The SEKHDDF submit memorandum to Mr Conrad demanding for creation of SEKH District

Shillong, Oct 01: The South East Khasi Hills District Demand Forum, today submitted memorandum to the Chief Minister Mr Conrad K Sangma, asking the government to upgrade Sohra Civil Sub Division to a South East Khasi Hills District.

The South East Khasi Hills Demand Forum, they are happy to note that the Chief Minister have committed to ensure effective governance in the State. This has revived in them the hope that the people of our State in general and our area in particular would someday reap the fruits of development and prosperity.

In the memorandum, the forum point out that, the Chief Minister is aware, bringing the administration closer to the people is the constitutional obligation of the state to ensure good governance, speedy delivery of service and social justice for the people.

A new district is created for administrative convenience so that the distance between the district headquarter and remote areas are shortened which in turn helps with better implementation and monitoring  of government schemes and programmes and also managing law and order in remote areas.

The aspiration for upgrading Sohra Civil Sub-Division into a District has been a long felt need of the people of the entire civil sub-division including the southern border areas of East Khasi Hills. Till date, Sohra Civil Sub-Division has remained a backyard left out of the prospects of development and urbanisation.

The forum inform the Chief  Minister that a gathering of all headmen, traditional heads, intellectuals, and leaders of various social organisations from both Sohra and Shella constituencies in a meeting held on 28th July, 2018 at the office of the Syiem of Hima Sohra has discussed at length the need and aspiration of the people of the area for all-round development.

The meeting unanimously resolved to place before the Chief Minister the need to upgrade Sohra Civil Sub-Division into a District. In order that the Chief Minister will have an overview of the area to be covered under the proposed new district, the forum have given to the Chief Minister the detail historical back ground of the area for the creation of the District.
Historical aspect: In the year 1829, Sohra or Cherrapunjee became the capital of the British in North East India. In 1841, modern education started in this very place with the founding of schools by Rev. Thomas Jones of the Welsh Mission. Sohra is regarded as the cradle of Khasi language and culture.

A large portion of the prominent educationists and pioneers of education and literary works in the State come from this area. In independent India, Shella-Bholaganj C&RD Block which is situated here was established on 1st April, 1958. In 1974, Sohra was made the Administrative Unit. In 1982, it became a full-fledged Civil Sub-Division.

Area of the proposed new district: If South East Khasi Hills District is created, it will comprise of Shella-Bholaganj C&RD Block which has an area of 417 sq km and Khatarshnong-Laitkroh C&RD Block which has an area of 225.40 sq km. The proposed South East Khasi Hills District already fulfils the criterion of size (being larger than South West Garo Hills District, which has an area of only 822 sq. kilometres).

The present Sohra Civil Sub-Division is a far-flung geographical entity, spread over a very large area. Many of the villages are located on remote areas and hard-to-reach locations where there are no kinds of modern amenities available to the inhabitants, not even basic facilities. Population of the proposed new district: The total population of the proposed South East Khasi Hills District is more than 1.5 lakh.

Existing administrative infrastructure: Besides the two C&RD Blocks (Shella-Bholaganj C&RD Block and Khat-ar shnong-Laitkroh C&RD Block), the proposed new district already has the office of the Executive Engineers of PHE and PWD, one Community Health Centre (CHC) besides offices of various departments under the present Sohra Civil Sub-Division namely Education, Forests, Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Veterinary, Soil Conservation, Information and Public Relations, etc.

Tourism resources: Sohra is globally renowned not only for its record-shattering rainfall and the breath-taking beauty of its landscape, but also because of the fact that it had been the first headquarters of the British Empire in the Khasi Hills, where Christianity and Western school education had first taken root. It is also a place of time-warped legends where an ancient story lurks behind every destination of interest.

Sohra is today in the global map of international tourism and has become one of the most visited tourist destinations in India, drawing visitors from all over the country and the world. Therefore, creation of the new district will further infuse economic prosperity in the area through value-addition of the existing tourism resources and exploring the untapped landscape and ecology for sustainable development.

Natural resources: The areas under the present Sohra Civil Sub-Division are abundant in natural resources. The terrain through which the rivers and streams are flowing in and around Sohra provide excellent facilities for establishment of small dams for generating hydro- electric power. The area is also rich in mineral resources such as limestone found in Mawlong Ichamati areas, Shella-Bholaganj area,  Mawmluh- Mawsmai area and high grade limestone found in Laitryngew area. The area also has coal deposits in Laitryngeew area, Laitduh, Shella-Mawlong besides clay and Koalin (China Clay) and glass sand in Umstew area.

Agricultural and horticultural resources: The southern part of the present Sohra Civil Sub-Division is gifted with abundant agricultural resources which can substantially accrue to the revenue of the State. The famous orange or Khasi mandarin, bay leaf, pure honey besides cane and bamboo items are produced from the region.

Benefits from creation of the new district: The establishment of the new South East Khasi Hills District with its headquarters at Sohra will ease the process of administration to a great extent, bringing all sorts of benefits to the people directly resulting from an improved, efficient, and speedy administration as well as judiciary services.

Moreover, the presence of the district headquarters at Sohra will boost trade and commerce and increase economic activities in this area including the southern part bordering Bangladesh. Moreover, there will be improvement in various sectors such as healthcare, education, road connectivity, tourism and hospitality, and vital infrastructure.

Employment avenues: If South East Khasi Hills District is created, there will be great benefits directly accruing from the establishment of the various departmental offices as employment opportunities will be opened to the local people from the establishment of such new offices. This will reduce migration of our educated unemployed youth to Shillong and other places in search of job and livelihood.

Free land: We are aware that creation of a new district and its head-quarter requires land for building infrastructure and government offices. In this regard, we would like to bring to your notice that the State government already has a GAD land which is about 1075.70 acres in Sohra. Moreover, the people of Sohra are ready to donate land free of cost for any purpose that the government requires for setting up the new district.

The present Sohra Civil Sub-Division already has the existing infrastructure that is required for putting up government offices. There are many government buildings which can be used for housing government offices and staff quarters. This will greatly lessen the burden of investment that the government will have to spend for creation of the new district.

Based on the above facts, we fervently urge upon you to consider our request for creation of South East Khasi Hills District with its head-quarter in Sohra which has been a long pending expectation of the people. We also hope that under your dynamic and vibrant leadership, the aspiration of our people will be translated into reality. The memorandum was sign by Mr Atiar Syiemlieh as Chairman and Mr R Synrem as the Secretary of the SEKDDF.

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