Meghalaya Legislative Assembly
February 28, 1986
Address by Shri. Bhishma Narain Singh Governor of Meghalaya
MR. SPEAKER & HON'BLE MEMBERS,
I am happy to address you in this august House once again this morning.
2. A sense of happiness and hope has permeated the country in 1985. Decisions with far reaching consequences were taken by the Prime Minister in the year to solve problems that had lingered in some part of the country. The national leadership inspired a sense of confidence and underscored a drive for a clean and result - oriented administration. The main objective of the Government will be to provide a disciplined and effective administration. Special care and attention will continue to be paid to improve the economic conditions of the people and to protect the land and identity of the tribal people by pursuing with the Central Government for enacting measures proposed by us.
3. Apart from a few bandhs and hartals called by a section of the student community law and order situation continues to remain peaceful. A threatened strike in a public sector undertaking was averted through negotiation. The State enjoyed a peaceful atmosphere with political stability which is the first pre-requisite for a good Government.
4. Vigilance has been strengthened on the borders to prevent infiltration of foreign nationals. One more battalion of the Border Security Force is being raised for international borders of the State. It is expected that three more battalions will be raised in the next few years. Though the responsibility for guarding the International borders rests with the Government of India, men of the Border Wing of the State Home Guards are deployed to assist the Border Security Force in the task. Besides, there are 612 registered Villages Defence Parties and 288 unregistered ones to help detect any infiltration and prevent border crimes. Measures for detection of foreign nationals have been made more effective with the help and co-operation of all sections of the people including public leaders, traditional functionaries, women and youth.
5. Government believe that the areas of difference on the Inter-State boundary with the neighbouring State can be resolved through a spirit of mutual trust and understanding. Pursuant to the agreement of 1985 between the Chief Minister of Assam and Meghalaya, Justice Y.V. Chandrachud has been appointed to head the Committee of experts for opinion on the Constitutional aspects of the boundary between the two States, the other member being Justice V.S. Deshpande.
6. The size of the State's Seventh Plan has been fixed at Rupees 440 crores. This represents an increase of 87.2 per cent over the State's outlay of Rupees 235 crores during the Sixth Plan. The objectives of the Plan are to alleviate poverty of our people and accelerate the growth of economy of the State, especially of the rural areas.
7. The Annual Plan for 1986-87 has been fixed at Rupees 91 crores, an increase of over 21 per cent over that of 1985-86. The priorities of the Plan are on development of infrastructure and accelerated growth in rural economy including development of human resources and social and community services.
8. The performance in the implementation of the 20-Point Programme is satisfactory in respect of most of the points except in the few cases for which remedial measures have been taken. Hon'ble Members will be happy to note that State Government got the third award for the number of Gobar gas plants set up during 1984-85. A time bound programme for integrated development of 100 villages was launched on 19th November, 1985, the birth anniversary of late Prime Minister Smti. Indira Gandhi.
9. Science-based activities have been started in the State. The Science and Technology Council continues to guide the Government in implementing the programme. Some demonstration units based on solar and wind energy have already been set up.
10. Government continue to lay stress on Primary Health Care as an approach to the goal of 'Health for all by 2000 A.D.' Control of Leprosy, tuberculosis and blindness, an important item of the 20-Point Programme, is also receiving close attention to the Government. In the Civil Hospital at Shillong the construction of a Cobalt Therapy Unit is in progress. Construction of the Indira Gandhi Regional Institute of Medical Sciences is expected to be taken up soon by the Government of India.
11. Despite handicaps, the work on the Greater Shillong Water Supply Scheme, Phase I, is almost complete and Phase II will thereafter be taken up. The Tura Water Supply Scheme, Phase II, has been completed. To augment availability of potable water ground water exploration has been carried out at many places and several drillings in and around Shillong have been done. Under the rural schemes the target is to supply drinking water to 450 villages during 1986-87.
12. Government are aware of the need to maintain the ecological balance and to take remedial measures in this regard. They are seriously concerned at the large scale exploitation of forest wealth in the State, especially in forests outside their control. Various steps are under consideration to control the situation and to bring barren lands under quick vegetative cover. About 4,000 hectares of land will be brought under Social Forestry Plantation during 1986-87. In 1985-86, 220 square Kms. of land was acquired at Balpakram for a National Park. Another area of 68.01 square Kms. at Tura Nokrek Ridge is also under the process or acquisition for the same purpose. A scheme of integrated socio-economic development of areas around the proposed National Parks is also under implementation.
13. The Umiam-Umtru Stage IV Hydro Electric Project is expected to be commissioned in 1988-89. The 132 K.V. substation at Rongkhon is nearing completion. Investigations of the Myntdu (Leishka) Hydro Electric project, the Kynshi and Umium-Umtru Stage V Projects are in progress. For augmentation and renovation of the Shillong Electric Supply System a provision of Rs.60 lakhs has been allocated during the current year. About 200 villages are targeted to be electrified during the next year.
