Meghalaya Legislative Assembly
15th March, 1985
Address by Shri. B.N. SINGH Governor of Meghalaya
MR. SPEAKER AND HON'BLE MEMBERS,
It gives me great pleasure to address you for the first time in this august House.
2. Nineteen hundred and eighty-four has been a year of tensions and trials but the country has come out with a renewed sense of integrity and determination to progress. The country witnessed a brutal and despicable act in which our beloved Prime Minister Smt. Indira Gandhi was assassinated. The people of Meghalaya joined their brethren throughout the nation with deep anguish and grief in mourning the death of this great leader. The people of Meghalaya felt the loss even more as they were aware of her deep affection for the tribals and of her special interest in the development of the North-Eastern Region.
3. Meghalaya joins hands with the rest of the country in the national policy of providing a clean, disciplined and result-oriented administration together with peace, prosperity and integrity as declared by our dynamic Prime Minister Shri. Rajiv Gandhi.
4. The General Elections to the Lok Sabha held some two months ago demonstrated the people's resolve to maintain the integrity of India. They have elected a Government at the Centre that carries with it the hopes and aspiration of the Indian nation for stability, peace and progress. The will of the people of Meghalaya was also reflected in the same tenor.
5. It is a matter of great satisfaction that the recent Lok Sabha elections in the State were held in the best traditions of Meghalaya. I would commend the conduct of the contesting candidates, the political parties and the electorates of the State for the peaceful and orderly conduct of the poll.
6. The law on anti-defection enacted by Parliament is a welcome step to uphold the democratic principles and also to strengthen Parliamentary practices. Earlier, a Bill for reservation of seats for members of the Scheduled Tribes in Parliament and in some of the Legislatures of the States was also passed which is awaiting completion of Constitutional formalities to become a law.
7. The State remained peaceful during the year and the law and order situation was normal. The peaceful atmosphere is attributable to the better sense and judgement of the people and the public leaders and also to the alertness on the part of the administrative machinery of the Government.
8. Constant vigil to prevent infiltration from across the 423 Km. border with Bangladesh has been maintained and some steps are being taken to further strengthen the measures to prevent infiltration. The foreign nationals who were detected crossing illegally into the State were pushed back. Border crimes were at a low level. Deployment of Home Guards (Border Wing) along the Indo-Bangladesh borders is continuing under the operational control of the Border Security Force.
9. With regard to the border areas between the States of Meghalaya and Assam, steps are being taken at the highest level to resolve the difference. It is hoped that an amicable solution to the problem will be found. Along the international boundary with Bangladesh, work for reconstruction and repair of missing and damaged pillars is continuing.
10. Government are aware of the need for effective implementation of various development programmes and proper utilisation of the plan funds. But there are problems peculiar to the State that slow down the pace and remedial measures are being taken. Periodic reviews are made to ensure effective implementation of the 20-Point Programme to being an all-round progress to the State and its people. The Government appreciate the assistance, financial and technical, specially in the field of development of man-power, rendered by the North Eastern Council in various fields.
11. A State Council of Science and Technology and environment has been constituted with the Chief Minister as Chairman for enlarging the scope of application of science and technology and to utilise the scientific advancement for the development and progress of the State. The Council will also consider matters relating to environmental preservation in the State.
12. A draft Seventh Five Year Plan for the State has been prepared and presented to the Government of India. A final decision on the size of the Plan is yet to be taken. While emphasizing the need to accelerate the development of infrastructure, the State's draft plan has given due emphasis on the national objectives of maximising production, generating more employment and alleviating poverty.
13. The Eighth Finance Commission recommended transfer, by devolution, an amount of Rupees three hundred and eighty one crores and eighty six lakhs (Rs.381.86 crores) as share of central taxes and duties and grants-in-aid under Article 275 of the Constitution of Meghalaya during the period 1984-85 to 1988-89 compared to Rupees One hundred and thirty four crores and fifteen lakhs (Rs.134.15 crores) recommended by the Seventh Finance Commission for the previous quinquennium.
14. Foodgrain production for 1984-85 was fixed at 1.84 lakh tonnes. Due to pest attack and flash floods there may be a short fall of the target. For 1985-86 a higher target for 1.93 lakh tonnes is proposed and steps will be taken to achieve the mark.
