Address by Shri. L.P. SINGH Governor  of  Meghalaya

Meghalaya Legislative Assembly

10th March, 1976

Mr. Speaker and Hon'ble Members,

        It gives me great pleasure to address you this morning at the commencement of the Budget Session of the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly.

        The year 1975 marked the completion of a historic decade of prime Ministership  of Shrimati Indira Gandhi. These years have been full of challenges and remarkable achievements. My Government congratulate Shrimati Indira Gandhi on her able stewardship during this decade of stress and hope that the nation will continue to have the benefit of her leadership for many years to come.

        2. During my last address, I had referred to the serious inflation in the economy and escalation of prices. I am happy that the gloom has been lifted and we stand today at the threshold of an epoch of economic stability. On the political front, the last year witnessed the beginning of an atmosphere of violence and agitation which shook the very, foundation of the democratic structure in the country. Attempts were made to disrupt production in industries and agriculture and these were calls to the Armed Forces and the Police to disobey authority. Disaster was, however, averted  by the timely declaration of Emergency. This firm and bold step has ushered in an era of stability  and discipline which are the pre-requisites for economic progress. it has arrested the drift towards indiscipline and anarchy has helped in toning up of efficiency in all spheres of national life.

        In the scientific field, the launching of Aryabhata, the first Indian made Satellite in April, 1975, was of great significance. The nation has entered the year 1976 with more internal strength and confidence.

New Economic Programme.

        3. The people and the Government of Meghalaya have welcomed and deeply appreciated the timely and clear enunciation of the guidelines for the solution of the national problems as contained in the 20-point Economic Programme announced by the Prime Minister in her broadcast to the nation on the first of July, 1975. My Government have taken the necessary steps for the effective implementation of the Programme. With a view to ensuring people's participation, a State level Co-ordination Committee has been set up under the chairmanship of the Chief Minister which includes the representations of the political parties who have pledged support to the Programme. District level and Sub-divisional level Committees have also been set up, each of  which is presided over by a Minister. The following arte some of the main items of the Programme which have a direct bearing and are applicable in Meghalaya-termination of rural indebtedness, elimination of smuggling, provision of additional irrigation for improving agricultural production, opening of book banks for students, development of handloom, checking tax evasion, ensuring price stability of essential commodities, supply of cheap cloth, distribution of essential commodities in hostels at reasonable price fixation of minimum wages and creation of more jobs through apprenticeship schemes.

Other important measures, housing facilities for homeless, opening of trade centres in rural and urban areas.

        My Government have decided to set up a State level apex body for financing housing co-operatives which would provide aid and assistance to the homeless people of the State to enable them to construct houses. Steps are being taken to locate and open trade centres both in rural and in urban areas and to construct shops in these centres to encourage the local people to take to trading and commerce. With the object of facilitating the flow credit facilities, my Government will introduce a legislation based on the recommendations of the Talwar Committee.

Law and Order

        4. The situation in the State during 1975-76 continued to be peaceful. By and large, the State remainder unaffected by the agitation started by the Opposition Parties in other parts of the country. Soon after the declaration of Emergency, a few arrests were made in the State under the Maintenance of Internal Security Act and the Conservation of Foreign Exchange and Prevention of Smuggling Activities Act with a view to maintaining stability and preventing threat to the economy by the activities of undesirable sections of the society. These cases are being periodically reviewed. There have been a few incidents of trespass, cattle-lifting and kidnapping along the State's border with Bangladesh. Some of the recent incidents in Bangladesh gave rise to uncertainty and a sense of insecurity on the border of the State. My Government have been watching the situation and have tightened up the security measures to prevent infiltration from across the border and it is expected that the situation will improve and the people on both sides of the border will continue to live in peace.

Measures for improving efficiency of administration.

        5. With a view to toning up of the administrative machinery, my Government decided to weed out inefficient and corrupt Government employees. A Review Committee has been constituted with the Chief Secretary as the Chairman to scrutinise and recommend compulsory retirement of Government servants who are grossly inefficient, are of doubtful integrity or whose physical and mental efficiency is such as to make them unfit for further service. In accordance with this policy, 14 officials were compulsorily retired from service and 7 others were removed or dismissed from service during the year 1975. Over fifty officials have also been suspended lending further enquiries.

Natural Calamities    

        6. Fortunately the State has not been affected by any major natural calamity during the year 1975-76. But certain areas were affected by failure of crops due to excessive or scanty rainfall, depredation by wild animals and a few fire incidents. My Government extended necessary relief to the affected people.

Administrative set-up

        7. With a view to bringing the administration closer to the people and facilitating execution of developmental programmes, my Government have decided to set up two more districts, four sub-divisions and six administrative units in the State according to a phased programme, keeping in view the availability of officials and other relevant factors. The reorganisation of the administrative set-up will fulfill a long felt need of the people of the State.