14. Road construction is an important programme. The overall development of the State depends on efficient communication net-work. It is proposed to construct 120 Kms of roads and 480 Rms of bridges during 1986-87. It is expected that by the end of 1986-87 the State will have a road length of 5293 Kms bringing the total road density to 23.60 Kms per 100 Square Kms. Embankment and protection works will continue to be undertaken in flood-prone areas.
15. Road transport is the only mode of communication in the State. A substantial amount will be spent to augment the fleet of buses of the Meghalaya Transport Corporation, to improve workshops facilities and construction of the Corporation's buildings. In 1985-86, 20 new buses were placed on the road while another 20 are being procured. A scheme for grant of financial assistance to transport operators belonging to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes to purchase vehicles is under consideration.
16. For the Air field at Baljek valley in West Garo Hills an area of 74.30 hectares has been acquired.
17. With the vast potential for tourist attraction that the State is endowed with, the Government will continue to take up schemes to develop tourism. The construction of the tourist Bungalow at Tura is nearing completion. The drive in restaurant at Nongpoh is also expected to be completed in 1986. Other Schemes to be taken up during 1986 are construction of the tourist camp at Shillong by the Meghalaya Tourism Development Corporation, a restaurant at Cherrapunjee and the Water Sport facilities in Umiam Lake.
18. The target for foodgrain production during 1985-86 is 1.93 lakhs tonnes, an increase of .09 lakh tonnes over that of 1984-85. Vigorous campaign has been launched to achieve the target. Due to pest attack and other calamities particularly in the Garo Hills a substantial shortfall may, however, occur. For 1986-87 the target is 2.03 lakh tonnes. Cultivation of potato, jute and cotton, the major cash crops of the State, is expected to yield a substantial increase during the current year over the last year's production. Development of other cash and horticultural crops will continue to be intensified. For a more even distribution of fertilizers 45 new sale points are proposed to be opened during the next year bringing the total of such points to 653. Tea plantation has been taken up at Umsning and Tebronggiri by the the local cultivators in small holdings. Seedlings are given free to them along with technical guidance.
19. The programme in Animal Husbandry are aimed at increasing the supply of proteinous food of animal origin such as milk, meat and eggs and supplementing the economy of the farmers. Government will continue to provide infrastructural facilities such as supply of improved breeding stock, technical guidance and health cover to them. The regional poultry breeding farm at Kyrdemkulai has been able to supply breeding birds to the neighbouring States as well. To meet the requirements for technical man-power, students will continue to be sponsored to different Veterinary Institutions outside the State.
20. The Central Dairy at Shillong is expected to start functioning regularly from the early part of 1986-1987.
21. For ameliorating the poor economic conditions of the people in the rural areas, the special programmes of Integrated Rural Development, National Rural Employment and Rural Landless Employment Guarantee will continue to be given greater emphasis. A network of godowns in rural areas for storage facilities is being created to help marketing with a view to reduce the incidence of rural poverty.
22. In the field of co-operative movement emphasis is being laid on development of credit, marketing and facilities for the consumers. During 1985-86 the Meghalaya Co-operative Apex Bank took measures to improve the operational efficiency in its existing 23 branches. In urban areas 43 Primary Consumer Stores have taken up distribution of consumer goods and essential commodities and in the rural areas 117 societies are engaged in this activity. The Meghalaya State Housing Financing Co-operative Society has so far disbursed loans to 238 individuals most of whom belong to the economically weaker sections of the people.
23. The practice of shifting cultivation or jhuming is ecologically destructive and economically unsound. Therefore, various measures to wean jhummias away from this practice have been evolved and continued. Cultivation of cash and horticulture crops is encouraged as an alternative to jhuming. Agencies to undertake soil, water and land use have been set up for planning of conservation programmes. The Project Formulation Cell for watershed management which was initially sponsored by the North Eastern Council has been normalised and brought under the State Plan. The Conservation Training Institute at Byrnihat is being expanded to provide training facilities also to officers of other sister administrations of the North Eastern Region.
24. In order to augment the availability of nutritious food and to enable the people to have additional source of income, greater attention is being paid to development of fisheries. Chinese hatcheries are being introduced to increase fish seed production and fish seeds drawn from neighbouring States are also being distributed to the pisciculturists. The subsidy to the pisciculturists have also been substantially increased. Kyrdemkulai and some other lakes are also being taken up for fish rearing.
