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

Meghalaya Legislative Assembly

28th February, 1980.


        I am happy to address you again after a lapse of about one year.

        2. The Mid-tem polls for the Lok Sabha were completed recently and the people have voted Smti. Indira Gandhi back as Prime Minister. This, apart from being a clear demonstration of the supremacy of the will of the people, is also a proof of their strong desire for stability, peace, efficiency and economic growth. The change-over at the Centre will certainly usher in an era of stability and economic development under the wise and able leadership of Smti. Indira Gandhi. She has been well known for her sympathy for the weaker sections of the population and Meghalaya with its pre-dominantly tribal and economically backward population could now look forward to increased help and assistance from the Central Government towards its accelerated economic development.

        3. The economic situation in the country for some time past has shown trends which have given rise to concern and anxiety. During the last year, as there was a rise in prices by about 20 per cent owing to various factors, agricultural production has suffered and there has been a set-back in the industrial production. These trends have affected the economy of the State. The common man in Meghalaya has been undergoing extreme hardships due to rise in prices and acute shortage of supplies of essential commodities as a result of unsatisfactory operation of rail and road transport and other factors. The situation requires strong measures so as to ensure the economic health of the nation and remove the difficulties which the common citizen of the country is facing today.

        4. The law and order situation in and around Shillong had shown deterioration since October last year. The tragic incidents necessitated promulgation of Prohibitory Orders by district authorities and other measures such as detention under the Preventive Detention Ordinance which was promulgated on the 26th December, 1979. These incidents have adversely affected the normal activities of the people who have undergone hardships and sufferings as a result of dislocation in trade and commerce. The measures taken by the administration have resulted in considerable improvement in the situation which is fastly returning to normalcy. The administration also extended relief measures to the persons affected by the disturbances and efforts have been initiated to send them to their homes in their respective localities. The State Government are also grateful to the Prime Minister for the grant of the sum of Rupees One lakh from Prime Minister Relief Fund for relief to the affected persons. The State  Government expect full co-operation and assistance from all in the task of bringing back normalcy so that peace and harmony would prevail in the State in the overall interest of Meghalaya.

        5. The State Government is keenly aware of the problem of influx of foreign nationals which is agitating the minds of the people in the State and the entire North-Eastern region. With a view to coping with the problem of infiltration of foreigners check posts have been set up at Sibbari, Pynursla, Mawsynram, Cherrapunji and Khliehriat. A cell has been set up for effective enforcement of the measures against infiltration which is headed by an officer of the rank of Superintendent of Police. In the Political Department of the State Secretariat, a cell has been set up to deal effectively with the problem. With a view to expedite the work relating to determination of nationality of suspected foreign nationals, two tribunals are proposed to be set up for which the approval of the Government of India is awaited. As the hon'ble Members are aware, the State Government introduced a legislation entitled "Maintenance of Public Order (Amendment) Bill, 1979" which will be taken up for further discussion during the current session. The Government have taken steps to implement the scheme for the issue of Restricted Area Permits, (RAP's) to the Nepalese Nationals who came to the State after the crucial date and applications from such persons have been called.

        While being committed to the protection and preservation of the distinct identity of the tribal people of Meghalaya and making all possible efforts for the promotion of their economic, social and cultural interest, it is the policy of the State Government to ensure fair and just treatment to all sections of the population living in the State. The State Government are taking all the necessary steps to ensure stability of administration and peaceful conditions in the State which are the necessary pre-requisites for developmental activities and achieve the objective of making the people self-reliant.

        6. Apart from the occurrence of tragic events in and around Shillong and a few untoward incidents in other places, by and large the law and order in the State was maintained satisfactorily. The situation on the border with Bangladesh showed considerable improvement. There has been a decline in the Commission of crimes on the border. The State Government have raised three companies of special Homeguard battalions for border areas for keeping watch over the border against commission of crimes and incursions and infiltration from across the border. The State Government's request for financial assistance from the Government of India for the purpose is still awaiting favourable response.

        7. The State Government welcome the re-affirmation of the commitment of Government of India in planning and the revival of the 20-point economic programme which had been beneficial to the poor, the landless and the backward sections of the society. The Planning Commission and the Government of India had fixed the size of the Sixth Five Year Plan (1978 - 83) of the State at Rupees 180 crores, which is extremely inadequate considering the requirements. The State Government propose to urge strongly for an upward revision of the size with renewed emphasis on development of backward sections of the population by the Government of India. Meghalaya Government expect a fair and adequate allocation of the plan outlays proportionate to the requirements and felt needs of the people for the Sixth Five Year Plan as also for the annual Plan for 1980-81.

