| Tara Ghar bungalow in Shillong |
Shillong, Oct. 29: A division bench of Shillong bench of Gauhati High Court today took cognizance of a public interest litigation (PIL) on Tara Ghar bungalow filed by the Informed Conscious And Responsible Existence (ICARE), an NGO.
ICARE has been in the forefront to oppose the decision to construct the new Meghalaya Assembly structure on the premises of the bungalow at a cost of Rs 113 crore.
Justice T. Vaiphei and Justice P. K. Saikia, while admitting the public interest litigation said the state respondents, which include the Meghalaya government, should file their written objection within the next two weeks.
While the application for stay will be considered on November 12, the court ordered that in the meantime, the bungalow should not be demolished. The court also observed that if the petitioner makes any adjournment on November 12, the interim order should stand vacated without further reference from the court.
“The fact that the PIL has been admitted is in itself an achievement,” Toki Blah, ICARE president said.
Groups like ICARE have constantly said Tara Ghar, which used to serve as the official residence of the chief minister, is a “heritage site” which should be left untouched.
They have also said the natural environment in and around Tara Ghar would be affected if a new Assembly structure were allowed to come up. The Meghalaya Government Construction Corporation in March 2011 had said the 6.4-acre plot at Tara Ghar would consume only about 28 per cent of the built-up area, while the remaining 72 per cent would be made available for vehicular parking and landscaping.
It also said only about four per cent of trees in and around Tara Ghar would be felled for constructing the Assembly complex.
The 41-foot complex will have five floors, including a water treatment plant, sewage treatment plant and facilities for rainwater harvesting.
The high-powered committee, comprising Speaker Charles Pyngrope, chief minister Mukul Sangma, leader of the Opposition Conrad Sangma and others, had accepted the government land at Tara Ghar for constructing the new Assembly complex.
In 2010, the state government had handed over the land to the Assembly secretariat for the construction of the new complex.
On January 9, 2001, an inferno gutted the picturesque and historical Assembly building at Khyndai Lad (Police Bazar) and since then, Meghalaya has been deprived of a permanent Assembly building.