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

Meghalaya Legislative Assembly

20th March, 1978

MR. SPEAKER AND HONOURABLE MEMBERS,

        I have great pleasure in addressing this august House for the first time after its reconstitution. I extend a hearty welcome to the newly elected Members of the House and wish you a fruitful tenure of service as Members of the House and all success in your efforts.

        2. The last year has been a period of considerable significance. The year witnessed changes in the national scene which have had far-reaching effects. This period also saw the reaffirmation of the will of the  people, the restoration of fundamental rights and the resurrection of the democratic ideals. The year will remain memorable in the history of the nation.

        3. Though the economic situation in the country has shown some signs of improvement, yet the rise in prices of edible oils and some other items of daily use has given rise to anxiety. The food grains buffer stock has been built up adequately to meet requirement and the foreign exchange position has shown progressive improvement. In spite of a comparatively brighter economic outlook, the situation would need constant watch to ensure that the inflationary trends do not reappear posing a threat to economic development.

        4. As all of you are aware, after the completion of the elections a new Government have taken over the reins of administration in the State. The Government will strenuously endeavour to protect and preserve the distinct identity of the tribal people of Meghalaya and will pay special attention to their economic, social and cultural interests. The Government are committed to provide and clean and efficient administration, responsive to the needs and aspirations of the people. It will make all efforts through constitutional legislative and other measures to provide safeguards against influx from outside the prevent economic exploitation of the tribal people. The Government will make every effort to settle the outstanding boundary disputes with the neighbouring State of Assam. While making all efforts for improving the socio-economic condition of the tribal population of the State and protecting their rights, the Government  shall endeavour to ensure fair and and just treatment to all the sections of the population and communities living in the State. 

        5. The Government are happy to observe that in keeping with the tradition of amity and good will among the various sections of the population of the State, by and large, the overall law and order situation has been maintained satisfactorily. The Government are determined to preserve harmonious relations among all sections of the people and communities living in the State and will take steps necessary in that direction.

        The situation on the border with Bangladesh is being kept under constant watch. With a view to ensuring security and preventing the occurrence of crimes along the border, requisite number of police stations and outposts have been set up and patrolling has been arranged all along the border. With a view to enlisting people's co-operation in this regard, Village Defence Parties have been organised in the border area and the steps will be taken to make them more effective.

        6. The Government are anxious to prevent the influx of foreign nationals into the State. With a view to ensuring this objective, adequate number of outposts manned by Border Security Force are functioning all along the border. During the last three years, 4847 infiltrators were detected of them 4022 were pushed back to Bangladesh and 825 were prosecuted and subsequently pushed back after their conviction. The Government of India had issued an order on the 10th July 1976 which took effect from the 14th August 1976 to control entry of Nepalese nationals into the restricted areas under the foreigners Act 1916. The State Government are actively considering ways and means for the implementation of the order.

        The Government are committed to maintain the basic population structure of the State and to prevent economic exploitation of the tribal communities living in the State. With this objective in view the Government will take necessary measures to regulate any large scale influx from outside the State and would initiate legislative and other measures which may be deemed necessary in this regard. The Government look forward to the assistance and active help of the Government of India in the achievement of this objective in the context of the State being backward with predominantly tribal population and considering that the disturbance of the balance in this regard may lead to avoidable tensions which are not in the national interest.

        7. The boundary with the neighbouring State of Assam covers large areas; there had been incident resulting in tension. The Government are eager to ensure an expeditious settlement of the boundary disputes with Assam by making all possible and earnest efforts. The transfer of Blocks I and II of the Karbi Anglong District of Assam to the Jaintia Hills District of Meghalaya has been an outstanding issue since the days of the composite State of Assam. The Government are keen to ensure an expeditious settlement of these problems by mutual consultation with the Government of Assam and if necessary by seeking the use of the good offices of the Government of India. In order to prevent further deterioration and to remove the causes for uncertainty on both sides of the border, the Government intensify its efforts to persuade the Assam Government to agree to the demarcation of the boundary on the ground, by a joint survey by the officials of the two State Governments or in the alternative by an Independent agency. The Government are also anxious that difficulties and other anomalies existing all along the border of Meghalaya are removed at the earliest.

        8. One of the most important point in the policy of the Government is the taking of measures for improving efficiency of administration. The Government will take adequate measures to ensure a clean administration. The new districts, sub-division and the administrative units which have been set up will be made more effective centres for the execution of Government policies and programme.

