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

Meghalaya Legislative Assembly

23rd February, 1981

Mr. Speaker and Hon'ble Members,

        I am happy that after a lapse of about a year I have this opportunity once again to address you in this august House.

        2. After a brief spell of serious deterioration of law and order in 1979-80 particularly in the town of Shillong, the year 1980-81 has been a year of peace and tranquility throughout. All this had been possible because of the firm and effective steps taken by the administration, the political stability in the State and the good sense of the people. People appreciated the need for an atmosphere of peace and stability which is the pre-requisite for developmental activities. The prolonged agitation in the sister State of Assam punctuated by strikes, bandhs, non-cooperation and the oil-blockade had adversely affected the life and pursuits of the people in the State especially the poor farmer, small trader and wage-earner of the North-Eastern Region.

        3. While appreciating the aspirations and problems of the people of the North-Eastern Region the meeting of the Chief Ministers of the Region convened by the Chief Minister of Meghalaya at Byrnihat on the 20th of December, 1980 expressed deep anxiety over the suffering of the people of the North-Eastern Region and appealed to all concerned to abjure violence and to abstain from anti-national activities. An appeal was also extended to the leaders of Assam and of the nation to come forward to find an expeditious solution to the problem so that peace and normalcy might return. The leaders volunteered their services towards finding a satisfactory solution to the problem and entrusted the Chief Ministers of Meghalaya, Manipur and Nagaland with the task of contacting the concerned leaders with this aim in view.

        4. The State Government is committed to the protection and preservation of the distinct identity of the tribal people of Meghalaya and to make all possible efforts for the promotion of their economic, social, educational and cultural interests; at the same time it is the policy of the State Government to also ensure fair and just treatment to all sections of the population living in the State. To cope with the problem of infiltration of foreigners, vigilance on the 423 kilometre international border with Bangladesh is being strengthened and the Government of India have deployed additional companies of Border Security Force. A one- member Foreigners Tribunal has been created to expedite the process of detection and deportation of those who are proved to be foreign nationals and the tribunal is expected to start functioning soon. The Vigilance Committee consisting of official and non-official members belonged to the recognised Political Parties in the State and three representatives of the Meghalaya Students Union one each from Khasi Hills, Jaintia Hills and Garo Hills has been constituted to assist the administration in identifying the detecting foreign nationals residing in the State. The question of regulating the import of cheap labour from outside the State so as to check further influx of people into Meghalaya is still under examinations of the Government. All these measures can only be effectively implemented by the authorities with the active involvement and support of the people.

        5. The State Government have taken steps to strengthen the Police administration in order to contain the incidence of crime in the State. Seven more Police outposts and Beat houses have been sanctioned by Government and nine more wireless transmitting  stations set up in different places in the State. The State Government have been able to convince the Government of India of the long felt need for one more additional battalion of Armed Police and form this year the Battalion will be raised. Details in this regard are being worked out. For the benefit and welfare of the Police force, especially those of the subordinate ranks, an amount of Rs.25 lakhs has been provided in the annual plan of 1980-81 for housing schemes. The Government of India have released Rs.20.50 lakhs for construction of buildings and other quarters at the Battalion Headquarters at Mawiong, as per award of the Finance Commission. Steps are also taken for modernisation of the Police force and financial assistance from the Centre will be available for this purpose.

        6. The Indian economy showed signs of surprising strength during 1980 with much of the problems afflicting it in the early part of the year receding towards the end. It now seems that the economy is back on the road to recovery. Because of its peculiar geographical conditions, the State of Meghalaya has difficulties of its own which tend to retard economic development. Due to interrupted supply of petrol and diesel oil in this part of the region there had been enough anxiety that the economy of the State would suffer further. On the whole, however, the situation was not allowed to assume alarming proportions.