15. The Minikit Programme has played an important role in promotion of oil seeds and pulses production. Their cultivation will receive intensive package of practices. The Horticultural Development will be intensified by strengthening the inputs and extension system programme on cultivation of nut crops and tuber crops will receive greater emphasis. Due importance will be given for covering more areas under assured irrigation. More sale points will be opened to make available the agricultural inputs to the farmers.
16. During the Seventh Plan establishment of three regulated markets at Shillong, Tura and Jowai have been proposed. The markets are intended to help growers obtain remunerative prices for their produce. The first of such markets is proposed to be set up at Shillong during 1985-86.
17. The supply position of essential commodities in the State has been satisfactory during the year and the administrative machinery is geared to maintain and improve the position in the coming year. The Public Distribution System will be reviewed and strengthened.
18. In order to expand power generation in the State from 125 megawatts to 185 megawatts the Umiam-Umtru Stage IV Hydro Electric Project with Upper Khri Diversion, which is an ongoing scheme, is expected to be completed within 1988-89. The 132 KV transmission line from Nangalbibra to Tura has now been completed to meet the increasing energy demand in the Garo Hills and also to ensure stable power supply. With regard to Rural Electrification Schemes, the target of electrifying 156 villages during the current year will be achieved raising the total of electrified villages to one thousand two hundred and ninety-four (1,294). In Jaintia Hills the investigation works for the Leshka Hydro Electric Project is nearing completion. Improvement works for the Shillong, Jowai and Tura towns are also being carried out to ensure stable power supply.
19. In the field of popularising non-conventional energy sources three solar photovoltic pumps, two solar distillation units and two wind mills - one for lifting water and another for power generation - have been installed. More wind mills will be installed during the next year in places where irrigation and drinking water facilities are to be improved. Similarly more schemes are also being planned to harness solar power.
20. After a field survey two sites have been selected for installation of small micro-hydel units. The turbines and other accessories have been designed in the State to suit local conditions and to simplify operations of the power stations.
21. Various models of energy efficient chulhas designed and developed in the State during the current year have gained popularity in community messes and individual homes. State Government have also helped Central Government paramilitary organisations to set up chulhas in their units to reduce consumption of firewood. For speedy construction of chulhas in rural areas a few local potters in the State have been trained to fabricate various components of chulhas. Voluntary agencies, schools, hostels, hospitals, etc., will be involved in popularising chulhas specially in the rural areas.
22. Audio visual programmes for exposure on a few aspects of Science and Technology, additional sources of energy, etc. are under preparation for popularising these in rural areas. Steps are also being taken to open Science Clubs in a few villages.
23. The biogas programme has gained in popularity and the targets under the 20-Point Programme will be fulfilled in the current year as was the case last year.
24. Investigations of mineral deposits in the State will continue to be carried out for considering the feasibility of setting up mineral-based industries. It is proposed to utilise the disciplines of ground water and engineering geology, geophysics and remote sensing in these investigations during the Seventh Plan. Exploitation of some limestone and clay deposits will be undertaken by the State Mineral Development Corporation.
25. Much needs to be done for the promotion of small and cottage industries. The activities of the Industries Department in this regard include conducting of training programmes in carpentry, steel fabrication, furniture making, tailoring and knitting and in giving financial assistance to trainees. District Industries Centres are continuing to promote Entrepreneurship at the District level and are also implementing the self-employment scheme in co-ordination with the Banks. The targets for self-employment of educated youth were fulfilled last year and will be achieved in the current year too.
26. In the large and medium industries sector work on a Tantalum Capacitor plant is progressing satisfactorily Barapani. The investigation of limestone for the paper grade lime plant has been completed. The mining plan assigned to the Meghalaya Mineral Development Corporation has been prepared. The application of the Meghalaya Industrial Development Corporation to set up the plant is under correspondence with the Government of India. Work is also continuing on the development of infrastructure in two industrial areas. The Meghalaya Industrial Development Corporation have improved the monitoring of assisted units and attempts are underway to improve the functioning of units that are facing difficulties. In this context the long overdue expansion of capacity in the Cement Factory at Cherrapunjee is nearing completion. In view of the lack of industrial culture proposals for large and medium industries in the State continue to be critically studied and the selective approach so far applied will continue.
