Meghalaya Legislative Assembly

24th February, 1984

Address by Shri. PRAKASH MEHROTRA Governor of Meghalaya

MR. SPEAKER AND HON'BLE MEMBERS,

        I am glad to have this opportunity to address this august House once again.

        2. The Hon'ble Members are aware that Meghalaya has been free from any major law and order disturbance during the year 1983. This peaceful atmosphere has been possible because of the firm and effective steps taken by the Administration, the political stability in the State and the sense of responsibility exhibited by the people. The Government are keen that peace and harmony continue to be maintained in the State and are  taking all necessary steps in that direction.

        3. The supply position of food grains and other essential commodities in the State has remained satisfactory. There has been a general increase in the prices of essential commodities which is an all-India phenomenon. The State Government are, however, taking steps to mitigate the hardship to the members of the public and have enforced the Meghalaya Scheduled Articles (Display and Marketing of Prices) Order, 1975. A number of Fair Price Shops have been opened in the State and by the end of December, 1983, the number has gone up to 2046. The number as on 1st April, 1983 was 1960.

        4. To resolve the boundary disputes between Assam and Meghalaya amicably, the Chief Ministers of both the States met at Shillong on 26th May, 1983. It was decided that all the differences should be sorted out in a spirit of co-operation, mutual trust and goodwill keeping in view the overall interests of the people of the two States living in the border. In this meeting, it was decided that a joint Official Committee be formed with the Chief Secretary, Assam and Chief Secretary, Meghalaya, as Joint Conveners to identify the areas of differences on the Assam-Meghalaya boundary. The joint Official Committee had submitted their recommendations to the respective State Governments.

        In the inter-national border with Bangladesh, the joint relay work in respect of the areas where boundary pillars were missing is in progress so also the work relating to the reconstruction and repair of the damaged pillars.

        5. With a view to coping with the problem of infiltration of foreigners into the State, patrolling of the inter-national border has been intensified. Four watch-posts, ten patrol posts, five check-gates and four passport check-posts continue to function. In addition, 604 registered Village Defence Parties and 214 unregistered Village Defence Parties also render help in detecting infiltration as well as in checking border crimes. A special squad for checking and detecting infiltrators into the State has been set up. The State Level Cell for Prevention of infiltration and the Foreigners' Tribunal also continue to function. Active assistance and co-operation of the people with the authorities is necessary in solving the problem of infiltration of foreign nationals which is of deep concern not only  to Meghalaya but also to the entire North-Eastern Region.

        6. The Annual Plan outlay for the State for the year 1984-85 has been fixed at Rs.65 crores representing an increase of more than 15% over the current year's outlay. The total of the outlays as fixed by the Planning Commission for the five year period covered by the Sixth Plan works out to around over Rs.260 crores as against Rs.235 crores, originally fixed. The next year's Plan lays priority on integrated development with emphasis on backward and rural areas. It includes development of communications, water supply, watershed management, generation of employment, power and social services. The State Government are conscious of the problems retarding the pace of development and are taking steps to tide over the difficulties.

        Considering the possibilities of easy introduction of appropriate technology, the Government are taking up schemes to harness water power in isolated areas of the State to make cheap power available to the people by installing a series of micro power stations. The power generated will be used for various operations like rice pounding, grinding and oil processing. Government would also explore the possibilities of using these units for running small ropeways along mountain slopes.

        7. The State Government have welcomed the new 20-Point Programme and have taken measures to ensure smooth and time-bound implementation of the Programme for achieving the targets set at the State Level for fulfilling its objectives. Implementation of the Programme is reviewed at various levels.

        8. Double cropping programme will be taken up in the command areas under irrigation which is expected to boost up food grain production. Arrangements are being made for timely supply of of required inputs such as seeds fertilizers and plant protection chemicals for this programme.

        A minikit programme to popularise cultivation of oilseeds and pulses has been started which includes distribution of seeds and fertilizers packets. This will be further strengthened.

        The scheme for production of mushrooms and training will be intensified.

        Under Horticulture, in view of the difficult terrain and communication problem in the State greater emphasis will be laid on cultivation of nut-crops and tuber crops which are less perishable.

        9. Livestock rearing offers an important source of additional income to the people in the rural areas besides providing them with additional nutrition. The existing cattle breeding farms continue to cater to the requirement of breeding stock. There has been a notable increase in the number of improved breed of cattle in the State. The Government are drawing up further programmes for poultry, duckery, pigger, fodder and feed development in collaboration with the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, Control of livestock diseases is being given high priority. It has been decided to take up the Centrally sponsored dairy project.

