Meghalaya Legislative Assembly

February 24, 1988

Address by Shri. Bhishma Narain Singh Governor of Meghalaya


        I have great pleasure in welcoming you to this first session of the fourth Legislative Assembly of Meghalaya. I thank you and the people of the State for the co-operation in getting the recent general elections conducted in a fair, peaceful and democratic manner. As elected representative of the people, I am confident that under the new leadership, you will be able to give your invaluable contribution for a good administration and effective service to the people and thus take the State to further progress and development.

        2. Meghalaya was established as a separate State to enable its people, particularly those belonging to the Scheduled Tribes, to develop and prosper according to their genius. It is through concerted  efforts of the State Government that Article 332 of the Constitution was amended in 1984 so as to afford special political protection to the tribals of the North Eastern States. No efforts will be spared to protect and promote the interest of the tribal people in the State. Their social and economic welfare will be looked after, assuring at the same time that the due interests of all other sections of the people residing in the State are safeguarded.

        3. Hon'ble Members will recall that in 1980 the House unanimously adopted a resolution to have Koches, Rabhas and Boro-Kacharis declared as Scheduled Tribes of Meghalaya. We are happy that by a law made by Parliament in 1987 they have now been so declared. This has resulted in having 55 out of the 60 seats reserved for members of the Scheduled Tribes in the House through amendment of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 last year.

        4. It is a matter for regret that 1987 saw a deterioration of law and order in the State. I also have to state with sorrow that the academic life was disrupted in Khasi Hills. The situation has since improve considerably and steps are being taken to ensure that normal life is not disrupted. The Government are firm in their resolve to maintain law and order and restore academic life. The legitimate rights of the affected persons will be respected and the Government look forward to the co-operation of all in this matter.

        5. The general elections to the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly went off smoothly in most of the areas except in some parts of the Nongstoin Constituency, where there was resistance from Assam. Today, in the House we are having only 59 Members as against 60. Though this is somewhat of a setback to the process of settlement of the border differences with Assam, the Government will continue to take the initiative to sort out the problems amicably. The report of the Chandrachud Committee will be discussed between the Chief Ministers of Meghalaya and Assam.

        6. Government are committed to maintain the population structure of the State. Steps to check infiltration from across the border will be reviewed and innovative ways are being explored to control it. Preventive machinery will be further strengthened and construction of border roads and feasibility of erecting fences will be pursued with the Government of India.

        7. The year 1988-89 will be the fourth year of the Seventh Plan period. The size of the Annual Plan for 1988-89 has been fixed at Rs.130 crores after discussions between the Chief Minister and the Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission. This represents an increase of Rs.20 crores or about 18.2 percent over the State Plan outlay of Rs.110 crores in 1987-88.

        The Plan outlay for the next year has been allocated amongst various development sectors keeping in view the need for a balanced development of the State in conformity with objectives of the State's Seventh Plan Programme. Emphasis on agriculture, horticulture and allied activities will be given further impetus in order to bring about growth in the rural economy. Efforts will continue to be made for development of infrastructure, provision of social and community services with emphasis on development of human resources particularly in the field of education and provision of basic minimum needs to the people. Employment generation programmes and improvement of income levels of the people through various schemes oriented towards alleviation of poverty will be continued with added emphasis.

        The Planning machinery at the sub-State level is being further restructured with people's participation for Planning at the grass-root level.

        8. Agriculture is the backbone of the State's economy. Top priority will be accorded for rapid development of agriculture and horticulture in other that productivity in those sectors is stepped up through intensive application of scientific methods and adoption of appropriate modern technology. Irrigation wing of the Agriculture Department will be suitably strengthened. Marketing facilities for the produce will be improved. The need for a realistic price support for agricultural produce especially for cotton, potatoes, jute, ginger, oranges, arecanut and pine-apples is recognised and a comprehensive policy in this regard is being framed. The National Agricultural Co-operative Marketing Federation, the Jute Corporation of India, the Cotton Corporation of India and the Meghalaya State Co-operative Marketing Federation will be vigorously involved in this venture. Regulated markets are expected to be set up at appropriate growth centres. Emphasis will also be laid on livestock, poultry and fish farming activities so that they play an important role for the economic upliftment of the people.

