Meghalaya Legislative Assembly

March 18, 1991

Addressed by Shri. MADHUKAR DIGHE Governor of Meghalaya

Mr. Speaker and Hon'ble Members,

        It gives me great pleasure to address you in this august House today. This is my first occasion to be in your midst to outline the broad policies and programmes of the Government  and I deem this a privilege. Meghalaya Legislature has deservedly earned a reputation for upholding the highest norms of democratic functioning, discipline and decorum.

        2. The preceding year has been one of great stress and strain for the entire nation. Comparatively speaking the situation in Meghalaya has been more orderly. However, the State had not been totally free from problems of law and order. The incidents in Shillong and some other places last year tended to disturb peace and harmony in the State. The situation was brought under control through firm and persuasive steps by the administration. I would like to take this opportunity to appeal to all the Hon'ble Members to extend their full cooperation in maintaining peace and harmony in the State which is a common concern of all of us.

        3. The neighbouring State of Assam was brought under President's Rule in November last year and the armed forces were conferred with special powers in that State. In Meghalaya Police administration and the Government have taken a number of steps to check any spill over of militant elements into Meghalaya. It has been agreed with the Government of Assam that any operation by the armed forces within Meghalaya will be done in co-ordination and liaison with the State Police. Constant vigil is being maintained against any attempt by disruptive elements to take advantage of the abnormal situation in the  region.

         4.  The ninth Lok Sabha has been dissolved and elections to the new House will be held soon. The State election machinery has been geared up to ensure free and fair election.

        5. The policy of the State Government is to ensure that the distinct identity and culture of the tribal people who constitute the overwhelming majority of the population of the State is fully secured. During the year under review effective measures to check infiltration from across the border have been continued. During 1990 as many as 1320 infiltrators were detected of whom 1196 were pushed back.

        6. As regards the inter-State Boundary, it has been decided that the survey agencies of the two State Governments in association with the Survey of India will jointly demarcate the boundary on the ground. Work in this regard has already commenced.

        7. Government are aware of the need to modernise the police force and to make it a more effective instrument for the maintenance of public order and investigation of crimes. Steps are being taken for setting up new communication links and a Computer Cell, and also for getting equipment for visual training aids for the Police Training School. Equipments for fire fighting and also for the forensic Science Laboratory are being procured. In order to provide basic facilities to the police personnel, an amount of about  Rs.1.34 crores was spent from the State Plan for the construction of residential buildings during the yea

        8. Government are continuing the efforts for accelerated socio-economic development of Meghalaya. Considerable progress has been made in this regard during the last two decades but a lot more remains to be done.

        9. The Seventh Five Year Plan ended on 31st March, 1990. The original outlay approved for the Seventh Plan of Meghalaya by the Planning Commission was for Rs.440 crores. As against this, the actual year-wise approved outlays aggregated to Rs.556 crores. The actual expenditure during the Seventh Plan was Rs.543.20 crores.

        10. The Eighth Plan has commenced from 1st April, 1990. The process for formulation of the Plan by the Planning Commission could not be completed earlier but States were advised to prepare the Annual Plan 1990-91 pending finalisation of the Eighth Plan. Accordingly the Annual Plan for Meghalaya for 1990-91 was prepared and submitted to the Planning Commission in October, 1989 and was approved for Rs.175 crores. It is expected that this outlay will be fully utilised during the year in implementing various development programmes in the State. In addition, an outlay of Rs.9.45 crores has also made available during 1990-91 under the Regional Plan of the North Eastern Council for the outlay is anticipated to be fully utilised during the year.

        11. The Meghalaya State Planning Board held detailed discussion on priorities of the State's Eighth Five Year Plan and after considering the existing socio-economic status and level of development, recommended the area of priorities and size of the State's Eighth Plan. The priorities were considered and approved by the State Government. Accordingly the State's Eighth Five Year Plan and the Annual Plan 1991-92 were formulated at a total outlay of Rs.1309.12 crores and Rs.247.61 crores respectively. The Annual Plan 1991-92 for Meghalaya has been finalised and a total outlay of Rs.210 crores approved, representing a step up of 20% over the current year's outlay.