        10. Shifting Cultivation or jhumming is an acute problem affecting the general ecology and environment and productivity of the State. Various measures have been taken up to wean away the people from such cultivation. Permanent developed land has been given to some jhummia families at the rate of two hectares per family which includes both dry and wet terraces. As response to dry terraces has not been very encouraging, from 1978-79 onwards, only wet terraces at the rate of one hectare per family has been provided.

        As an incentive, a subsidy scheme for raising cash crop plantations like coffee and rubber is available to willing farmers. In addition, irrigated land is proposed to be provided for raising settled food crop cultivation. These programmes are expected to make impact on control of jhumming in the State.

        Another important programme of the State Government is the watershed management scheme which is a new scheme. The Government are also continuing with the various training programmes of officers and field level workers. The Conservation Training Institute at Byrnihat is being expanded with financial assistance from the North-Eastern Council, Flood Control measure have also been taken up in areas where floods generally occur.

        11. Forests perform a vital role of maintaining a balanced ecological system and wise use of forests can bring prosperity and well-being to our people. During the current year 1983-84 the Government have been able to fulfill the target of afforestation set under the 20-Point Programme and the survival rate is high. Rehabilitation of orchids destroyed during jhum cultivation or in forest and construction operations has been taken up under a scheme sponsored under the North-Eastern Council and an Orchid Resource Centre has been opened. Afforestation of the catchment areas of the Kopili Hydel Project is also being undertaken by the State Government to be financed by the North Eastern Council. In the context of ecological conservation preservation of wild-life and flora in their natural habitat has gained importance and is receiving attention.

        12. Under the small industries sector, the scheme for educated unemployed has been implemented under the District Industries Centre. This scheme is expected to help the educated unemployed in setting up small scale units and small businesses. The Meghalaya Khadi and Village Industries Board will continue to render assistance to the various Khadi and Village Industries in the form of grants and loans.

        In the large and medium sector, the Meghalaya Industrial Development Corporation is assisting private entrepreneurs in setting up Industrial Projects. An Electronic Unit for manufacture of tantalum capacitors is being processed for setting up in collaboration with the Electronic Corporation of India.

        A paper Grade Lime Plant will be set up by the Meghalaya Industrial Development Corporation at Lumshnong, Jaintia Hills, with the capacity of 200 tonnes per day, to meet the requirement of the paper mills. The Plant is being funded by the North-Eastern Council.

        13. The investigation of various mineral deposits in different parts of the State is being continued as also the mineral investigation of the Lumshnong limestone deposit as financed by the North-Eastern Council. The Meghalaya Mineral Development Corporation, Ltd., will be taking up limestone mining at Lumshnong for Paper-Grade Lime Plant.

        14. Meghalaya is endowed with abundant hydel and thermal resources and has tremendous scope for generation of electric power. The implementation of the Umiam - Umtru Stage IV Hydro Electric Project with Upper Khri Diversion and construction of 132 Kv Nangalbibra Tura line are continuing. The investigation work on Leishka Hydro Electric Project is nearing completion. Renovation and augmentation of Shillong Electric Supply system is in progress. By the end of the current year, the total number of villages electrified would be about 1,200.

        15. In addition to water power, other renewable sources of energy like solar, wind and bio-gas will be tapped for lifting water, drying, processing and other purposes. Also to reduce drudgery among women, a series of training programmes will be organised to introduce more efficient cooking stoves. It will also help in reducing consumption of firewood.

        16. Sericulture and Handloom-weaving are important cottage industries in the State providing part-time employment to about 27,000 persons, at present. A Muga Seed Development Project has been launched by the Central Silk Board for developing the Muga Seed Farms and Centres in the State. In respect of handloom-weaving, the weavers are trained every year on stipendiary basis by the Government. A number of Handloom Demonstration-cum-Production Centres are also being set up in selected areas including those in the Border Areas. The intensive development of 200 handlooms in concentrated areas in the Garo Hills is expected to yield good results. Training of technical personnel for both the sectors is continuing. In the next year, mulberry and eri acreage will be expanded. In respect of handloom-weaving the emphasis is on stepping up quality production of handloom fabrics. Introduction of polyster-weaving with training facilities to weavers in selected centres is also proposed to avail of the products of the Bongaigaon Refinery and Petro-Chemicals, Ltd.

        17. In the development of fisheries, the programme of Fish Seed Production will be strengthened and a number of farms are being developed. The introduction of "paddy-cum-fish culture" will be intensified.