        9. Forestry in various parts of the State will be developed in a scientific manner in order to preserve forests including District Council and private forests.

        10. Steps for better utilisation of land resources will also be taken for controlling soil erosion besides meeting the economic, industrial and social needs of the people. The Department of of Soil Conservation is having a National scheme to implement in the State in this regard.

        11. Education will receive very high priority as it is an absolutely essential sector for a meaningful development of boys and girls of the State. Disruption of academic life will not be tolerated. Primary Schools form the foundation for educational advancement and Government will not permit their mismanagement.

        Our young boys and girls are the major asset of the State. Endowed as they are rich talents in diverse fields of activities promotion of their welfare will receive high priority. Special programmes will be taken to develop their skills in sports and games.

        12. The distinct culture and identity of the tribal people will be preserved and propagated. The Institute of Art and Culture will be strengthened and its branches set up at District headquarters. Museums to exhibit the tribal way of life will be established at District headquarters. Production of video films reflecting  on the cultural aspects and development programmes is under consideration.

        13. A comprehensive industrial policy aimed at encouragement of cottage, small and medium industries based on local raw materials will be framed. The Government will also consider setting up a few large and medium industrial ventures on a selective basis. The Khadi and Village Industries Board is taking up new schemes such as Honey Processing, Gram Shilpa and establishment of Khadi Centres. With a conducive climate, electronics industry can have a bright future and provide employment to local people. Government will encourage this sector.

        14. Vigorous efforts will be made to promote traditional handicrafts and handlooms. Sericulture and handloom weaving are the two important cottage industries which provide part-time employment to more than 16,000 families and are based mostly in the rural sector. They will continue to receive the attention they need. In 1988-89 additional coverage of plantation areas and establishment of demonstration units including mobile ones will be taken up. Marketing outlets for the products will be expanded.

        15. The State has abundant natural resources for power generation. Schemes for transmission and distribution and on improvement of power supply in Shillong City and other areas are going on. Rural electrification will be significantly extended and minihydel and microhydel schemes taken up wherever feasible by utilising potential of rivers and streams. This will give a fillip to the economic life in the rural areas.

        16. Science and technology programmes are gradually but emphatically being pursued to suit local conditions. Designing and developing low cost water filters and low cost chulhas especially for rural areas will continue to be expanded. Non-conventional sources of energy will be exploited further so that the rural population benefits therefrom. Village Science and Information Clubs are popular in rural areas and their number will be augmented in 1988.

        17. Government lay much importance on the need to provide residential accommodation for the houseless. Importance will, therefore, be attached to housing schemes for the lower and middle income groups. Schemes on granting of housing loans and construction subsidy will be continued. More houses will be constructed for hire - purchase basis in rural and other areas to benefit the economically weaker sections. Schemes to provide suitable housing accommodation for Government servants, especially in Shillong, will be taken up.

        18. For developing a healthy employer-employee relationship the Government will take necessary steps including effective enforcement of labour laws. In the labour sector the atmosphere in the State has as usual been peaceful during the current year. In pursuance of the 20-Point Programme the daily wages for skilled and unskilled labour have been revised in 1987 and fixed at Rs.18 and Rs.15 respectively.

        19. The Government are making continuous efforts to increase the operational efficiency of the police in the State. Efforts are also being made to raise an additional police battalion. The crime situation in the State is under control.

        The Computer cell and the Forensic Science Laboratory have started functioning. They are being further strengthened. The communication network of the police is also being expanded. The Government have continued to give attention on providing housing facilities for the Police force.

        The Home Guards and Civil Defence Department arranges training of volunteers to meet emergent requirements of the State. The Border Wing Home Guards will continue to guard the Indo - Bangladesh border along with the BSF. Local tribal youths are being encouraged to join the battalion and take up a challenging task and thus serve the State and the country.

        20. To ensure, under the 20-Point Programme, regular and proper distribution of essential commodities even in far-flung areas additional fair price shops have been opened. At the end of 1987 there were 2648 of them as against 2460 in 1986. Under the Integrated Tribal Development programme which was started in December, 1985 rice and wheat are supplied at subsidised rate. The State Level Consumers Protection Council has been constituted with the involvement of social organisations to protect the rights and interests of the consumers. The Government are considering setting up vigilance committees at District and Sub-divisional levels to monitor the availability and prices of selected items. 

