Address by Shri. PRAKASH MEHROTRA Governor of Meghalaya

Meghalaya Legislative Assembly

16th March, 1982


        I have, for the first time since assuming the office of the Governor, the privilege of addressing you in this august House. I convey through you to the people of Meghalaya my cordial greetings and good wishes.

        2. As the Honourable Members are aware, there was a change of leadership of the Government and a new Ministry headed by Shri. W.A. Sangma was installed on the 8th May, 1981. On the assumption of charge by Shri. W.A. Sangma as Chief Minister, the State Planning Board, which is an apex planning body, was reconstituted with Shri. B.B. Lyngdoh, the out-going Chief Minister as its Chairman and Shri. Prithington Sangma as Deputy Chairman. Two more non-official Members were also included.

        3. The Government under the new leadership will continue their endeavour to protect and preserve the distinct identity of the tribal people of Meghalaya and pay special attention to their economic, cultural and social interests, at the same time, giving just and fair treatment to all sections of the people living in this State. The State Government are glad to inform this House that our request to provide for reservation of seats in the Lok Sabha and in our Assembly for the Scheduled Tribes in our State is under the active consideration of the Government of India.

        4. The State has been, by and large, free from any major law and order situation during 1981 except for the unfortunate affairs in the North-Eastern Hill University which culminated in the assassination of the Acting Vice-Chancellor, Dr. S.C. Banwar. Peace and tranquility have been maintained on account of the firm and effective steps taken by the administration, the political stability in the State and the good sense of the people who appreciate the need for such an atmosphere as a prerequisite for the developmental activities. The Government are determined to preserve the harmonious relations among all sections of the people and communities living in the State and will take all necessary steps in this regard.

        5. Vigilance on the 423 Kms. of inter-national border with Bangladesh has been strengthened and the Government of India have deployed one additional battalion of the Border Security Force. Though it is the primary responsibility of the Border Security Force to guard the inter-national border and to prevent trans-border crime the State Government also continue to take vigorous steps to check unauthorised and illegal infiltration of people from across the border. The State Government are of the opinion that the number of existing check-posts and watch posts  to deal with the problem shall be increased and as such, have submitted proposals  to the Government of India for setting up more check-posts. Considering, however, the urgency of the matter, the State Government have opened 5 additional check-posts on important high ways and one check-gate at Byrnihat. 22 additional check-posts on the border have also been sanctioned by the State Government which will be implemented in a phased manner. The Vigilance Committee consisting of official and non-official members including representatives from the recognised political parties of the State and the Meghalaya Students' Union is continuing to assist the administration in identifying and detecting the foreign nationals residing in the State. The one-man Meghalaya Foreigners Tribunal constituted by the State Government is being strengthened by addition of one more member. The State Government are determined to ensure that influx of foreign nationals into the State is effectively prevented and also to detect and deport foreign nationals.

        6. The Government attach utmost importance to the maintenance and friendly relations with our neighbouring State of Assam and are eager for the expeditious settlement of all boundary disputes through discussions. The Hon'ble Members will kindly re-call that the result of 28-Myriaw-Rambrai Constituency of the Khasi Hills District Council could not be declared for about three years as the re-poll at one Polling Station could not be held. Immediately after the new Ministry in Assam was installed, the matter was taken up again by the Chief Minister and his colleagues with the Government of Assam and as a result, the re-poll was held on the 24th February, 1982. It is expected that all the differences with the State of Assam will be resolved soon.

        7. The Government of India have agreed to extend financial assistance for raising of one more Armed Police Battalion for the State and step to raise the battalion is in progress. Advance possession of land at Tura, where the Battalion will be located, has been taken. A Committee was set up by the State Government for the purpose of re-organisation of the District Police in Meghalaya and the scheme prepared by the said Committee has been accepted in principle and the implementation will be in phases. The matter regarding accommodation of the Police personnel, more particularly, of the lower ranks, has been receiving active consideration of the Government and construction of more buildings for this purpose, is being taken up according to availability of funds.

        8. In order to bring the administration closer to the people and to accelerate the pace of over-all development, the Government have decided to upgrade the six existing Administrative Units into Sub-divisions which will be implemented in a phased manner. The Government are committed to provide a clean and efficient administration responsive to the needs and aspirations of the people.

    9. The State Government welcome the new 20 Point Programme announced by the Prime Minister, Smti. Indira Gandhi on the 14th January, 1982. This Programme highlights certain priority areas included in the Sixth Plan Programme. The State Government will take necessary steps for vigorous implementation of those aspects of the Programme which are relevant for our  State so as to achieve the desired objectives as soon as possible.