25. Sericulture and Handloom Weaving, as a cottage industry in the State, provides part-time employment to about 30,000 persons. Primary Handloom Weavers Co-operatives have been re-organised with a view to strengthening their share capital and other activities. The Central Silk Board is helping in the improvement of Meghalaya Farm Centres. A Handloom and Handicrafts Development Corporation is also being set up as a Subsidiary to the Meghalaya Industrial Development Corporation to facilitate the production and marketing of handloom fabrics in the State. During 1986-87 plantation of Mulberry and Eri will be increased. Students are being sponsored for technical training at different levels. Steps will also be taken to further improve the activities of the Khadi Board.
26. The State has mainly village and small scale industries. Activities of the Government are to motivate and promote these industries especially in the rural areas. District Industries Centres continue to function to build up man-power for management in industries. Successful trainees are assisted with necessary machineries to set up small scale industrial units. The Tantalum Capacitor Unit at Barapani is expected to go into production by June, 1987. A half -a-million tonne cement plant to be set up in Garo Hills in the Joint Sector has been approved. The Government have also cleared proposals for three mini-cement plants in the private sector. Funds permitting, the Mawmluh Cherra Cements Limited will be expanded.
27. The question of leasing out small coal mines in the State to the Meghalaya Mineral Development Corporation is likely to be sorted out soon. Investigation of various mineral deposits in the State will be continued.
28. The State enjoyed peaceful industrial relation during the year. There was no closure, no lock-out or retrenchment or any major industrial dispute in the State. The State is free from bonded labour system. However, inspection is made to ensure that the system does not take root in any form.
29. Government will continue its efforts to improve the economic condition of the people in the border areas. Development of road communication, agriculture sericulture and weaving, animal husbandry and veterinary and provision for marketing facilities for the local produce and grant of educational assistance are some of the schemes in operation. The Government propose to involve an expert agency as undertake an appraisal of the on-going programmes and to recommend activities which require greater thrust for improving the socio-economic conditions of the people in the border areas.
30. While continuing the Housing Schemes for the low and middle income groups another scheme of the Government is the construction of houses on hire-purchase basis for the economically weaker section of the people. Since 1985 the Government are collaborating with the National Buildings Organisation of New Delhi to implement the Cluster Demonstration Project, a scheme under Central Sector where the cost of housing is part loan and part grant from the Organisation. With the setting up of the Meghalaya Housing Board, activities in the field of housing will be intensified. A Bill to replace the Meghalaya State Housing Board Ordinance, 1986 by an Act will be introduced in the current session of the Assembly.
31. Under the Environmental improvement of Slum Areas, a target of 6000 persons are likely to be covered during the current financial year. Nine thousand persons are targeted to be covered during 1986-87. Centrally sponsored scheme for integrated development of small and medium towns for Shillong and Tura is in progress and the Scheme for Jowai town has also been sanctioned by Government of India. Setting up a satellite township for Shillong will also be explored.
32. Work on preparation of Master plan for Tura has been initiated. Legislative measures are also proposed to be taken for proper enforcement and implementation of the Master plan. Efforts will be made to ensure that development plans do not degrade the urban environment.
33. For better dissemination of information about the development and other schemes of the Government the Department of Information and Public Relations will be strengthened and two more Sub-divisional offices opened. It is also proposed to have photographic and video programme production cells in all the district offices during 1986-87.
34. To provide necessary facilities to the Sub-divisional headquarters in the State the Government of India have been moved to open new post offices and to expand the telephone net-work for those places. The Department of Telecommunications, North Eastern Circle, has brought Tura and Jowai on the S.T.D. network during the current year.
35. The All India Services Pre-examination Training Centre at Shillong, which was originally a Centrally sponsored scheme and now under the State sector, is being continued and coaching is being imparted to prospective candidates belonging to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes preparing for the Civil Services Examinations. Trainees from other States of India are also availing of the facilities at this Centre.
36. No development can be meaningful without proper development of human resources. The Government have now decided to set up a new Department of Education and Human Resource Development for giving proper attention to this important aspect.
37. Keeping in view the perspective of the new educational policy and the minimum needs programme for universalisation of primary education a survey has been conducted for finding out villages where schooling facilities do not exist and where schools will be viable. It has now been decided by the Government to open Lower Primary Schools in all the 1620 villages wherever viable in a phased manner and to cover other villages by residential type of inter-village schools over the next 10 years.
38. Three hundred Lower Primary School teachers are being appointed to strengthen single-teacher schools during 1985-86. Another 250 will be appointed during the coming year. By the year 1988-89, 1038 such teachers will be appointed under the 8th Finance Commission award under which 1298 school buildings with tabular structure will also be constructed to replace old, dilapidated and thatched ones. Through alternative supporting system of non-formal part-time education, an additional coverage of 15,000 children has been planned for the current year which is likely to go up by another thousand in the next year. The curriculum based on the pattern approved by the UNICEF is being implemented in 30 Lower Primary Schools on experimental basis. The curriculum for the High Schools is also being finalised.
