Archive for the ‘Meghalaya’ Category

Displacement of Nepalis in Meghalaya Increasing

May 21, 2010

 Siliguri, May 21 : Over 3000 Nepali speaking community based in northeastern India state of Meghalaya have been displaced due to the intensified attacks by the indigenous Khasis on them.

It has been learnt that the number of displaced Nepalis may double within Saturday.

3000 Nepalis have been taking shelter at Jayanti hill in Assam and 1000 at Meghalaya, Purdung.

Quoting displaced Rimina Chhetri, Janamukti Morcha Asam Chairman NL Sulwa said the Khasis have also warned to attack them at the region they have been residing temporarily.

According to Meghalaya Gorkha Welfare Center member TR Joshi, Indian para-military force has been deployed at the tense and the adjoining areas to contain the situation.

However, the attack on the Nepali speaking community has not stopped.

Last Monday, the Khasis had issued a 24-hour ultimatum to the Nepali community to leave the Langpih, situated at the border of Meghalaya and Assam, after the clash between Khasis and Nepali over land dispute. Indian people of Nepali origin account for 2.6 percent of the total population in Meghalaya.

Both Meghalaya and Assam, a neighboring state, have been laying claim over the bordering Langpih village since long.

[ via Ekantipur ]


Meghalaya Police Bust SIM Card Racket

May 19, 2010

SIM card Shillong, May 19 : Police in Meghalaya Tuesday busted a massive mobile phone SIM card racket spread across Manipur and Nagaland as well, based on a disclosure of a top arrested militant leader.

The racket was unearthed at Tura, the district headquarters of West Garo Hills, following the disclosure to the police by Novembirth Ch Marak, a top Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA) militant leader.

Novembirth, founder and general secretary of GNLA, was arrested from Siliguri railway station in West Bengal Saturday, dealing a blow to the group’s network.

“We have detained three agents of different mobile companies for questioning based on Novembirth’s confession,” Deputy Superintendent of Police Bobby Momin told IANS.

Momin said that according to Novembirth, the mobile phone agents operating in Tura arranged for pre-paid SIM cards from Dimapur in Nagaland and Manipur.

“They bring registered pre-paid SIM cards from Dimapur and Manipur and sell them to people, violating all telecom norms,” Momin said.

The GNLA, which is fighting for a ’sovereign Garoland’ in the western areas of Meghalaya, is headed by Champion R. Sangma, a policeman-turned-rogue. It had demanded extortion money from various people through mobile text messages ranging from Rs.5 lakh to Rs.1 crore.

The GNLA had made these extortion demands on politicians, petrol pump owners, coal dealers and businessmen in the coal-rich districts of Garo Hills.

A former minister in the previous D.D. Lapang ministry and a retired inspector general of police were among those who received extortion demands.

The GNLA, a nascent militant outfit operating in three Garo Hills districts in the western part of Meghalaya, maintains links with the National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Isak-Muivah (NSCN-IM), United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) and National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB).

Nepalese Given Quit Notice in Meghalaya

May 17, 2010

langpih Shillong, May 17 : Even as both Meghalaya and Assam governments are trying to cool down the border tension at Langpih, the firing incident has triggered communal tension in Meghalaya.

Various tribal Khasi and Pnar organizations based in the Eastern part of Meghalaya issued a quit notice to Nepalese settlers to protest against the killing of Khasi villagers and injured several others.

On Friday, four people were killed and several others injured in the firing by Assam Police personnel at the disputed Langpih village on the Meghalaya-Assam border. The firing began after a clash between Nepalese nationals with tribal Khasis and Garos at a weekly market.

“We have asked all Nepalese settlers to quit Jaintia Hills district within one week starting from 0500 hours tomorrow in protest against the killing of four Khasi villagers at the behest of the Nepalese settlers there,” DL Rymbai, President of the Jaintia Youth Federation (JYF), one of the seven organisations, which issued the quit notice said.

Earlier, a unit of the powerful Khasi Students’ Union (KSU), issued a 24-hour quit notice to Nepalese settlers residing in Malki area.

However, a government statement issued here claimed that the KSU has “called-off” the ultimatum served on the Nepalese residents.

“The quit notice issued by the KSU Malki circle stands,” KSU President Samuel B Jyrwa said.

“We are not going to spell out what course of action we would take once the deadline expires. But something is going to happen and we shall throw them out,” Rymbai warned.

