Meghalaya Government Works Out Solution for Road Project; Appeases Anti-mining, Pro-road Groups

Reported by

Jonah

Legal Data by

Edited by

Updated by

Published on

September 12, 2016

September 12, 2016

Updated on

September 12, 2016

Location of Conflict

Mawkyrwat

South West Khasi Hills

Reason or Cause of Conflict

Roads

(

)

People Affected by Conflict

80000

Households Affected by Conflict

Land Area Affected (in Hectares)

6000

ha

Starting Year

2010

State

Meghalaya

Sector

Infrastructure

The Uranium Corporation of India (UCI), which proposed to mine uranium deposits in the West Khasi Hills district, is funding a road to provide access to its KyellengPyndengsohiongMawthabah uranium mining project. The road from Wahkaji to Mawthabah was to be implemented by the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC). In early 2015, the state government asked KHADC to hand over the land to the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways for the construction of a twolane road project from Nongstoin to Mawthabha already sanctioned by the ministry. The KHADC delayed the process, citing a delay in UCI's confirmation. In April 2016, residents of 60 villages demanded that the KHADC issue a No Objection Certificate (NOC) for the project that will allow the construction of the road. Forming the Joint Action Committee on twolane road from Nongstoin to Mawthabah, the residents served a 15day ultimatum to grant the NOC, failing which it threatened to go to court. The committee criticised the KHADC for delaying a project that will benefit more than 80,000 people. But the KHADC remained adament and did not grant the NOC. On the other hand, antiuranium groups in the region opposed the project. While they welcomed the road, they were apprehensive that a twoway lane would enable ease of mining. Apparently, this was the reason why the KHADC had refused to grant an NOC. These groups wanted the KHADC to issue an NOC for only half the road and opposed the linking of the road with Mawthabah, which the UCI has been eyeing for mining. The committee members said they were ready to give their land for the construction of the road in lieu of rehabilitation and compensation package, but they would still not agree to turning Mawthabah a small village of only 10 households into a mining site. In June 2016, the Union government took it upon itself to probe the withholding of NOCs by the KHADC and the nonrelease of allotted funds by the state government. A former Union minister, in a letter to then Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, noted that the project is timebound, implying that the nonissuance of an NOC would divert the project to a different state. The lag in implementation resulted in the project work coming to a standstill. In July 2016, the Join Action Committee (JAC) served a sixday ultimatum to KHADC to issue an NOC, failing which the JAC would go on a hunger strike. Without any avail, in the same year, a public interest litigation (PIL) was filed requesting the high court to direct the KHADC to issue an NOC. In January 2021, the Meghalaya high court disposed of the PIL, stating that a mandatory direction has become redundant by "efflux of time" since, according to a letter dated August 20, 2019, by the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways to the project general manager, the project had been approved and handed over to the State of Meghalaya. In January 2021, the state government, through the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways, dropped the original 68kilometrelong twolane project, which was set to cost about INR 486 crore, and instead proposed a 30kilometrelong singlelane road, which is set to cost around INR 300 crore, thus finding a middle ground between antimining and proroad groups.

Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Demand for compensation

Demand for rehabilitation

Other Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Region Classification

Rural

Type of Land

Both

Type of Common Land

Forest and Non-Forest, Non-Forest (Other than Grazing Land)

Total investment involved (in Crores):

300

Type of investment:

Cost of Project

Year of Estimation

Page Number In Investment Document:

Has the Conflict Ended?

When did it end?

Why did the conflict end?

Categories of Legislations Involved in the Conflict

Land Acquisition Laws, Constitutional Law, Other

Legislations/Policies Involved

Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013
Section 10A [This section empowers the appropriate government to exempt any project which may be in public interest, including rural infrastructure etc.]; Section 41 [This section states that land in Scheduled Areas should be acquired only as a last resort. The prior consent of District Councils in Scheduled Areas must be obtained before acquisition or alienation of any land]
Constitution of India, 1950
Article 244(2) and 275(1) and Sixth Schedule, Paragraph 3 [Powers of the District Councils and Regional Councils to make laws]
Assam Reorganisation (Meghalaya) Act, 1969
Paragraph 12A [Special provisions with respect to application of laws in Meghalaya]
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Whether claims/objections were made as per procedure in the relevant statute

What was the claim(s)/objection(s) raised by the community?

What was the Decision of the Concerned Government Department?

Legal Processes and Loopholes Enabling the Conflict:

Controversial land acquisition by the government

Non-rehabilitation of displaced people

Non-payment of compensation/promised compensation

Legal Status:

In Court

Status of Case In Court

Disposed

Whether any adjudicatory body was approached

Name of the adjudicatory body

Name(s) of the Court(s)

High Court of Meghalaya

Case Number

PIL 11/2016

Main Reasoning/Decision of court

Major Human Rights Violations Related to the Conflict:

No items found.

Whether criminal law was used against protestors:

Reported Details of the Violation:

Date of Violation

Location of Violation

Nature of Protest

Complaints/petitions/letters/memorandums to officials

Development of a network or collective

Government Departments Involved in the Conflict:

Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways

PSUs Involved in the Conflict:

Uranium Corporation of India

Did LCW Approach Government Authorities for Comments?

Name, Designation and Comment of the Government Authorities Approached

Corporate Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Uranium Corporation of India Limited

Did LCW Approach Corporate Parties for Comments?

Communities/Local Organisations in the Conflict:

United Democratic Party, Congress Party, Aam Aadmi Party, Hill State People's Democratic Party, Rangbah Shnongs of the villages in South West Khasi Hills

Resources Related to Conflict

  • News Articles Related to the Conflict:
  • Documents Related to the Conflict:
  • Links Related to the Conflict:

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Reviewed By

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Updated By

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