27. Improvement and expansion of facilities at the stage of elementary education continue to receive the highest priority in education sector. The target for additional enrolment of 6,000 children in this sector for the current year 1984-85 will be achieved. For 1985-86, the proposed target is to enroll approximately ten thousand (10,000) children in formal school, and approximately 5,000 out-of-school children in non-formal education centres. To tackle the problem of the high rate of drop outs, the package programme is being expanded and strengthened. To streamline the administration of primary education in Khasi Hills Government took over its management and administration, in addition to those in Jaintia and Garo Hills.
28. To bring about qualitative education eight Middle and High Schools have been brought under the Deficit System in 1984-85. Special grants have been extended to private schools to employ qualified teachers in Mathematics and Science. Primary and Middle School teachers have been trained in the various Training Institutes. Short term training courses were also conducted. Additional teachers will be trained during the coming year. The new curriculum for primary education is being implemented as a pilot project in 30 schools from 1985. Similarly a revised curriculum for teachers' training is being introduced. A Public School has been established at Jowai in the current year.
29. Assistance to colleges will be continued for the smooth change over to the three-year degree course as well as introduction of non-traditional subjects.
30. Under the expansion of Adult Literacy Programme, the target for covering Thirty thousand (30,000) persons during 1984-85 is expected to be achieved and it is intended to cover an additional Thirty-Five thousand (35,000) people during the next year.
31. Assistance for creation of basic infrastructure for sports facilities is being provided at the District and Sub-divisional levels. Suitable programmes are being drawn up for celebration of the International Youth Year in a befitting manner.
32. With a view to strengthen roots of democracy and to inculcate healthy habits among the students with regard to Parliamentary system, a scheme for holding Youth Parliament Programmes in educational institutions is being implemented.
33. The Health Department is geared to attain the goal of, "Health for all by 2000AD." By the end of 1984-85 we will have 32 Primary Health Centres, 217 Sub-Centres 3 Community Health Centres and 16 Subsidiary Health Centres apart from existing dispensaries. In the year 1985-86, it is expected that additional 5 Primary Health Centres and 40 Sub-Centres will be established. By the end of the Seventh Plan the target is to cover the State by 65 Primary Health Centres and 447 Sub-Centres converting all Subsidiary Health Centres and existing dispensaries to Primary Health Centres. This will imply one Primary Health Centre for twenty thousand (20,000) population and one Sub-Centre for 3,000 population.
34. The Scheme of the Village Health Guide has made good progress and two thousand and twenty-nine (2,029) Village Health Guides have been trained by the end of the current year and 100 more will be trained in the next year. Working regarding setting up of the Indira Gandhi Regional Institute of Medical Sciences at Shillong will start soon. Family Welfare Programme is continuing in the State giving stress to spacing, conventional methods and the welfare of the mothers and children.
35. The various programmes for the welfare of families, women, children, the handicapped and the old and infirm are being implemented and will be strengthened. The Integrated Child Development Scheme, a major social development Programme has progressed further and 11 projects have been sanctioned by the end of the current year. They cover about half the Blocks in the State and benefit directly twenty-nine thousand nine hundred and twenty-one (29,921) children of the age group of zero to six years and three thousand nine hundred and forty-two (3,942) expectant mothers.
36. District Rural Development Agencies have now been set up in all the five Districts to formulate and execute various poverty alleviation programmes. Integrated Rural Development and National Rural Employment Programmes are being expanded as an anti-poverty drive. During the current year schemes covering eighteen thousand (18,000) beneficiaries under the Integrated Rural Development Programme have been sanctioned and are being implemented. Under the National Rural Employment Programme, schemes with the financial outlay of about 105 lakhs covering 7 lakh mandays are under implementation. The Government are also preparing schemes under the assistance programme for small and marginal farmers and the Employment Guarantee Programme for the rural landless, the new Central sector programmes for increasing agricultural productivity and employment. Schemes for Rs.88 lakhs covering 4 lakh mandays under the Rural Landless Employment Guarantee Programme have already been forwarded to the Central Government for sanction while schemes for Rs.46 covering 2 lakh mandays have been sanctioned and are being implemented.