Development and Planning

        8. With the improvement in the economic situation and containment of inflation, the coming year shows a greater promise for accelerating the process of development in various sectors. The outlay for the 1976-77 Plan, as tentatively agreed to by the Planning Commission, is Rs.20.20 crores which includes the outlay on Kyrdemkulai Hydro-Electric Project of Rs.4.50 crores. My Government have also got an assurance from the Planning Commission regarding increase in the outlay for roads and bridges and in the Health sector as also for cadastral survey. It is expected that the Planning Commission will decide on the assured increased outlay at an early date. The Annual Plan for 1976-77 has been drawn up keeping in view the accepted overall priorities and inter-sectoral balances with added emphasis on improving the condition of the under privileged and weaker sections of the society.

Agricultural Development

        9. Increase in agricultural production forms one of the essential elements of the new Economic Programme announced by the Prime Minister. With a view to stepping up agricultural production, new irrigation schemes have been taken up. Work was undertaken on three projects for flow irrigation and six schemes of lift irrigation at the end of 1974-75, and of these, one project has been commissioned in January last and the remaining will be completed during the course of the next year. A scheme of sinking 100 shallow tube-wells in Garo Hills district has been taken up to improve irrigation facilities. The target of 135 thousand tonnes of food-grains is expected to be fulfilled during 1975-76. During the next year, agricultural production is expected to increase by 5 thousand tonnes in foodgrains and 3.5 thousand bales of jute and mesta.

        With a view to extending the benefit of agricultural improvement to poor cultivators, the activities of Small Farmers Development Agencies and Marginal Farmers Development Agencies will be continued in a modified form.

Control of Jhumming and grouping of villages.

        10. The benefits of the programme for control of jhumming and grouping of villages go to the weakest section of the tribals in the State and the programme is being continued. Besides inducing the tribals engaged in shifting cultivation to take up permanent cultivation and improved agricultural practices, the integrated programme includes the extension of benefit of water supply, irrigation facilities, communications and health facilities to the beneficiaries.

Animal husbandry and development of poultry and fisheries

        11. In the field of animal husbandry, the main thrust of the programme is on the development of cattle through cross-breeding with exotic breeds such as Fresian and Jersey and the intensification of the extension services through intensive cattle development  projects and key village centres. The Indo-Danish Project at Upper Shillong will continue to be implemented in co-ordination with the schemes for the cattle farm at Kyrdemkulai. Due attention will be paid to the development of poultry, fisheries and piggery schemes with assist the people in the rural areas to take up subsidiary occupations with a view to improving their economic condition.

Co-operatives and community development

        12. The co-operative structure, apart from extending agricultural credit to the cultivators, has to play an important role in view of the new Economic Programme by providing a base for extension of consumers' benefit both in rural and urban areas. The programme for revitalization and re-organisation of the primary level societies which was undertaken under the Master Plan prepared in consultation with the Reserve Bank of India is expected to be completed soon. Six branches of the Co-operative Apex Bank are already functioning in the State and it will open six more branches during the next year. The Bank will considerably increase its loaning operations. The State Co-operative Marketing Federation has already started functioning, and its bye-laws are being amended to include consumers' functions within its sphere of activities.

       The Block Development agencies will be utilised for execution of specific programmes of several development departments by earmarking specified funds to be channelised through them. The special programme for the development of backward areas will also continue to be executed through the Blocks.

Industrial Development and mineral resources.

        13. It is my Government's policy to promote such industries as would lead to the utilisation of agricultural produce and forest and mineral resources of the State and expand employment opportunities for the people. With this end in view, the policy of dispersal of industries in various parts of the State is being followed. Besides the industrial units set up in the State during the last few years, viz., the Associated Beverages, Meghalaya Plywood's and the Komorrah Limestone Mining Company, which are functioning satisfactorily, the new units that have come into production are the Meghalaya Steel and Concrete Products, Ltd., and the Meghalaya Phyto-chemicals Ltd. The Meghalaya Essential Oils and Chemicals, Ltd., has set up more distillation units in the State and will extend its activities to the border areas of Garo Hills also. The Mawmluh - Cherra Cements Ltd. has succeeded in obtaining a letter indicating approval to the loan from the Industrial Finance Corporation and Industrial Development Bank of India for its expansion project on which the work is continuing. It is a matter of regret that there has been no further progress in regard to the clinker factory proposed to be set up in Garo Hills due to various factors including the want of final clearance by the Government of India of the Garo Hills Thermal Project which is an approved scheme of the North Eastern Council. The Meghalaya Industrial Development Corporation has continued to take steps to promote medium industries. Letters of Intent for a Mini Paper Plant, Oxygen Gas Plant and a Tannery have been received by private entrepreneurs. A joint sector agreement with a private entrepreneur has been concluded for the setting up of a jute mill at Mendipathar in Garo Hills district. The schemes relating to disbursement of central capital investment subsidy and training of local candidates in jute technology, paper technology, cost accountancy and other disciplines necessary for filling the much - needed personnel gap in the industries sector are continuing. Increased emphasis is being placed on the proving of mineral deposits in the State.