        10. The draft proposals of the State Government for the Annual Plan 1982-83 were prepared keeping in view the planning strategy envisaged for the Sixth Plan period and the Planning Commission, after discussion, has approved an outlay or Rs.51.20 crores for the State. In addition to the State Plan outlay, the lakhs for on-going and new schemes located in Meghalaya. The State Government have been impressing on the Government of India and the Planning Commission to continue the special treatment for our State in the matter of central assistance. The State Government will continue to take steps to mobilise internal resources to the extent possible.

        11. The State Government are anxious that the various developmental programmes are implemented effectively and plan funds utilised properly. Ministers have been assigned the responsibilities to over-see the implementation of plan schemes at Sub-divisional levels. Monitoring Cells have been set up at various levels to watch the progress and to pin-point bottlenecks.

        12. The developmental strategy of the State has been so designed as to ensure optimum utilisation of the abundant natural resources which would benefit directly the people of the State. Nature has endowed Meghalaya with abundant forest wealth, minerals, hydel and other natural resources. It is the policy of the Government to harness these resources in a manner which would contribute to the well-being of the people. It is essential that the plentiful forest resources in the State is judiciously exploited so that the needs of the people are met while the forest wealth is preserved. Indiscriminate exploitation of the forest resource has been a matter of serious concern and it is the endeavour of the Government to ensure that our forests are preserved with the active co-operation of the District Councils and the people. The mineral resources such as coal, limestone, sillimanite, etc., offer tremendous potential for setting  up industries. But such development, in order to be meaningful has to involve the effective participation of the local people. Government are anxious that the important resource, namely, the human resource is effectively harnessed so that our tribal boys and girls can be active partners in the developmental process. Government have initiated a number of steps for man power development in the State and it is gratifying to note that an Institute of Science and Technology is being set up by the North-Eastern Council in the region.

        13. The Government will give utmost importance to the improvement in agricultural production with a view to increasing production of foodgrains and commercial crops including horticultural crops. The Government are alive to the needs of the farmers and all possible steps are being taken to timely provide all necessary agricultural inputs to the farmers. To popularise the use of fertilisers on cereal crops the demonstration programme will also be continued during 1982-83. The production of potato, which is a major cash crop of the Shillong plateau of Khasi Hills, has increased in the year 1981-82 and it is expected that the target of 1,40,000 tonnes fixed for 1982-83 will be achieved. Due to unfavourable weather condition in the later part of the paddy season throughout Garo Hills and the border areas of the other districts, the food production for the year 1981-82 will not exceed that of 1980-81. However, all efforts will be made to achieve the target of 1,73,000 tonnes fixed for 1982-83. The scheme for production of mushroom sponsored by the North-Eastern Council is going to be implemented from the year 1982-83. The Government will bring more areas under irrigation. 

        The development of Animal Husbandry and Veterinary sector is complementary to the agricultural development and as such Government attach great importance to this sector also. A Veterinary Field Assistant Training Institute has been established at Upper Shillong to enable the department to increase the number of para-veterinary staff. All existing veterinary institutions will be continued to provide necessary health coverage to live-stock population and more veterinary aid centres and dispensaries will also be established. The State Government have implemented various schemes to develop both cold and warm fisheries in the State.

        14. Large plantation outside the reserved forests will be raised through its farm forestry and social forestry programmes and the programme for 'a tree for every child'. In order to protect the Wild-life, it is proposed to intensify the activities in all forest areas including Siju and Nongkhyllem Wild-Life Sanctuaries. As a step towards preserving the ecological balance in the State, steps have been taken to create a Biosphere reserve in the Tura Ridge of Garo Hills which happens to be the home of the Citrus indica. This area will be maintained as a Citrus Gene Sanctuary.

        15. In a large portion of the State the soil has been rendered barren and exposed to serious hazards which adversely affect not only in productivity but also the availability of water for drinking and irrigation. The State Government have taken up schemes to provide lands for permanent cultivation to the shifting cultivators, cultivation of low volume high value cash crops to improve the economic return of the people and also to provide protective vegetation cover to the soil to improve the water regime of the area. The efforts to replace shifting cultivation by permanent cultivation can be more successful if the response of the people is more encouraging. The State Government, however, intend to give more emphasis on the provision of irrigable area for permanent cultivation and cash crop cultivation.

        16. The Sericulture and handloom weaving are important cottage industries in this State and they play vital role in the socio-economic upliftment of the people particularly, the weaker sections of the society. Handloom and handicraft activities can contribute substantially to increase the income level of the villagers. These products from our State have proved to be extremely popular both within the country and outside. It is, however, essential that the development in this field is geared towards ensuring that a stable production base is built up, so that orders for these products may be properly met in time and quality is maintained. Government are taking steps to strengthen the extension machinery so as to motivate the people, to train them and to render all assistance.