        8. Agricultural production in the State suffered a set back last year due to prevalence of drought in various parts of the State. The main thrust of the agricultural development programme in the State is on making available to the cultivators the necessary inputs such as seeds and fertilizers. The development of irrigation facilities also forms an essential part of the agricultural development programme in the State. Adequate attention is being given to the development of cash crops and horticulture. The programme of integrated rural development which was initiated earlier in eleven development blocks in the State will be continued.

        Agricultural development requires effective soil and water conservation measures. The programme of soil conservation measures is being taken up on watershed basis in selected areas where schemes are being implemented to utilise soil and water based on capability and proper use of the land. The integrated scheme for control of shifting cultivation and rehabilitation of the people engaged in shifting cultivation in grouped villages will be continued with emphasis on development of lands in slopes and valleys, provision of irrigation facilities and extension of other infrastructural facilities and basic amenities.

        9. The development of animal husbandry and veterinary sector is complementary to the agricultural development. The programme in this sector includes various cattle development schemes and the schemes for development of poultry and piggery. Feed mills at Bhoi and Tura have been established  to meet the requirements of cattle feed in the State. The State Government propose to set up a Union of Milk Co-operatives. A Committee for coordinating the work of fodder development and development of pastures in the State has also been set up. The programme of development of fisheries in the State includes the scheme for promotion of inland fisheries, setting-up of demonstration centres for fish seed production and assistance to pisciculturists and fishery co-operatives.

        10. The development of forests in hill areas is of utmost importance for preventing soil erosion and maintaining fertility of the soil. The programme for forest development in the State includes schemes for conservation and development of forests. A scheme for the survey of forests resource has also been taken up. The Forest Development Corporation will soon avail of advances from the Agricultural Re-financing and Development Corporation with a view to step up its activities. The programme of the Department also lays emphasis on preservation of wild life and development of wild life sanctuaries.

        11. The State Government attach utmost importance to the Community development blocks as effective centres of developmental activities. The Government of India have approved the proposal of the State Government to set up six new development blocks by readjustment of the areas of the existing blocks and required financial provision for the setting up of the blocks is being made. The schemes for channelisation of earmarked funds of various development departments through the block is being continued with a view  to making available funds for the effective functioning of the block agency. The block development committees have also been reconstituted.

        12. The structure of the co-operatives in the State has been re-organised in accordance with the programme drawn up in consultation with the Reserve Bank of India. The functioning of the co-operatives in the sphere of credit, marketing and consumers' activities being strengthened. With the enforcement of the Meghalaya Credit Operations and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1976 and the promulgation of the Rules under the Act, which has been done recently, the expansion of agricultural credit in the State is like to be stepped up. The Meghalaya Co-operative Apex Bank has started issuing medium-term loans. The activities of the Housing and Financing  Co-operative Society and of primary housing co-operatives will be stepped up and the scheme for setting of trade centres for the indigenous people of the State will be implemented. The programme for co-operative development also includes the organisation of dairy co-operatives and industrial co-operatives.

        13. Power development in the State is necessary for providing the basic infrastructure for the growth of industries and improvement of agriculture in the State as also for meeting the acute shortage of power in the entire North-Eastern region. The Kyrdemkulai Hydro - electric project has been completed and its two units each with a capacity of 30 MW have been commissioned. Work has been started on Umiam-Umtru State IV project with Upper-khri diversion which will have an installed capacity of 2 x 30 MV. The programme of rural electrification is also being given attention. The State Government have extended the assurance regarding the availability of the required quantity of water for the Garo Hills Thermal Project,  which is a scheme under the North-Eastern Council and its early clearance and sanction is awaited from the Government of India.  

        14. Educational programme of the State lays emphasis on consolidation and improvement of the existing educational facilities. A science education programme is being implemented under the UNICEF assisted scheme for improvement of science education in primary and middle stages. The national programme of adult education will be continued and during 1980-81, it is proposed to covered 36,000 illiterate adults in 1200 centres. The work relating to registration of antiquities and preparation of gazetteers will be continued.

        15. The development of roads to provide the infrastructure for agricultural marketing and industrial development in the State is receiving due attention. The completion of on-going schemes is being given priority under the programme. The construction of new roads and bridges is being undertaken within the framework of available financial outlays.

