Meghalaya  Legislative  Assembly

March 17, 1994

Address by Shri. MADHUKAR  DIGHE Governor of Meghalaya

Mr. Speaker and Hon'ble Members,

        Once again it is a great pleasure for me to welcome you to the first session of the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly this year. I also deem it a privilege to be in your midst and to address the House for the fourth consecutive year.

        2. The Government have completed a period of a little over a year. The period saw stability and comparative peace and tranquility. Nevertheless, there is no case for complacency and no effort will be spared to maintain law and order and to control violence and acts of terrorism and militancy. For progress and development peace and tranquility and indispensable.

        3. The elections of the three Autonomous District Councils have recently been completed smoothly. The people had the opportunity to elect representatives of their choice and to reaffirm faith in the democratic system.

        4. The Government are aware of the various problems faced by the people. The cherished goal for the upliftment of the weaker sections of the society which constitute a major portion of the population will wholeheartedly be pursued. All sections of citizens living in the State will get their due share of justice and equal treatment. The Government will make sincere efforts that all people live in peace and harmony for which the State can be justly proud of. As regards the vexed boundary problem, consultation with the neighbouring State to find an amicable solution will be continued.

        5. Steps to prevent infiltration of foreigners will be continued. New check-posts have been set up and some of the existing ones shifted to vulnerable areas. Schemes for creation of a mobile task force and riverine police squad are under active consideration of the Government with a view to strengthen the infiltration wing of the police. To facilitate checking of illegal infiltration, a pilot scheme for issue of identity cards to the residents in the border areas has been sanctioned by the Government of India for implementation in the three districts of Jaintia Hills, West Garo Hills and West Khasi Hills. The State Government have taken up with the Government of India the issue of opening up trade links with Bangladesh and, particularly, or reactivating the traditional border hats to give the much needed impetus to the economy of the border areas.

        6. The financial condition of the whole country is under stress and Meghalaya too has been affected. The Government faced a very difficult financial situation in the beginning of the current year  and a number of stringent austerity measures had to be taken to control the situation. The measures yielded results and averted a crisis. The Tenth Finance Commission visited the State on the 25th February, 1994 and a forceful plea for allocation of adequate funds was placed before it in view of the State's lack of resources and its requirements to bridge the backlog of development.

        7. The year 1994-95 being the mid year of the Eighty Plan (1992-97) assumes significance for optimum deployment and effective utilisation of resources with emphasis on priority areas. Special importance will be given to agricultural development, promotion of literacy, employment generation, health care and timely completion of on-going projects.

        8. The size of the Annual Plan for 1994-95 is Rs.281 crores. Besides, an amount of Rs.958 lakhs has been allotted out of the Plan Outlay of the NEC. A substantial outlay is also expected to be available as Central share to centrally sponsored and Central sector schemes. It is gratifying to note that in the Union Budget for 1994-95, sizeable funds have been provided for the North Eastern States as Advance Plan assistance.

        9. the Autonomous District Councils as Constitutional bodies play an important role in the tribal areas. For implementation of various development programmes grant are sanctioned from time to time. The Government attach a lot of importance to the co-operation of the District Councils in developing the tribal areas and the State as a whole.

        10. For further improving the functioning of the Police, electronic communication facilities have been strengthened and the State headquarters of the Criminal Investigation Department at Shillong has been declared a Police Station in 1993-94. The Police Housing Scheme has been allotted an amount of Rs.100 lakhs for 1994-95.

        11. Supply of rice, wheat, sugar and kerosene oil  in the State is covered under the public distribution system. The State is covered by the integrated Tribal Development Project Scheme under which foodgrains are supplied at subsidised rates. Public distribution system is being strengthened and streamlined. At present there are 3629 fair price shops out of which 3014 are in rural areas. There are 60 retail co-operative societies also. Seven fair price shop vans have been introduced to reach the vulnerable rural areas of the State. The availability of items and the rate and scale of issue are publicised regularly. For the redressal of consumer disputes a State Commission has been set up with a puisne Judge of the High Court as President. From this year it will function from Shillong. District consumer courts have also been reconstituted. A committee has been set up to monitor prices and stock of essential commodities. The committee meets regularly.

        12. Agriculture plays a predominant role in the economy of the State. An amount of Rs.1433 lakhs has been earmarked for 1994-95 for implementation of various on-going Plan schemes. Efforts will be made to step up production by further developing the existing paddy fields through improved irrigation facilities, multiple cropping and use of fertilizers. Different crops of high yielding variety will be cultivated in more areas. More crop protection measures and improved production technology will also be adopted.

        13. The potato production for 1994-95 is targeted at 1.74 lakh metric tonnes. Facilities will also be given for increased cultivation of ginger, turmeric, mesta, jute and cotton. The Regional Mushroom Development Centre is being strengthened.