Power

        14. The Meghalaya State Electricity Board is running power stations and projects with a total installed capacity of 66.5 MW. Besides, the Nangalbibra coal-based thermal station with a total installed capacity of 5MW (2x2.5 MW) is also likely to be commissioned soon. The on-going Kyrdemkulai Project on which the work is continuing will have an installed capacity of 60 MW. The programme in the Power sector for the next year includes the investigation of Upper Khri-Umiam-Umtru State IV and Leishka schemes as also investigation of micro-hydel schemes in Garo Hills district. The work on Rural Electrification Programme will be stepped up. The Kopili Hydel Project approved by the North Eastern Council is to be executed by the proposed Regional Power Corporation.

Transport and communications.

        15. My Government continue to accord high priority to the development of communications in the State, and expect that the assurance for increased outlay in this sector during the next year will be fulfilled early by the Government of India and the Planning Commission. The surveys relating to the construction of railway lines to connect Gauhati with Byrnihat and Jogigopha with Garo Hills have been completed, and my Government look forward to the allocation of funds  for these projects by the Government of India.

        The work relating to the preparation of a project report and feasibility study for the Ishamati- Shillong-Byrnihat Ropeway is nearing completion and provision of funds for taking up of the schemes will be necessary. In this regard also, my Government expect the Government of India to provide adequate funds. The work on the survey for Baghmara - Dudnoi and Lumshnong - Badarpur Ropeways will commence soon. The running of non-scheduled air services to and from the Shillong air-field at Umroi by a private transport agency has enabled the proving of the utility of the route, and it is expected that the Indian Airlines authorities and the Civil Aviation Ministry will consider starting of regular air services at an early date. Discussion with the Assam Government in regard to taking over of the routes at present being operated by the Assam Meghalaya State Road Transport Corporation could not result in agreed conclusions and the matter has been referred to the Government of India under the provisions of the North-Eastern Areas (Re-organisation) Act.

Education art and culture and promotion of sports.

        16. In accordance with the new Economic Programme, the schemes undertaken in the Education sector place emphasis on the extension of benefits to the weaker sections of the students. The schemes taken up under the Programme include the establishment of students' text-book sections in libraries and setting up of book banks for poor students of schools and colleges. The schemes for grant of scholarships are being continued. Essential commodities are being made available to the students at hostels at reasonable prices. The State Government are considering the recommendations of the Kothari Commission to completely separate academic and administrative wings of the State Education department and set up a "State Council of Education, Research and Training" as recommended by the Commission.

        The programme in this sector for the next year also includes schemes for setting up of an Institute of Art and Culture, grant of pension to eminent men in art and culture, as also youth welfare schemes and a scheme for development of physical education and sports in educational institutions.

        My Government have made available land for the development for the campus of the North-Eastern Hill University. The Pre-Examination Training Centre for coaching candidates for All-India and Central Services at Shillong which was referred to in my last address has started functioning under the auspices of the North-Eastern Hills University and it has already conducted a course of coaching.

Health and water Supply.

        17. My Government will continue the various schemes relating to improvement of medical facilities, particularly in the rural areas of the State. The programme includes the setting up a new sub-centres, dispensaries, primary health centres as also the improvement of the three Civil Hospitals at Jowai, Shillong and Tura and of the Ganesh Das Hospital in Shillong. The emphasis on control of communicable  disease is continuing. Despite considerable success, constant vigil and endeavour are necessary in the sphere of Malaria and Small pox eradication. In the matter of National Leprosy Control Programme, ten S.E.T (survey, education and treatment) centres are already functioning and one leprosy control unit has been sanctioned for Rongjeng in Garo Hills district. It is propose to set up shortly one more control unit, one urban leprosy centre and hospitalisation wards in the State with necessary staff and equipment under the Centrally sponsored scheme. It is expected that implementation of this scheme will commence shortly. The execution of the schemes for water supply in rural areas and improvement of water supply in urban areas continues to be an essential part of the development programme.

Other sectors

        18. The programmes in the other important sectors of development are continuing. The development of forests is being given due attention through the schemes for improvement and expansion of the State reserve forests and projects are being undertaken by the Forest Development Corporation which will also develop forest plantations in the areas under the District Councils. The schemes of the Soil Conservation department with a view to ensuring stable water regime and climatic conditions are continuing. My Government place due emphasis on urban development and development of tourism facilities. However, due to overall constrains of funds much progress could not be made in this sphere.

