No spectacular piece of art or architecture was built without a big dream. Be it the Taj Mahal or the Colosseum, big dreams were always behind their making. The makers of the spectacular pieces already knew that they are going to script history, before the thing was actually made. Such mega structures –though come at huge cost of money, materials, manpower and even lives – play vital role in shaping the economy of a particular region besides other sectors. The Seven Wonders of the world have been influencing people’s movement towards the respective regions for centuries. The economy is directly related with the people’s movement, either temporary or permanent, from place to place.
Meghalaya has no dearth of geographical wonders. Cherrapunjee or Sohra has been on the tourist map since the British era. What the state or for that matter the whole North-east lacks is architectural wonders. Meghalaya chief minister Mukul Sangma, perhaps, had the fact in mind when he announced the government’s aim to building a shopping complex at Polo area in Shillong on the lines of the ‘Times Square’ of New York. Sangma sounded a bit overambitious. He is used to. Be it the aquaculture project for digging fish ponds all across the mostly hilly state or turning parts of the barren topography of Sohra into forests, the chief minister has lined up a number of ‘dreams’ for his five-year term. While none of the dreams has really started showing results on the ground, building a Times Square in Shillong sounds empty talk for many. Yet, the chief minister and his government should be given the benefit of doubt for at least announcing a slew of schemes and projects rather than just being busy doing politics as happened in the past decades in Meghalaya.
To endorse Mukul Sangma’s words, Polo needs a big plan for reformation since it had born the brunt of encroachment and public nuisance for decades. The picturesque and serene valley with Wah Umkhrah flowing through it has become an eyesore over the years, thanks to rampant and unregulated human activities. It is now impossible to get back the picturesque valley as vertical growth, the necessary evil of 21st century, has not spared even Shillong. Yet, what the government can do is clear parts of the bank of Wah Umkhrah and allow public to reminisce the river’s beauty. The shopping complex – Times Square or not – would also attract tourists and contribute to the economy, without doing much damage to the environment.
(Published as editorial in The Meghalaya Guardian on September 12, 2014)