        14. Stress is also being laid on development of horticulture in the State. Establishment of an 'AGMARK' laboratory to maintain the quality of fruit products is going to be completed this year.

        15. Animal husbandry is an important occupation of the rural people. Its development is emphasised as means to generate self employment amongst the rural people and the educated unemployed youths. In order to help them take up dairy farming, piggery and poultry rearing as profitable occupations, a substantial amount is provided as subsidy. Farmers also attend short courses at the training centres at Kyrdemkulai and Tura to acquaint themselves with the latest methods and techniques of animal husbandry practices. A network of dispensaries and aid centres have also been established all over the State. The existing milk chilling plants at Shillong, Jowai, Ganol, Nongstoin and Gangdubi continue to provide the necessary help to milk producers in the rural areas. Attempts are being made to improve and increase the capacity of the milk plants. The various schemes will continue to be implemented in 1994-95.

        16. The Annual Plan outlay is fishery sector during 1993-94 is Rs.114.00 lakhs. The main thrust is on higher production of fish seeds. The target for the year is 3790 metric tonnes of fish and 4 million fish seeds. The Department has made a satisfactory achievement in this field. For the next year the proposed outlay is Rs.197.50 lakhs. The scheme to develop the fisheries at Kyrdemkulai and Nongmahir under the NEC programmes is under implementation. Harvest of fish from these fisheries is expected to commence next year. Training and extension programmes for the fish farmers and welfare schemes for fishermen are being implemented.

        17. Forest-cover in the State is fast getting depleted. Unless there is realisation by all concerned of the need to protect the forests, the desired result cannot be achieved by Government alone enforcing the forest laws and rules and implementing schemes and programmes. I, therefore, call upon one and all to address themselves to the problem so that through joint and concerted efforts the fragile ecological balance is not allowed to deteriorate further. The Government also plan to initiate some tough measures in this regard.

        18. Steps to control soil erosion and environmental degradation will be intensified. Conservation and afforestation programmes will continue to be implemented during 1994-95.

        19. Because of its geographical location and communication constraints of much of industrialisation has taken place in the State. However, a Plan outlay of Rs.1062.00 lakhs has been provided for 1994-95 to stimulate industrial growth. The package scheme of incentives grants-in-aid and other programmes to motivate the entrepreneurs will be continued. The growth centre scheme at Mendipathar is proposed to be implemented in 1994-95. The Government are also working on ways to attract private investments with a view to give fillip to industrial growth in the State.

        20. Sericulture and handloom weaving are the two important cottage industries which play an important role in the rural economy of the State. Ten new block plantations were organised during 1993-94 in selected traditional pockets to ensure systematic plantation of silkworm food-plants and improvement of existing plantations. Two new chowki rearing centres, one eri spinning centre, five new pilot handloom weaving centres and training and demonstration facilities and one weaving centre for artisan course training have been established during 1993-94. The various schemes and programme in the field will be continued during 1994-95.

        21. The Umiam-Umtru Stage IV HEP with Upper Khri diversion is the only on-going scheme in execution in power sector during the Eighth Plan period. The Upper Khri component will be started as soon as the land problem is settled. An amount of Rs.100 lakhs has been proposed for mini hydel power schemes at Lakroh in Jaintia Hills and Galwang in West Garo Hills. In respect of rural electrification, 2,384 villages have so far been electrified. The target for 1994-95 is to cover 100 more villages and the proposed outlay is Rs.600 lakhs.

        22. Health care will continue to be strengthened; so also other health and family welfare programmes which are aimed at achieving "Health for All by 2000 AD". Care is taken to improve the health of  mothers and  children and to reduce infant, child and maternal mortality. For regulating setting up of private nursing homes a law has been enacted by this House during the last session. In Pasteur Institute where vaccine production is one of the major activities, experimental production of new vaccines for diphtheria and tetanus group which are needed for the National Programme for immunization has been taken up. In the field of blood banking services the Institute plays a vital role in ensuring quality control and in screening, including screening for HIV and AIDS, of the blood used for transfusion.

        23. In keeping with the directive principles of the Constitution, the Government continue to give unqualified priority to universalisation of elementary education for all children up to the age of 14 years. To make the school environment congenial, 500 more school buildings are being constructed and about 200 additional teachers will be appointed. Thatched buildings will also be replaced with durable ones during the coming year. Upper primary education coverage will further be stepped up in the next year by taking advantage of the Central scheme of Operation Blackboard. Non-formal education centres will be continued to cater to the educational needs of school-less villages and out-of-school children. About 1000 non-formal education centres will be set up for the purpose. With a view to improve primary education a Bill to take over lower primary education which is with the District Councils has been introduced in the House in 1993. Efforts will also be continued to improve secondary education. Emphasis will be continued on the teaching of Science and Mathematics and on vocational education. In the field of adult education, literacy campaigns in urban areas and selected village will be expanded and concerted effort will be made to create awareness by re-organising the programmes and methodologies. The State Council for Technical Education has become operational. The facilities in the Shillong Polytechnic will be strengthened during 1994-95.