Price situation

        19. The efforts of my Government for curbing the rise in prices and making available essential commodities at reasonable rates have yielded results. Marking and displaying of prices of scheduled articles as per Government order and regular inspections have facilitated the maintenance of price level. The State has also been free from incidents of acute scarcity of essential commodities.

District Councils

        20. My Government attach importance to the functioning of District Councils and stricter implementation of the laws, rules and regulations passed by them particularly those relating to the protection of the interests of tribals, enforcement of the provisions of the Meghalaya Transfer of Land (Regulation) Act, 1971 trading by non-tribals and realisation of various dues. Measures will be taken in this regard in consultation with the District Councils. The Councils will continue to be assisted for discharging their functions in regard to primary education as also for undertaking developmental schemes of their own. The services of one Deputy Inspector of Schools and six Sub-Inspectors have already been made available to the District Councils with a view to strengthening their set-up for supervision of educational institutions. Arrangements have also been finalised with the Khasi Hills District Council for the management of a fishery which is being developed in the Umiam Lake.

Development of border areas.

        21. The integrated programme for the development of border areas will continue during the next year with increased outlay. The State Co-operative Marketing Federation will extend its activities in the border areas and take up the marketing of border produce. Apart from the Border Subsidy scheme, the programme for the border areas' development includes the schemes for construction of feeder roads and small bridges and assistance to students from the border areas. Industrial units will be set up in the border areas to ensure utilisation of the produce of these areas. Organisation of cottage industries and development of handlooms will also be taken up to increase employment opportunities.

Absorption of tribal employees.

        22. In accordance with its declared policy, my Government are still vigorously pursuing the matter of absorption within Meghalaya of tribal employees serving under the Government of Assam. Till January, 1975, there were 158 tribal ministerial employees of Meghalayan origin working under the Government of Assam. During February to December, 1975, 135 of such employees have been absorbed in Meghalaya. The remaining employees will be absorbed as and when suitable vacancies are available.

Assam - Meghalaya border

        23. In accordance with the policy of conciliation and amity followed by my Government in this matter, a meeting of the Chief Ministers of Assam and Meghalaya was held on the 29th February, 1976. Discussions took place in a friendly atmosphere and it was agreed to have meetings betweens the representatives of the two State Governments as frequently as possible to resolve all differences that might crop up. It was appreciated by both the Government that there have been some misunderstanding and some differences with respect to boundary lines between the two States. It was decided that the officers of the two States of the concerned departments would meet and pin-point the areas needing clarification and the matter would be discussed first at the officers' level and then at the Ministers' level. It was expected that the officers would complete their discussions in all respect by 15th April, 1976. It was also agreed that the Deputy Commissioners and the Superintendents of  Police of the concerned districts should meet at least once a month and discuss matters affecting the people living on the border of the districts of the two States.

       My Government hope that with mutual co-operation of both the Governments and the good office of the Government of India , existing difficulties will be resolved satisfactorily.

Employment schemes and Task Force.

        24. The problem of unemployment is being tackled through the special schemes for rural works and by arranging assistance through the banks to the educated unemployed. The implementation of plan schemes is expected to generate job opportunities directly and it will lead to indirect generation of employment by stimulation of growth of economy in various sectors of the Plan and by connected economic activities. The selection of candidates for recruitment to the Task Force has been completed and the Force is likely to be soon deployed on departmental projects of developmental nature

Land Reforms Commission.

        25. The Land Reform Commission has recommended inter alia taking up of cadastral survey in Khasi Hills District for preparation of land records. My Government decided to undertake cadastral survey in the entire State in a phrased manner.

Taxation Enquiry Committee.

        26. The report of the Taxation Enquiry Committee has been received and is under examination by my Government.

Benefits to the employees

        27. The benefits of the revised scale of pay based on the recommendations of the Assam Pay Commission have been extended to all categories of employees under the State Government. The other benefits in the from of various allowances, etc., are continuing with a view to affording relief to the employees.

Programme for the Session

        28. In this session, my Government will place the Budget Estimates as also introduce the necessary Finance Bills. Besides the following measures will be introduced during the current session of the Assembly :-

1. The Meghalaya Prevention of Gambling (Amendment) Bill, 1976.
2. The Meghalaya Credit Operation and Miscellaneous Provision Bill, 1976.
3. The Meghalaya Chit Fund and Money Circulation Scheme (Prohibition) Bill, 1976.

        29. I have briefly referred to some of the important aspects of policy and developmental programmes and activities of my Government. The challenges and tasks ahead call for united efforts and best endeavors on the part of all of us. The Hon. Members of the Legislature and the people of the State have to play a significant role in shaping the destiny of the State and ensuring the achievement of declared goals and objectives. With your active co-operation my Government will be able to discharge these responsibilities successfully.

        I am confident that the deliberations in the House will be marked by a spirit of dedication and contribute towards accelerated economic growth and well being of the people of Meghalaya.

JAI HIND