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SHILLONG | Jan 10, 2019:

Majority of the villagers in Ri Bhoi district of Meghalaya welcomed the proposed expansion of the runway and allied works at Shillong Airport by the Airport Authority of India.

The decision of the people was made known during the Environmental Public Hearing (EPH) which was held at Umroi on Jan 9. The public hearing was presided over by Additional Deputy Commissioner of Ri-Bhoi District, Smti. D. Phawa.

The villagers who spoke at the public hearing said that they have no objection to the project even though they wanted the authorities to look after the welfare of the people like construction of roads, providing of jobs, construction of houses among many other things.

A resident of Umden Arka village, Aison Khyriem said that he has no objection for the proposed expansion of the airport.  Khyriem, however, requested the concerned authorities of the airport to provide a proper tarred road and right of way for the local people.

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A resident of Syllei-U-Sar village, Hamles Mylliem Umlong requested the authorities concerned to ensure that the earth cutting should not affect his agricultural lands.

Further, the headman of Umden village, Pailang Kurbah urged upon the authorities concerned that they should do away with regard to seeking no objection certificate for construction of houses by the villagers living nearby the vicinity of the airport.

Meanwhile, a resident of Umden Mission village, Basil Lyngdoh requested employment opportunities to be provided to the educated youths of the area. He also suggested that CSR activities should be implemented by the Airport Authorities for upliftment of the surrounding villages.

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Earlier, speaking at the public hearing, Meghalaya State Pollution Control Board (MSPCB) Environmental Engineer, W.R. Kharkrang said that the objective of the public hearing was to solicit and record the opinions, views, comments or objections of the people residing in the adjoining areas of the Project site likely to be affected by the establishment of the proposed expansion of runway of the airport.

He further explained that the public hearing is a part of the Environmental Clearance process and that no decision on the project will be taken during the Hearing as its role is strictly confined to recording of opinions, discussions and suggestions on the proposed project adding that the hearing should not be taken as a platform for any public debate.

It may be mentioned that the airport in Ri Bhoi district, about 35km from here, was constructed in the mid-1960s and became operational in the mid-1970s.

The airport requires expansion and its 6,000-feet runway, which can support an ATR-42 aircraft, will be extended to about 8,000 feet to facilitate operation of bigger planes.

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