Meghalaya  Legislative  Assembly

March 10, 1995

ADDRESS BY Shri. MADHUKAR  DIGHE Governor  of  Meghalaya

Mr. Speaker & Hon'ble Members,

        I am glad to have this opportunity once again to welcome you to the Year's first session of the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly. My best wishes are with you in your deliberations.

        2. By and large the year 1994 was peaceful. People carried on with their normal activities and celebrated their social and religious festivals unhampered. But there had been some stray but sad incidents which tendered to disturb the peaceful atmosphere particularly in and around Shillong. Action according to law was taken to deal with the situation and restore confidence in the minds of the citizens. Stringent measures will relentlessly be taken to curb acts of intimidation and lawlessness.

        3. Violence has no place in a democratic society. The doors are open for discussions on genuine and reasonable issues. In this respect Government are happy that better sense prevailed upon the members of a group called ALMA. On 25th October 1994 the cadre came up and abandoned the path of militancy they had strayed into for some time. Government exhort all those who might have been misguided to give up and take to the peaceful and democratic way of life.

        4. The task before us is to develop the State and uplift the people in all possible ways. Our children require education; their career cannot afford to be jeopardised. They should not tomorrow be a disadvantaged lot simply because of our present prejudices and narrow outlook.

        5. While bearing in mind the need to maintain the population structure of the State and to uphold the constitutional safeguards guaranteed to the Scheduled Tribes, the Scheduled Castes and other weaker sections, Government at the same time reiterate its adherence to the policy of equal treatment of all other citizens so that every one can happily contribute to the development and well-being of the State and the country.

        6. Strict vigil to prevent infiltration of foreigners will continue to be maintained. During 1994, a large number of foreigners without valid documents were detected and necessary action taken. The infiltration prevention machinery of the State is being strengthened further.

        7. Under the directions of the Election Commission of India and following its detailed guidelines the work on Photo Identity Card scheme for voters and intensive revision of electoral rolls in the whole State has been taken up. The PIC scheme is to be completed by 31st March 1995. State Government are very keen that names of foreign nationals do not enter into the electoral rolls and, in this regard, are open to constructive suggestions in harmony with the constitutional and legal provisions.

        8. Police force is being modernised by providing it with computer, forensic and other equipments. Even in the face of adverse and changing situations police is trying its best to control crime and tackle law and order problems apart from attending to fire and other incidents. Training is regularly held for the police personnel to acquaint them in police-public relation and dealings.

        9. The State has been passing through a period of acute financial difficulty. In April 1994, the over-draft reached the highest level of about Rs.54 crores which was liquidated in May 1994. The financial position has somewhat stabilised due to concerted efforts to contain expenditure within the available resource. The austerity measures and financial discipline will, however, have to continue.

        10. The Plan Outlay for 1995-96 has been fixed at Rs.306.52 crores by the Planning Commission. This does not include any component of Externally Aided Projects (EAP). An additional allocation of Rs.25 crores was released for the current year on account of key projects like the Tura Airport, flood control works at Phulbari and road schemes. Plan programmes in the coming year will be strongly oriented towards agriculture and rural development. Greater emphasis will be laid on education, health, water supply and other social services.

        11. Priority is attached to education and to the constitutional mandate to provide it free to children upto the age of 14 years. During the current financial year 400 additional posts of elementary school teachers have been created and 320 additional primary school buildings constructed. In secondary and higher education, class XI in single stream subjects have been opened in 17 schools. In adult literacy programmes, 600 centres and 450 village libraries have been set up. Considering the relatively low level of literacy in the State, a decision has already been taken to launch a Total Literacy Mission in the coming year. With the taking over of primary schools from the District Councils on 2nd June 1994 administration of the schools will be further improved apart from providing the teachers with better conditions of service. Government have also approached the Government of India for opening a campus of the North Eastern Hill University in Garo Hills and an Agriculture College  in Jaintia Hills. This matter will be pursued in the coming year.

        12. Government give importance to sports and games for promoting the inherent sports talents of the youths. A number of projects for developing the required infrastructure have been taken up in a phased manner so as to cover the whole State in course of time. Six out of the thirty-three projects have been completed at Shillong and Tura. Youths are encouraged to take part in various competitions and tournaments in and outside the State to get themselves exposed and gain experience. A new Youth Development Scheme to be implemented under the direct supervision of the Deputy Commissioners will be launched in 1995-96. It is a pride for Meghalaya that Master Torak Kharpran of Shillong was selected to represent India at the Indo-Sri Lanka School Boxing tournament recently held at Colombo.