37. It is expected that with more roads and bridges to be constructed during the year 1985-86 the road density in the State will reach twenty-three kilometres and five hundred and twenty metres (23.52Km.) per one hundred square kilometres as against twenty-two kilometres and seven hundred and sixty metres (22.76 Km.) to be reached by the end of 1984-85. In addition to the construction of roads under the State Plan the North Eastern Council authorities are providing substantial assistance for development of many important roads in the State. The Government will continue the Programme for construction of roads to connect the district headquarters, sub-divisional and Block headquarters are also the village markets and to develop communication link to border areas.
38. Work on Phase I of the Greater Shillong Water Supply Scheme has been taken up in full swing and inspite of the handicaps faced by the Department, considerable progress has been achieved. It is expected that water from Mawphlang will be available for distribution in Shillong in the next few months. Rural Water Supply programme is continuing. Following reports of irregularities in a few divisions of the Public Health Engineering Department, a number of measures have been taken up to streamline and improve its capability and functioning.
39. The Central Workshop of the Meghalaya Transport Corporation at Shillong has been inaugurated this year. It will help better maintenance of vehicles. Buses of the Corporation are placed in various routes to ease the transport problems. The fleet of the Meghalaya Transport Corporation has been augmented by 34 buses.
40. Regarding construction of an air field for Tura, survey work has been completed and land acquisition proceedings are in progress.
41. Government are concerned with improving the lot of the people in the border areas. For that purpose various measures are taken to supplement the programmes in the fields of agriculture and marketing, animal husbandry, roads and communications, fisheries, soil conservation, water supply and education. Financial assistance to students from those areas and also for improvement of school and hostel buildings are granted. The schemes and programmes in these fields will continue to be implemented during 1985-86.
42. The State has a rich heritage of plant varieties and natural forest areas. Their preservation is essential not only for keeping the ecological balance but for future development also. Preservation of two such areas, namely, Balpakram and Tura Ridge, and constituting them as National Parks are now in the final stages. To ensure compatibility between these protected areas and their surroundings, special integrated socio-economic development programmes are being taken up covering 140 villages.
43. To cater to the needs of the village communities and to afforest barren and waste land areas, a large scale social forestry programme has been taken up. The target of afforestation under the 20-Point Programme has been exceeded in the current year and the survival rate continues to be high.
44. Aware of the need for wild life preservation and at the same time realising the need for helping the tribal villagers whose crops are damaged by elephants, Government have started paying compensation for death and injury due to elephant depredation as well as for crops damaged. A census of elephant population in the State has been taken up.
45. Shifting Cultivation or jhuming is an acute problem and the measures to tackle it include land development with irrigation for permanent cultivation and cash crop plantation. By the end of the current year the number of families expected to be covered is about four thousand and one hundred (4,100) with six thousand and five hundred (6500) acres of developed land.
46. Cultivation of rubber and coffee is being taken up with the same purpose to provide permanent type of cultivation for the jhuming farmers and also to provide additional means of livelihood. By the end of the current year about two thousand one hundred and fifty (2,150) hectares will be covered by rubber and coffee plantation and another 350 hectares may be added in the next year. We hope to go in also for orange plantation in suitable areas during 1985-86.
47. The watershed management scheme which was taken up since 1983-84 will continue to be implemented as it has found good response from the people. The expansion of the Conservation Training Institute at Byrnihat is continuing with financial assistance from the North Eastern Council.
48. Cadastral survey, which is one aspect of land reform measures, is in progress in Jaintia Hills District. Most of the areas in the State are yet to be surveyed and it has become necessary to enlighten the public about the need to do so. The entire State is expected to be covered up in the next Plan Period.
49. Co-operative movement plays an important role in the State. Co-operatives will be strengthened organizationally and financially with emphasis on activities in the rural areas. Apart from providing custom-hiring services the Agro-custom centres will also distribute consumer articles and essential commodities. Efforts to improve the out-turn of the societies will be made through diversification of their activities in 1985-86.