        12. The main thrust as per the draft Eighth Plan of the State and the finalised Annual Plan for 1991-92, will be on encouragement of land development through investment in productive use of land, protection of soil erosion and environment and assuring long term tenural rights to the cultivators. Emphasis will be laid on productive sectors particularly horticultural development and animal husbandry and veterinary by transferring technology from the laboratory to the fields and exposure of the farmers to the changes taking place in other parts of the country. Opportunities for employment, particularly self employment, will be enlarged through encouragement of agro-industries and electronic industries. Efforts will be made to utilise institutional finance to a much greater extent than has been the case so far particularly in the fields of horticulture development and housing.

        Human Resource development will also receive high priority and implementation of the National Education Policy 1986, for attaining uniform and high standards of need-based education with suitable vocationalisation will be accelerated.

        Health care and drinking water supply arrangements for the people in the State will also be improved.

        In the field of communications, the emphasis will be on completion of ongoing road schemes and greater involvement of the people in the implementation of rural roads. Ropeways will be encouraged wherever economically feasible in ecologically sensitive areas.

        13. The success of the development plans primarily depends on their effective implementation. Programme Implementation Department is the nodal agency for monitoring Plan schemes of the various departments and the Department has taken effective steps for reviewing, monitoring and follow-up measures. This is in addition to the steps taken by the monitoring cells of the various departments. The official level meetings were followed by a number of review meetings taken by the Chief Minister. The Planning Commission has set up the Meghalaya State Unit of the National Informatics Centre Network (NICNET) at Shillong and also the District Units in all the five districts. NICNET will enable creation of a uniform State-wide data base as well as direct communication through the satellite. The Computer Cell was also set up during the year to strengthen the State's information system and for more effective monitoring of developmental programmes. The Public Enterprises Cell under the Department is also being strengthened.

        14. It is the policy of the Government to ensure effective grass root involvement in formulating and implementing plans and schemes which are of direct relevance to the people. A scheme has been worked out for channelisation of funds to District Councils and Blocks for implementation of schemes to meet the needs of the people through effective public participation.

        15. Projects on Science and Technology will be continued with a view to popularise the importance of the subject and apply appropriate technology in various developmental fields. An action plan for the coming year was presented in a meeting of the State Council held in 1990-91. Planning Commission has recommended Rs.55 lakhs for various activities in this sector during 1991-92.

        16. Stress is being laid on methods to improve production of rice and other foodgrains. More areas are being brought under double and multiple cropping system to increase production. In 1991, it is expected that the production will be 180.60 thousand tonnes and for 1991-92 the target is 186.65 thousand tonnes. In horticulture sector fruit growers are assisted with subsidy. During 1990-91, Rs.100 lakhs has been provided for this purpose. An additional area of 940 hectares is expected to be covered this year under the scheme. Preliminary works on the Rongai Valley Irrigation Project are going on.

        Works on the two Regulated Markets, one at Mawiong and another at Garobadha, are in progress. The markets will be of considerable assistance to the farmers in disposing of their produce.

        17. For 1991-92 the outlay under veterinary and animal husbandry sector is Rs.304 lakhs and the programme include poultry development and upgradation of the Regional Pig Breeding Farm at Kyrdemkulai. The National Programme 'Operation Rinderpest Zero' will be continued. The Biological Laboratory for swine fever vaccine as also the Liquid Nitrogen Plant for preservation of cattle semen are going to be set up during 1991-92.

        18. The depletion of forests by unregulated exploitation is posing a serious threat to the environment and other aspects of life. Government and District Councils have to work together to arrest the threat. Recently, the Meghalaya Forest Authority Ordinance, 1991 has been promulgated for involving jointly the Government and the District Councils and for ensuring that forest protection laws are effectively implemented. During 1991-92, sizeable areas of land are proposed to be brought under afforestation and National Park and sanctuaries will be created. Forestry programmes will include Block Plantations covering an area of about 3,400 hectares and planting of about 200 lakhs of seedlings. A scheme to create Village Reserved Forests is also proposed to be launched in the coming year and Rs.700 lakhs has been earmarked for the purpose.

        19. The necessity to control soil erosion in the State where land surface is hilly with steep slopes and with rainfall of high intensity spread over a period of 5-6 months is still the main thrust of the Department. Treatment of critical mini-watersheds is proposed to be taken up on priority basis where the approach is the proper utilization and management of available resources for optimum productivity in selected mini-watersheds. During 1991-92, 10 more new watersheds will be taken up. Combating jhum cultivation in the State will also be continued where the emphasis is to provide land for permanent cultivation with irrigation wherever facilities exist. Afforestation and Cash crop and Horticultural Development programmes will be given more thrust during the year. Other Soil Conservation works which are not specifically covered under the Jhum Control Scheme or the Watershed Management Scheme will also be continued.

