Meghalaya Legislative Assembly
March 15, 1993
Address by Shri. MADHUKAR DIGHE Governor of Meghalaya
Mr. Speaker & Hon'ble Members,
I have great pleasure in welcoming you to the First Session of the Fifth Meghalaya Legislative Assembly. I extend my warm greetings to all of you and to the people of Meghalaya for the New Year. A good number of you are new Members but, I am sure, you are imbued with the same zeal like others to build a peaceful and prosperous Meghalaya. Let us take a solemn pledge to continue and strengthen our efforts to maintain communal harmony and peace in our society and to work for all-round development of the State.
2. The recent general elections once again bear eloquent testimony to the people's faith in peace and democracy. This Government would like to reassure that it will always endeavour to promote peace, tranquility and the development of the State. The Government will stand by the commitments made to the people during the elections. The Government are aware of the problems the people face and no pains will be spared in the efforts to redress the same.
3. Meghalaya is a State where about 80 per cent of the population are members of the Scheduled Tribes. While committing themselves to the protection of their interests as also of the Scheduled Castes and other vulnerable sections, the Government are equally committed to the protection of the religious, linguistic and cultural interests of all others. In this context it is noted with satisfaction that in Meghalaya there has been no fall-out of the unfortunate incidents which took place at Ayodhya and in other parts of the country last December.
4. However, some other regrettable incidents of violence did occur before December 1992 causing loss of life and property and disturbing communal peace and harmony. Stern and effective measures had to be taken to control the situation and to restore normalcy. The Government deplore the incidents and are determined to see that law and order is maintained at all costs.
5. The Government are alive to the need for maintaining the population structure of the State. The laws that have been framed for the social and economic interests of the indigenous residents will continue to be enforced. Meghalaya has a 423 Km. long international border with Bangladesh. Constant vigil will be kept to prevent infiltration of foreigners. Special squads have been raised for detecting any foreigner in the State and village defence parties have also been involved in the task.
6. On the fiscal front, Meghalaya is a special category State where 90 per cent of Central assistance comes in the form of grants. The reality calls for sustained financial discipline to ensure that funds are judiciously utilised. The Plan outlay of Rs.281 crores fixed for 1993-94 is for poverty alleviation programmes and for other developmental activities to boost the rural economy. Institutional finance will be utilised to the maximum possible extent for development works and for generating employment in various fields. Steps will also be taken to reduce wasteful expenditure in the Government.
7. The increasing unemployment in the State, particularly of the educated youth, is a matter of serious concern and the Government will give the highest priority in tackling this problem. Recognising the fact that the Government alone cannot be the sole provider of jobs, all possible avenues will be explored to increase job opportunities in the State. A Committee of senior officers will be constituted to find out ways and means to achieve this objective. Attention will also be given to increasing vocationalisation of education in order to motivate the youth to take to gainful and productive pursuits and not to look only for white collar jobs.
8. The economy of the State is basically agrarian and rural-based. Emphasis will, therefore, be laid on intensifying agriculture, horticulture and other agro-related activities, and increasing productivity. In order to achieve the target of 1.98 lakh tonnes of foodgrains production fixed for 1993-94, the strategy is to develop the existing paddy fields, improve irrigation facilities for multi-cropping, encourage mechanisation and plant protection measures, increase the use of fertilizers and the plantation of high-yielding variety crops. Cultivation of potato, the major commercial crop of the rural areas, of mushroom and tea will be intensified. Mini tea factories, one in West Garo Hills District and another in Ri-Bhoi district, are proposed to be set up. To facilitate marketing produce, regulated markets at Mawiong and Garobadha are being established. Rural markets will also be set up with Central assistance.
9. Livestock rearing and dairy farming have always been potential employment sectors in rural areas. Activities in these fields will be expanded.
10. For accelerating development of rural areas and uplifting the economic condition of the people, the outlay on the Integrated Rural Development Programme and Jawahar Rozgar Yojana has been stepped up for 1993-94. Under the JRY Programme 30 percent of the employment opportunities is reserved for women. The State Institute for Research and Training at Nongsder will continue to impart training to District and Block Level officers and also to village level workers. Two more Development Blocks, one in Tikrikilla and another in Ranikor, have been created in 1992-93.
11. In the fisher sector the outlay will be spent on schemes that will bring higher production of fish and fish seeds. During 1992-93, under the Welfare of Fishermen Scheme, selected fishermen have been assisted with improved fishing gear and other facilities. A Regional Fishery Farmers Development Agency has also been set up during the year for implementing fishery developmental activities.
12. Co-operative societies will be revitalised and made more vibrant at all levels. The Garo Hills Co-operative Cotton Ginning and Oil Mills Ltd. in association with the Cotton Corporation of India has started procuring cotton to safeguard the interests of the farmers. The Meghalaya State Co-operative Marketing & Consumers Federation has recently stepped into the business of marketing of tea leaves grown in Ri-Bhoi District. These programmes will be further strengthened.