        17. The State Government are anxious to speed up the pace of development in the Border Areas adjoining Bangladesh. The programmes of development in the border areas will continue. The main emphasis will be on improving communication facilities and setting up of some small scale industries based on raw materials available in the border areas. With the facilities and  incentive provided through the Border Areas Marketing Scheme, the people in the border areas have been able to get reasonable economic price for their produce, especially the agricultural products. The Transport Subsidy Scheme has enabled the border people to get the supply of essential commodities at almost the prevailing prices in the District Headquarters. The setting up of 11 Agro-Custom Hiring Centres in the border areas has helped the border people to get their fields ploughed at reasonable hiring rates. To that extent, their total dependence on cattle for ploughing their  fields has generally become less. The export of limestone , tezpatta and citrus fruits from the border areas to Bangladesh is continuing satisfactorily. In view of the various development programmes taken up in the border areas of the State adjoining Bangladesh, the economic well-being of the people has considerably improved.

        18. The Co-operative Movement in the State is making a steady progress due to the implementation of various programmes. The Co-operative Apex Bank is taking advantage of the Scheme of the Government of India for rehabilitation of Weak Central Bank so as to increase the flow of rural credit for the benefit of the farmers. The regional meeting of the Agricultural Development convened by the Government of India was held recently at Shillong and the  recommendations made in that meeting, are under examination by the State Government. The Meghalaya State Co-operative Marketing and Consumers Federation Limited has considerably increased its activities and the Federation will also take up distribution of consumer items as soon as construction of the godowns is completed. The distribution of such items by the Federation will help the general public to get these items at a reasonable price.

        19. As a signatory to the Alma Ata declaration India is committed to attain the goal of Health for all by the year 2000 A.D. A Minimum package of health care services will be provided to all segments of population and by the year 2000 A.D. all individuals and families will have universal access to essential health care in the communities in which they live. The concept of primary health is a powerful tool in this context, and it is the primary health care approach that can help to fulfill  this stupendous task. To strengthen the infrastructural facilities in the State it is decided to have one Primary Health Centre for 20,000 population and one sub-centre for 3000 population. It is expected that by 1990 the entire State will be provided with this norm. Apart from Health workers there will be one village health guide for 500 population and one trained midwife for each village. The 20-Point Programme enunciated by our Prime Minister aims to achieve this goal.

        These include -   

 (i) substantially augmented primary health care and control of Leprosy, Tuberculosis and Blindness;

(ii) promote family welfare programme on voluntary basis as people's movement; and

(iii) accelerate programme of welfare of women and children, nutrition programme for pregnant women, nursing mother and children especially in tribal, hill and backward areas.

        The State Government have taken all these steps to accelerate programme of welfare for women and children through Integrated Child Development Scheme and Maternal and Child Health Services. It has also taken appropriate measures to prevent and control Leprosy, Malaria, Tuberculosis and Blindness and augment the primary health care.

        20. In order to build an adequate infrastructure in the State, the Government have been laying stress on the development of communication. The road net work in the State is being enlarged so as to connect the interior with the administrative headquarters and also to develop areas which have potential for intensive development of agriculture and industries. The Government have taken up with the North-Eastern Council for setting up rope-ways for Ishamati to Byrnihat and also in the Baghmara-Siju Dudnai sector. The State Government have also taken up with the Government of India the need for ensuring proper expansion of postal and telecommunication facilities within the State and also with the rest of the country. The Government of India have also been impressed upon the importance of television in the areas which have considerable educational value and which is crucial in a border State like ours. The State Government have also requested the Railway Ministry for construction of a road-cum-rail bridge over the Brahmaputra in Jogighopa. The site for location of the railway near Byrnihat is being finalised. The Government of India have agreed in principle to set up an air-field in Garo Hills near Tura and a suitable site is being finalised.

        21. With the progressive improvement in Road Communication, the State Government have been concerned about improving the transport facilities also. The State Government have issued 193 Zonal Permits for public carrier transport out of which Tribals got 121 permits. 88 National Permits were issued for public carriers out of which 29 permits were issued to Tribals. The involvement of private entrepreneurs in Transport business has shown marked improvement. The fleet of passenger Buses of the Meghalaya Transport Corporation has been considerably augmented which will improve passenger transportation as well by replacing old Buses and adding more Buses on routes which have more passenger potential. The Corporation will be constructing a new multi-storeyed  building in the Shillong Transport Station and also a central workshop at Shillong to facilitate quick repair and maintenance of vehicles. The Corporation will be setting up Regional Workshops and Motor Station buildings at Tura, Jowai, Nongstoin and Williamnagar. The offices of the District Transport Officer and Regional Transport Authority have been established at Nongstoin and Williamnagar.