There is a sizeable Nepalese population in certain pockets of Meghalaya and most of them working in the coalfields.

Meanwhile, Security was tightened across Meghalaya after the police firing at Langpih and following the announcements of the social organisations. ‘’We have put our men on alert and assessing the situation and vulnerable areas are on proper guard and our forces have been re-positioned in the entire state.’’ Director General of Police, Meghalaya, S B Kakati said.

HNLC bandh
The proscribed Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC) militant outfit Sunday announced a 12-hour bandh in Meghalaya on May 20 to protest the death of four people in a police firing.

In an e-mailed statement, HNLC spokesman, Sainkupar Nongtraw condemned the firing by Assam police personnel on Khasi villagers at Langpih on May 14, killing four people and injuring several others.

The organizations have called for 24-hour bandh on May 18 from 5 am onwards, while the UDP, an ally in the Congress-led Meghalaya United Alliance government called for a 12-hour statewide bandh on May 20 from 5 am to 5 pm.

20 Injured in Clash, Police Firing in Meghalaya

May 14, 2010

meghalaya Guwahati/Shillong, May 14 : Over 20 people were injured when a clash broke out between two communities and subsequent police firing at a village along Assam-Meghalaya border today, police said.

The incident happened at a weekly market in the disputed Langpi village, claimed by both the states, when a group of people attacked another community with firearms, stones, bricks and sticks, Kamrup (Rural) SP P S Mahanta said.

Police opened fire after the attackers continued to hurl stones at the other group who fled to a nearby police outpost at the village bordering Meghalaya’s West Khasi Hills district and Assam’s Kamrup district, he said.

20 people were injured, 10 of them seriously, in the incident, he said, adding that the injured were rushed to the Guwahati Medical College Hospital.
Additional police forces have been rushed to the village, officials said.

Festival Dedicated to Insect Held in Meghalaya

May 14, 2010

Niangtaser Shillong, May 14 : A one-of-its-kind festival was organized in Meghalaya, dedicated to a peculiar insect called ‘Niangtaser’, with local football enthusiasts naming it ‘Niang World Cup’ as it surfaces every four years in Ri Bhoi district coinciding with the football world cup.

The day-long Niangtser festival was held for the first time by the Saiden Socio Cultural and Sport Club at Saiden, about 55 km from here, on Tuesday night.

Hundreds of people carrying lamps thronged the Lewsir forest and searched for the insect, which is of the Cicada family.

“People pick them and push them using a stick inside a mature hollow bamboo having one node. This prevents them from becoming fully mature. The insects are then cleaned, cooked and served as a delicacy,” the club’s president R W Shylla said.

The insect comes out of the ground in large numbers and particularly at night time.

NEEPCO to Plans Thermal, Hydro Projects in Meghalaya

May 14, 2010

By Rining Lyngdoh

NEEPCO Shillong, May 14 : The North Eastern Electric Power Corporation Limited (NEEPCO) will soon ink a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) with the Meghalaya government for setting up of thermal and hydro electric projects in the State.

Interestingly, though NEEPCO whose headquarters is in Shillong since 1976, but the said projects, however will be its first ventures to be implemented in Meghalaya.

The decision to allow NEEPCO to develop the 500 mega watt coal-based thermal project in Garo Hills and 85 mega watt Mawphu hydro electric project stage-II at Umiew basin in East Khasi Hills was approved by the Cabinet today.

According to an official in NEEPCO, the government-owned company would use the best international technology to make the thermal project environment friendly.

“The Cabinet has approved to hand over the two project to NEEPCO and the government will be soon signing the MoA with the company,” Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma told reporters after the Cabinet meeting.

Sangma said the clauses incorporated in the MoA are in conformity with the the State Power Policy and Indian Electricity Act, 2003 giving priority to the local bonafide residents of the State in terms of employment.

“We will implement the clauses of the MoA in letter and spirit and the government will constitute a Project Monitoring Committee to look into the the employment issue as well as to ensure that the projects are implemented on time,” Sangma stated.

The Chief Minister informed that the government will also ask NEEPCO to provide the list of all categories of jobs and qualification for respective jobs so that the government will train local youths in various job-oriented courses accordingly so that by the time the projects are ready for commissioning, the State will have enough qualified local youths.

