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Meghalaya Secures 300 Acres for Umiam Tourist Hub, Plans Helicopter Services

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Shillong, June 20: Chief Minister Conrad Sangma chaired a meeting today to discuss an ambitious plan for redeveloping the Umiam area, which will now include 300 acres of land provided by the Forest Department and new helicopter services to boost tourism.

Tourism Minister Paul Lyngdoh, speaking to the press after the meeting, detailed the plans. “There is a very ambitious project to expand the MTDC, introducing more facilities, entertainment zones, and upscaling the present accommodation facilities available at the Orchid Lake Resort,” he said. Lyngdoh noted significant progress, mentioning that the Forest Department has agreed to part with approximately 300 acres of land to facilitate tourism growth in the area. “We want Umiam to be a major tourist attraction, not only in Meghalaya but in the entire North East,” he added.

The meeting resulted in a preliminary agreement to expand Umiam as the state’s primary tourist hub. Discussing the planned developments, Lyngdoh highlighted the inclusion of various activities, especially water sports, to keep tourists engaged. “There will be walking spaces around Nehru Park, facilities for children, adventure sports, and other entertainment options. We are identifying specific activities to be developed,” he said.

Addressing concerns about the polluted state of Umiam Lake, Lyngdoh assured that lake rejuvenation is integral to the redevelopment plan. “We are planning to rejuvenate Umiam Lake. The Department of Power has been tasked with desiltation and other cleaning measures, which will start soon,” he stated. The lake’s cleaning is expected to commence within six months, while the broader expansion work is anticipated to begin within a year.

Responding to the Meghalaya High Court’s observations against developmental activities near Umiam Lake, Lyngdoh confirmed that expansion would focus on the hillside areas, avoiding infringement on water bodies. “We will gain 300 acres of land which is not immediately contiguous to the lake,” he explained.

Lyngdoh also addressed the challenges posed by the region’s road infrastructure. “To support tourism as a vital sector of the economy, road development must also be prioritized. Improving the road sector is essential for tourism growth,” he said. He mentioned the decongestion plan for Shillong to ensure better traffic flow, vital for the tourism sector’s success.

Highlighting future prospects, Lyngdoh revealed plans for substantial capital investment in lake revival, including potential helicopter services connecting Umiam with other tourist circuits within Meghalaya. “For instance, Umiam to New Shillong, and New Shillong to Sohra. These air connections will attract high-value tourists who will spend more, even if footfalls are less,” he concluded.

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