        20. Efforts are made to infuse more vitality in the co-operative movement. During the first half of 1990-91, agricultural credit to the tune of Rs.144.02 lakhs was disbursed to farmers by the Meghalaya Co-operative Apex Bank. Waiver of Co-operative over dues in certain cases is being considered and about 68,000 farmers stand to benefit by this measure. The Comprehensive Crop Insurance Scheme which is being implemented in collaboration with the General Insurance Corporation of India is making progress. The endeavour during 1991-92 will be to strengthen and develop marketing co-operative as a priority programme. The operations of MECOFED will be streamlined.

        21. For accelerating all round development of our predominantly rural State, community and rural development programmes continue to receive close attention of the Government. The various programmes undertaken creates avenues for public participation in the community life of the people. For proper planning of schemes, a Block Development Committee for normal community development programmes and the Block Selection Committee for Jawahar Rozgar Yojana programmes are functioning. The State Institute for Rural Development at Nongsder in East Khasi Hills has conducted a number of training programmes during the year. Its activities will be further expanded.

        22. In the field of fishery development financial assistance is given to fish farmers for construction and for improvement of ponds. During the first half of 1990-91, about 9 lakhs of fish seeds were distributed. On the advice of the Planning Commission setting up a Regional Fish Farmer Development Agency under a centrally sponsored scheme is proposed to be taken up during 1991-92. The Agency will provide expertise to increase the production of fish in private sector.

        23. In 1990-91, a sum of Rs.7.1 crores was allocated for industries sector of the State. The package scheme of incentives was further extended for a period of three years from May, 1990. Work in respect of the Cement Plant at Siju estimated to cost Rs.100 crores and the Paper Grade Lime Plant at Lumshnong is expected to start very soon. The mini cement plants in East Garo Hills and Jaintia Hills are in the process of being established. In the small scale industry sector Rs.182.47 lakhs was spent as loans and grants-in-aid to the entrepreneurs. More than 330 students were trained in disciplines relevant to development and about 180 small scale units have been registered creating employment potential for more than 750 people.

        24. Sericulture and handloom-weaving play an important role in uplifting the economy of the people in the rural sector. During 1990-91 an additional area of 150 hectares has been brought under mulberry, eri and muga plantations. In respect of handloom weaving, efforts have been made to set up the production of handloom fabrics with better designs. The proposed programmes in the sector for 1991-92 will involve an estimated outlay of Rs.113.50 lakhs. Apart from the other ongoing electrification schemes, attention is also given to development of micro hydel schemes. At present five such schemes in East Khasi Hills and Garo Hills Districts are under investigation. The total number of villages which will be electrified under the rural electrification programme by the end of 1990-91 is over 2100 covering a population of about 7 lakhs.

        The Planning Commission has approved setting up of the Regional Training Institute for rural energy at Shillong at an estimated cost of Rs.3 crores. Steps have been taken to implement the scheme.

        Owing to constraints, Stage IV of the Umiam - Umtru Hydro Electric Project could not be completed during the year but it is expected that it will be completed and commissioned soon.

        26. With its vast tourist potential the State is preparing itself with programmes for the "Visit India Year 1991." The Restaurant-cum-Rest House at Cherrapunjee and the Drive-in-Restaurant at Nongpoh will be commissioned shortly. Construction of a Yatrinewas (Travellers' Inn), one each at Shillong and Tura, is expected to commence soon. Steps to provide wayside amenities at Anogiri and Khliehriat are being taken up with the help of the Government of India.

        27. The State is rich in mineral resources particularly in coal and limestone. It is however, essential to ensure scientific exploration of this wealth particularly in the context of the need to protect the environment and optimum utilisation of the resources. Steps have been initiated in this regard. Under an NEC Scheme investigation on granite deposits at Nongpoh has been taken up this year.

        28.  The road density per 100 Km. at the end of the current year is over 25 Km. as against 12.35 Km. in 1969-70. By the end of 1991-92 it is proposed to increase the density to 26.12 Km. and a sum of Rs.30 crores has been earmarked for the year. Under the building sector, construction of offices, schools and other Government buildings was taken up. Government intend to channelise some funds through Community and Rural Development Department and the District Councils so that the public can directly involve themselves in the constructions of village roads in their areas.