        9. With the coming of the new Government at the centre, there has been a welcome reorientation and modification of plan priorities. The improvement in the economic situation has paved the ground for a renewed effort towards development. The new concept of rolling Plan will ensure constant appraisal and introduction of necessary modifications in the outlays and programmes of the Plan within the overall frame work of the broad priorities. The Sixth Five Year Plan is under formulation and has been discussed recently in a meeting of the National Development Council. The Government expect that in keeping with the policy objective of the Central Government of ensuring concentrated attention to the Scheduled tribes and backward areas, Meghalaya will get a fair and just treatment in regard to the fixation of the size of Plan as also in regard to the allocation of Central assistance. The emphasis in the Plan of the State will be on improvement of agricultural and allied sectors as the vast majority of the population of the State depends on agriculture for their main source of livelihood. The programme for control of shifting cultivation or jhum will be reviewed, with a view to removing its short-comings and making it more effective with added emphasis on the creation of necessary infrastructure and basic amenities. The so-far neglected sector of rural small and cottage industries will get concentrated attention as it is one of the most important measures to ensure intensive development and economic growth in the rural areas. Development of road communications will receive a high priority as this is one of the basic elements of infrastructure for development. The Government will ensure the extension of the provision of drinking water especially in rural areas with more speed. The Government will take steps for consolidation and better utilisation and extension of educational benefits to the people. The schemes under integrated programme for development of border areas will be reviewed and steps taken to make them more effective so as to bring the real benefits to our brethren living in these areas.

        Pending the formulation of the next Five Year Plan the outlay for the Annual Plan for 1978-79 has been fixed at Rs.28.11 crores representing an increase of about 15 per cent over the Plan outlay for the current year. The endeavour of the Government will be to make efforts for upward revision of the Plan outlays so that more resources could be put in for the development of the State.

        10. The Government will give utmost importance to the improvement in agricultural production so as to ensure the achievement of the objective of self-sufficiency in the minimum possible time. The Programmes will include land-use and cadastral survey and will concentrate on efforts for popularising improved agricultural practices, adequate and timely supplies of agricultural inputs and more practical and effective demonstrations at the field level. The programme will lay adequate emphasis on sound research, land reclamation, minor irrigation and cultivation of cash crops. In view of the promising potential for horticultural development, the Government will strengthen the machinery and take up a programme for establishing progeny orchards and other schemes for ensuring greater attention and better incentives for cultivator taking up horticultural schemes.

        The Block Development agencies continue to remain important centres of activity in the State and the Government will, therefore take steps to re-orient their functioning so as to make them effective agencies for development in rural areas. Efforts will be made to augment their resources by adequate provision of funds as far as possible and by channelising various developmental programmes through them. The Central Sector Programme for intensive rural development will also be implemented. 

        11. One of the biggest handicaps in improving the agricultural production in the State has been the non availability of agricultural credit for short-term, medium term and long term purposes. The Government will make all possible efforts to improve the functioning of the cooperatives so as to make them effective instruments of economic growth in rural areas. Steps will be taken to ensure that the nationalised banks and other financing institutions fulfill their expected role in extending credit operations in the State for agricultural purposes as also for rural and mini industries in the 'tiny' sector.

        12. The rise in prices of essential commodities effects the vulnerable sections of the society and leads to worsening of their economic position. The Government will make all efforts to ensure adequate supplies of essential commodities. The functioning of the State Co-operative Marketing and Consumers' Federation and that of the Cooperative Stores and fair price shops will be utilised progressively for ensuring the maintenance of the price level. The Government will take recourse to the existing legal measures and if necessary, take new legislative and executive measures to ensure price stability.

        13. Communications play a very important role in the development of infrastructure for improving the economy of the State. The objective of the road development programme in the State will be to have a net-work of roads in a coordinated manner with a view to facilitating marketing of agricultural produce, movement of the produce from the border areas, facilitating agricultural and industrial development as also meeting the other requirements for the improvement of economy of the State and for providing transport to the people living in the interior areas of the State.

        With a view to improving the transport system in the State, the working of the Meghalaya Transport Corporation will be streamlined and improved. 

        14. In the industrial sphere, the policy of the Government will be to quicken the pace of the growth of small and cottage industries particularly in the rural areas. The Government policy regarding the medium and large-scale industries will be based in the considerations of the benefits to the people and best interests of the State. 

        15. The Government are alive to the necessity for extending medical facilities in the rural areas. The programme in this sector will include better utilisation of existing and efforts for posting of staff and making available necessary equipments and medicines in the existing medical centres as also the setting up of more primary health centers and dispensaries so as to make available improved medical facilities in the interiors of the State.         

        16. The objective of the Government in the educational sphere will be to ensure consolidation and expansion of education at all levels and to bring about such possible changes in the system of education as will make it more useful and meaningful. The Government will examine the report of the State Education Commission when received  and initiate necessary measures. With a view to providing healthy development of the youth of the State, greater attention will be paid towards the cultural activities and sports and the provision of play-grounds, stadium, etc., in keeping with the availability of financial resources.

        17. The development of forestry both in the reserved forests as also in the forests under the District Councils will be one of the important items of the policy of the Government. The development of Animal Husbandry and Veterinary and Poultry sectors will get due emphasis for improving the economic condition of the people as also to increase the availability of nutritious diet for the people of the State. The Soil Conservation Department will continue the scheme relating to the control of jhum and grouping of villages with necessary modifications as also its programme for reclamation of land.