        16. Industrial development forms an important part of the developmental programme in the State. The letter of intent for the setting up of a cement plant in Jaintia Hills has been received recently. The first phase of the expansion of the Mawmluh-Cherra Cement Company raising its installed capacity to 500 tonnes per day has been completed and the second phase of expansion raising its capacity to 900 tonnes per day is likely to be completed by the end of the current year. A company under the name of Meghalaya Watch (Private) Limited has been incorporated with an authorised capital of Rs.25 lakhs to set up a watch assembly unit at Shillong. A project engineer and some staff have been recruited and they are now under training at the HMT Watch Factory at Bangalore. With a view to utilise the bamboo resources of the State, a subsidiary company of the Meghalaya Industrial Development Corporation with the name "Meghalaya Bamboo Chipping Private Limited" has been incorporated. The site of the Unit is proposed to be located in Garo Hills. The Meghalaya Industrial Development Corporation has also sanctioned term-loans to small scale industrial units and truck operators to the tune of Rs.49.76 lakhs during last year. The development of industrial estates also forms part of the programme for the industrial development in the State. The development of village and small industries is necessary for generation of maximum self-employment opportunities particularly in the rural areas in the State. The district industries centre in Garo Hills has taken up schemes for promoting the assisting the setting up of small industries. Schemes are also under implementation for meeting the requisite needs of training of people of the State with a view to enable them to take up self-employment activities.

        17. The extension of medical facilities is very necessary for the welfare of the people. The work relating to expansion of Civil Hospitals at Tura and Shillong is continuing. The expansion and improvement of the Pasteur Institute under the North-Eastern Council Scheme is progressing and increasing production of vaccines is expected to commence soon. Under Minimum Needs Programme, construction of public health centres is being continued. The homoeopathic dispensary at Shillong and psychiatric clinic attached to Civil Hospital, Shillong were established recently. Homoeopathic dispensaries at Tura and Jowai are likely to be set up soon.

        18. The activities of other development departments will continue and will be expanded. The Social Welfare Department has initiated several schemes during the international Year of the Child which include the establishment of Bal Bhavan, grants to children's home, setting up of permanent holiday-home camps, children's museum and conducted tour programmes for children  to places outside the State. The special nutrition programme is being continued. The State Government propose to continue and strengthen measures against spreading of the habit of excess drinking and prevent illicit distillation and illicit sale of liquor. With this end in view, enforcement staff has been strengthened and check-gates has been established.

        The activities of the Election Department are continuing and the elections for Tura Parliamentary Constituency were held smoothly.

        19. The integrated programme for development of the economy of the areas of the State bordering Bangladesh will be continued. The programme includes the schemes for marketing of border produces through -the Meghalaya Marketing and Consumers' Federation and extension of the facilities of agro-service centres for agricultural development as also the provision of rural roads and water supply. The extension of water supply in the difficult rural areas as also in the urban areas of the State forms an essential component of the development programme in the State.  The work on the implementation of the Greater Shillong Water Supply Scheme has been started. The Scheme for urban development and development of tourism facilities in the State will continue.

        The Government is seized of the problem of unemployment in the State. The schemes under the Plan are employment oriented. The main objective of the integrated rural development programme is to generate maximum employment in the rural areas. The State Government propose to periodically review the position and take necessary measures in this regard.

        20. As the Honourable Members are aware the State faced an unprecedented drought during the year 1979. The  Government took necessary measures to cope with the situation.  A Central Team visited the State at the request of the State Government which had agreed to extend help by way of release of advance plan assistance as required. The State Government has extended gratuitous relief, supplied seeds in the affected areas and taken up employment generation schemes. More employment generation schemes in the districts are being sanctioned to relieve the distress in the drought affected areas during the lean season. The other natural calamities which occurred in the State during last year were depredations by wild elephants in the Garo Hills, several incidents of fire in East and West Khasi Hills Districts and floods in a part of West Garo Hills District.

        21. The price situation in the State has given rise to considerable anxiety and concern. Apart from the repercussions of the country-wide phenomenon of overall rise in prices, the State was handicapped due to disruption and slowing down of rail transport since early part of last year. The lifting of food-grains from Bongaigaon, Gauhati and other places has to be arranged by the State authorities. The arrival of foodgrains has been erratic and the position is not satisfactory. Recently there has been unusual rise in the price of sugar. Due to disruption in the functioning of the Units at Duliajan and Gauhati Refinery, the State is facing acute shortage of petroleum products, kerosene and diesel. The State Government has been continuously taking up the matter with concerned authorities and had initiated necessary steps to conserve the stocks and to rationalise their distribution so as to prevent acute scarcity and consequent extreme hardship to the people. The situation would, however, need constant watch and could not be tackled with the co-operation of the Government of India, Railways and other concerned authorities.