13. The ecological degradation is of serious concern. The Government, the autonomous and voluntary organisations and the people themselves are all responsible for making concerted efforts to protect and preserve water, soil and wildlife for their own survival as well as that of future generations. Long term measures are needed to tackle the problem. Enforcement of forest laws and regulations will be stepped up; tree plantation in reserved and protected forests will be intensified and available land brought under tree cover programmes. Coordinated control of pollution of air and water will be intensified.
14. Efforts to control the destructive practice of jhum cultivation will be continued more vigorously. Scientific management of land resources will be undertaken to ensure their optimum utilisation and to control soil erosion. It is proposed to take up plantation of rubber in suitable areas in the coming year.
15. Health care is another priority area of the Government. All efforts will be made to achieve the National objective of "Health for All by 2000 AD". Extensive programmes in the field will be planned for establishment of a wide network of health centres throughout the State and making improved medical facilities and services available to a greater number of patient. The bed strength in the Government Civil Hospitals will be increased and existing health care units upgraded. For improving and promoting health care facilities the Government contemplate to regulate hospitals, nursing homes and clinical laboratories.
16. The on-going water supply schemes in the urban and rural areas will be continued; so also tapping of rain and ground water under the Technology Mission Programme. Under the Greater Shillong Water Supply Scheme about 108 lakhs litres of drinking water is supplied to Shillong City daily. Water supply in the towns of Williamnagar , Jowai, Nongstoin and Nongpoh will be augmented. During the current financial year 121 problem villages have, till December, 1992, been covered by drinking water supply schemes benefiting a population of about 16,000. About 200 villages are proposed to be covered under the rural sanitation programme.
17. In power generation, the Stage IV component of the composite Umiam-Umtru Stage IV Hydel Electric Project has been completed in 1992. The Upper Khri component work of the project is likely to be starred in 1993-94. The project reports for new projects such as the Leishka - Myntdu Stage I, the Lakroh, the Ganol and the Salwang micro hydel schemes are under preparation. It is expected that work on these schemes will be taken up during 1993-94. Fuller utilisation of non-conventional sources of energy is one of the objectives of the Eighth Plan. For 1993-94, Rs.85 lakhs has been provided for under this sector.
18. In the Industrial sector, the Annual Plan 1993-94 has a proposed outlay of Rs.877 lakhs for large and medium industries and Rs.145 lakhs for village and small industries. Special emphasis will be given on promoting entrepreneurship amongst the youth of the State to attract them for setting up industries. To stimulate industrial activities a package scheme of incentives for large and medium industries is being offered under the State's Industrial Policy. In order to promote village and small industries grants as well as training are given to entrepreneurs. The Barapani and Byrnihat Industrial Areas have been developed. Attempts will be made to set up an industrial area in Jaintia Hills. The case for declaring Mendipathar as a Growth Centre has been taken up with the Central Government.
19. Sericulture and handloom weaving are two important cottage industries which play an important role in uplifting the rural economy of the State. The schemes for increasing the quality production of silk yarn and handloom fabrics will be continued during 1993-94.
20. With the State's vast and natural scenic beauty, tourism is a major revenue earning industry. But with all the potentialities it is admitted that much more needs to be done in this sector. Several infrastructural facilities are being developed to improve the centres of tourist attraction. Tourist Bungalow at Ranikor and Nartiang will be constructed and the Captain Williamson A. Sangma's Memorial Park at Baghmara beautified. Some other tourist spots will also be identified for similar purposes. To make entry of foreign tourists into the State easier, the matter for relaxation of the Restricted Areas Permit has been taken up with the Central Government.
21. The Government attach great importance to maintaining of regular flow of essential consumer items into the State and distributing the essential commodities through the public distribution system. In 1992 a novel system of distributing kerosene oil through sub-dealers appointed in the respective localities of Shillong was started and it has proved to be successful, immensely easing the problem of the public. In the same year Family Identity Cards have also been issued to the consumers in Shillong on the basis of the enumeration undertaken with the help of the headmen. This has cut down the number of doubtful F.I. cards. Consumer awareness is being encouraged and the consumer protection machinery revitalised. Efforts will be made to check the rise of prices of commodities. The Prices Monitoring Committee will continue to monitor the availability of stocks and the prices of essential commodities.
22. The Government will give unqualified priority to the universalisation of elementary education. The thrust area will be access to Primary Education for all children up to the age of 14 years. The Government will continue to improve upon the quality of Secondary Education with emphasis on science and mathematics. The National Education Policy, 1986 is being implemented in a phased manner. Vocational education will be given greater impetus. The Meghalaya State Council for Technical Education has been constituted in 1992. At Tura, a B.Ed. College will start functioning from the next academic session.
23. The Government will pay close attention to the youth, their problems and their genuine needs. The Government also attach importance to sports and games and to providing the youth with an opportunity to develop their talents in various fields. The Sports Authority of India has set up a Special Development Project Areas Centre at Shillong in which young boys and girls will be given coaching in various disciplines besides free general education.
24. The policy of the Government is to preserve and promote the cultural heritage including the existing languages of the people. Competitions in the performing arts, folk dances and music are being encouraged. Construction of a State Museum building at Shillong has also been started.
