Meghalaya  Legislative  Assembly

5th March, 1975


        I am very happy to address you at the commencement of the budget session of the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly. The period of one year which has elapsed since I addressed you last has been full of stresses and strains. The year witnessed serious inflation in the economy with unprecedented escalation of prices. The Central Government introduced several measures to curb inflationary trends. Some perceptible signs of improvement have been noticed as a result of the various measures taken so far. However, the coming year is also likely to be period of similar difficulties  and therefore, more efforts and maximum cooperation from all sides will be required to bring about a reasonably stable economy.


        2. The law and order situation in the State was well under control. The deteriorating economic condition had its repercussions on the law and order situation in the country as a whole as well as in the State. The major irritants in this respect were country-wide agitation of the Central Government employees and the Railway men's strike. However, no major incident effecting law and order took place on the State. There were demonstrations in the State by some students for the fulfillment of certain demands. My Government continue to follow the policy of considering all reasonable demands with sympathy while taking necessary measures to meet the threat to the maintenance of law and order. There were some incidents of arrest of Indian nationals from Meghalaya on our border with Bangladesh. These cases are being pursued with appropriate authorities. Steps to prevent infiltration of foreign nationals into our State are being strengthened.


        3. The year 1974-75 was one of the worst years for the State in  regard to the occurrence of the natural calamities. There were unprecedented floods in the plains areas of Garo Hills as well as in the low lying valleys of Khasi Hills and Jaintia Hills District resulting in extensive damage to the standing crops, cattle and dwelling houses. Considerable damage was also caused to roads, bridges, culverts an bunds. In several places there was also damage to the crops due to land slides and heavy rain. My Government understood the necessary measures to meet the requirements of the situation. Gratuitous relief was sanctioned in deserving cases to the extent possible and test relief schemes were undertaken to provide employment to the people in the flood effected areas. My Government also distributed seeds on 50 per cent grant and 50 per cent grant and 50 per cent loan basis to enable fresh cultivation in areas where crop were damaged.


        4. As stated by my predecessor my Government had decided to set up 4 new sub-Division, few more administrative units and 2 more Districts in the State during the Fifth Plan period. I am happy to state the VIth Finance Commission have accepted this proposal in principle. A phased programme in this  regards in under preparation and further details are being worked our. In pursuance of the decision, the new Ri-Bhoi Administration Unit has been set up the headquarters  of which will be at Nongpoh.


        5. The setting up of the Bench of the Gauhati High Court at Shillong has met a long felt desire of the public and will go a long way towards removing their difficulties.


        6. The distressing  trends affecting national economy specially those relating to the spiraling rise of prices and increasing inflation posed a serious threat to the developmental efforts upsetting the plan projections. The outlays for 1974-75 Plan fixed by the  Planning Commission was Rs.13.63 crores including an allocation of of Rs.2.06 crores for minimum needs programme. The outlay proposed for the the annual plan for 1975-76 as tentatively agreed to by the Planning Commission is Rs.14.65 crores which excludes the requirement for the power generation and transmission schemes consequent upon the coming into existences of Meghalaya State Electricity Board. The requirement of the State in this regards as well as for the construction of the administrative building is likely to be finalised soon in consultation with the needs of the State will be given die consideration while determining the final outlay for this purpose. Keeping in view the overall plan priorities and intersect oral balances, emphasis is being continued on the productive schemes specially in the agricultural sector.


        7. In the context of the present economic situation and considering the priority to be accorded to the productive sectors, agricultural development forms the core of the plan programme in the State. During 1974-75, the total agricultural production received a setback due to the damage by floods and heavy rains in certain areas of the State. The anticipated level of achievement in the year is not likely to exceed 1.25 lakhs tonnes of food-grains which was the level of the achievement during 1973-74 also. The rate of growth of 4 per cent increase in food-grains production in 1975-76 is being aimed at.