        22. As the Hon'ble Members are aware, the agreement between Meghalaya and Assam for supply of power to the Assam Electricity Board expired on the 31st December, 1981. The new agreement for supply of electricity to the said Board along with the revised rate of supply is under negotiation. The construction of the 2 x 30 MW Umiam-Umtru Stage-IV is in progress. Due emphasis has been given for rural electrification and the target fixed for electrifying 200 villages during the period 1981-82 is expected to be achieved.

        Electrification of all villages in the country is one of the items in the Revised 20-Point Programme. The State Government would endeavour to fulfill the target over a period of time.

        The Planning Commission and the Government of India has approved setting up of a Thermal Power Project in Garo Hills to be financed through the North-Eastern Council. The State Government have stressed the need for this project to be executed by the Meghalaya State Electricity Board and discussions in this regard are in progress.

        23. The Industrial Policy adopted by the Government since the formation of the State continues to be the guiding factors for industrialisation. In accordance with this policy setting up of large and medium Industries will be considered on merit. As far as small scale industries are concerned, the local people are being given preferences in setting up small scale industries. To accelerate investment in large and medium industries, Meghalaya Industrial Development Corporation, was incorporated in 1972 and the other allied functions undertaken by it are man-power development, infrastructure development, investigate and feasibility reports on various project ideas. Specifically, the Siju Cement Project, the Jaintia Cement Project and the Jute Project were included in the Sixth Plan and the Meghalaya Industrial Development Corporation, is establishing linkages necessary for investment decisions by the Planning Commission. It may be stated that the Planning Commission have accepted these projects in principle.

        The watch assembly Unit in collaboration with the Hindustan Machine Tools Ltd., has gone into production. Similarly, a bamboo-chipping project at Nongchram has gone into production. These were conceived by Meghalaya Industrial Development Corporation, for utilising the locally available raw materials and skills. Meghalaya Industrial Development Corporation, as a re-financed agent, has financed transport operators in the State.

        In the small scale sector, the efforts are primarily promotional. Training programmes in the training institute are being continued. The Government have reviewed the scheme of sanctioning grants-in-aid and have decided that these should be limited to passed out trainees only. Local entrepreneurship have shown great awareness in going for small scale industries.

        The scheme of District Industries Centre will operate throughout the State.

        24. The State offers immense potential for tourism which can be a major source of revenue. The Government are taking steps to build up infrastructural facilities so as to attract more tourists. The State Government have entered into a management agreement with the Indian Tourism Development Corporation for improvement of the Pine Wood Hotel which would also impart expertise in hotel management to the local personnel selected for training in this field.

        25. The State Government will take necessary steps towards consolidation and expansion of education at all levels. More High Schools and Middle Schools have been provincialised and ad-hoc High Schools and ad-hoc Middle Schools were brought under the deficit system of grants-in-aid. The Science Education Programme, initiated under, the UNICEF assistance is being expanded to cover more Primary and Middle Schools involving in-service training of teachers, supply of Science kits and Science text books and teacher's guides in Khasi and Garo languages. The massive programme of adult education and non-Formal Education will continue. Incentive for taking up, Science by the tribal students at post-metric level is being given. In the field of technical education new courses have been introduced in the Shillong Polytechnic. The Institute of Art and Culture is making records of songs of all the three important tribes of the State. A Garo gallery has been set up in the State Museum and it is also proposed to set up a Jaintia gallery. Steps are being taken for preservation of ancient monuments in Jaintia Hills.

        26. Due to timely and effective steps taken by the State Government, the supply and availability of essential commodities have been generally satisfactory and prices have been kept at reasonable levels. The Monitoring Cell which was set up to watch on price fluctuation has been further strengthened and has been functioning satisfactorily. The requirements of essential commodities for various institutions like schools, colleges, hospitals, etc., are being met to the extent possible. The Indian Oil Corporation have, on the request of the State Government, agreed to construct a Central Oil depot in the State which will ensure regular availability and save the consumers from the burden of inter-State sales tax.

