Meghalaya Legislative Assembly

February 24, 1989

Address by Shri. Bhishma Narain Singh Governor of Meghalaya


        It gives me greater pleasure to address this august House once again.

        2. The present Government has entered the second year of its functioning. The past year has been a period of consolidation with emphasis on completion of ongoing schemes as also of new initiatives.

        3. The State can march towards development and progress only in an atmosphere of peace and tranquility. The year 1988 has witnessed a refreshing improvement in the law and order situation in the State. With the co-operation of the people of the State normal life and particularly academic pursuits were maintained without disruption.

        4. It is the constant endeavour of the Government that the population structure of the State is maintained and that the tribal people preserve their culture and identity. In the drive against infiltration, 1692 foreign nationals were apprehended in 1988 and of them, 1626 were pushed back while 66 still remained in custody. The Border Wing of the Home Guards will continue to guard the international borders along with the BSF. An innovative scheme of identity cards is under formulation to be introduced in a phased manner which will ensure effective registration of marriages, births and deaths as also movement of people. The tribal institutions will be associated to help the administration in the task. Besides checking influx of foreign nationals in the State, this measure will also contribute to more effective implementation of various welfare schemes.

        5. The morale of the police force during the year has remained high. The crime situation has been well under control. In the fight against drug abuse, a cell has been created in the Police Department specifically for detecting narcotic offences. Some voluntary organisations are also co-operating with the State machinery to combat the menacing trend of drug addiction and other social evils. The Meghalaya Forensic Science Laboratory is fully operational. Steps are being taken to modernise the fire service in the State and mobility of the Police force has also increased.

        6. Election to the Nongstoin Assembly Constituency which could not be conducted in February, 1988 was completed in August, 1988. Elections to the Garo Hills was Jaintia Hills District Councils also went off smoothly. The people of the State have always been known for their democratic traditions and elections in Meghalaya have been held in a peaceful atmosphere, Government are confident that the ensuing Khasi Hills District Council elections will also be conducted in a free, fair and peaceful manner.

        7. In order to find amicable solution to the Inter-State boundary problem with Assam a number of meetings were held at the level of Chief Ministers and Home Ministers.

        8. The size of the annual Plan for 1989-90 has been fixed at Rs.150 crores by the Planning Commission as against Rs.130 crores in the current year. In addition to the State Plan Schemes, a number of schemes of the NEC and the centrally sponsored schemes are also being implemented. The next year's plan has been drawn up keeping in view the need for a balanced development of all sectors. Government have all along been making heavy investments in the development of infrastructure like roads, communications, power and establishment of administrative centres. Considerable progress has been made in this regard but a lot more remains to be done. It is now necessary to pay greater attention to productive sectors of the economy and this is being reflected in the next year's plan. The basic tribal commitment to a classless society should be kept in view in our efforts to promote economic growth. Polices have been formulated in respect of housing, industries and education in order to focus and give a firm direction. Effective grass-root involvement is provided through the District Planning and Development Councils which are intimately associated in the preparation of plan schemes. It is a matter for satisfaction that the people of the State are very responsive to the approach of involvement in public efforts.

        9. With regard to the 20-Point Programme the targets set for the year will generally be achieved. In respect of certain Points the State's target has already been exceeded.

        10. Government are attracting considerable emphasis to greater self-reliance. An economically prosperous Meghalaya can help mobilise our internal resources more extensively, leading to achievement of this goal and less dependence on grants. The Meghalaya Commission on Resource Mobilisation was constituted in June, 1988 to review the existing taxation structure and to advise on the scheme of new and additional revenue sources as also on cutting down on unproductive expenditure.

        11. The Ninth Finance Commission has submitted its report covering the financial year 1989-90. The Commission has not covered fully the non-plan deficits of the State while recommending transfer of revenues from the Centre. The Chairman and members of the Commission held detailed discussions with the Ministers and officials of the State on 18th February, 1989. Government trust that the special problems of the Hill States of the North-East will receive sympathetic consideration at the hands of the Commission while finalising its report for the period 1990-1995.

        12. Science and Technology programmes are receiving encouraging response from the people. The activities will be expanded and Village Science and Information Centres strengthened.