        7. With the return of the present Ministry into power at the Centre last year the Planning Commission was reconstituted. In the first meeting of the Commission in April, 1980 under the Chairmanship of the Prime Minister it was decided that there would not be any Plan holiday and that the Sixth Five Year Plan should cover the period of 1980-85. The approach under the Sixth Plan for the development of the Scheduled Tribes, the Backward Classes and other Weaker Sections will be to intensify the efforts so that they derive the benefits from Plan investments directly. For the Scheduled Tribes economic programmes will be enlarged to make them self-reliant without interfering with their traditional ways of life and culture. The size of the Plan for Meghalaya has been fixed at Rs.235 crores. The size of the Annual Plan for 1980-81 has been fixed at Rs.43.31 crores which include Rs.7.66 crores for minimum needs programme alone. The Annual Plan for 1981-82 which has an outlay of Rs.46.55 crores lays emphasis on rural development and power generation besides the special requirements of the State with regard to development of the border areas, control of shifting cultivation and development of road and communications. In finalising the Annual Plans the strategy and guidelines envisaged by the Planning Commission are taken into consideration. It is hoped that the main objectives of the Plan will be realised through sustained efforts of the Government and the people.

        8. The Honourable Members are aware that the State Planning Board has been set up as an apex Planning Body to co-ordinate the works and programmes of various departments of the Government. The Board consists of a Chairman, Deputy Chairman, Secretary and other official and non-official members and also experts as invitees. So far, the Board has examined and reviewed the progress of Plan programmes. It has also given its advice in matters related to various developments and in the formulation of the Annual Plan for the State. The Planning Board has been playing an important role since its inception.

        9. Agriculture is the main stay of the people of the State especially in the rural  areas. In keeping with the main object towards self-sufficiency in food production the aim of the State Government is to achieve self - sufficiency in food grains by the end of the Sixth Plan. It is expected that the target of food production for the current year will be fulfilled. In order to achieve the target fixed for next year the Government propose to use high yielding and improved varieties of crops, fertilisers and to intensify measures against pests and diseases. The use of fertilisers among the farmers on cereal crops like potato, maize, and other crops has been popular in certain parts of the State while efforts are being made to popularise it in the remaining areas. Similar programmes are proposed to be taken up next year also. More stress is also given to irrigation to facilitate double cropping. All possible steps have been taken to make fertilisers available in time to the farmers specially those engaged in cash crops cultivation. In order to improve marketing of agricultural produce and to afford the growers fair and economic return for their crops the Meghalaya Agricultural Produce Market Act, 1980 which has been recently assented to by the President will be implemented and this will go a long way to improve the rural economy. The Meghalaya State Co-operative Marketing and Consumers' Federation has also been helping the rural farmers by procuring the surplus marketable produce. When there was a downward trend in the market price of potato the Federation had stepped in order to stabilise the procurement price. The Federation has also been helping the farmers by supplying power-tillers whenever they require.

        10. Next to agriculture, live-stock occupies a vital place in the socio-economic life of the rural people of the State. The agro- climatic condition of the State is conducive to live-stock rearing which can be increased manifold through a more scientific approach. Government have launched a number of activities relating to cattle, poultry, piggery, sheep and goat rearing. In addition to the existing Fodder Demonstration Farms another such farm is going to be established in Garo Hills. A wing of the Sheep Farm at Saitsama has been established at Khanduli where adequate grazing land is available. To meet the increasing demand the existing Pig Farms will be expanded and the distribution of Pig Unit under the Special Animal Husbandry Programme will be continued. All the existing schemes to provide necessary health cover to the live-stock population will also be continued. In addition to the existing veterinary dispensaries five Veterinary Aid Centres will be established next year. In collaboration with the North-Eastern Council students, as in the past, have been deputed on Government stipends to study Veterinary Science outside the State. The programme for in-service training of departmental officers and for training of farmers will be continued as usual. The Government have opened new fields for fishery development to enhance fish production by introducing high yielding and fast growing species in all departmental and private fish farms.