        13. The aim of Government is to cover progressively and intensively the whole State, including the rural areas, with health care facilities. A net-work of health centres will continue to be set up. By the end of 1994-95, 40 Health Sub-Centres, 7 Primary Health Centres and 3 Community Health Centres are likely to be established in addition to existing ones. Maternity and Child Health and Family Welfare programmes will continue to be implemented. From year to year students are sponsored for study in medical and allied colleges with a view to meet the required manpower in the field.

        14. The entire population of the State is covered under the Public Distribution System. At present there are 3711 Fair Price Shops in the State out of which 3114 are in the rural and the border areas. There are also 12 Mobile Fair Price Shop vans serving the vulnerable rural areas. The Monitoring Committee at the Directorate level monitors the prices and the Vigilance Committees in the districts and sub-divisions see to the proper distribution of essential commodities. The Consumer Protection Council and the District Forums have been reconstituted and they are functioning regularly.

        15. Agriculture is still an important occupation in the rural areas. Steps will continue to be taken to improve it through modern production technology and other methods of cultivation. The production of potato, a major cash crop of the State, is expected to reach 1.70 lakh tonnes in 1994-95 while the target for 1995-96 is 1.75 lakh tonnes. To increase the production of other commercial crops like ginger, turmeric, oilseeds, spices, mesta, jute and cotton, efforts will be continued to provide the cultivators and quality seed materials and plant protection chemicals at subsidised rates. Use of high yielding varieties will also be intensified. Horticulture has tremendous potential in the existing topography and agro-climatic conditions of the State. Added thrust is put in this sector having a promise for high returns. The Regulated Markets at Mawiong and Garobadha are expected to start functioning in 1995-96.

        16. Animal husbandry and dairying continue to remain a thrust area. The programmes in progress include improvement of cattle, pig and poultry farms and intensification of inputs supply. Considering the huge local demand for meat, eggs and milk, efforts to involve larger sections of the people in livestock production will be continued and intensified. The existing milk chilling plants provide remunerative market to milk producers. A new milk plant is being established at Williamnagar.

        17. In the fishery sector about 1600 metric tonnes of fish and 10 lakhs of fish seeds have been produced during the first six months of 1994-95. The Fish Farmers' Development Agency has been made operative in all the districts. Activities will be stepped up to improve and increase production of fish and fish seeds.

        18. Measures for preservation of forests and wild life will be continued to achieve environmental stability. Short term economic benefits are to be regulated so that the need to maintain ecological balance is not lost sight of Programmes for mass movement and for tree plantation have been undertaken to create the much needed awareness about the detrimental effects of wanton destruction of trees and forest cover. The State being a zone of biological mega-diversity, efforts are being made to conserve valuable plants which may be needed for traditional medicines.

        19. Sustained efforts to control soil erosion and jhum cultivation are continued. During 1995-96, more emphasis will be laid on providing assured irrigation facilities. Cash crops plantation to reclothe the barren hill slopes with permanent productive vegetation will be encouraged. To intensify development in horticulture and cash crops. Government are seriously considering to establish a separate set up.

        20. Tourism in Meghalaya is steadily catching up in recent years. Upto November 1994, more than 1.40 lakhs tourists, Indian and foreign, visited the State. To meet the increasing demand, completion of the ongoing schemes including construction of the Crowborough Hotel will be expedited. Improvement works have been undertaken in Shillong Orchid Hotel, Hotel Pinewood Ashok and Tura Orchid Lodge to provide them with modern facilities. The Yatrinivas at Shillong and Tura are expected to be completed soon. The Autumn Festival Shillong was again held in October 1994 with great enthusiasm.

        21. In the power sector, the ongoing schemes include renovation and modernisation of power stations, construction of sub-stations in various places in the State and improvement of power supply system in Shillong City. Under the Rural Electrification Programme, 100 more villages are proposed to be electrified. During 1994-95, investigation works on the Myntdu (Leishka), Umngot and some other mini and micro hydel projects have been taken up. Attention is also given to the development of non-conventional energy. The structure and functioning of the State Electricity Board needs a review. In this context, Government are contemplating comprehensive reforms in the sector so that the venture is made more efficient and financially viable.

        22. The Annual Plan Outlay for the development of large and medium industries for 1995-96 has been proposed at Rs.1212 lakhs. In the small scale sector the policy of the Government continues to be promotional in nature. Package of incentives for new schemes has been proposed during the financial year 1995-96 to strengthen private investment. The Meghalaya Industrial Development Corporation will continue to conduct entrepreneurial development programmes in areas having growth potential. With the completion of the first phase of the reactivation process, Mawmluh Cherra Cements Ltd. now produces 680 tonnes of cement per day. The State Khadi and Village Industries Board and the Meghalaya Handloom and Handicrafts Development Corporation are assisted to enable them to carry on with their activities.

