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SHILLONG | March 6:

The Government of Meghalaya has decided to cancel the proposed Meghalayan Age festival scheduled to be held from March 7-15 in Thadlaskein in West Jaintia Hills district but instead have the Meghalayan Age conclave and conference with participation of limited invitees only and will not be open to the general public.

Addressing media persons in Shillong here on Friday, chief minister, Conrad K Sangma said that today morning, he had a meeting with the officials of the tourism, health and Home departments along with chief secretary to discuss about the Meghalayan Age festival.

“The Tourism department, government of Meghalaya is fully cognizant of the public advisory released by the Ministry of health and family welfare, government of India and the Department of health and family welfare, government of Meghalaya regarding the outbreak of COVID-19  (Coronavirus)”, said Sangma.

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Keeping in mind the current health concerns that are there all over the globe, the CM said that the tourism department has decided to cancel the festival but instead have the Meghalayan Age conclave and conference even as he mentioned that the tourism and health departments are taking number of steps to ensure that all protocols and precautionary measures are adhered to during the programme.

As gatherings are to be avoided as per the department of Health and Family Welfare advisory, it is decided that earlier planned events such as evening music concerts and tethered air balloon rides will not be held at least for the first three days.

“We had to decide and thought that this will be the best way to move forward to ensure that whatever investment made, we can take maximum benefit out of it; yet at the same time, ensure that our people are safeguarded and are not exposed to any kind of risks,” said the chief minister.

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Meanwhile, he informed that the conclave and conference of different stake holders from different sectors which will be limited to 70-80 participants will be held where different issues will be discussed.

He informed that the first three days will be media conference and familiarization trip for the 50-70 invitees who will be going through the existing screening process as per the government of India and state government protocols. “The situation is being monitored closely and the state government is continuously reviewing the situation,” he said.

In the second part during the conclave, ministers and officials from the government of India will be attending, he added.

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Reacting to a question, the chief minister said “Yes it is concern for us but keeping in mind the kind of planning that has gone into this, we have planned for this programme for the last five months and during that time, we were not aware of the situation; therefore it was difficult for the government to completely cancel everything but having looked at all aspects, we strongly feel that if we can have this programme in a form of a conference and a conclave which will ensure that general public does not become part of this, I think we will be able to avoid most of the risks that we are concerned about.”

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