        11. Development of Power resource is one of the important programmes of the Government. With the taking up of the Umiam Stage IV with the Upper Khri Division Project another 256 million units of energy will be available. The Government is aware that in the Garo Hills power supply depends on diesel generating sets which of late have suffered a set back due to inadequate supply of oil from the refineries in Assam. In order to meet this deficiency and to have a unified grid system for the entire State the 132 K.V. single circuit transmission line connecting Shillong and Nangalbibra which was taken up in 1977 is expected to be completed within this year. More of the difficulties faced by the consumers in the Garo Hills region will be removed and a better load management for the entire State will be possible. The development of hydel project is a continuing process. Investigation of the Leshka Project in Jaintia Hills is being undertaken at present. It is expected that work on the Project will be taken up in 1983-84. Investigation of the Umiam Stage V and Kynshi Projects is also proposed to be taken up during the year 1981 - 82. In Garo Hills the Project based on coal with the capacity of 2 X 30 MW in the first stage has been sanctioned and another with the same capacity in the second stage is under consideration. So far the progress for rural electrification is encouraging. Till date about 626 villages covering 30 per cent of the total rural population have been electrified and another 100 more will get the same benefit by the end of the current financial year. Another 200 villages will be electrified by the end of 1981-82.

        12. The Government take keen interest in the development of education, especially technical education, in the State. In order to improve the standard of teaching, teachers are are deputed to undergo in-service training. In Tura a Public School will be started next month where boarding facilities will also be provided to about 30 children. Government is concerned with the promotion of technical education as one of the means to remove the long-felt need for technically qualified persons in the State. It is, therefore, proposed to give more emphasis to science education by introducing science subjects in all colleges right from the Pre-University Level and to make Science and Mathematics compulsory in all Secondary Schools with effect from the next academic session. Incentives will also be provided in order to encourage more students to study Science and technology. The Shillong Polytechnic  is also being expanded and preparatory steps have already been taken to start courses in electrical and mechanical engineering. The management of Primary Schools in Garo Hills taken over by the Government pursuant to the recommendation of the Commission appointed under the provisions of the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution of India will be continued.

        13. With a view to exploit the valuable mineral resources the Meghalaya Industrial Development Corporation has obtained two Letters of Intent for a cement project in Jaintia Hills and a cement clinker project at Siju, Garo Hills. The work connected with the Watch Assembly Project is in progress. The factory building is expected to be ready soon. The engineering and the supervisory staff have since completed their training at the Hindustan Machine Tools Ltd., Watch Division at Bangalore and they will in turn start training local boys and girls. To exploit the vast bamboo resources of the State, the Meghalaya Industrial Development Corporation has incorporated a subsidiary Company under the name of the Meghalaya Bamboo Chips Private Limited and it is expected that the Company will go on trial production during this year. The Government of India have given clearance for setting up of a Jute Mill in Meghalaya in the public sector and the Meghalaya Industrial Development Corporation is taking necessary steps in this regard. In order to render better facilities to the small-scale entrepreneurs two more District Industries Centres are proposed to be opened in the State. The Meghalaya Khadi and Village Industries Board has taken up schemes to assist artisans and organisations engaged in Khadi and Village Industries and has also taken steps to promote various village industries. The Handicrafts Development Corporation has undertaken a survey of craftsmen in the State and has also started training centres in cane and bamboo work. A training Institute has been started at Williamnagar where, for the present, training will be imparted in carpentry. Under the employment programme three Knitting training centres have been started at Mairang, Rongjeng and Maulsei. A scheme for a Multi-purpose Service Workshop at Jowai has been drawn up. The Scheme envisages training in book-binding, welding, etc. With a view to regulate and bring about improvement in the mining, distribution , pricing and sale of coal in the State, it has been decided to set up the Meghalaya Minerals Development Corporation.

        14. In a hilly State like that of Meghalaya forests play an important role in maintaining the environment and preventing soil erosion apart from meeting the economic, industrial and social needs. Scientific working plans are undertaken to help forests produce more and to restore the ecological balance which has been greatly disturbed. The greater percentage of forests is under the District Councils and these institutions have been given financial assistance and technical guidance to re-afforest the degenerated forests. The State Government is aware that there is need for fuel, wood and timber by the poor especially in the rural areas and, therefore, plantations in the barren hills in various villages have been undertaken under the Social Forestry Programme. The loan from the Agricultural Re-finance Development Corporation was delayed due to some procedural difficulties but those difficulties have since been resolved and the loan is expected soon. The Government is aware of the rapid depletion of forests under the District Councils and have requested them to improve the management  and control. At the request of the Prime Minister the slogan 'A tree for every child' has been adopted by the State Government and schemes are being prepared to involve the children in tree planting. Efforts are being taken to educate the masses in general about the usefulness of the forests and the necessity to preserve them. In line with the national policy steps are also taken to protect wild life.