50. The Animal Husbandry Programme envisages increase in the supply of protein food of animal origin and to increase the income of the rural people by adoption of modern Animal Husbandry practices. The existing cattle, poultry and pig farms will be improved to cater to the requirement of breeding stock. The North Eastern Council has approved am ambitious scheme of regional pig breeding in the State. The Central Dairy at Shillong will start functioning in the early part of 1985-86. The Government will continue to sponsor students to study Veterinary Science and Dairying in different institutions of the country.
51. Sericulture and handloom weaving, two important cottage industries in the State, provide part-time employment to about twenty eight thousand (28,000) people. Sericultural projects are being expanded in various fields. Extension activities of the Department include development of infrastructure for silk rearers, expansion of production, improvement in the technology for reeling and generally improving the quality of silk produced in the State. Under the Handloom sector, an Intensive Handloom Development Project covering 2000 existing looms and 500 new looms has been taken up in the current year.
52. Tourism has a vast potential in the State of Meghalaya. Schemes to develop the infrastructure for tourism have been taken up. Setting up of a Food craft Institute is one such new scheme taken up in 1984-85 in line with the policy of the Government of India. The construction of the tourist Bungalow at Tura is nearing completion. Other activities consist of beautification of tourist spots and places of interest and the construction of a drive-in restaurant under a Centrally Sponsored Scheme. Development of a tourist complex at Shillong will also be taken up by the Meghalaya Tourism Development Corporation. The Corporation has already started conducted tours. A Youth Hostel under a Central scheme is under construction at Shillong.
53. The Employees' State Insurance Scheme, which provides for medical care to factory workers and their families and reasonable cash insurance benefits in certain contingencies, will be extended to other parts of the State. The minimum wages of skilled and unskilled workers have been raised.
54. The centrally sponsored scheme for integrated development of small and medium towns has been extended to Shillong and Tura. The scheme envisages development of these towns based on consideration of health and sanitation, smooth flow of traffic, planned housing, adequate civic amenities and above all to prevent haphazard growth and to arrest environmental degradation.
55. Rapid growth of population and of commercial centres in Shillong have caused severe strain on the limited civic amenities in recent years. The Government and the Shillong Municipal Board are making efforts to control and improve the situation. The drive for cleanliness and healthy civic conditions is a continuing effort in which the Government, the Municipal authorities and the citizens themselves should feel equally involved. Headmen of the localities and the local social organisations are, therefore, being associated in the task. A "Cleanliness Fortnight" was launched on the 2nd October, 1984 and the foundation stone for a Multistoried Parking Lot has been laid recently. An Advisory Committee for the Shillong Municipality has been constituted to recommend ways and means to improve operational efficiency. I am glad to mention that the Government have decided to hold elections to the municipalities by next year.
56. The Government are committed to strengthening and streamlining the administration of the District Councils. The report of the Commission of Enquiry received recently is being examined. It is expected that this report will go a long way in helping the Councils to discharge their responsibilities more effectively. Government will continue to extend support that has become a part and parcel of State policy in the preceding years.
57. Construction of three jails at Tura, Williamnagar and Jowai is likely to be completed in 1985-86. Jails at Nongstoin, Mairang, Nongpoh and Baghmara and a new Jail at Shillong will be constructed as per the award of the Finance Commission.
58. Legal aid to the poor has made progress since formulation of the scheme two years back. Many Legal Aid Camps were held. A legal aid seminar was also held at Shillong in October, 1984 where problems relating to administration of justice were discussed.
59. Government are alive to the needs of their employees. To relive them from the rising cost of living, Dearness Allowance on the pattern similar to that of the Central Government has been granted to them with effect from 1st October, 1983 with provision for periodical increase based on average rise in the consumers' price index. The benefit is extended to employees of aided schools including primary schools and colleges. A similar benefit has also been extended to pensioners and family pension holders. To alleviate the problem of shortage of residential accommodation, Government have a proposal to construct more quarters.
60. I would like to reiterate the firm determination of the State Government to provide a clean and efficient administration. The State Government are also committed to the welfare and rapid progress of the people of the State and to improve the quality of their life. The distinct identity of the members of the Scheduled Tribes is recognised and all efforts for promotion of their interests will continue to be taken while giving just treatment to all sections of the people in the State. I am confident that the Hon'ble Members will join hands in helping the State Government in implementing their constructive plans and programme for the progress and welfare of the people of Meghalaya.