jaintia Hills.
The JNC had urged the government to prioritise the establishment of good roads, colleges, and health centres instead of focusing on railways.
Despite the stiff opposition against the introduction of railways, on October 10, Dhar had clarified that the idea of introducing railway lines in the Khasi-Jaintia Hills region has not been dropped.
“We are not dropping the idea. We are still examining it,” said Meghalaya’s deputy chief minister in-charge of transport.