        13. The policies and programmes to increase foodgrain production are being intensified. Provision of irrigation facilities and other measures such as use of chemical fertilizers, plant protection, distribution of high yielding variety seeds and special demonstration programmes has been continued to achieve the target which, for 1988-89, stands at 150 thousand metric tonnes. In spite of extensive damage caused to kharif crops by excessive rainfall and floods it is expected that the production during the year would be about 169 thousand metric tonnes. For 1989-90, the target is 175 thousand metric tonnes. For achieving this, more areas will be brought under improved cultivation and the multiple cropping system. Training and extension services to the farmers on the latest scientific methods of cultivation on major crops will be continued. In order to improve the economic condition of the rural people a detailed package scheme has been prepared for raising horticultural crops in the State. Mushroom has a good market potential and efforts will be made for the promotion of its cultivation and export. Action has been taken for development of horticultural orchards in selected compact areas and for rejuvenation of the existing ones. Cotton grown in the State has a good export market and marketing arrangements have been strengthened in collaboration with the Cotton Corporation of India. Government are assisting farmers affected by natural calamities with free seeds and fertilizers. The preliminary work in respect of Rongai Valley Project has commenced.

        14. Meghalaya provides ample scope for livestock and dairy development but the quality of the indigenous livestock and poultry birds needs to be improved. The Intensive Cattle Development Projects at Upper Shillong and Tura provide cross-breeding facilities through artificial insemination and the projects will be continued. The allocation for animal husbandry has been substantially stepped up in the Plan. The Regional Pig Breeding Farm at Kyrdemkulai sponsored by NEC has started functioning from January, 1989. The administrative machinery in the dairy development sector for supply of scientifically processed dairy products to Shillong, Tura and Jowai is being rationalised.

        15. Government are concerned at the deterioration of the ecological environment in the State and are aware of the need to take remedial measures. Ways and means are being explored to regulate felling of trees. The Social Forestry Wing of the Forest Department is giving greater attention to planting trees and it is anticipated that 5260 hectares will be brought under afforestation in 1989-90. Attention is also being paid to preserve the flora and fauna in the State. Government have decided to introduce an intensive scheme for social forestry aimed at encouraging greater participation by the people. In every District the village which performs best in the development of forestry plantation will be given a substantial cash award to be utilised for developmental work in that village. Plantation of trees will also be made a part of the school curriculum and the over-all performance of the students will be accessed taking into account their activities in the field.

        16. The Department of Soil Conservation is continuing with various schemes to wean away villagers from their primitive and destructive occupation of jhum cultivation and to prevent soil erosion. In collaboration with the Rubber Board, rubber plantation is being encouraged and is becoming popular in the State.

        17. Government popular are anxious to protect the catchment areas in order to preserve the environment and water sources. A bill was introduced in December, 1988 and the same is now before the Select Committee of this House.

        18. Efforts will be continued to maximise the flow of agricultural finance to co-operatives in the State. With IRDP Finance, the loans extended by the Meghalaya Co-operatives Apex Bank to farmers is increasing and on 30th September, 1988 it stood at over Rs.30 lakhs.

        19. Government are alive to the problems faced by the border people and are anxious to ameliorate their lot by speeding up the pace of development in both infrastructural and productive sectors. The various schemes taken for implementation by different development departments will be continued.

        20. A Land Tenure Research Cell in the Revenue Department has been set up which will assist the Land Commission to be constituted to study the land tenure system prevalent in the State and also to make suitable recommendations for better land use. Cadastral survey is at present being undertaken in West Garo Hills, East Garo Hills and Jaintia Hills Districts.

        21. Community and Rural Development Programmes continue to receive close attention of Government in order to accelerate the development of rural areas. The poverty alleviation programmes are being vigorously implemented. In the field of construction of houses for the poorer sections under the Indira Awaas Yojana the Department has exceeded the target substantially. As against 158 units targeted by the Government of India for 1988-89 the actual number constructed was 190.

        22. Schemes to develop fishery in the State are being implemented. In 1988 heavy rainfall and floods damaged about 132 private fish ponds. The ulcerative disease syndrome affected nearly 15 per cent of the fish fauna in the rivers, streams and private fishery ponds in the State. Vigorous efforts were made to contain spread of the disease which have yielded results.

        23. In the industrial sector the infrastructure facilities in the two industrial areas at Barapani and Byrnihat are being augmented. For the growth centre earmarked under a Centrally sponsored scheme for medium and small industries in Meghalaya a sum of Rs.48 lakhs has been provided for preliminary work. The Tantalum Capacitor Project is in production. It is proposed to widen the area of electronic industries. To promote industrial activities Government have announced a package scheme of incentives in the form of tax reliefs, employment subsidy, training, etc. The production in Mawmluh-Cherra Cements Limited during the year has shown a substantial increase. After re-activation of the Plant cement production is expected to go up to 1.65 lakhs metric tonnes annually. The work in connection with setting up a Paper Grade Lime Plant in Lumshnong is progressing.

        24. Due attention has been given to promote sericulture and handloom weaving in the State. Additional coverage of plantation of silkworm food plants has been taken up. Selected silkworm rearers are assisted with saplings, manure, seeds, disinfectants and rearing appliances. The Meghalaya Sericulture Week was observed in July, 1988 and the Meghalaya Handloom Week in December, 1988 motivating the people to come forward for promotion of sericulture and handloom.

