The Telegraph
Saturday , March 15 , 2014
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Slum blot on scenic Shillong

A bird’s eye view of Shillong

Shillong, March 14: Meghalaya’s capital has basked in plaudits of a beautiful hill station, but some of its localities have now been notified as slums.

Urban affairs minister Ampareen Lyngdoh, in her reply in the Assembly during question hour on the sixth day of the budget session here today, said 23 slums were identified in the greater Shillong area.

She said under the Meghalaya Slum Area (Improvement and Clearance) Act, 1973 a “slum” is an area unfit for human habitation. The reasons for this are dilapidation, overcrowding, narrowness or faulty arrangement of streets, lack of ventilation height or sanitation or any combination of some or all of these factors. These are detrimental to safety of the people of the area.

Lyngdoh said on the basis of the criteria, identification of slum areas were taken up by conducting physical as well as socio-economic survey.

She told the House that no formal notification was issued for de-notification of any slum.

However, slum improvement work is stopped on reaching the per-capital permissible expenditure of (Rs 800 per capita) in each locality, she said.

The per capita expenditure from 1981-1982 to 1984-1985 was Rs 150, 1984-1985 to 1990-1991 Rs 250, 1990-1991 to 1994-1995 Rs 525 and from 1995-1996 till date is Rs 800.

Lyngdoh even said the entire Mawlai area, one of the biggest localities in Shillong, has also been identified as a slum.

To a question by Opposition legislator Jemino Mawthoh, the urban affairs minister said no departmental scheme under the state plan was proposed to be implemented in the urban areas outside municipal jurisdiction, except infrastructure development scheme and environmental improvement of urban slum scheme at present.

The rolling hills around the town reminded the European settlers of Scotland and hence Shillong came to be known as “Scotland of the East.”

However this distinction is fading as Shillong, an unplanned city, has steadily grown in size over the years. It is the 330th most populous city in India with a population of 1,43,007, according to the 2011 census.

The town witnessed a rise in highrises and traffic congestion because of narrow roads. Its greenery is on the verge of disappearing and in absence of proper waste management, the surroundings, including streams in the heart of the city are getting polluted.