        18. An accelerated programme for rural electrification and development of power generation is necessary to ensure the availability of power for irrigation, agriculture and industries. The State Government expect that apart from expediting the work on the Garo Hills Thermal Project which is an already approved scheme of the North Eastern Council, the Government of India will approve the taking up of one or two new Projects for generation of power in the State by the Meghalaya State Electricity Board during the Sixth Plan. The work on the connecting of the Umiam - Umtru system with the transmission line in the Garo Hills will be expedited with a view to ensuring the building up of a coordinated power grid in the State.

        19. As a measure of improving the quality of life in the rural areas, the Government is committed to the taking up of an expanded programme for drinking water supply. The work on the schemes already taken up will be expedited so that the benefit could flow to the people at the earliest and new schemes to cover the areas of acute and chronic water scarcity will be taken up. The Government is seized of the crying need to augment water supply in Greater Shillong area and will take expeditious steps in that direction. The work on the schemes for water supply in other towns of the State will also be expedited.

        20. The Government note that the efforts made so far for the economic upliftment of the people living in the border areas of the State have not yielded the desired results. It shall be the earnest endeavour of the Government to ensure all possible measures to lead to an integrated development of the economy of the border people in the shortest possible time. Apart from improving the infrastructure in the area, the Government steps will be directed towards improvement in various sector of development. Measures to ensure marketing of the border produces will be strengthened and their scope enlarged, so as to make the schemes effective for the people in the border areas.

        21. The Government attach utmost importance to the functioning of the District Councils as they are the representative organisations in accordance with the genius and tradition of the people of the State. The Government will also ensure coordinated functioning of other traditional and customary local institutions of the State. The elections to the District Council which have been over due will be expedited and held as soon as possible. Necessary assistance will be extended to the District Councils to enable them to discharge their functions in the sphere of primary education and developmental sector. It will be the constant endeavour of the Government to assist the District Councils in all possible ways, financially as also by ensuring their effective functioning.

        22. The elections for the Shillong Municipal Board will be held as early as possible. Depending upon the assessment of the relevant factors, the Government will set up such other Municipal Boards and Town Committees as may be necessary in  the State.

        23. The immense potential for development of facilities for Tourism in the State is yet to be realised in a meaningful and purposive manner. A beginning will be made in this direction by taking up the schemes for development of such facilities in the Barapani Complex as also in other suitable places in the State.

        24. The Government are committed to a policy of preserving the purity and high standards of social conduct and curbing the evils of excessive drinking. The policy will be implemented in such a manner as to avoid interference with the tribal customs prevalent in the State in this regard.

        25. The extension of relief at times of natural calamities is one of the basic responsibilities of the Government. The State Government will ensure drawing up of contingency plans for extension of timely and quick relief in times of natural calamities in various parts of the State and will  ensure placing the necessary minimum funds in advance with the District authorities for the purpose.

        26. The State Government are seized of the problem of unemployment in the State. Subject to the availability of finances, the Government will ensure increasing the avenues for gainful employment in the State. The Government would like to press upon the Government of India the need to give due weightage to the local people of the State particularly the tribals in the manner of employment in the Central Government offices and institutions located in Meghalaya.

        27. The Government attach utmost importance of the extension of necessary benefits to the employees to the extent possible within their financial resources and with this end in view the Government are considering the question of setting up a Pay Commission.

        28. The Seventh Finance Commission has started functioning. The State Government propose to place before the Commission a realistic picture of its requirement and expect a sympathetic and fair deal from the Commission in keeping with its status as a backward State predominantly inhabited by tribals and having special problems of its own.

        29. Apart from the financial bills and the Ratification of the Constitution (44th Amendment) Bill, 1977, business of the current session of the House will include the introduction of the following measures :-

        (i)    The Meghalaya Municipal (Garo Hills Autonomous District) Bill, 1978.

        (ii)    The Meghalaya Finance (Sales Tax) (Amendment) Bill, 1978.

        (iii)    The Meghalaya (Minister's Salaries and Allowances) (Amendment) Bill, 1978.

        30. I have briefly referred to some of the main items of the policies and programmes which the new Government are committed to implement for the development of the State. The Government will endeavour to bring about economic development in the State in the shortest possible time and mobilise necessary resources and make the maximum efforts for the achievement of this objective. I am confident that you, as the elected representatives of the people of the State with a fresh mandate, will extend the necessary help and co-operation to the Government to enable it to discharge its responsibilities and accomplish its chosen tasks.

        I hope that the deliberations in the House will be fruitful and lead to the achievement of the declared goals and go a long way towards building up a prosperous Meghalaya contributing its best to the progress of the entire country.

J A I  H I N D