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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

AHAM reiterates demand to establish Tura as the ‘winter capital’ of Meghalaya

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Shillong: The A•chik Holistic Awakening Movement (AHAM) has written to the Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma to remind him of the pending demand to establish Tura as the winter capital of the State.

President Prince Ch Momin of AHAM, Tura, West Garo in a letter has stated that, “AHAM would like to draw your attention to the above subject matter and urge that this be given the due importance it deserves that this be given the due importance that it deserves. Earlier last year, this matter was raised with the offices of both the Chief Minister and Governor, the progress update is still awaited.”

“You are aware that it is the aspiration and long-standing petition of the people of Tura and wider Garo Hills to make Tura the winter capital of Meghalaya. This dates back to the time when Meghalaya state was being formed, and the agreement between the founding leaders from the Garo, Jaintia and Khasi communities was to establish two capitals for the state – Tura as the winter capital from October to March, and Shillong as the summer capital from April to September. This agreement has not been honoured and Tura has been deprived of its winter capital status, and disregarded by successive governments which effectively is an injustice to the people of Tura and Garo Hills”.

The AHAM has draw few compelling reasons why Tura should be made into a Winter Capital:

⦁ The Garos are very different from Khasis/Jaintias ethnically, culturally and linguistically. The core purpose of carving out a separate state of Meghalaya from Assam is for the preservation and advancement of local identity, culture and territory of the three ethnic groups in the state. Since the formation of Meghalaya with Shillong the sole capital, the statehood has mainly benefited the Khasi/Jaintia communities only in all spheres of development and societal advancement as all the state government machinery and resources are concentrated and focussed on Khasi-Jaintia Hills region alone, whilst the Garos and Garo Hills are largely neglected and deprived of their due recognition which is discriminatory in nature as the state equally belongs to all the three distinct groups.

⦁ Good governance calls for decentralization and devolution of power which is essential for a healthy democracy. Establishing the winter capital in Tura will ensure multiple benefits to this region, to Garo Hills, such as

⦁ Governance will be brought closer to the public which in turn will facilitate ease of administration;

⦁ Promote regional development as the winter capital will act as growth poles, attracting investments and creating employment & business opportunities which allows regional development and hence results in balanced and inclusive growth;

⦁ Foster participative governance by splitting power centres which can improve the connection and relationship between the governing and the governed;

⦁ Act as a check and balance to ensure that the policies and developmental programmes are drawn up equally, in fairness and in parallel for both Garo Hills and Khasi/Jaintia Hills regions.

⦁ The location of the current state capital is very far for the general public of Garo Hills which presents a massive logistical issue particularly for the remote rural public. Accessing the capital is not practical and feasible as it involves huge amounts of time and resources which most of these public cannot afford.

⦁ The model of two capitals has been adopted by several states in India for efficient administration and good governance keeping in mind the social and ethnical diversity amongst other reasons. Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh are some of these states to name a few. Meghalaya must adopt this best practice in the interest of the public of Garo Hills who have been long deprived of their due recognition and development.

Since the Tura winter capital proposal is an existing bill, it is a very reasonable ask for it to be fulfilled. And, creation of capital/s is a state affair as provisioned by Article 154 (1) of the Indian constitution, decided by the state cabinet and signed off by the Governor. It is an attainable and reasonably straightforward process. In the spirit of fairness and equality, Tura must be made the winter capital of Meghalaya as the state owes it to the general public of Tura and wider Garo Hills for the last 50 years.

“We trust that this government will address this matter on priority, set up the required processes and timeframe, and provide the public of Garo Hills with acknowledgement and progress updates. We will pursue this cause until it is realised”.

“AHAM strongly and respectfully appeal to the Chief Minister to exercise his political will to fulfil this longstanding petition and to demonstrate his conviction to the people of Tura who have trusted and given him another opportunity to serve”.

The letter ends with, “We look forward to your response”.

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