          Potato which is an important commercial crop in the State also had a serious setback this year owing to blight caused by the prolonged heavy rains. With a view to ensuring proper marketing outlets for potato and other commercial produces in the State, a State Co-operative Apex Marketing Corporation is being set up. In spite of some difficulties activities of the Small Farmers Development Agency and Marginal Farmers Development Agency are continuing and my Government have taken up with the Government of India the question of augmenting the resources of the agencies beyond the earlier stipulated total amount of Rs.1 crore by providing additional funds over and above State Plan ceiling. Arrangements relating to the supply of fertilizers and other inputs for stepping up of agricultural production would be further streamlined. The starting of the  regional research centre by the Indian Council of Agricultural  Research at Shillong of which I had made a mention in my address last year is expected to provide the necessary research support to the efforts for agricultural development in the State.


        8. The importance of the programme for control of jhumming and grouping of villages has been realised by the Government of India and the Planning Commission and an integrated programme has been approved as part of the State Plan which includes, apart from land development and terracing, distribution of seeds, manure and fertilizers and improvement of irrigation facilities, building up of link roads and arranging water-supply. The scheme also provides for the grant-in-aid of Rs.2,000 per family for construction of dwelling house. With a view to remedying the short-comings observed in the working of the scheme, it has been decided to continue the follow-up action-programme in this regard for three years enabling the extension of necessary facilities to the beneficiaries during that period.


        9. My Government will continue to implement the programme already taken up in the animal husbandry and veterinary sectors. The Indo-Danish Project for improving the breeds of cattle is running satisfactorily. A comprehensive scheme for meat processing with Indo-Danish collaboration is awaiting the approval of the Government of India.


        10. The strengthening of the co-operative structure is essential for providing necessary institutional frame-work for extension of  credit and stepping up agricultural development. A master plan for co-operative development in the State has been drawn up in consultation with the Reserve Bank of India and is in the process of implementation. Adequate measures will be taken to set up realisation of over dues and to ensure flow of necessary agricultural credit for productive purposes. The consumers' co-operative movement is also being strengthened. The Meghalaya Warehousing Corporation has taken over the assets and liabilities of the composite Assam Sate Ware-housing Corporation situated in Meghalaya with effect from 21st January, this year. My Government attach due importance to the functioning of block agencies as effective channels for implementing developmental programmes in the rural areas. My Government have decided to channelise specified funds of each development department through block agencies. The special programme for the development through block agencies. The special Programme for the development of backward areas is also being executed through the Blocks.


        11. Out of the industries mentioned in my address last year, Associated Beverages, Meghalaya Ply Woods and Komorrah Lime Stone Mining Co. Ltd. have started functioning. The first rural distillation unit of Meghalaya Essential Oils and Chemicals Ltd. has been commissioned recently at Mawshamok. Work relating to the expansion of the Mawmluh-Cherra Cement Factory is in progress. Letters of intent have been received for the setting up of a jute mill, fruit processing and canning units and a roller flour mill. Feasibility studies are in progress in respect of pulp and paper project and a new cement project. The question of financing of the clinker factory proposed to be set up in Garo Hills and expediting the work of the proposed has been taken up with the Government of India. The schemes relating to the training of local entrepreneurs and young men and women for managerial projects continue to receive the attention of my Government. The schemes relating to disbursement of capital outright grant or subsidy to new industrial units and package schemes of incentives are being continued. In the small scale industries sector besides giving grants-in-aid and necessary financial assistance, the programme includes training of artisans inside and outside the State, making raw materials available through depots and the strengthening of departmental training-cum-production centres. My Government have also decided to set up the Khadi and Village Industries Board to give fillip to the work of encouraging these industries. Due attention is being given to the development of Sericulture and Weaving in the State.

          In view of the vast mineral resources of the State, programme of mineral exploration is very important. Detailed proving of limestone and coal in particular is receiving special attention. Exploration of other minerals like clay is being continued. My Government have also taken up with the Coal Mines Authority the proposal for mining a coal in Garo Hills with a view to supplying the same to the proposed Thermal Station and Clinker Project.