        The sudden fall in prices of potato gave rise to considerable hardship to potato cultivators. The State Government took necessary measures to make purchases through the State Marketing Federation and Agriculture Department of seed potato and potato for table purposes. The State Government is also seized of the problem of accumulation of stock of cotton in Garo Hills and has initiated necessary steps. The State Government is committed to a policy of price support of agricultural crops in the State to ensure remunerative prices to the cultivators.

        22. The State Government attach utmost importance to the maintenance of friendly relations with its neighbouring sister State, Assam. The State Government have, several times, requested for a discussion at the Chief Ministers' level to resolve the differences on the various sectors of boundary between the two States. Unfortunately, due to the prevailing situation the discussions could not be held for last several months. The list of polling stations some of which fall in the area of difference between the two States submitted in connection with elections for the Lok Sabha Shillong Seat were approved by the Election Commission.

        23. The Honourable Members are well aware of the valuable role of the District Councils in the State and the Government will extend the necessary support and financial assistance to enable them to continue and strengthen their activities. The State Government have set up a Commission under Paragraph 14 of the Sixth Schedule to look into the running of the primary education in the District Council of Garo Hills with a view to initiating measures to improve the functioning of the District Council in this sphere. The elections to the Shillong Municipal Board which could not be held during last year due to the difficulties arising out of the situation in and around Shillong and other factors will be held as soon as possible. A Municipal Board has also been constituted in Tura so as to ensure better attention to the civic needs and facilitate creation of urban infrastructure and improvement of the town.

        24. The Government have set up a Law Commission to study and examine the customary laws and to suggest their codification if necessary. The Commission will also examine in regard to the general laws of the country, whether their uniform application to the State will be beneficial. The Commission will also examine the present system of administration of justice and if necessary will suggest remedies for re-organisation of the courts including District Council Courts and the courts of village functionaries. The Commission has started functioning.

        25. The State Government is committed to ensure a clean and efficient administration in the State which should be increasingly responsive to the needs and aspirations of the people and ensure fulfillment of their expectations. With a view to ensuring people's participation in the developmental activities the State Planning and Development machinery has been reorganised. A high-power State Planning Board has  been set up. The District Planning Boards have also been reconstituted. A Co-ordination Committee headed by the Deputy Commissioners has been set up in each District under the District Planning Board to ensure co-ordination, supervision and effective overseeing of the implementation of Plan Schemes. It has been decided to initiate drawing up of District and Block Plans so that the felt needs of the people could be adequately reflected in the developmental programmes of the State.

        The State Government propose to upgrade some of the newly created Administrative Units into Sub-divisions in a phased manner depending upon the financial and man-power resources and other factors. A Public Grievances Committee has been set up with a non-Official Chairman with a view to build up an effective machinery for redressal of public grievances.

        26. The report of the Pay Commission has been received. The Government have taken decisions on the recommendations of the Pay Commission and extended the necessary benefits to its employees. It is expected that the implementation of the recommendations of the Commission will result in greater satisfaction among the State employees and will lead to all round improvement in their performance.

        27. During the current Session of the Assembly the Annual Financial Statement and the Budget for the year 1980-81 will be presented. The business of the House will include introduction of the following Bills :-

  (1)    The Meghalaya Appropriation Bills, 1980.
  (2)    The Meghalaya Finance Bill, 1980.
  (3)    The Court Fees (Meghalaya Third Amendment) Bill, 1980.
  (4)    The Indian Stamp (Meghalaya Amendment) Bill, 1980.
  (5)    The Contingency Fund of Meghalaya (Amendment) Bill, 1980.
  (6)    The Meghalaya Land Survey and Records Preparation Bill, 1980.

        28. I have given a brief account of the programmes and activities of the State Government. Today we face problems the solution of which requires a common endeavour. I would appeal to all of you to rise to the occasion and put all your efforts in solving the problems so as to ensure development of the State in accordance with the commitment to justice, freedom and equality. I am sure that the deliberations in the House will result in constructive suggestions for the achievement to accepted objectives.

        I wish you all success in your deliberations.