        15. The destructiveness of shifting cultivation has been attracting the serious attention of the Government. Having been long used to this type of cultivation the people in the villages are very slow to adopt permanent cultivation. In its effort the Government have taken steps to educate the people and induce them to adopt permanent cultivation of crops by availing of the facilities, including financial assistance, provided by the Government. During 1981-82 it is proposed that irrigation land for 350  families will be provided. The Government is also taking to cultivation of cash crops on its own with a view to distribute seedlings of such crops to the cultivators. The North-Eastern Council is also helping by providing funds for coffee and shade trees nurseries. The North-Eastern Council is taking interest to develop the Soil Conservation Training Institute at Byrnihat into a bigger one which may ultimately serve other States of the North-Eastern Region also. The Council is also helping in providing necessary survey and investigation staff for preparing watershed management schemes in the State.

        16.  In the absence of other means of communication, road transport plays an important role in the State and as such the programmes for road construction is being continued on top priority basis. It is expected that by the end of 1981-82 the road density will be 22 Kms. per 100 square Kms. The Government have taken up programmes for construction of more roads to link up the border areas with the other parts of the State to facilitate transport of their produce to markets at Shillong and other places. The North-Eastern Council has sanctioned twelve schemes for improvement of 322 Kms. of the existing roads. Flood control measures have also been taken up in areas where floods generally occur.

        17.  The Government are taking steps to improve the medical facilities in the State. The expansion and improvement works of the Pasteur Institute, Shillong under the North-Eastern Council scheme is still in progress and it is expected that it will be completed next year. Five more mobile units have been sanctioned in the five district headquarters of the State.

        18. The Government plan to construct district jails at Jowai, Williamnagar and Tura during the next four years and the Seventh Finance Commission has approved Rs.55 lakhs for this purpose. The non-criminal lunatics  are not confined separately at Mawlai and the State Government have decided to place the establishment under the Health Department.

        19. Community Development continues to receive the close attention of Government. Honourable Members may recall that the Government of India had approved the setting up of six new Community Development blocks. These six blocks have since been set up thus increasing the total number from twenty-four to thirty.

        20. As the Honourable Members may be aware the co-operative structure in the State has been re-organised in accordance with the programme drawn up in consultation with the Reserve Bank of India. With the re-organisation only 180 primary societies have been retained in the State and others weeded out. The activities of the Meghalaya State Co-operative Marketing & Consumers' Federation have been increased to a great extent. As against Rs.14.48 lakhs during 1975-76 the turn-over of business has increased to Rs.195.18 lakhs during 1979-80. The State Housing Financing Co-operative Society has obtained Rs.25 lakhs from the Life Insurance Corporation of India for providing financial aid to weaker sections of the community for construction of their own dwelling houses.

        21. In a welfare State the social and economic upliftment of the less affluent and the physically and mentally handicapped is one of the important programmes of the Government. The various programmes related to family and child welfare, social defence and welfare of the handicapped. The Meghalaya State Social Welfare Advisory Board continues to undertake useful activities in these fields and most of the grants and aids to individuals and organisations are routed through this Board. At the instance of the Government of India the Child Development Programme is being expanded. The United Nations Organisation has declared 1981 as the International year of the Disabled Persons and the Government of Meghalaya propose to observe the year appropriately.

        22. In the field of Sericulture and Weaving the State Government is engaged in increasing the areas of plantation of silkworm food plants as envisaged in the Sixth Plan. Technical personnel are deputed for training and handloom weaving is also being stepped up in order to produce handloom fabrics with sophisticated designs retaining indigenous designs. The North-Eastern Council has also chalked out programmes in the field of sericulture development for implementation by the State.