        25. Electric power is considered to be the key to economic development. The Umiam-Umtrew Stage IV Project is likely to be completed by March, 1990. Investigation schemes for new power projects are also progressing well. Improvements in the transmission and distribution system are also being brought about. In the field of rural electrification, there was an encouraging trend during 1988 and it is expected that the targets fixed for 1988-89 will be exceeded. Discussions have been held with the management of Coal India Ltd., so that work on Garo Hills Thermal Project can start soon. The non-conventional energy scheme has been extended to 180 villages.

        26. In road construction emphasis is laid on areas where road communication is vital for the economic development of the people. In 1987-88, the State had a road density of 24.07 per hundred square Kms. By the end of 1989-90 the target is an over-all road - length of 5619 Kms. raising the road density to 25.05 per hundred Square Kms. There has been greater awareness on the part of the villagers regarding the need for road communication and, in response to the appeal of Government, they have come forward to offer land free of cost.

        27. For promoting tourism in the State the "Orchid Lodge," a tourist bungalow at Tura, and a "Highway Restaurant" at Thadlaskein have been commissioned in 1988. Construction of the 3-star Hotel Crowborough at Shillong is in progress. The Water Sports Complex, the first of its kind in the North-East, was commissioned at Umiam on 27th October, 1988 and has become popular. The month-long "Shillong Autumn Festival" in October - November, 1988 was a success.

        28. Meghalaya is endowed with considerable mineral wealth and field investigations of the various mineral deposits available in the State are being continued in order to generate data for preparation of mining schemes for mineral based industries. Government will not interfere with traditional mining rights of the tribal people.

        29. The Meghalaya Transport Corporation is operating 45 routes on a route length of 5478 Kilometers. The construction of the Central Workshop in Shillong has been completed as also the new station buildings at Shillong and Tura. The Corporation is managing the helicopter service operating between Shillong-Guwahati and Tura which provides valuable link to Garo Hills from the State capital. The scope for providing rope-ways to connect villages where it is difficult to provide road communications is being explored.

        30. A white paper on education was brought out in 1988 laying down the educational policy of the Government keeping in view the National Policy on Education. The desired switch over to the 10+2 system of education will commence during the next financial year. For non-Government college teachers benefits comparable to those granted by the University Grants Commission are being extended and, further, other allowances are also given to teaching and non-teaching staff.

        31. For the past few years Government have been managing the primary schools in the autonomous areas also as they are anxious that the interests of the children do not suffer. The Meghalaya Board of Primary Education Act, 1988 was framed with the objective to develop and improve the standard of primary education. One thousand durable primary school buildings are being constructed at a cost of Rs.6.72 crores. The Ninth Finance Commission has recommended an additional sum of Rs.2.35 crores for 1989-90 for construction of 600 more primary school buildings.

        32. In order to preserve and promote arts and culture in the State a new Department of Arts and Culture has been created in August, 1988. It will go a long way in creating awareness of our heritage and enriching cultural life in the State. Activities in the field of sports and youth welfare have also been stepped up. The Jawaharlal Nehru Sports Complex at Shillong was inaugurated on the Meghalaya Day, the 21st January, 1989.

        33. The Health and Family Welfare Programme are oriented towards achieving the National objective of  "Health for All by 2000 AD". Twenty-Seven primary health centres and 134 sub-centres have so far been established during the first four years of the Seventh Plan and construction of three community health centres has also been taken up. During 1989-90, 6 more PHC's and 70 more sub-centres will be constructed. In 1988, the Cobalt - 60 Tele Therapy Unit was set up in the Shillong Civil Hospital and in Tura a 100 - bedded hospital has started functioning. The Orthopaedic and Traumatology Centre at the Civil Hospital Shillong will be made operational very soon. An ambitious  programme has also been drawn up under the NEC scheme to bring about operational improvement of the Pasteur Institute at Shillong in order to step up production of vaccines which can be exported to other sister States in the North-East. The Department is taking effective steps for streamlining personnel management of medical personnel. Work on the Regional Medical Institute is expected to commence soon.

        34. As many as 2429 villages have been covered under the rural water supply scheme till 1988 and 700 more are likely to be brought in by March, 1989. For 1989-90 a target of 760 more villages has been proposed. Rain Water Harvesting Schemes under the auspicious of the Technology Mission of the Government of India and ground water exploitation on the basis of hydrological study for providing water supply to villages having no source of water within a reasonable distance have also been taken up and the programme will be intensified. About 200 hand pumps and power pumps have so far been installed at various places in the State. Excepting for a few reservoirs, Phase I of the Greater Shillong Water Supply Scheme has been completed and more than 10.5 lakh gallons of water is supplied to Shillong daily. The work of surveying and designing of the new distribution system is in progress.