        18. In respect of Health and Family Welfare, the Government are giving greater stress on preventive and promotive services. The primary health care is a key to attain the goal of health for all by the year 2000 AD. It is expected that by the end of the current financial year the State will be covered by 152 Sub-centres and 29 Primary Health Centres and by the end of 1984-85 by 247 Sub-centres, 32 Primary Health Centres and 7 Subsidiary Health Centres. This will imply one Sub-centre for 4000 rural population and a Primary Health Centre for 31,000 rural population. The Scheme of Village Health Guides has made such progress and the number is likely to be increased from 1588 as on 31st March, 1983 to 2000 by 31st March, 1984. The construction work of the Cobalt Therapy Unit at Civil Hospital, Shillong and construction of other hospitals are in progress. Renovation and extension of Pasteur Institute, Shillong, financed by the North-Eastern Council will soon be completed. It is expected that the Government of India will soon start the work for the establishment of the Regional Institute of Medical Science at Shillong.

        19. The Integrated Child Development Scheme, a major welfare measure, has gained momentum and together with the additional projects sanctioned has raised the number of Schemes to 11 by the end of the current year. They cover 31,465 children of the age group 0-6 years and 7215 expectant and lactating mothers. The integrated approach of health, supplementary nutrition and nutritive education has been useful in the delivery and health care of children. The special nutrition Programme in Urban Areas covers, at present, 7200 children of the age group 0-6 years and 2400 expectant and lactating mothers.

        A number of schemes for the welfare of the handicapped, women and old and infirm persons are being continued.

        20. The work relating to rural water supply has gained momentum and the achievement in the current year is likely to be more than that of the last three years put together. The work for Greater Shillong Water Supply Phase I and Tura Phase II is in progress. To accelerate the pace of progress under Rural Water Supply Programme, which forms part of the new 20-Point Programme, the Government have taken up exploration of ground water potential. Several Wells have been drilled in and around Shillong to eliminate scarcity of drinking water. We are taking steps to ensure more active involvement of the local population in the maintenance of completed water supply schemes.

        21. Community Development continues to receive the close attention of the Government. The Integrated Rural Development Programme and National Rural Employment Programme are being continued, extended and implemented vigorously. Two special Schemes, the Small and the Marginal Farmers Scheme and the Rural Landless Employment Guarantee Scheme, have also been taken up for implementation from this year. The State Government have decided to create 5 District Rural Development Agencies, one for each District, as against 2 at present.

        22. A pilot project for integrated village development has been taken up in the current year and 15 villages, one in each Civil Sub-Division, has been selected. A socio-economic survey of the selected villages has been conducted with a view to locating gaps in development for providing the required inputs.

        23. The Meghalaya Co-operative Apex Bank Ltd. has been the main purveyor of agricultural credit to farmers through Primary Agricultural Co-operatives Societies. Suitable measures have been taken to further improve its financial and infrastructural capabilities. The Meghalaya State Co-operative Marketing and Consumers' Federation Ltd. and the Meghalaya State Housing and Financing Co-operative Society, Ltd. continue to tender services in their respective spheres of activities. To enable Co-operative Societies to progress in an accelerated manner in coming years, steps are being taken to strengthen them financially and infrastructurally to shoulder heavier burden.

        24. Universalisation of elementary education received high priority. The State Government will set up a Council of Science and Technology to realise the socio-economic objectives of the State and to improve the base of Science and Mathematics.

        To streamline the administration of primary education in Garo Hills and Jaintia Hills, Government after takeover, continue to manage and administer it. Government propose to take effective steps to arrest the high drop-out ratio by giving a package of incentives apart from emphasis on non formal education.

        The Government will continue to assist the existing and newly set up schools.

        In conformity with National policy, the Government are implementing Adult Literacy Programme to bring more and more illiterates into the main-stream of National life.

        The Government have decided already to establish a full-fledged Directorate of Sports in the State to harness and utilise the youth energy and potential for healthy development of the State. Grants are being given to develop sports field and other infrastructure in the rural areas also to ensure equal opportunity to rural youth. Youth adventure programmes will continue to receive our careful attention.

        25. 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 year 1983-84 the State will have a total road length of 5036 Kms. including 1824 Kms. of black-topped road. This will bring road density to 22.45 Kms. per hundred Sq. Kms.  against all India density of 41 Kms. per hundred Sq. Kms. The Government have expanded programmes for construction of roads to connect the District Headquarters, Sub-divisional and Block Headquarters as also the village Markets.

        As far as roads in the border areas are concerned, the policy of the Government is for construction and development of such roads so as to give relief to the people along the border to enable them to bring their produce easily to the main Market of the State.

        In addition to the construction of roads under the State plan and border roads, the North-Eastern Council authorities are providing substantial allocation for development of many important roads in the State.