According to Sangma, NEEPCO has already agreed to adopt at least two Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) in the State for providing job-oriented courses to local youths of the State, while the erstwhile Meghalaya State Electricity Board now renamed as Meghalaya Energy Corporation Limited (MeECL) in collaboration with the Labour Department will adopt two existing ITIs at Shillong and Tura.

Besides, the Cabinet has also decided to implement holograms in all the liquor bottles being sold in the state, to check  revenue leakage.

“With the introduction of holograms, the Excise department will raise an additional revenue of Rs 3.15 crore annually,”  Sangma said.

Sangma also informed that the Cabinet has approved the proposed implementation of the Centrally-funded Integrated Child Protection Scheme in the State adding a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) would be soon signed between the Social Welfare department and Union Ministry of Women and Child Development to implement the scheme.

The funding pattern for the scheme would be 90 per cent by the Centre and 10 per cent by the State government in which the State is expected to receive Rs 29 crore within the current 11th Plan.

MoEF Provides Clearance to Lafarge’s Mining in Meghalaya

April 24, 2010

moef New Delhi, Apr 24 : The ministry of forest and environment (MoEF) on Friday gave the green signal to limestone mining in Meghalaya by French multinational Lafarge for its cement plant in Bangladesh but put a series of conditions, to fulfill which the company would have to shell out more than Rs 100 crore.

The forest and environment clearance for the mining, to which as many as 31 conditions were attached, was conveyed to the Supreme Court on Friday by MoEF through an affidavit filed by standing counsel Haris Beeran.

The key conditions relate to payment of money for afforestation activity in twice the area under mining and creation of a special purpose vehicle (SPV) for development of the area around the mines, from which the limestone is transported to the plant at Chhatak through a conveyor belt.
MoEF said Lafarge Umiam Mining Pvt Ltd has to pay five times the normal afforestation cost working out to Rs 55 crore with an interest of 9% from April 1, 2007. This would amount to nearly Rs 70 crore taking into account the interest component.

Added to this, the mining company has to pay Rs 90 per tonne of the mined mineral since the commencement of mining. With Lafarge Surma having already mined around four million tonnes of limestone, it would have to pay around Rs 36 crore that will constitute the SPV, which would contribute towards the development of health, education, economy, irrigation and agriculture in the project area solely for the local community and welfare of tribals.

The clearance from the MoEF was sought by the Supreme Court taking into account the charges of Shella Action Committee, a conglomerate of traditional village bodies, that limestone was being mined in forest areas and that the environmental clearance was obtained fraudulently.

Lafarge Umiam was mining the limestone quarry area spread over 100 hectares near the Indo-Bangladesh border for supply of raw material to Lafarge Surma Cement Project at Chhatak in Sunamganj, Bangladesh.

PA Sangma Threatens Agitation Against Uranium Mining

April 23, 2010

pa_sangma Shillong, Apr 23 : Former Lok Sabha speaker Purno A. Sangma Thursday threatened to launch an agitation against the central government’s proposal to conduct exploratory drilling for uranium inside the Balpakram National Park in the South Garo hills of Meghalaya.

The 400-sq km BNP is a known habitat for the Asian elephant, tiger and other endangered animals such as, Hoolock Gibbon and Slow Loris, apart from being home to rare and endemic plants.

Sangma’s threat assume significance after the National Board of Wildlife (NBWL) approved the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE)’s proposal to conduct exploratory drilling of uranium in the ecologically fragile Rongcheng plateau of the Balpakram National Park in Meghalaya.

The NBWL is headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

A NBWL member, Bibhab Talukdar, who has been assigned to lead a site inspection team to South Garo Hills to seek the views of people on the DAE’s proposed exploratory drilling of uranium, and submit a report to the standing committee, has decided not to visit the national park.

“I have informed the board that I will not be visiting the place following people’s protest against the government’s proposal,” Talukdar said.

The Garo National Liberation Army, a militant group has warned the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) and the state’s Chief Wildlife Warden from going ahead with exploratory work for uranium mining in and around the national park.

Last year, the DAE has asked the Ministry of Environment and Forests to de-notify an area of eight sq km on the Rongcheng plateau along the environs of Balpakram National Park in Meghalaya’s South Garo Hills for exploration of uranium.

“Balpakram is sacrosanct for Garos. We believed after death our soul goes and rests in Balpakram,” Sangma told IANS.

Therefore, he said, the question of mining or diluting the sanctity of Balpakram by way of mining is not acceptable to Garos.

