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‘Winter Capital’ in Meghalaya’s Tura sought

Tura is now the headquarters of the West Garo Hills

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Shillong: The A’chik Conscious Holistically Integrated Krima (ACHIK), an NGO from the Garo Hills region, has petitioned Chief Minister Conrad Sangma to declare Tura as the ‘winter capital’ of Meghalaya, in keeping with the long cherished dream and the promise of the government since statehood.

Tura is now the headquarters of the West Garo Hills

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In its letter, the ACHIK said that this move would ensure “equitable distribution of development and administration” across the state and would lead to the overall uplift of the people of Meghalaya, and “not just a particular region”.

Having a “second capital” in Tura will reduce the geo-physical barrier, the organisation contended.

“The second capital will bring equal development to the state as the Garo Hills region will not be left behind,” it wrote to the Chief Minister.

The ACHIK also urged the government to shift the Additional Secretariat to Tura. “This move is crucial in expediting the implementation process of devolution of power and promotion of development in the Garo Hills region. The shifting of the Additional Secretariat to Tura would have a significant impact on promoting good governance in the region. It is an essential step towards bringing governance closer to the people of Garo Hills. This move would also uphold the ideals of democracy, where the power is devolved to the grassroots level,” the ACHIK reasoned in its petition to the Chief Minister.

It further said that the proposed winter capital would help in decentralization and devolution of power as “these are two key components of good governance that promote a healthy democracy”.

“The establishment of a winter capital could provide a much-needed boost to the local economy, creating new jobs and opportunities,” it added.

The ACHIK also pointed out that Tura experiences relatively mild weather conditions during the winter months, which makes it an ideal location for the winter capital, compared to the harsh winters in the state capital Shillong.

“The creation of a winter capital in Tura can be the greatest avenue that a state government can create for the Khasi-Jaintia brethren to explore Garo Hills. This can significantly improve the communication and relationship between the two ethnic groups and promote mutual understanding and respect besides communal harmony,” it underscored.

The ACHIK pointed out that there are several examples of Indian states having multiple capitals with Andhra Pradesh having three, Himachal Pradesh two, Jammu & Kashmir two, Karnataka two and Maharashtra two.

“These states have adopted the model for efficient and fair governance considering the social and ethnic diversity among other reasons. In the spirit of equality and fairness, Tura must be made the winter capital of Meghalaya as the state owes it to the general public of Tura and wider Garo Hills for the last 50 years,” the organisation said.

The ACHIK said that there is also a need to transfer the Additional Chief Secretary and the Additional DGP to Tura as this move would activate the ideals and visions of decentralisation of power.

The All Garo Hills Merchant Association (AGHMA) also said that setting up a ‘second capital’ at Tura was the need of the hour, just as the founding fathers of the state have envisioned.

AGHMA president, Thoseng Chiba Marak in a statement said, “Having a second capital in Garo Hills will not only boost the development in the region but it will also help the business sector which in turn will improve the economy of the region”.

He said that governments in the past have neglected the Garo Hills region in all sectors and have turned a “deaf ear” to the demands of the Garo people for a second capital.

“There are too many valid reasons for the need for the setting up of the winter capital in Tura one of which is the ethnic difference in the state. Meghalaya will not be the first to experiment with dual capital in the country, as many states have and are still in practice today,” Marak said. 

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