        12. The Meghalaya State Electricity Board which was set up recently has taken over the entire work relating to the generation of power as well as the programme for rural electrification in the State. The Umiam-Umtru Generating system and the on-going Kyrdem Kulai Project as also the Nangal-bibra Thermal Project have passed on to the Meghalaya State Electricity Board. The North Eastern Council has approved in principle the Garo Hills (2x60mv). Thermal Project subject to the completion of arrangements for coal mining. It has also been agreed that the works relating to the Kopili Hydro Electric Project falling in Meghalaya will for the present be executed by the Meghalaya Board. The agreement executed by my Government with the Assam Government with the Assam Government relating to continued supply of power from the Umiam-Umtru system to Assam symbolises my Government's continued policy to maintain good neighbourly relations with the State of Assam and other States and Units in the region.


        13. The development of transport and communication continues to be one of the important objectives of the development programme of my Government. The programme relating to development of roads net-work in the State is continuing. The survey relating to the construction of railway lines to connect Khasi Hills and Garo Hills districts with the railway net-work of the country is proceeding satisfactorily. My Government have been pressing upon the Government of India the urgency of providing adequate funds for starting the construction of railway links after the surveys are completed.

          The work relating to the preparation of the project report and feasibility studies for rope-ways taken up with the assistance of the N.E.C. has made progress. With the beginning of non-scheduled air services to and from the Umroi air field. Meghalaya has found its place on the Civil Aviation Map of the country and my Government expect the starting of regular scheduled air services at an early date. Discussions are in progress with the Assam Government in regard to the taking over of the routes being operated in Meghalaya from the Assam Meghalaya States Road Transport Corporation.


        14. In the field of Education, emphasis is being given on the qualitative improvement and selective expansion at all levels. My Government propose to expand the facilities for universal primary education in accordance with the national objectives. The scheme relating to the setting up of Residential Schools is  being implemented. The functioning of the North Eastern Hill University is gathering momentum and my Government are taking necessary steps to make available land for the development of the campus of the University. My Government are keen to ensure campus of the University. My Government are keen to ensure the development of sports and games in the State. The Meghalaya State Sports Meet held at Dalu was very successful and similar meets will be arranged every year at different places in the State.


        15. It is a matter of satisfaction for my Government that its efforts towards establishment of a Pre-examination Training Centre for coaching candidates for All India and Central Services examinations at Shillong have succeeded and the Government of India have sanctioned the setting up of the  Centre under the auspices of the N.E.H.U. during the current financial year. The process for the selection of the candidates has been started and the first course is likely to commence soon.


        16. At the instance of my Government, the Union Public Service Commission have restarted the Centre for All India Services and Central Services Examination at Shillong.


        17. My Government attach priority to the extension of the health and medical care facilities in the rural areas and strengthening of the arrangements in this regard all over the State. Health Programmes taken up include establishment of new Primary Health Centres and improvement and upgradation of the existing Primary Health Centres and dispensaries as well as Sub-Centres. The work for expansion and improvement of the existing Civil Hospitals is also being given due attention. The  programme for training of medical and para-medical personnel by giving scholarships for study at various institutions is also being continued. As a result of the various incentives given by my Government, there has been a better response from the doctors for working in the rural areas.


        18. I would like to mention briefly some of the salient features of the development programme in the other sectors. With a view to ensuring more concentrated attention to the development of forests, my Government have recently set up a Forest Development Corporation. The programme of Soil Conservation through the reclamation of land by terracing the slopes and by introduction of cash crops will receive added emphasis. My Government attach utmost importance to the extension of water-supply in rural areas and improvement of urban water-supply schemes. The schemes of urban development and development of facilities for tourism in the State form an essential part of the development programme.


        19. My Government continue to extend the necessary financial assistance to the District Councils. The grant-in-aid for Primary Education as well as for financing the developmental plans of the District Councils is being continued. In my last address I had referred to my Government's desire to ensure greater participation of the District Councils in developmental efforts. With a view to entrusting the Councils with the functions relating to selected schemes, a series of discussions were held. It is expected that the District Councils would signify their arrangement to the proposed arrangement so as to enable the implementation of the decision. I have also made reference in my last address to this august House of my Government's decision to place the services of certain categories of educational personnel at the disposal of the District Councils. In pursuance of the said decision, the services of the requisite number of Sub-Inspectors and Additional Deputy Inspectors of Schools are being placed at the disposal of the Khasi Hills and Garo Hills District Councils soon. This will be done in case of Jaintia Hills District Council also as soon as the Council's agreement to the proposed terms and conditions for the deputation of these employees is received.


