Meghalaya hands over erstwhile royal estate in heart of Shillong to Manipur

No one from the Meghalaya government was willing to comment on the seemingly low premium and land revenue charged for the property, believed to be several times costlier as per market rates.
The majestic Redlands Bungalow in Shillong has been handed over to the Manipur government by Meghalaya (HT Photo)
The majestic Redlands Bungalow in Shillong has been handed over to the Manipur government by Meghalaya (HT Photo)
Updated on Aug 15, 2021 12:21 PM IST
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By David Laitphlang

Meghalaya has handed over Manipur a magnificent heritage estate known as Manipur Rajbari (home of Manipur royal family) permanently to amicably settle an old dispute. The development comes at a time when border rows between states in the region have led to deaths and tensions with no immediate resolution in sight.

The heritage property which is still inhabited by descendents and agents of the erstwhile Manipur Maharaj (king) will now be converted into Manipur State Bhawan, Manipur chief minister Biren Singh posted on Twitter on Friday.

“The historic Manipur Rajbari at Shillong belonged to the Maharaja of Manipur & it was here that Maharaja Bodhachandra stayed during the signing (of) the Manipur Merger Agreement to Dominion of India in Sept 1949. Sadly, the plot no longer belonged to the Royal family of Manipur,” Singh’s post referring to the signing of the agreement to merge Manipur with the Union of India with effect from October 15, 1949 said.

He pointed out that the plot measuring 1.93 acres at Redlands in Shillong’s prime and cosmopolitan Laitumkhrah area was handed over after several rounds of talks over a long period of time between successive governments of the two states.

“I thank the Govt. of Meghalaya for their cooperation,” Biren Singh added.

Meghalaya chief minister Conrad K Sangma couldn’t be contacted for his comments.

HT managed to see a copy of the legal document certifying the transfer of the royal property, signed on August 12, 2021 by the under secretary to the revenue & disaster management department and addressed to the East Khasi Hills deputy commissioner.

Titled “Patta/Possession Certificate for Manipur Bhawan/Rajbari Shillong bearing Holding No. 67 (earlier 6-72) under Ward No. 3 of the Shillong Municipal Corporation,” the official communiqué read, “I am directed to refer to the letter on the subject quoted above and to convey Government’s approval to Settle the land measuring 1.93 acres at Redlands, Laitumkhrah Shillong, in favour of the Government of Manipur, on payment of premium of 91,04,784/- including land revenue with effect from 2008 amounting to 24,271/-.” The under secretary stated, “This has the Order of the Competent Authority.”

No one from the Meghalaya government was willing to comment on the seemingly low premium and land revenue charged for the property, believed to be several times costlier as per market rates. There was also no explanation on how the area of the estate, earlier recorded to be 1.88 acres (according to a survey reportedly conducted by Nanigopal Das, surveyor of directorate of survey, Assam), rose to 1.93 acres in the formal handover, an increase of 2,182.8 sq. ft.

It is said that in 1988, Manipur CM R K Joychandra Singh had offered to buy the property for 11 lakhs but the deal fell through due to the sudden fall of the Congress government.

Once majestic and resplendent abode of the Manipur royals now lies in an utterly dilapidated and unkempt state, unbecoming of its glorious past. Manipur is likely to restore the heritage property to its former glory.

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Monday, October 25, 2021