Beyond Headlines

Sohra’s renewed glory Practise and preach Shiny armour Ration on ropeways Rough road With a difference

By The Telegraph Online
  • Published 12.06.03

Sohra’s renewed glory

It once was and will be again. Cherrapunjee, or Sohra as it is known locally, is all poised to leave bad times behind and once again attract visitors by the droves. The Meghalaya government has put into motion the Mawsmai-Sohra eco-development park project which will develop Mawsmai village into a “medley of hot spots”.

This medley, to be spread over a 20-hectare area, will have various sites to catch the fancy of the visitor. It will have an internal road network, parking lots, small lakes for boating and fishing, a model rural bazaar and connecting pathways for sightseeing. The district rural development agency (DRDA) which is funding this part of the project, has already released Rs 41 lakh. Under active consideration now is the second phase of the project that will include a ropeway whose estimated cost of a whopping Rs 30 crore will be borne by the tribal affairs ministry. Now for those sceptics worried about the ultimate fate of the park project, it has been designed as community-based and will be managed by the Mawsmai dorbar. The going, therefore, should be good.

Practise and preach

A subtle way of hammering a point across probably comes with the post of Lok Sabha Speaker. Or so it seems from Lok Sabha Speaker Manohar Joshi’s statement at the seventh annual Northeast region commonwealth parliamentary conference held in Guwahati recently.

In his inaugural address, Joshi rattled out a long list of figures to emphasise how adjournments and pandemonium in the House had declined since the last winter session. Citing an example, he said during the recently-concluded budget session there were only four adjournments and the House lost only a day because of the pandemonium — in contrast to the winter session in 2000 when 34.6 per cent of the House’s time was wasted on such pandemonium and adjournments.

Joshi stopped just short of telling all present that things began to change soon after he took over. None of those present missed the point.

Add to it Joshi’s remark that in order to curb the trend of adjournments and pandemonium in the House, the presiding officer should be able to strike a fine balance. And presto, one perhaps has the finest example of understated self-adulation.

Shiny armour

No doubt the times are changing. And walking in step with the times, police stations of Guwahati — most of them dreary and ugly cubbyholes — are getting modern makeovers.

Under an Assam Police Housing Corporation renovation scheme, the three most important police stations of the city — Paltan Bazar, Bharalumukh and Jalukbari — are already wearing a new look with news buildings, more space, workstations, rooms for cops of the fairer sex and special investigators, spacious lockups, parking space et al. Renovations are now on at Chandmari, Latasil, North Guwahati and Azara police stations.

To add to its spruced-up image, the city police has also acquired a fleet of new vehicles that, by its own admission, has “increased patrolling capacity”. Citizens are now keeping their fingers crossed that the overall facelift will provide the average Assam policeman — booed no end for his lazy image —enough motivation to tackle crime, crack NYPD (New York police department) style.

Ration on ropeways

The Tripura government has found a way out of its yearly headache of how to keep the public distribution system (PDS) and health facilities operational in the state’s remote hilly areas during the monsoons. It has got going a network of long diesel-operated ropeways which would carry emergency supply of essential commodities to villages and patients to hospitals. Each ropeway, which will be able to carry five to 10 tonnes of load, will be operated by various village committees.

The tribal welfare department with the Centre’s assistance has already set up a ropeway connecting the remote Saboal area in Jampui Hills with the subdivisional headquarters in Kanchanpur. Work is on to connect Jampui, Sakhantang, Longtarai, Atharomura, Barmura, Debtamura Kalajhari and Dhalajhari by ropeway. This is the first ever move to resolve the daunting problem of road connectivity in the remote hilly parts of the state. The going seems to be good since Meghalaya, too, is proposing to take a leaf out of Tripura’s book and connect its remote areas by ropeways.

Rough road

The Shillong bypass project, conceived as a corridor to south Assam, Mizoram, Manipur and Tripura, has managed to steer clear of the rough weather it had run into recently.

Reconsidering its decision to delete the project from its agenda, the Union ministry of road transport and highways has now assured the state government that it will sanction the project after it finishes acquiring the required land. In 2000, the government had sanctioned Rs 8.63 crore for land acquisition.

The project faced its first obstacle when a coterie of landowners offered resistance to the government in taking over their lands for construction of the road.

Waiving aside all arguments of “adequate compensation”, the coterie continued to harangue — possibly to fatten the compensation packet and make hay while the sun shone.

The bypass is expected to be the greatest boon for the city where because of uncontrolled growth in the number of vehicles traffic snarls have become the order of the day. All said and done now, though, the ball is back in the court of the state government which has to take up the matter of land acquisition boldly and in right earnest. And this would be the roughest bit of the rough weather.

With a difference

For those who are awaiting the release of Hepaah, the first feature film by acclaimed director Shankar Borua, here is good news. The audio album of the talked-about movie is out in the music stores.

The album was released on Monday at a brief function at Pandit Tirthanath Sarma Sabhaghar in Chandmari.

Borua, who made waves in film circles with thought-provoking documentaries, hopes that the music and lyrics of Hepaah will be appreciated by the people for their “freshness”.

The music of the film has been composed by popular singer Jitul Sonowal while the lyrics are by Nirmalprova Bordoloi and Nalini Mahanta Dutta, Sonowal himself, Tarali Sharma and Rishiraj Sharma.

Borua, who has promised a film with a difference, completed shooting in 24 days.