        20. My Government have taken up an integrated programme for accelerating the all-round economic development in the border areas. The Scheme of extending transport subsidy for marketing of border produces as well as for reaching the essential commodities in the border areas with a view to making them available at reasonable rates will continue during the next year as part of the State Plan. The Planning Commission have appreciated my Government's view-point relating to the need for accelerating the process of development in the border areas and have promised to send an official team to examine the matter and suggest necessary measures in this regard.


        21. The process of absorption of tribal employees from Meghalaya at present serving under the Government of Assam is continuing subject to the availability of vacancies in the Secretariat and other offices under the State Government. Attempts are also being continued for arranging their absorption in the Central Government offices and other organisations at Shillong.


        22. In my last address to this august House I had referred to the controversy in respect of certain sectors of border between Assam and Meghalaya such as relating to Blocks I and II of Mikir Hills District. In spite of my Government's sincere efforts to settle the differences, not much progress has been achieved. My Government is happy to note that the Union Government has assured in Parliament that an enquiry will be made into the causes leading to the agitation of the Garo people in Goalpara and Kamrup districts for the merger of their areas into Meghalaya.

          It is the continued policy of my Government to maintain good neighbourly relations with Assam and to work to close collaboration and co-operation with the Government and the people of Assam towards finding peaceful solutions of all differences. My Government also expect that the Government of India would initiate necessary steps to extend its good offices towards the expeditious and peaceful solution of these problems.


        23. My Government will continue the special schemes for increasing employment opportunities in the rural areas. The schemes undertaken under Half-a-million-jobs-programme are being continued and it is expected that with more help from nationalised Banks, these schemes could be made effective. With a view to meeting the requirement of labour for the construction of roads as well as other departmental projects, my Government have decided to set up a Civil task force and the necessary legislation for the purpose has already been passed by this House. The necessary formalities relating to the setting up of the Task force have been completed and the recruitment to the force will start very soon.


        24. The Land Reforms Commission has submitted its report which is under examinations by my Government.


        25. My Government have set up a Taxation Enquiry Committee with a view to making recommendations in respect of rationalisation of the system and procedure of taxation in the State. The report of the Committee is expected to be submitted soon.


        26. With a view to associating the members of the Legislature with the functioning of the various Departments, my Government have set up consultative committees on the pattern of such committees at the Centre.


        27. The recent changes and the re-allocation of portfolios among the Ministers of my Government are expected to ensure better attention to various subjects and aspects of administration and development.


        28. My Government are keen to extend such benefits to the employees as are possible in the context of the current situation and the constraint of resources. The benefits of the revised scales of pay based on the recommendations of the Assam Pay Commission have already been extended to several categories of employees. As regards other categories, the matter is receiving the attention of my Government. Increased Dearness Allowance was also sanctioned to all categories of Government employees with effect from July, 1973. The State Government have also revised the rates of traveling and other allowances and are also continuing the house-rent allowance, Shillong compensatory allowance and Hill allowance with a view to affording relief to the employees.


        29. In this session my Government propose to place the Budget estimates as well as to introduce the necessary Finance Bills. Besides, the following measures will be introduced during the current session of the Assembly.

    1.    The Meghalaya Passengers and Goods Taxation (Amendment) Bill, 1975.

    2.     The Meghalaya Amusement and Betting Tax (Amendment) Bill, 1975.

        It will be the constant endeavour of my Government to fulfill the national objectives and goals as well as to ensure meeting the special needs of Meghalaya. With the co-operation of all, my Government is confident of taking a step forward on the road to economic growth and welfare of the people of Meghalaya. I hope that my Government will receive full support and co-operation from all of you towards achieving these objectives. I wish all success to the House in its useful and constructive deliberations during the current session which I have the privilege to address this morning.