If Meghalaya Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) chief Vincent H Pala is to be believed, more than a political agreement, the now-signed memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed between Meghalaya and Assam to resolve the border row, is a “commercial” deal.
Further elaborating on the remark, Pala alleged that the Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA) government’s decision to MoU was ensure that an under-construction five-star-hotel at Khanapara comes under Meghalaya.
“The whole thing is about a five-star hotel. Since the owner is from Meghalaya, the government wants it in Meghalaya so that it can issue licenses for gambling and other businesses in that hotel,” said the MPCC chief, on April 25.
He also alleged that some “big shots within the government” had bought the five-star hotel in Khanapara. “However, they (later) found that the land document is in Meghalaya whereas the building permission (had to be sought) from Assam, so it became difficult for them,” he said.
The Shillong legislator further alleged that the state government also changed the Meghalaya Building Bye-Laws, 2011 in order to get the hotel approved as per law.
Pala further alleged that this was done soon after chief minister Conrad K Sangma dropped People’s Democratic Front (PDF) legislator from Mylliem, Hamletson Dohling as Urban Affairs minister and handed over the portfolio to current minister in-charge of the department Sniawbhalang Dhar.
“When Hamletson was dropped, the byelaws also were changed immediately; within a month. And after they got it, everything was rectified. The building was constructed more than five floors and as per law it is G+3, then it was modified to G+4 where maximum you can construct a building is up to five floors. That building, I think, is more than 18-19 floors,” Pala said.
Pala also questioned the government’s failure to take stakeholders including the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC) into consideration before signing the MoU.
“Had it been for the interest of the public, why not go and talk to the secretary? Last night, the secretary called me and informed me that the minister came to the villages, took photos and left, there was no discussion with the Syiem,” he said.
Further terming the MoU as “illegal”, the MPCC chief said the MoU was signed without any witnesses.
“It is illegal. Whenever there is an MoU or agreement (signed) there should be witnesses. But in this particular case, there are no witnesses. Secondly, if the MoU is going to be signed for the interest of the public, at least the Syiem, the dorbar or the district council should have been taken into account. Why not take them into account?” he asked.
Meanwhile, Pala said that, instead of trying to resolve the problem, the government is only creating more problems from an already existing one.
“If you are going to solve a problem, which has been there for more than almost 6-7 decades, what is the problem of spending another 10-15 days (to call and discuss with the people from these areas). If you can’t solve it, leave it to the next generation to solve it, there is no point in creating more problems from an already existing one,” he said.
The Shillong MP also asked the government not to impose or force the border MoU on the residents of the border areas.