        21. In order to have a better communication system Government of India have been requested to connect Sub-divisional headquarters with the respective District headquarters by suitable telephone system. Apart from the expansion of telephone lines in Shillong, it is proposed to the Central Government that an electronic exchange be also installed to facilitate establishment of a more efficient communication network at the State Capital.

        22. In regard to road construction, schemes spilled over from the Sixth Plan are going to be completed during the Seventh Plan. By the end of 1988-89 it is anticipated that Meghalaya will have the over-all road length of 5558 Kms. including 2263 Kms. of surface road thus bringing the road density to 24.78 Km Per 100 Sq. Km. In the process, about 2250 villages will be connected by roads.

        In areas, which are prone to floods, embankment and protection works will continue to be taken up. For this purpose an outlay of Rs.40 lakhs has been proposed. The Rongoi Valley Irrigation Project in Garo Hills which is a medium irrigation scheme aims at covering 10,200 acres of land. It is expected that the project report and the estimate on the project will soon be available from the Central Water Commission.

        23. Road transport plays a very important role in the daily life of the people of the State where other modes of communication like the railways are absent. Meghalaya Transport Corporation, a public sector undertaking, now operates public transport services in 36 routes covering a total road length of 4146 Kms. as against 28 routes and a road length of 2431 Kms. when it was first started in 1976. In 1987-88 the Government contributed a share of Rs.10 lakhs to the Truck Operators High-way Amenities Society for Meghalaya and propose to increase it to Rs.15 lakhs in 1988-89 for the welfare of drivers. In the scheme for extending financial assistance to Scheduled Tribes and Scheduled Castes transport operators it is proposed to raise the provision to Rs.6 lakhs in 1988-89 from that of Rs.3 lakhs in 1987-88. It is also proposed to set up a Motor Driving School in 1988-89 to impart instructions on better and proper ways of driving on the road.

        24.  Co-operative movement will continue to be given due attention. Co-operative societies in the fields of agriculture, fishery, consumer items and others will be given the assistance they need to the extent possible. The people will be educated about the usefulness of the movement. The Meghalaya Co-operative Apex Bank continues to extend credit facilities and thus help bring about improvement in credit delivery system.

        25. With its natural scenic beauty Meghalaya has abundant potential for tourist attraction. Construction of a 3-Star hotel at Shillong, revitalisation of the tourist complex at Umiam and of the Highway Restaurant at Thadlaskein are progressing. A number of schemes to refurbish tourist spots during 1988-89 are in hand. A tourist lodge at Tura will be commissioned during 1988-89. Construction of a Restaurant-cum-Look out point at Cherrapunjee will also be taken up in 1988-89.

        26. Efforts to provide drinking water will be intensified so that all problem villages are covered before the International Water Supply and Sanitation Decade ends in 1991. Since surface water sources are not sufficiently available ground water exploitation has been taken up wherever found feasible. Technology missions to accelerate rural water supply programme will be extended to other districts as well. Jowai Phases I and II, Tura Phase I and Mawlai Water Supply Schemes have been completed while the Greater Shillong Water Supply Scheme and Tura Phase II are expected to be completed soon.

        27. To stop leakage of excise revenue steps will continue to be taken to curb illicit distillation. The scheme of the State Lottery will be continued as it is an important revenue yielding measure. During 1987-88 the State is expected to earn a profit of Rs.2.20 crores from lottery draws.

        28. Field investigations for the mineral deposits that the State possesses will be continued in order to generate data for preparation of mining schemes for mineral based industries.

        29. Government are alive to the needs of the children, the women, the old, the infirm and the physically and mentally handicapped. Various socially ameliorative programmes for their welfare will continue to be implemented. With assistance from the Centre more ICDS Projects will be set up in a phased manner. Close watch will be kept and action taken to tackle the problem of drug abuse and prevent it from spreading. The Voluntary Action Bureau which has been set up has started functioning. Involvement of voluntary organisations in all these social welfare activities is welcome in order to obtain a more meaningful achievement.

        30. Government will continue to give consideration to improve the conditions of the people in the border areas. Plans to further develop road communication, intensify agricultural, horticultural, livestock, sericulture and handloom industries are proposed for their economic welfare. Existing looms will be modernised for better production. Marketing facilities for the produce from the areas will be improved.