        29. Road transport till now is the only means of communication of passengers and goods in the State and Meghalaya Transport Corporation, a public transport sector undertaking, is serving the need of the people especially those living in rural areas. To facilitate booking of railway travel a Railway-Out-Agency has been opened at Tura in 1990 in addition to the existing one at Shillong. The survey of the proposed railway line between Dudnai and Depa in East Garo Hills has been completed and the matter is being pursued with the Government of India.

        The National Airport Authority has prepared the estimate for a Single-Take-Off-and-Landing (STOL) Airport at Baljek, West Garo Hills and Government of India have been moved for giving formal environmental clearance.

        Government in collaboration with the working group on Transport sector of the NEC have identified 21 Ropeway Schemes to be included in the Eighth and Ninth Plans.

        30. Government has re-structured the pattern of School education in the State and revised the curriculum within the broad frame work of the National Pattern of Education as laid down in the National Policy of Education. The re-structured pattern is being introduced in a phased manner. It is being made optional this year. Steps have also been initiated to build up the required infra-structure in selected schools, up-grading high schools to higher secondary schools with vocational stream. Financial assistance has been extended to the management of over 750 primary schools. A new academic calendar has been specified with a view to ensuring a uniform pattern of working periods in schools. The management of primary education continues to be with the Government in consultation with the District Councils. The programme of adult education shall be continued with accelerated pace. Steps are also being taken to strengthen teacher training facilities in the State with a view to upgrade the quality of teaching input.

        31. In the field of art and culture, the effort is to preserve and propagate traditional forms particularly of the indigenous people of the State. The departmental activities in this field are being expanded. A State-level Cultural Complex is proposed to be set up at Shillong. A Tribal Folk Dance Festival was held at Shillong in 1990 in collaboration with the North Eastern Zonal Cultural Centre, Dimapur. The Tribal Research Institute at Shillong will be strengthened.

        32. The establishment of a Regional Blood Bank in the State in May 1990 is a significant achievement in the field of health care. The Pasteur Institute at Shillong continues to manufacture potent vaccines to meet the requirements of other States in the region as well. Setting up of a Tissue Culture Laboratory and a testing centre for Oral Polio Vaccine during 1991-92 is one of the major programmes in the State. Expansion of health care in the rural areas continues to receive close attention of the Government. A Community Health Centre at Baghmara has been completed and is expected to be commissioned very soon. Construction  of two others at Resubelpara and Nongpoh is expected to be completed during 1991-92. The target is also to set up 4 more Community Health Centres, 14 Primary Health Centres and 50 other Sub-centres in the coming year.

        33. Water supply schemes under the State and Centrally sponsored Schemes are being continued in urban as well as rural areas. About 4000 villages have so far been covered under various water supply schemes during the current year. The target for the next year is to cover 600 more villages. Rain water Harvesting Schemes under the auspices of the Technology Mission of the Government of India along with low cost sanitation schemes are being continued. Tapping of ground-water source is further progressing with the installation of India Mark-II hand pumps.

        34. The State Policy on housing lays special thrust on housing for the economically weaker and the low income sections of the people. In 1990-91, assistance under the loan-cum-subsidy Scheme was sanctioned in 1150 cases. In 1991-92 it is expected that 2700 cases will be covered. in 1990-91 roofing materials were provided to some 300 families and to 612 others who were victims of floods and cyclones.

        35. Various social welfare schemes and programmes will continue to be implemented for children and women, the aged and infirm and the physically handicapped. Six more ICDS Projects will start functioning soon. It is expected that four more projects will be sanctioned by the Government of India during the Eighth Plan. There are 19 voluntary organisations in the State taking care of about 525 destitute children. Financial assistance is extended to the organisations under a Central Scheme. Special educational institutions runs by voluntary organisations for the welfare of spastic children and the Institution for the Blind at Tura will continue to be assisted financially.

        36. Urbanisation in Meghalaya has assumed greater importance in view of the growth of population, trade and commerce and other activities. In this situation the need to preserve the environment is a vital concern. The Master Plan for Shillong has been notified and the notifications for Tura and Jowai will be issued soon. Construction of a parking lot at Motphran in Shillong which is expected to be completed shortly will go a long way to ease traffic congestion. The Shillong and Tura Municipal Boards are being strengthened to enable them to implement various civic schemes. The Meghalaya Development Authority has been constituted to enforce implementation of Master Plans in various urban areas of the State.