The Hindus too believe that Balpakram was the mythological hillock from where Hanuman plucked the life-giving herbs ‘the sanjeevani’ for wounded Lakshman.

On April 24, Sangma said political (Garo) leaders and NGO leaders will meet at Tura in Meghalaya’s West Garo Hills district to protest against the government’s decision to explore uranium inside Balpakram.

The influential Garo Students’ Union Wednesday dashed off a memorandum to Union Minister of Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh opposing the DAE’s proposal to conduct exploratory drilling of uranium inside Balpakram.

The drilling exercise, he said would affect the fragile biodiversity of Balpakram and would be tantamount to encroaching on the tribal rights.

“Survey in the recent years has identified possibility of economical uranium mining in the Rongcheng plateau of Balpakram,” a DAE official said.

He said the DAE wanted to start the exploration exercise to confirm the uranium deposits to meet the country’s nuclear energy requirement which will be to the tune of 20,000 MW by 2020.

State Chief Wildlife Warden Sunil Kumar earlier told IANS that the proposed drilling exercise will have no adverse affect on the park.

“Since the drilling exercise is of temporary nature, which will be carried out as a day time activity, I don’t think it will disturb the landscape or ecology of the area,” Kumar said.

“Once the exercise is completed. The drilling areas will be restored to ensure that there is biotic interference in Balpakram,” he added.

The DAE has discovered about 9.22 million tones of uranium ore deposits in Meghalaya.

The Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL) plans to produce 375,000 tones of uranium ore a year and process 1,500 tones of the mineral a day.

It has also proposed to set up a Rs.1,046-crore open-cast uranium mining and processing plant in Meghalaya’s West Khasi Hills district, which has an estimated 9.22 million tones of uranium ore deposits.

Meghalaya Seek Blessings of Tibetan Spiritual leader

April 21, 2010

Sakya Trizin Rinpoche Shillong, Apr 21 : Tibetans living in exile thronged the Buddhist Monastery in Upper Lumparingin in Shillong to catch a glimpse of their spiritual leader, the 41st Sakya Trizin Rinpoche.

The 41st Sakya Trizin Rinpoche is the supreme head of the Sakya school, one of the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism.

The purpose of Rinpoche’s visit is spiritual discourse, blessings and religious ceremony, in the northeastern state, which has a significant population of the Tibetans living in exile.

Speaking to the media, the spiritual leader said that people in Shillong need spiritual upliftment and blessings for peace and prosperity.

“In Tibetan Buddhism, we have four major schools. Though they are same basically, the motivations, their way of conduct and final achievements are not different. But the one difference is that the lineage is different, how the teaching originally came from India, and then passed through the translation and then continued from one guru to the next. And so, therefore, the lineage is different. Due to this, the certain emphasis somewhat slightly different,” said Rinpoche.

According to the Tibetan legend, the Sakya family descended from “Gods of a Celestial Race” and the lineage remains unbroken till date.

After an abortive uprising against Chinese rule in Tibet in 1959, Sakya Trizen Rinpoche, moved to India and established the Sakya Guru Monastery in Darjeeling.

Mukul Sangma to be Meghalaya’s New Chief Minister

April 18, 2010

Shillong, Apr 18 : In a late night development, Mukul Sangma has been named the new Chief Minister of Meghalaya. He replaces D D Lapang. The decision came after a leadership row in the state Congress.

Sangma is currently the deputy chief minister of the state. Sangma had rushed to Delhi earlier on Saturday, apparently with an eye to the top job claiming the support of majority of the party’s legislators.

With Lapang already camping in New Delhi at the summons of the All India Congress Committee (AICC), Sangma reached there with 14 Congress MLAs, including 10 dissidents who have sought Lapangs ouster.

The development came after 21 of the 28 Congress MLAs, including some detractors of the chief minister, met at Sangma’s residence late on Friday night and were understood to have pledged him ‘unconditional support’ to him. The dissident MLAs have been pressing the Congress High Command for nearly a month for a change of leadership as well as their inclusion in the ministry. Only six of total 28 Congress MLAs have found berths in Lapang’s ministry. The ruling Congress alliance, sworn in last year after the fall of the NCP-led government, enjoys the support of 44 legislators — 28 from Congress, 9 from UDP, two from Hill State Peoples Democratic Party, one from Khyun Hynniewtrep National Awakening Movement and four Independents in a House of 60. (With PTI inputs)