Meghalaya Speaker wants Raj Bhawan to be converted to Assembly

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Shillong, Jul 9 (UNI) Meghalaya Assembly Speaker Bindo M Lanong has suggested to hold sessions at the Raj Bhawan and accommodate the Governor in some other official quarters.

''The official residence of the Governor is too big and he could be shifted somewhere else to facilitate construction of the Assembly there,'' Mr Lanong told a meeting of Meghalaya Former MLAs Forum (MFMF) here yesterday.

The Speaker, however, made it clear that his views were personal and had nothing to do with the government or the United Democratic Party which he belongs to.

Mr Lanong, also the Chairman of the High Power Committee (HPC), which will locate the site of the new Legislative building, said he was against shifting the Assembly to the proposed site at Upper Shillong ''due to opposition from different quarters and distance of the area from Assembly Hostel and Secretariat.'' ''Many of our Legislators feel that the House should no be to far from the Assembly Hostel,'' he said.

The High Power Committee (HPC), constituted to find a suitable site for the new Assembly, will meet soon to discuss the matter.

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.

Various farmers' groups and NGOs protested the governments move, which led to the constitution of the HPC.

Earlier, the Lapang-led government had proposed to construct the new Assembly building in the new Shillong Township. But 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 also had the privilege of hosting the historic SAARC meeting.

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

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