        27. The Hon'ble Members are aware of the problem of delay in disposal of Court cases, which is an all-India phenomenon. This problem in our State was considered in a meeting held on the 21st November, 1981, which was attended by the Chief Justice of the Gauhati High Court and the Minister, Law, Meghalaya and various recommendations were made. Steps have been taken to implement these recommendations. The need to train officers for judicial work was felt by the State Government and the matter was taken up by the Chief Minister in the meeting of the North-Eastern Council held at Itanagar on the 7th August, 1981. The matter was also taken up separately by the Minister, Law, Meghalaya with the Chief Justice of the Gauhati High Court. As a result, the North-Eastern Judicial Officers Training Institute has been set up under the High Court and the scheme is being financed by the North-Eastern Council.

        28. The District Councils have a crucial role to play in safeguarding the interests of the Scheduled Tribes and to preserve their distinct identities. The State Government will continue  to extend necessary financial and other assistance to them. The management of the primary education in the Garo Hills Autonomous District, which was taken over from the District Council is still under the State Government. The administration of Garo Hills District Council has been taken over by the Governor under sub-paragraph (2) of paragraph 16 of the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution. The Government are, however, anxious to return the administration to the elected representatives of the Council.

        29. The Election Commission of India have issued orders for intensive revision of electoral rolls of the assembly constituencies in the State, except 50-Selsella and 60-Mahendraganj in West Garo Hills where the scheme for issue of photograph identity cards has been implemented. After the electoral rolls have been revised the said scheme will be implemented in a few more assembly constituencies during 1982.

        30. The State Government have granted further installments of dearness allowance on the basis of the formula recommended by the Pay Commission. The medical allowance has been increased from Rs.30 per month to Rs.50 per month. The recommendations of the Official Committee, appointed by the State Government to examine the anomalies arising out of the Pay Commission, in respect of 20 departments have been accepted by the Government and also largely implemented. The Committee is presently considering the anomalies in respect of the remaining departments and is expected to submit its recommendations soon.

        31. The existing schemes for social welfare programmes will be continued and these include, 'old-age pension', 'service for children in need of care and protection', 'assistance for setting up women's training centres for rehabilitation of women in distress', 'scholarship to physically handicapped students' and 'special nutrition programme in urban areas'.

        32. Under the Urban Water Supply Scheme steps are being taken for early implementation of the Jowai Phase II, Tura Phase II and Umkhen Phase II Schemes. The works on the Greater Shillong Water Supply Scheme are in progress. The provision of drinking water supply to all problem villages is an important segment of the new 20-Point Programme and the Government will take all necessary steps to implement the same. The State Government have appointed a consultant for preparation of detailed designs and estimates for the Shillong Sewerage Scheme.

        33. The thirty Community Development Blocks continue to serve the community at the grass-root level. Greater emphasis is being given to the Integrated Rural Development and National Rural Employment Programmes. In order to develop both urban and rural areas in a planned manner, the State Government propose to constitute a State Level Advisory Council for the Town and Country Planning Department, Cadastral Survey of Jowai town in about to be completed and re-survey operation in Shillong town is in progress.

        34. To check evasion of taxes by vehicles engaged in transportation of coal, timber, etc. outside the State, the Government have decided to open 4, more check-posts at different places in Garo Hills. Measures are also under way to tone up collection of taxes. It is proposed to strengthen the enforcement branch of the Excise Department for combating illegal distillation and sale of illicit liquor.

        35. To raise the revenue of the Shillong Municipality, the State Government have approved the revision of toll rates on certain categories of vehicles entering Shillong Municipal areas and have also approved the levy of parking fees for vehicles at some selected areas of Shillong Municipality.

        36. In order to keep pace with the modern printing technology, action has been taken to modernise the Government Press at Shillong with the assistance of the North-Eastern Council. There was no major industrial dispute last year, except the lock-out by the Meghalaya Jute Manufacturing Ltd. at Byrnihat.

        37. During the current session of the Assembly, Annual Financial Statements and Budget for the year 1982-83 will be presented. The following Bills will also be introduced.

1.  The Meghalaya Appropriation (No. I) Bill, 1982.
2.  The Meghalaya Appropriation (Vote on Account) Bill, 1982.
3.   The Meghalaya Appropriation (No. II) Bill, 1982.

        38. The State Government have welcomed the declaration by the Prime Minister that 1982 should be observed as a year of productivity. After the formation of the State of Meghalaya, substantial investments are being made in various sectors and the Government are keen that they are effectively utilised so as to increase productivity. The Government of India have made a number of valuable suggestions to successfully observe this productivity year and the State Government are anxious to implement them effectively. The Government appeal to the Hon'ble Members to extend their co-operation in this task.

        I have briefly referred to some items of the policies and programmes which the Government are committed to implement for the development of the State. I wish that the deliberations of the House will be useful and constructive and contribute to the progress of the State.

        I wish you all success in your deliberations.