        35. Government have adopted a new housing policy according to which permanent houses for economically weaker sections and low income groups are being funded in the form of 35 per cent subsidy and 65 per cent soft loan. Government have constituted five District Committees comprising of the local leaders under the chairmanship of the respective Deputy Commissioners to select the beneficiaries.

        36. Welfare schemes for children, women, the physically handicapped and the old and infirm and also for juvenile delinquents are under implementation. Under the Government of India's scheme, 735 children in need of care and protection are being assisted by providing them with education, shelter, clothing and food. The juvenile jail at Shillong has since been converted into a Children's Home.

        37. It is gratifying that some voluntary organisations have come forward to open new institutions like schools for blind children and the mentally retarded. 

        38. Two working women hostels have been constructed in Shillong by voluntary organisations with the financial assistance from Central and State Governments. The voluntary organisations in other District headquarters are also being encouraged to take advantage of the scheme, especially at Tura and Jowai.

        39. The Department of  Urban Development has been giving its continued attention to the growing problems of urbanisation in the State vis-a-vis the need for environmental conservation. Plans have been formulated to restore the beauty of Shillong and to ensure proper development of District and Sub-divisional headquarters and other areas of the State. During the year, street lightning has been improved in Shillong, Tura, Jowai, Williamnagar and Baghmara.

        40. A comprehensive study has been undertaken and preliminary reports are under preparation to tackle the road congestion in Shillong. The report of the North Eastern Council on urbanisation policy with particular reference to Meghalaya is under examination of the Government. A number of parking lots are being set up in the capital.

        41. Members are aware that the Meghalaya Urban Planning and Development Authority Bill., 1986 has been passed by the House and is awaiting Presidential assent and pending such assent the Assam Town and Country Planning Act, 1959 as adapted has been extended throughout the State and steps have been taken to constitute the Shillong Development Authority under this Act.

        42. Government continue to give financial assistance to the municipalities for their normal activities and development work. For better administration and co-ordination of the municipalities at Shillong and Tura an adhoc committee for each of them has been constituted.

        43. The State enjoyed peaceful industrial relations during 1988. District implementation Committees have been constituted in all the Districts to ensure proper and effective implementation of the minimum wages.

        44. The entire population of the State is covered by the public distribution system. The State is also covered by the Integrated Tribal Development Programme for supply of foodgrains at subsidised rates. The public distribution system is being strengthened by increasing the number of fair price shops. The introduction of Mobile Fair Price Shops have been widely welcomed and Government will expand the scheme. Consumer protection movement is being encouraged through holding of seminars and wide publicity against trade malpractices. A Consumer Protection Council under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 has been constituted and Government look forward to the involvement of the public and voluntary organisations in this respect.

        45. The recommendations of the Second Meghalaya Pay Commission have been implemented with a number of improvements and many government servants including pensioners stand to benefit considerably by this decision.

        46. Construction of the multi-storeyed RCC Building for the Government Press at Shillong is continuing. In pursuance of the recommendation of the Technical Expert Committee of the Government of India, modern printing machines will be procured in a phased manner to replace outdated ones. An office-cum-laboratory of the Weight and Measures Department is also under construction at Tura.

        47. Computerisation in certain fields is being introduced in a phased manner in the State. The National Informatics Centre Network connecting all the District headquarters with the State headquarters and with Delhi is expected to be fully commissioned soon.

        48. The District Councils will continue to receive assistance from the Government for effective discharge of the responsibilities assigned to them.

        49. Government are committed to preserve and strengthen the tribal institutions like Nokmaship, Syiemship, Doloiship, etc., and are taking steps to enhance their dignity, honour and status. A high powered Committee has been constituted to go into this question and to provide for closer association of the tribal institutions in helping the State administration in checking infiltration of unauthorised persons and in the more effective implementation of the welfare scheme.

        50. New correctional institutions have been constructed at Jowai and Williamnagar. The institution at Tura is expected to be completed by 1989-90. Under the Government of India Scheme for modernisation of prison administration, Government have formulated a scheme for treatment and reform of prisoners.

        51. The Government are committed to promote excellence in various spheres of human endeavour and, to begin with, have instituted award to recognise outstanding contributions by Meghalayans in the field of art and literature, social services and sports. The names of the recipients of these awards for the current year were announced on the Meghalaya Day, 1989.

        52. I have attempted to highlight some of the major policies and programmes of the Government. I wish you all success in your deliberations and I am sure that your constructive suggestions will contribute towards the welfare of the people of the State to which all of us are committed.