        31. Meghalaya will continue to strive to attain the goal of, "Health for All by 2000 A.D." and in the process serious attention will continue to be given to improve health care services in the field and general health and welfare programmes for the families. Primary health care facilities and control of leprosy, tuberculosis and blindness are important items of the 20-Point Programme. There is a definite need to improve the conditions of hospitals, dispensaries and health centres. This will be looked into by toning up the administration in the field. To tide over the shortage of qualified medical and para medical personnel students will continue to be deputed for studies in MBBS, Pharmacist, B.Sc. (Nursing), BDS and specialised courses in various institutions in the country so that when they come back they will serve the people of the State better.

        32. From 1986-87 onwards the Integrated Rural Development Programme is being implemented vigorously. With effect from 1st April, 1987 compulsory linkage of the subsidy with institutional credit under this programme has been effected in order to make per family investment more realistic. National Rural Employment, Rural Landless Guarantee and the Indira Awaas Yojana Programme will continue to be implemented in the coming years. The quality of assets created under these programmes have been appreciated at all levels. Implementation of these programmes has helped ameliorate the conditions of the weaker sections of the population and has attacked rural poverty in general. The State Institute for Research and Training in Rural Development is likely to start functioning during 1988-89.

        A number of additional posts of Gram Sevaks and Gram Sevikas have been created to strengthen the grass root administrative infrastructure for accelerated implementation of programmes for alleviation of rural poverty and these posts are likely to be filled up during 1988-89.

        33. To promote fishery development in the State grants-in-aid pisciculturists and co-operative societies have been enhanced from Rs.1,500 to Rs.5,000 per acre and follow up programmes made more vigorous. A programme has been undertaken for research in mahsear culture and the result so far obtained is promising.

        34. General administration in the State will be geared up in order that the people get the services they need from Government agencies. There are programmes for construction of office and residential buildings and other infrastructure so that administration is taken nearer to the people.

        35. To strengthen the administrative machinery 24 State Civil Service Officers have been appointed in 1987 and posted to various Districts and Sub-Divisions.

        36. During my last  address I had referred to the setting up a Pay Commission. The Commission are likely to submit their recommendation soon. Based on their interim report, an interim relief has been granted to the employees and decisions on traveling allowance, conveyance advances and on some relief to pensioners have been taken.

        37. There are programmes for modernisation of jails as per schemes of the Government of India. New jails at Tura, Williamnagar and Jowai are under construction. Another at Laitkor and a sub-jail at Nongstoin are also proposed to be constructed. With the completion of the construction, jail reforms will be brought about in a more meaningful manners. Schemes have been formulated for the treatment and reform of prisoners under the Central Government scheme for modernisation of prison administration during 1986-90.

        38. In order that towns and cities are developed in a planned manner steps have been taken to prepare Master Plans for all the District headquarters and also for some of the Sub-divisional headquarters. The Bill for constituting a Development Authority and for proper implementation of the Master Plans, which the previous House had passed, has been sent to the Government of India for further necessary action. The Centrally sponsored schemes for small and medium towns at Shillong, Jowai and Tura are under various stages of implementation. In these programmes assistance from UNICEF and the Government of India has been obtained. With financial assistance from the NEC, a daily Traffic and Transportation Study for Shillong is being taken up to assess and suggest ways to reduce traffic congestion in the city. The National Environment Engineering Research Institute has been engaged for taking a comprehensive study on Solid Waste Disposal System for Shillong.

        39. Government will continue to render assistance to District Councils so that they can implement their schemes and programmes and also run their administration in the autonomous areas. As constitutional bodies Government will appreciate that District Councils function in close co-ordination with the State Government to help promote the Welfare of the people and the development of the State.

        40. Floods including flash floods and pest attack affected parts of all the five Districts of the State during 1987. Steps were taken by the district administrations to render immediate relief to the affected people and measures for repairing other damages have been taken in hand. The State Government are presenting a memorandum to the Central Government for grant of adequate financial assistance in this regard.

        41. I have given a brief account of the activities and programmes of the Government. Bills to replace Ordinances I promulgated when the House was not in session will also be introduced. I am sure that the deliberations and constructive suggestions that will be coming forth will result in successful achievement of the cherished objectives of the State.