        23. In sericulture activity, 28 new block plantations have been organised during 1994-95. In handloom weaving, 13 new pilot centres with training and demonstration facilities have been taken up and assistance provided for modernisation of looms in co-operative and non-co-operative sectors. Efforts will be made to improve the quality and designs of the fabrics also.

        24. In spite of the financial constraints significant progress has been achieved in road and building construction. The total road length in the State has increased to 6234.72 kms. bringing the road density to 27.81 kms. per 100 square kms. as against 6039.06 and 26.92 respectively when 1992-93 ended. Under the building wing a number of constructions such as the Yojna Bhavan at Shillong, the Integrated Office Complex at Nongpoh, the Divisional Commissioner's office at Tura, to name a few, have been sanctioned.

        25. The rural water supply schemes in villages are being expanded. During 1994-95, 324 more villages are expected to be covered in addition to the existing 5108. The Greater Shillong Water Supply Scheme at present supplies about 40 lakhs gallons of drinking water to the city daily. Work on the phase II is continuing. Schemes for augmenting water supply in Tura, Jowai and Williamnagar towns are also being taken up.

        26. For expediting growth of community and rural development and for improving village economy, the Integrated Rural Works Programme and various schemes will be continued. The Employment Assurance Scheme started in 1993-94 aiming at providing gainful employment to rural people during the lean agricultural seasons is being implemented.

        27. Road transport is only means of communication in the State. Its net-work, to serve especially the interior villages, is expected from time to time. At present Meghalaya Transport Corporation is operating on 56 routes with a fleet of 187 buses. The scheme of giving financial assistance to unemployed youths of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes to enable them to purchase vehicles for self-employment will be continued. Ropeways, in feasible areas, can go a long way in supplementing the transport system. Survey of 5 ropeways have so far been taken up. The North Eastern Council has completed feasibility study of two ropeways. The construction work of the Dudnoi-Depa Railway line in Garo Hills will be taken up as soon as the bridge over Brahmaputra river at Jagihopa is completed. The Railway authorities have agreed to undertake a fresh survey for the Gauhati - Byrnihat line.

        28. During 1994-95, 9 mineral investigation programmes and ground water investigation were approved by the State Geological Programming Board. Levy of cess on coal has been discontinued. The revised rate of the royalty on coal fixed by the Government of India has been enforced with effect from 15th January, 1995 and this will fetch additional revenue for the State and the District Councils. No lease for mining uranium in the State has been granted.

        29. Urbanisation is a pressing problem of the day. In Meghalaya the urban centres have exhibited a rapid growth rate during the last few years. Concerted efforts are, therefore, taken to meet the situation through implementation of Development Plans and Master Plans. The Master Plans for Shillong, Tura and Jowai have been notified and for Williamnagar preparation of is in progress. Local municipal administration is proposed to be extended to other urban areas of the State. In order to ease congestion in Shillong and to provide an alternative growth point Government have sanctioned the setting up of a new township near Shillong.

        30. The initiatives launched for strengthening the co-operative movement in the State are being further consolidated. Promotional Committees have been set up in all the districts under the chairmanship of the Deputy Commissioners. Meghalaya Co-operative Apex Bank continues to issue short, medium and long term loans. A Memorandum of Understanding has been entered by Government with the Meghalaya Co-operative Apex Bank and National Banks for Agriculture and Rural Development for more credit flow. Steps have been initiated to revitalise the Meghalaya State Co-operative Marketing and Consumers' Federation Ltd. and Primary Marketing Co-operatives.

        31. In the field of social welfare services, attention will continue to be paid to the physically handicapped, the mentally retarded and the destitute. During 1994-95, 345 physically handicapped students received scholarships and 77 other handicapped persons prosthetic aids. More than 100 women have been trained in tailoring, weaving and allied jobs during the year. There are 24 voluntary organisations taking care of 835 needy children. Two new Integrated Child Development Schemes at Zikzak and Umling are proposed to be established during 1995-96. Non-Government organisations are associated to combat the evil of drug addiction, alcoholism and other vices. Financial assistance is extended to these organisations.

        32. Under the Meghalaya State Housing Policy special attention is paid to the economically weaker sections and low income groups. Under the scheme for giving CGI sheets to the poor houseless people in rural areas more than 4170 families have uptil now benefited from it.

        33. Planning Commission has allotted Rs.1,100.00 lakhs during the Eighth Plan Period for construction of District Jails at Shillong, Nongstoin, Nongpoh and Baghmara and also of sub-jails in 8 Sub-divisions. Government have decided recently to select a new site in or around Shillong for location of a new District Jail Complex. The State home for Mentally III People at Mawlai will be renovated and improved.