        24. A number of steps are being taken and will continue to be taken to preserve the rich cultural heritage of Meghalaya. Documentation of the cultural heritage of the people and the socio-economic survey has been undertaken; documentary films depicting the music dances and cultural life of the people have also been made; the Folk  Museum and the Archives of the State are being steadily strengthened year by year. Emphasis has also been given on regional and inter-regional exchange of culture. Friendship cultural festivals in which other North-Eastern States participate were organised and a close link with the Zonal Cultural Centre at Dimapur is maintained. To provide incentive, cultural organisations are given financial assistance. Construction of the State Museum at Shillong is expected to be completed soon.

        25. Meghalayans take keen interest in sports and games. In order to expose the youths and develop their talents, sports associations are encouraged to take part in competitions held outside the State. In 1993 six State associations of different disciplines took part in six different competitions and even brought home some laurels. Tournaments and competitions are also organised in the State. The North East States Fraternity Gold Cup Football tournament was held at Shillong in August, 1993 and the East India Boxing Championship in March, 1994. I am proud that Meghalaya has been selected to host the North East Sports Festival which will commence on the 18th March, 1994 in collaboration with the Sports Authority of India. Sustained efforts will continue to be made for the development of sports and games by creating the necessary infrastructure.

        26. The State has gone a long way in expanding its road network. At the end of 1992-93 the total road length is 6039.06 kms. with a density of 26.92 kms. per 100 square kms. as compared to 2786.68 kms. and 12.35 kms. respectively when Meghalaya obtained its Autonomous Statehood in 1970. For 1993-94 the approved outlay is Rs.5260.00 lakhs and a similar amount is earmarked for 1994-95. The works will cover formation, improvement, metalling and black-topping of about 295 kms. of road and 535 running metres of bridges.

        27. Keeping in view the need to provide the public with adequate transport facilities, Meghalaya Transport Corporation continues to operate services to the interior villages and border areas. An amount of Rs.268 lakhs has been proposed for the Annual Plan 1994-95 for expansion of the existing workshops and acquisition of new fleet and also for continuation of the scheme for giving financial assistance to unemployed youths belonging to the Scheduled Tribes and Scheduled Castes to enable them to purchase buses and three wheeler vehicles for self employment.

        28. The Government has taken up the matter again with the Railway Ministry to revive the railway line project from Gauhati to Byrnihat. The Government have also requested the railway authorities to realign the rail-head of the proposed Dudnoi-Depa line so that the entire village of Depa may not have to be shifted. Construction of an airport at Baljek Valley in West Garo Hills is expected to start shortly. North Eastern Council has given the administrative approval and the estimated cost of the project is about Rs.2.43 crores. There are technical landing difficulties for Boeing aircrafts at Umroi Airport due to the topography of the area. However, the concerned authorities have again been requested to make further investigations.

        29. Supply of drinking water and provisions for sanitation facilities in rural areas under the Minimum Needs Programme, the Accelerated Rural Water Programme and Technology Mission will be continued. During 1994-95, about 300 more villages are proposed to be provided with drinking water and about 200 others will augmented water supply schemes. The outlay for schemes under the State sector is Rs.10 crores and for those under the Central Sector is another Rs.10 crores. Installation of booster pumps to improve the present supply of water to Shillong city from the Greater Shillong Water Supply Scheme is proposed to be taken up in the early part of the coming financial year. To supplement the in-take capacity, a concrete dam will also be constructed as part of the second phase of the scheme. Water supply in Tura and Jowai will also be augmented. For Nongpoh, Williamnagar and Nongstoin Government of India have been requested to provide funds under the Accelerated Urban Water Supply Programme.

        30. Urbanisation has assumed greater importance in view of the increasing urban population, traffic congestion and straining of available civic amenities. Concerted efforts are being made to cope with the situation. Extension of local municipal administration to other urban areas of the State is under examination. The scheme of Nehru Rozgar Yojana will continue to be implemented. To do away with the dehumanising practice of scavenging construction of more sanitary latrines will be undertaken during the Eighth Plan period.

        31. The Government policy is to provide shelter to the shelterless. Under the housing sector the loan-cum-subsidy scheme for the economically weaker sections and the low income groups will continue to be implemented. About 2400 more families are intended to be brought under the scheme during 1993-94 and the amount earmarked is Rs.111.28 lakhs. For 1994-95 the Plan outlay is Rs.260.00 lakhs.

