The state government has assured to examine the demand of the Hima Mawphlang for regularizing the services of over 112 contractual staff so as to ensure completion of the Greater Shillong Water Supply Scheme (GSWSS) Phase-III within this year.
The assurance was made during a meeting convened by the Minister in-charge Public Health Engineering (PHE) Renikton Lyngdoh Tongkhar with the delegation of the Hima Mawphlang on Tuesday.
The Hima Mawphlang has for the past three years disallowed construction of the stage-II Pumping Station of the GSWSS Phase-III as it alleged that the department has failed to honor the agreement signed with the Hima by not regularizing the services of these staffs.
Giving first preference to the local people from Hima Mawphlang for job appointment was one of the conditions in the agreement signed while acquiring land for implementation of the project.
Speaking to media persons after the meeting, Tongkhar informed that the department has given appointments to many people from Hima Mawphlang.
He said that staff joined prior to 1997 have been regularized but those appointed after this year, they are yet to be regularized.
“Around 112 people are there which are yet to be regularized by the department. Based on the request of the Hima, we have decided to examine the matter and ensure we regularize the staff to the maximum that we can,” the minister assured.
Tongkhar also informed that the delegation from the Hima has also expressed concern about the process of recruitment to vacancies in the department.
“They (Hima) are worried if the recruitment is being conducted by the District Selection Committee (DSC) whether the people of Mawphlang will get the preference as per the agreement. We told them that we will also examine this matter on whether we can conduct the recruitment process from the department. I have asked the officers in the department to find out ways and means to recruit from the department itself and if required to get the approval from other departments like finance and personnel, we will do that,” he said.
Regarding the implementation of the Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM), the minister said that the Hima Mawphlang has also expressed concern because as per guidelines of the Mission, 5 percent contribution should be made by the beneficiaries besides maintenance cost.
“Since as per the agreement, the department will have to provide free drinking water supply to the people of Mawphlang, we have assured to give them exemption and that they don’t need to contribute the 5 percent. The maintenance cost will also be taken care of by us,”he said.
Asked, the minister said that the delegation of the Hima Mawphlang will soon get back to the department on their decision after they sit for a dorbar.
“After discussing all these, I am happy to inform you that people of Mawphlang even though they could not decide today but they are very positive. I really hope very soon they will give us clearance to resume work (for construction of pumping station),” he said.
On the other hand, Tongkhar has expressed confidence that by resolving the issue, the department will be able to complete the GSWSS Phase-III within this year.
“We are still not backing from the target to complete the project by 2021 itself… we are still working very hard to ensure we successfully complete the project,” he said.
According to him, the problem has been one of the main reasons for the delay to complete the project.
“The problem has been there for the past three years and the objection by the Hima Mawphlang has to a great extent affected the project. I was told some attempt was done from contractors’ side but people prevented them from taking up any work,” he said.
When asked if the action by the Hima was justified, the minister however said, “I have expressed to them, I felt that the department has done its best by honoring the agreement by appointing so much from Mawphlang itself as the main agreement was to give preference to the people of Mawphlang for appointment. On that note, I have requested them since we have respected each other if they reconsider by allowing us to resume the work for which they didn’t say no. Looking at their expression, I really hope that a positive response will come out.”