Speaker to ask MPA for new Assembly site

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Shillong, Apr 6 (UNI) Meghlaya Assembly Speaker Bindo M Lanong today said he would ask the ruling Meghalaya Progressive Alliance (MPA) to find an alternative site for construction of a permanent Assembly building.

Mr Lanong, who was elected unanimously as the Speaker of the 60-member House, decided to re-constitute a High Power Committee (HPC), which will locate the site of the new legislative building.

''I will write to the government to find out an alternative site for a permanent Assembly building in the heart of Shillong,'' Mr Lanong told UNI here.

In 2006, the then Rymbai-led government had decided to construct the Assembly building at the Agriculture Research Station in Upper Shillong, which sparked off protest from NGOs and farming community.

The government had acquired 35.3 acres of land for the new Assembly complex.

''The decision of the previous government to construct a building on farmland needs to be looked into again,'' Mr Lanong said, pointing out that the Agriculture Research station at Upper Shillong was primarily set up to provide technical assistance and strengthen the production of upland crops.

Mr Lanong, however, felt that the Assembly building could be constructed at the original site, a part of which was being used as the Speaker's office.

''We can construct the Assembly building at its original site by swapping the nearby church with Shillong bench of Gauhati High Court if there is no opposition to it,'' he said.

Initially, before the Assembly elections, Mr Lanong had suggested of holding Assembly Sessions at the Raj Bhawan and accommodate the Governor at some other place in the city.

Earlier, the Lapang-led government had proposed to construct the new Assembly building in the new Shillong township. However, the government failed to do so after protests from several Legislators and NGOs.

The construction of the new building was necessitated after the 125-year-old structure that housed the Legislative Assembly was reduced to ashes on January 9, 2001. The original Assembly building was made of Burmese teak by the British before Independence. The old Assembly had also the privilege of hosting the historic SAARC meeting.

Presently, the Assembly Sessions are held at the Arts and Culture auditorium within the premises Brookside, the house in Meghalaya where Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore began writing his 'Shesher Kobita' in 1919.

UNI RRK DPM DB1707

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