39. Emphasis is also being given for development of vocational education in order to generate adequate number of technically qualified people in different fields to meet the man-power requirement of the State. A new thrust and direction is being is being given to open 1300 Adult Education Centres to cover 39,000 adults during the current year. This is likely to be further stepped up in the coming year.
40. To build a strong base for science education in schools, almost all Middle Schools and a sizeable number of Lower Primary Schools are being covered under UNICEF assisted programme. Five colleges have also been selected on an experimental basis and their teachers have been trained in computer technology to expose students in the use of computers and their application.
41. For the social security of the teachers in the aided institutions the rate of contributory provident fund in vogue for about half a century has been enhanced from 6 per cent to 8 per cent. The benefit of gratuity to the teachers of the institutions under the deficit system has also been extended for the first time.
42. A multidimensional scheme has been evolved in the field of culture for preserving and promoting rich cultural heritage of the people of the State. A new building for the State Museum is under construction and the technical personnel of the archives have been trained to start the work on a systematic manner.
43. Emphasis on creation of basic infrastructure for sports facilities at the District and Sub-divisional levels will be continued and more programmes will be formulated to harness youth energy for healthy development of the State.
44. The Government have felt the need to monitor closely the implementation of developmental programmes, particularly those having a bearing on the economic upliftment of the rural people. A Cabinet Minister has recently been entrusted with the specific responsibility of monitoring programme implementation. An appropriate system is being evolved for effective monitoring of various developmental programmes undertaken in the State.
45. Government are aware of the problems of growing unemployment particularly amongst the educated youth. A Cabinet Sub-Committee has been set up to study the problem in depth for finding a long term solution.
46. Government are firm in their resolve to safeguard the genuine interests of the tribal people in the State. In this context Government attach special importance to the role of the District Councils. The need for protection from economic and other forms of exploitation is keenly appreciated. The 8th Finance Commission was persuaded to provide Rupees 80 lakhs as assistance to the District Councils for gearing up their enforcement machinery. In addition, in recognition of the role performed by the District Councils in involving the people through self-help development schemes the Government are continuing to provide assistance through grants from the Annual Plan provision.
47. Hon'ble Members will recollect that the Government have set up a Commission under the Chairmanship of a retired Chief Justice of the Gauhati High Court to go into all aspects of District Council administration. The report of the Commission is under examination and during the coming year the decisions of the Government on the various recommendations will be brought before the House.
48. Government are alive to the need for ameliorating the conditions of women, children and the physically handicapped. Different schemes for their welfare are undertaken. Government will continue to give grants to voluntary organisations taking care of destitute women, the aged and the infirm. The Nutrition Programme will be expanded in 1986-87. The Personal Accident Social Insurance Security Scheme has been introduced and made applicable to West Garo Hills In the first instance. Apart from the existing Old Age Pension Scheme a new scheme to provide pension to the totally infirm, the deaf and dumb and the blind will be introduced during 1986-87. It is being considered to diversify training to include doll and toy making and bamboo works in the three centres at Tura, Shillong and Jowai which at present give training in knitting, embroidery, tailoring and weaving.
49. Supply of foodgrains and other essential commodities in the State continues to be normal. With the opening of more Fair Price Shops during 1985 the distribution system has further been improved. On request of the State Government the Government of India have increased the allotment of rice and sugar. They have been requested to increase allotment of edible and kerosene oils to the State. Meghalaya will also benefit from a scheme of the Central Government to distribute foodgrains to the people at subsidised rates under the Integrated Tribal Development Project. A State Level Consumer Protection Council has been set up and the District Level Committees have been constituted.
50. Elections to the Municipalities were to be held during 1985-86 but to accommodate persistent requests to give adequate time for proper preparation of the electoral rolls, for considering the demand for upgrading the Shillong Municipal Board to a Corporation and to have a close look at the structural system for management of urban development in Shillong agglomeration the elections had to be postponed. These issues are being examined.
51. Government are anxious to make justice available more quickly and with less expenses to the people and to see conciliation taking place as far as may be practicable in legal proceedings. Attempts will be made to assess the extent Legal Aid Scheme can be helpful in these matters and for that purpose to enlist the co-operation of traditional functionaries including the village authorities.
52. Government are firmly committed to the progress and welfare of the people and to protect the distinct identity of the tribal people in the State by promoting their economic, social and cultural interests. It will be its best endeavour to provide a clean, efficient and result-oriented administration. I am confident that Hon'ble Members will extend all help and co-operation for implementing plans and programmes taken up for the welfare of the people of Meghalaya.