        23. At the desire of the Garo Hills District Council the Government, by an Act of the Legislature, had constituted the Tura Municipality to serve the civic needs of the people of Tura. However, a writ petition has been filed in the Gauhati High Court challenging the constitution of the Municipal Board and the matter is still subjudice. There are two Town Committees, one at Jowai and another at Baghmara, which are under the control of the respective District Councils. In order to improve the revenue of the Shillong Municipality and to lessen its dependence on Government grants revision of toll rates on certain categories of vehicles entering the Shillong Municipal areas has been approved by Government and the Board anticipates an annual income of about Rs.10 lakhs on this account. The Greater Shillong Water Supply Scheme is in full progress. It is expected that within another two years' time the Shillong Municipality will be able to provide adequate piped water to all the rate payers.

        24. Through the Town & Country Planning Department the Government is taking steps to develop and improve the environment of urban areas. The Department works in collaboration with the Municipalities, District Councils and other Departments of the Government. Master Plans for some towns in the State have also been proposed. To enable people in the lower and middle income groups to construct their own houses loans are continued to be granted by the Government. A rural housing scheme has also been taken up for the benefit of the poor and houseless in rural areas.

        25. In respect of the District Councils the Government continue to give grants to enable them to implement their own schemes. In order to achieve better co-ordination between the machineries of the State Government and those of the District Councils a conference with the Chief Executive Members and the Executive Members of the District Councils was held in May, 1980 where matters of mutual interest were discussed for the over-all benefit of the people of the State. It was also decided that the officers of both the Government and the District Councils would meet once in a quarter. The State Government have decided to appoint a Commission under paragraph 14 of the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution to examine the working of the District Councils with a view to improving them.

        26. The prices of most of the essential commodities remain high throughout the year, particularly of sugar, edible oil, pulses and potato. The reason was the increase in the procuring prices and the economic instability prevailing in the whole country. The unstable condition in the neighbouring State had disrupted transport system and affected the normal flow of essential items to the State. Steps, however, have been taken in order that unscrupulous traders may not take advantage of the situation and dealer nominees have been instructed to import more essential commodities to build up sufficient stock. In spite of these problems the Government have been able to meet the difficulties and there was no serious scarcity of food and other essential commodities during the year. It is true that against the normal quota of rice allotted by the Government of India only 40 per cent or 50 per cent was received through the Food Corporation of India. The matter was taken up with the Food Corporation of India and the Railway authorities and it is expected that distribution of normal quota will be restored soon.

        27. Because of the agitation in the neighbouring State of Assam the traffic flow has been affected resulting in a short fall in earnings of the Meghalaya Transport Corporation. Frequent increases in the prices of spare parts tyres, diesel oil, etc., has put a great strain on the already unfavourable financial position of the Corporation. This has necessitated the increase in fare and freight. However, steps will be taken to provide adequate and efficient services to the traveling public.

        28. As the Hon'ble Members are aware the Meghalaya State Law Commission was constituted on the 1st of February, 1980. The Commission has had several meetings in Shillong and also in Tura and Jowai. The Commission has recommended the extension of the Indian Registration Act, 1908 to the whole State of Meghalaya. It has also recommended the Regulation and control of the "Teer" game.

        29. The importance of the role of Civil Defence and Home Guards has been recognised time and again. The State Government have taken up with the Government of India for raising more companies of Border Wing Home Guards for deployment in the sensitive Indo-Bangladesh Border. The Scheme to depute trainees outside the State will continue. Efforts will be made to make the District Training Centres well equipped and to impart up-to-date training to volunteers in first aid and rescue operation to meet emergencies in case of fire, air-raid or earthquake.

        30. The State Government are alive to the various problems faced by the people of the areas of the State bordering Bangladesh and is anxious to push up the economy in these areas and to speed up the pace of development. The development of road communication has been given top priority. A new scheme to be known 'Range Management of Rearing Cattle' is proposed to be taken up with a view to augmenting the cattle population as well as for producing good hybrid cattle in these areas. The Border Areas Marketing Schemes will continue. In view of acute scarcity of drinking water the State Government have taken up a number of water supply schemes in these areas.

