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‘Shopping mall’ idea defies logic

Iconic structure plan abandoned?
Shillong, Sep 6: Despite poor commercial activities by shopping malls in India and across the world due to the emergence of online shopping, the Meghalaya government seemed hell bent at setting up the proposed shopping mall in the city.
It may be mentioned that the State government has conducted a national competition for designing a world class iconic structure at the PWD complex in Barik Point as part of Smart City project.
The design proposal aims to provide a smart structure with smart services, parking, with an open cultural space for the public. Spaces catering especially to youth development such as exhibition areas, multipurpose halls, amphitheatre and green elevated corridors/links were also supposed to be developed in the vicinity of the site.
An amount of Rs 12 lakh was sanctioned from Smart City project to pay the participants in the design competition.
The Urban Affairs Department also called the participants twice to give their presentations. Finally, the design and presentation by Flying Elephant Studio, Bangalore was accepted.
However, all the preparations and money spent for this design of the iconic structure went to waste when the State government decided to convert the site into a shopping mall.
The site which has a total area of about 3.5 acres is presently occupied by PWD.
The move by the State government to construct the shopping complex at the site has evoked strong reaction from residents of the city who felt that it could deprive the city of a proper recreational spot.
Residents of the city have also questioned the silence of the legislators of the ruling Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA) to this move by the government which is “pro-rich”.
They also said that the present heritage structure standing at the site should be preserved instead of demolishing it to pave way for the multi-story shopping mall.
“All over India and across the world, shopping malls have lost their charm as far as sale is concerned since the emergence of online shopping. The same is happening in malls in our city. At the same time, the malls are catering only to the rich. The proposed mall project at Barik shows that the government is not willing to listen to the voice of the people,” one of the residents said.
Deputy Chief Minister, Prestone Tynsong recently said that the Urban Affairs Department would construct an “inclusive shopping mall” at Barik Point where youths and young children would be able to hang out.
According to Tynsong, the standard mall would include green space and public space.
Recently, lone MLA of the NCP, Saleng A. Sangma has suggested that the government should come up with a parking lot instead of a shopping mall at Barik Point.