        34. Steps will be continued to accelerate development of the border areas and ameliorate the conditions of the people. Various departmental schemes relating to road construction, agriculture, animal husbandry and veterinary and water supply are implemented. Transport facility is provided to the border people to help them market their produce. Efforts are being made with the Government of India to reactivate traditional border hats and to open up more trade routes to Bangladesh for increasing border trade.

        35. It is a fact that Government cannot provide jobs to everyone. To enable youths to find avenue for employment Government will continue to impart vocational training in different trades. Today a number of trainees are joining the Government Industrial Training Institutes. During 1994, a total of 308 trainees attended the various course and 85 of them passed the All India Trade Test.

        36. Annual grants and also shares from taxes and royalties are given to the District Councils. Recently I have determined afresh the shares of the District Councils and of the Government in respect of the royalty on coal considering the various factors. The useful role of the traditional institutions, the Non-Government Organisations and elders of the society is recognised. The co-operation they extended in the works and programmes of the Government is appreciated.

        37. Government contemplate to get the lands in the State cadastrally surveyed and the work has been entrusted to District Councils. Maintenance of proper land records will help people in getting loans from banks and financial institutions and minimise land disputes. To solve the vexed boundary problem, discussions with the Government of Assam are going on at different levels. Government are also examining the land laws and regulations for industrial development of the State.

        38. Government are always trying to project its image to the people and to the country as a whole. Exhibitions are organised at District and Sub-divisional levels. The Department of Information and Public Relations participated in the India International Trade Fair held at Delhi in November 1994 and the Agricultural Fair in March, 1995. In connection with the 125th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, a year long programme to highlight the life and work of the Father of the Nation has been launched.

        39. Construction of the multi-storeyed Government Press building in Shillong is expected to be completed soon. Modern machineries and equipments have been proposed for the Presses at Shillong and Tura. An amount of Rs.22.50 lakhs has also been proposed for construction of residential quarters for the employees at Tura.

        40. A Computer Cell has been set up for monitoring development programmes and also a Public Enterprise Cell for improving the performance of State Public Undertakings. Evaluation studies of development schemes are also undertaken. The Science and Technology Cell has a programme for the popularisation of Science. A State Council of Science, Technology and Environment has recently been set up and this high level body will give direction to science and technology programmes in the coming year.

        41. The Permanent Bench of the Guwahati High Court at Shillong was inaugurated on 4th February, 1995 Efforts are being made to find suitable location for a High Court Complex and also to get funds from the Government of India for it.

        42. An outlay of Rs.3,000 lakhs has been proposed for construction of administrative and residential buildings during the Eighth Plan period (1992-97) in the newly established administrative centres and other places. The present shortage of office accommodation in Shillong is also receiving attention. A Master Plan in the Secretariat Hill and the adjoining areas is being drawn up. Land for the Meghalaya House at New Bombay and for the second Meghalaya House at East Metropolitan Bye-Pass, Calcutta have been acquired. It is also proposed to set up a State Guest House at Guwahati to provide accommodation facilities to officials and other persons of Meghalaya who visit the place so frequently.

        43. The different departments of the Government are carrying on with their various activities. Home Guards and Civil Defence continue to render valuable help to the civil administration. Raids are conducted to detect illicit liquor and prevent other excise offences. Use of standard weights and measures is enforced to protect the interest of the purchasers. Expansion of the postal and telecommunication services will continue to be taken with the Departments of the Government of India. Preservation of the cultural heritage of the people of the State will continue to be given due importance. Efforts are also made to step up collection of taxes and duties.

        44. Government are alive that, to the extent possible, better conditions of service and other benefits are to be extended to its employees. Additional installments of dearness allowance are from time to time, released to serving employees, pensioners and family pension holders. The schemes for giving assistance to the retired members of the Armed Forces are continued through the Directorate of Sainik Welfare. Administrative machinery has to be efficient, effective and responsive. Officers are deputed to short courses of training outside the State. Meghalaya Administrative Training Institute imparts training to officers of various departments and also to the ministerial staff of the Secretariat and also of the District and other establishments with a view to making them more capable and efficient in the discharge of their functions and duties. The Third Pay Commission will be constituted soon.

        45. The budget for 1995-96 will be presented during the current session. The legislative business will include consideration of the Meghalaya Preventive Detention Bill, the Meghalaya Medical Council (Amendment) Bill, the Meghalaya Nursing Homes (Licensing and Registration) (Amendment) Bill and other Appropriation Bills.

        I wish you success in your deliberations.