        31. The need for having a proper record of all lands in the State cannot be over - emphasised. The State  Government have taken necessary steps to implement the provisions of the Meghalaya Land Survey and Records Preparation Act, 1980. An enforcement branch has been established for proper implementation of the land laws. A fund is being created under the Meghalaya Natural Calamities Relief Fund Act, 1980 to provide prompt relief to the victims of flood, earthquake and other calamities.

        32. In order to set right the anomalies arising out of the Pay Commission the State Government have constituted an official committee. The Committee has since submitted its report in part and the same is under consideration of the Government. To compensate the erosion in the monthly income of Government servants due to frequent price rise the State Government have granted. Dearness Allowance on the basis of the formula recommended by the Pay Commission.

        33. During 1980-81 the employer-worker relationship has been generally satisfactory. There was no major industrial unrest. The strike by a section of the employees of the Meghalaya State Electricity Board was withdrawn through negotiation. The Employees' State Insurance Scheme which provides for medical facilities to the workers and their families on account of sickness, maternity and other disablement has for the first time been implemented in one centre at Shillong.

        34. The State Government propose to develop the tourist spots in the State. Tourist Lodges at various places of the State will be constructed besides improving the existing buildings.

        35. As part of the overall scheme to improve the administration of district and sub divisional levels construction of office buildings and courts have been taken up. In the new districts and sub divisions land for the purpose have been acquired and sites examined. Reconstruction of the Deputy Commissioner's office at Shillong which is an old one and at Jowai which was gutted by fire will be taken up soon. For the benefit of the staff working at Nongpoh Sub divisions quarters have been constructed for them. Similarly, for those at Williamnagar construction of the quarters is in progress. The State Government have taken up with the Post & Telegraph Department for opening of more Post and Telegraph offices. The construction of a Branch Government Press at Tura has been completed and a new multi-storeyed building to replace the existing one at Shillong is under active consideration.

        36. The Hon'ble Members are no doubt aware that the Shillong Parliamentary seat and two Assembly seats in Garo Hills are vacant. The Election Commission has ordered revision of the electoral rolls and this is being taken up.

        37. The State Government have taken up a number of rural and urban water supply schemes. The Jowai Water Supply Scheme has been commissioned. Government is making all efforts for early completion of the Greater Shillong Water Supply Scheme, and phases II of the Tura and the Umkhen Water Supply Scheme. It  is expected that water supply scheme covering about 200 villages will be completed during this year. The Government of India have decided to call the years 1981-91 as the "International Water Supply and Sanitation Decade". During this period it is proposed to cover 100 per cent of the urban and rural population with basic minimum needs of safe water supply; 80 per cent of the urban population with either sewerage system or sanitary toilets connected to a safe disposal system and 25 per cent of the rural population with sanitary toilets.

        38. The State Government attach utmost importance to the maintenance of friendly relations with its neighbouring sister State of Assam and is anxious to resolve all differences through discussions. Unfortunately, due to the disturbed condition could not be held. It is expected that with the installation of a popular Ministry in Assam the differences will be discussed and resolved.

        39. Other branches of the Government continue to function satisfactorily. To improve collection of revenue the Government have strengthened the taxation machinery. Check gates have been set up on important routes to check tax evasion. Due to these efforts the collection of revenue has shown an upward trend. To eradicate the social evil of illicit distillation of liquor, excise laws have been made more stringent and raids intensified.

        40. In the current session the Annual Financial Statement and the Budget for the year 1981 - 82 will be presented. The following Bills will also be introduced :-

1.    The Meghalaya Appropriation (No. I) Bill, 1981.

 

2.    The Meghalaya Appropriation (No. II) Bill, 1981.

  3.    The Meghalaya Appropriation (No. III) Bill, 1981.
  4.    The Meghalaya Purchase Tax (Amendment) Bill, 1981.
  5.    The Meghalaya Forest (Removal of Timber) (Regulation) Bill, 1981.
  6.    The Meghalaya Transfer of Land (Regulation) (Amendment) Bill, 1981.

        41. I have given a brief account on the activities and programmes of the State Government. I am sure that the deliberations in the House will be useful and constructive. No Government can function effectively or bring about the changes for the betterment of the people without the co-operation and support of all concerned.

        I wish you all success in your deliberations.

JAI  HIND