        37. Government will continue to strengthen the public distribution system to maintain supply of essential commodities in the State. Three additional mobile fair-price-shop vans have been pressed into service for the benefit of the people in vulnerable areas. To check malpractices, statutory rules are enforced strictly and a monitoring and inspecting system has been put into operation. To create public awareness, seminars on consumer protection have been organised at Shillong and Tura. The necessary infrastructure for setting up of the State Commission and District Forums under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 is being provided. The upward trend in prices is due to inevitable increase in the cost of fuel and transport, but despite various constraints, Government will spare no effort to maintain and stabilise the price line so as to mitigate the hardship of the common people.

        38. The Sixth Schedule to the Constitution gives ample scope for District Council and other traditional institutions to involve themselves constructively and work in close co-operation with the Government  in bringing about development of the tribal areas. Government propose to work jointly with the District Councils in all fields of development. Assistance to the Councils will be continued to strengthen their administration.

        39. In 1990, parts of Garo Hills, particularly Williamnagar and the adjacent areas, were affected by unprecedented flash floods. Relief was granted to the victims.

        40. Construction of a new District Jail at Tura has since been completed and another one at Williamnagar will be completed soon. Construction of a jail in Jaintia Hills is in progress. Provisions for modern jail facilities are also being made as per the scheme of the Government of India.

        41. Government contemplate to restructure in a phased manner the present judicial system in the State. A permanent Bench of the Gauhati High Court at Shillong will be set up shortly. So far five lok adalats have been held in the State and more will be organised since they have proved to be beneficial.

        42. For the welfare and social security of workers in private establishments, the Insurance Scheme is being implemented. At present about 2,500 workers are registered under the Employees State Insurance Scheme. During 1991-92 an outlay of Rs.16.7 lakhs has been proposed for the scheme. Training of educated youths in the Industrial Training Institutes for self-employment has been given more importance and stipends to trainees have been enhanced. Wages for skilled and unskilled labour have been revised in May, 1990.

        43. An amount of Rs.1200 lakhs for creation of the required administrative infrastructure in the capital and other districts and sub-divisions was utilised in the Seventh Plan and spill-over schemes will be completed in the first part of the Eighth Plan. The State Houses at Calcutta and Delhi will be expanded and improved and the main Secretariat building at Shillong will be extended. A guest house at Borjhar has been set up for the use of touring Ministers and Government officials, Brightwell Guest House is also undergoing renovation. Construction of a modernised press building at Shillong is also under progress.

        44. Training of officers and staff of the Government is given at the Meghalaya Administrative Training Institute since 1989. So far 180 ministerial staff of the Secretariat have been trained besides others. The training programmes have been started in order to improve the efficiency of  Government officials.

        45. Keeping in view the special needs and requirements of the people in the border areas, various schemes have been implemented by different departments of the Government. Attention in this regard is being given to agriculture, supply, road construction and other fields which will improve the economic condition of the people. Financial assistance is given to students hailing from border areas and 7716 students have been benefited upto 1990-91. It is expected that in 1991-92 the number of such students will increase to about 10,000.

        46. The programmes of Youth Parliament are being continued in different schools in the State. The programmes are useful in that they help the students know the functioning of the democratic system in India. So far 18 such programmes have been held in the State ever since the scheme was introduced in  1983.

        In order to develop the faculty of our young boys and girls in sports and games construction of playgrounds at different places in the State has been taken up. Various sports activities will be encouraged further. Financial assistance to organisations and clubs will be continued.

        47. In November-December, 1990 the State participated at the India International Trade Fairs held at New Delhi and Calcutta. A permanent Meghalaya Pavilion has also been constructed at Pragati Maidan, New Delhi.

        48. Meghalaya Day Awards were given this year to three distinguished persons in recognition of their contribution in the fields of Social Service and Art and Culture.

        49. During the current session, the legislative items of the House will include passing of the Forest Authority Bill, the Land Transfer (Amendment) Bill as also other usual financial bills.

        50. Meghalaya has entered the twentieth year as a State. We have progressed substantially in various sectors but the journey ahead to build a prosperous, progressive and self-reliant Meghalaya is long and arduous. There is need for introspection and for all of us to resolve to serve with dedication, sincerity and discipline.

        51. I have attempted to highlight some of the important policies and programmes of my Government. I am sure that the deliberations in this House will be constructive. I wish all the Members success in their endeavour.