        32. The Government will continue the programme for accelerating developmental work in the rural and border areas of the State. This will not only benefit the people financially but will also provide avenue for public participation and response in development matters. Apart from the State sector schemes, the Government are also implementing, with assistance from Government of India, various Central sponsored schemes such as the Integrated Rural Development Programme, the Jawahar Rozgar Yojana and the newly adopted Employment Assistance Scheme. An amount of Rs.327 lakhs has been made available for special works programme for the year 1993-94 and the programme will be continued.

        33. Keeping in view the vast potential available, schemes to develop tourism in the State will continue to be taken. Construction of tourist bungalows at Baghmara, Ranikor and Balpakram will be taken up during 1994-95 while the on-going projects are likely to be completed soon. The Shillong Autumn Festival in October - November, 1993 and the Winter Tourist Festival at Tura in January, 1994 were organised and there was great public enthusiasm. It is also hoped that the removal of restrictions on the visit of foreigners to the North East region including Meghalaya, as assured by Central leaders, will help growth of tourism in the State.

        34. In order to further strengthen the spirit of co-operative movement which is basically ingrained in the tribal society initiative has been taken to involve the traditional institutions of Syiems, Dolois, Nokmas and Rangbah Shnong (Headmen) in the management of co-operative societies. Formation of societies not based on the principle of collectivism and mutual trust will be discouraged. Meghalaya Co-operative Apex Bank has turned itself to be one of the premier banking institutions in the region. Modernisation and expansion of the Garo Hills Co-operative Cotton and Oil Mill will soon be completed. It is expected that the mill will play a useful role in the procuring, processing and marketing of cotton. Meghalaya State Co-operative Marketing and Consumer Federation Ltd. will continue to assist cultivators in marketing their produce. It will also help making available to them the agricultural inputs during planting season.

        35. Schemes, including centrally sponsored schemes, will continue to be implemented for the welfare of children, women, the physically handicapped, the aged, the infirm and juvenile delinquents. The Government are also much concerned about drug abuse. To combat the menace voluntary organisations are being associated and are also assisted financially and professionally.

        36. The Government will continue to give due attention to jail reforms and to trade oriented activities in the jail premises to enable  the inmates to get gainful employment after their release. Construction of a new District Jail complex at Shillong will be started soon. Renovation and improvement of the State Home for Mentally ill people at Mawlai will also be undertaken.

        37. A permanent Bench of the High Court will be established in Shillong. For raising a High Court complex a projection of Rs.475.00 lakhs has been placed before the Tenth Finance Commission. For construction of court buildings in Districts and Sub-divisions, Rs.730.00 lakhs has also been projected before the Commission.

        38. The network of public and information centres will be further expanded for dissemination of news to the public at the grass root level as well. Exhibitions and conducted tours were arranged for local editors during 1993-94. The State participated in the India International Trade Fair held at Delhi in November, 1993.

        39. The Directorate of Printing and Stationery at Shillong and the Branch Press at Tura are being modernised. Offset printing machines, process cameras and auxiliary equipments of sophisticated make are being procured from time to time to obtain quality printing and to achieve efficiency.

        40. Industrial disputes in the State are comparatively few. In 1993-94, out of 40 disputes 28 have been settled amicably and the rest are in the process of being disposed of. Bonded labour is non-existent. The statutory minimum wages of the skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled labour which were last fixed in 1990 have since been revised. The Labour Welfare Centre at Mendipathar will be continued. Another centre is proposed to be set up at Khliehriat. The Industrial Training Institutes at Shillong, Tura, Jowai and Nongstoin are functioning satisfactorily. During 1993-94, 347 trainees are on the rolls. Three other Institutes are proposed to be set up at Williamnagar, Nongpoh and Baghmara.

        41. The performance in minerals exploration has been satisfactory during 1993-94. Activities in the field will be continued in the next year. Ground water investigation and Geo-technical studies are also proposed to be undertaken. A coal depot at Jorabad is likely to be commissioned soon.

        42. Targets for collection of taxes are fixed and savings are thrift encouraged for augmenting the resources of the State. Steps are taken in collaboration with the National Savings Organisation to make savings schemes popular in rural areas also.

        43. The Government are firm on ensuring effective implementation of the various plans and programmes and will always endeavour to bring the administration closer to the people. Efficiency and discipline at all levels of the administrative machinery will be toned up and maintained. The Government always bear in mind that, to the extent possible, the conditions of service of the employees are improved. The rates of dearness allowance are from the time to time revised and paid to the employees including pensioners who at one time had rendered valuable services to the State. The request of the Government employees for setting up another Pay Commission is under consideration.

        44. During the current session, the budget for 1994-95 will be placed before the House. The legislative business will include passing of appropriation and other Bills.

        45. I have attempted to give a brief outline of some of the main policies and programmes of the Government, Hon'ble Members will have an opportunity to discuss more about them. I wish you all the best in your deliberations.