        26. Road transport is the only mode of transport in the State. The Meghalaya Transport Corporation are operating 37 routes. The fleet position of the Corporation is being improved. 12 new buses have been received by the Corporation during this year and it is proposed to purchase 38 new buses during 1984-85. This will facilitate opening of new routes in some areas at present not served. The Construction of Regional Workshop and the Central Workshop of the Corporation is making good progress. Steps are being taken to increase revenue and reduce expenditure and improve enforcement of provisions of relevant Acts and Rules.

        A direct air link between Shillong and Calcutta has been established. There is a proposal to construct an air field near Tura.

        27. Steps have been taken to prepare and implement Development plans for various towns and Sub-divisional Headquarters. Attention will also be given for development of rural areas in close proximity to the towns. Under the Environmental improvement of slum areas the target of covering 6000 persons is likely to be achieved and 7000 persons is targeted to be covered in 1984-85. The Centrally sponsored scheme of Integrated Development of Small and Medium Towns is proposed to be extended to other towns besides Shillong.

        While taking up development projects and schemes, it is necessary to ensure that they are in harmony with the environment. A Planning Cell is proposed to be set up with a view to suggest measures for arresting the deterioration in the environmental conditions, to identify immediate problems and to implement schemes for protection and monitoring. Steps will be taken to activate the Pollution Board already set up by the State Government. Efforts will be made to bring awareness among the general public of the importance of ecological planning, protection and conservation of environment.

        28. The State Government are fully aware of the various problems faced by the people in the border areas and are anxious to improve their economy and speed up the pace of development. The main thrust of the programme taken up for these areas is to take up integrated development to include communications and to improve marketing facilities for disposal of border produce. The State Government provide transport subsidy to enable the people living in these areas to get essential commodities at reasonable rates.

        29. With the rising of the 2nd Police Battalion at Tura the strength of the Armed Police has been augmented. For public convenience and better police administration, two Police Out-Posts have been upgraded to Police Stations during the year and it is proposed to upgrade more Out-posts to that of Police Stations and additional Out-posts will also be established. It has also been decided to have, at least, one Police Station in each Civil Sub-Division. Construction of Battalion Headquarters and also residential accommodation of police personnel, more particularly for the lower ranks, is in progress.

        In the field of Civil Defence, training is continuing to be imparted to volunteers to meet any eventuality. The Border Wing Home Guards are assisting the Border  Security Force along the Indo-Bangladesh Border and are also deployed in guarding bridges, important office establishments and installations. Efforts will be made to train more rural and urban Home Guards and Civil Defence Volunteers in the next financial year.

        30. In tourism, emphasis will be given to the special advantages the State has to attract the tourists, namely, the environment, the scenic beauty, the adventurous trekking, the unique flora and fauna and water sports. The infrastructure will also be developed in a phased manner. Conducted tours are about to be launched utilising the three tourist buses at present in operation. Accommodation for tourists will also be augmented.

        31. The State Government are anxious to extend Postal and Tele-Communication Services to the District and Sub-divisional Headquarters and other important places and are pursuing the matter with the Government of India. Considerable progress has been made regarding Television relay Centre and an All India Radio Station at Tura. Government to propose to install Television Sets in Rural Areas in the State for recreational as well as for educational purposes.

        32. Elections to reconstitute the Garo Hills District Council and the Jaintia Hills District Council were conducted successfully. The process of Khasi Hills District Council elections has already commenced. The Government have been assisting the District Councils financially in performing their functions. The Commission of Inquiry on Autonomous District Council Administration headed by Shri. S.K. Dutta, Ex-Chief Justice of the Gauhati High Court is expected to submit its report by July, 1984.

        33. The electoral rolls of all the 60 Assembly Constituencies in the State forming segments of 1-Shillong and 2-Tura Parliamentary Constituencies have been revised with 1st January, 1984 as the qualifying date.

        34. A number of schemes have been taken up in Shillong and District and Sub-Divisional Headquarters for construction of office and court buildings as also residential quarters. The work for the Third Secretariat Office Complex is in progress. A number of residential houses have been constructed in Shillong town in view of the acute shortage of such accommodation for the State Government employees.

        35. The Government are implementing the Legal Aid Scheme by holding legal aid camps and propose to train up para legal aid workers so that the poor and illiterate people particularly in the rural areas are in a position to assert their legal rights.

        36. Before I conclude, I would like to reiterate the firm commitment of the State Government to the welfare and the progress of the people and to better the lot of the common man. The distinct identity of the tribal people is recognised and all efforts for the promotion of their economic, social and cultural interests will continue to be taken with due and just treatment to all sections of the people in the State. The Government will strive hard to live up to the expectations and to improve the quality of life of the people of the State. I am confident that all the Hon'ble Members would join hands in implementing constructive plans and programmes taken up by the Government for the welfare of the people of Meghalaya.

JAI  HIND.