25. The various social welfare programmes for women, children, the aged and infirm, the physically handicapped and also the juvenile delinquents will be continued. So also assistance to voluntary organisations in various social welfare activities will continue to be extended. The Government will take steps to control drug menace and make efforts for its eradication. Voluntary organisations engaged on this front will be assisted financially and professionally.
26. Administration as part of the Government system of functioning shall work for the objectives and policies of the Government and shall not be politicised. Discipline in Government offices will be toned up and good working culture brought about in the interest of the people. Wherever possible, modern infrastructure in the Government offices will be provided to promote efficiency.
27. To be effective in the work and to be able to tackle crime efficiently a scheme to modernise the police force has been introduced. Scientific methods of investigation, quicker means of movement and communication will be provided to the force from time to time.
28. The District Jails at Jowai and Williamnagar have been commissioned. Plans are under way for construction of a District Jail each in West Khasi Hills, Ri-Bhoi and South Garo Hills Districts. Sub-jails are also proposed to be constructed at some Sub-divisional headquarters.
29. Mineral exploration in the State will be continued. During 1992-93, 9 investigation programmes have been taken up and in 1993-94, 9 others will be started. Setting up of Ground water and Geo-Technical Cells is an additional departmental activity proposed during 1993-94. The NEC scheme for investigation of granite rock in Nongpoh is in progress.
30. With the adoption of the Meghalaya State Housing Policy of 1988 special thrust has been directed towards providing housing facilities for the economically weaker sections especially those in rural areas. Under the Rural Housing Scheme, CGI sheets are given to the poor rural houseless people to construct their own houses.
31. The increasing urban population, particularly in Shillong, has led to serious problems of traffic congestion and straining of civic amenities. Concerted efforts are being made to tackle the situation. Steps are being taken to set up new townships in the suburbs of Shillong. The Master Plans for Shillong, Tura and Jowai have been notified for implementation. The construction of Tura Market and of a shopping complex at Williamnagar will be taken up. It is also proposed to up-grade the Town Committee at Williamnagar and Baghmara. Other Town Committees will be given due recognition.
32. The entire State is served only by roads. Public transport is serviced by the Meghalaya Transport Corporation. The extension of railway lines to the State will be for the economic interests of the people. For the present, one line from Dudhnoi in Assam to Depa in East Garo Hills has been approved by the Central authorities and preliminary work is being started. In respect of the line from Sikritipur in Assam to Umkiang in Jaintia Hills the reconnaissance survey report is under examination by the Railway Board. Construction of an airport at Baljek in West Garo Hills is under active examination by the authorities of the Central Government. The matter for upgrading the Umroi Airport has also been taken up with the Central Government.
33. Since road transport is the only means of surface communication in the State, roads and bridges will continue to be constructed to bring more villages under the road network. Today the total road length in the State is 5893.04 Kms. as compared to 2786.78 Kms. in 1970.
34. Within the permissible limits of financial constraints the Government are inclined to provide necessary benefits to the employees and pensioners. The minimum wage has been raised to Rs.30 per day for skilled labour and Rs.25 for unskilled labour in November 1992. Other social security benefits will, as far as possible, be extended to Government employees and industrial workers.
35. The Rajya Sainik Board is implementing welfare schemes for Ex-serviceman. In 1992-93 ex-gratia payments were made by the State Government to 18 war-widows. Financial assistance to 17 other Ex-servicemen and their dependants was also extended.
36. The schemes and programmes for improvement of the economic condition of the people in the border areas will continue in 1993-94 also. Coal, limestone, fruits and other commodities are at present exported to Bangladesh under Open General License. Measures to expand the trade activities with Bangladesh and the possibility of using it as a transit route are being examined in consultation with the Central Government.
37. The Government are keen on maintaining cordial relations with the neighbouring States. Some differences occurred in the erection of boundary pillars by our sister State of Assam in certain areas. A joint field survey of the areas was conducted by the officers of the Government of Meghalaya and Assam with view to removing the differences. Discussions between the Chief Ministers of both the States were also held. The discussions will be continued in order to maintain the status quo ante and settle other boundary issues amicably.
38. The District Councils in their own sphere of jurisdiction have a role to play in all-round development of the State. Their co-ordination is always welcomed. In order to develop accurate land records, cadastral survey will be implemented through the District Councils.
39. The co-operation of some of the traditional institutions in the State will be sought for in implementing the policies and programmes of the Government. This will give an opportunity to the people to participate in the process of development at the grass root level.
40. During the current session, budget for 1993-94 will be placed before the House for its consideration and passing. The legislative business will include consideration and passing of the Meghalaya State Council for Technical Education Bill, 1993, the Meghalaya State Housing Board (Amendment) Bill, 1993 besides Appropriation Bills.
41. I have attempted to give a brief outline of some of the main policies and programmes of the Government. The hon'ble Members will have an opportunity to discuss more about them. I wish you all the best in your deliberations.
J A I H I N D