MARCH 19, 1999


Mr. Speaker and Hon'ble Members,

        It gives me great pleasure to address this august House at the commencement of the Budget Session. I welcome and greet you all on this occasion.

        2. We are in the last year of the millennium. It is time we prepare ourselves for new initiatives and to take prudent action to ensure that our state is on the right path of growth and prosperity. The country's revenue deficit is increasing which may have repercussions on the State's finance. There is a need to keep our finances in order and work towards achieving fiscal discipline which calls for proper financial management and austerity measures to curtail Government expenditure. Besides  revenue mobilisation efforts will have to be intensified to meet the growing expenditure and loopholes in the tax administration will have to be plugged to ensure greater efficiency.

        3. Peace and communal harmony are pre-requisites for the State's progress for which Government is committed. We will continue our efforts to maintain religious tolerance and understanding among different communities in view of the disturbing trend as reflected in certain parts of the country.

        4. Government is also committed to maintain law and order, and to protect the life and property of all citizens and to protect the life and property of all citizens and to provide security to them. Criminal activities like dacoity, robbery, culpable homicide, kidnapping, etc. will be tackled effectively and extremist violence and extortions will not be tolerated. I would appeal to all concerned to condemn such criminal acts. We will take the necessary measures to deal with such elements firmly and effectively.

        5. Government cannot remain a silent spectator to the activities of the militants. To counter this menace a joint operation by the police, para military forces and the army was launched in some parts of the State. A number of camps at Nirangpahar were destroyed and arms, ammunitions and some incriminating documents and photographs were recovered from the camps. A number of raids were also conducted in the Garo Hills District and West Khasi Hills District. 29 suspected activists were arrested and one killed in an encounter with the police, Arms and ammunitions were also seized by the police.

        6. Vigilance to prevent infiltration from across the border is continuing. So far, 1,836 infiltrators were detected during 1998. 1,764 of these were pushed back through border check-post, 60 were prosecuted and 12 convicted and deported to Bangladesh through passport check-post.

        7. The Annual Plan for 1999-2000 is yet to be fixed. However, tentative Plan of Rs.440.00 crores for the year has been prepared to facilitate smooth progress of development programmes. Emphasis will be given to agriculture and allied activities, rural development, roads and bridges, education, health, water supply, housing and urban development. Other sectors like irrigation, industry, sports and youth programmes and border areas development programmes will also be given due importance. Adjustment of the Plan priorities and programmes will be made if required on the basis of the decision to be taken in consultation with the Planning Commission.

        8. In the agricultural sector priority will be given to foodgrains production and development of horticulture. The target of foodgrains production for 1998-99 is proposed at 2.05 lakhs tonnes against the production of 1.93 lakhs tonnes during 1997-98. To realise the production target of 2.17 tonnes of foodgrains during 1999-2000 the main strategy will be to further develop the existing rice fields with irrigation facilities for multiple cropping, further extension of the area under Rabi maize raising the productivity of different crops per unit area through use of fertilizers, more area coverage under high yielding varieties both for Khariff and Rabi, adequate and need based protection measures and adoption of improved crop production technology, training of officials and farmers in the latest techniques of agriculture. Stress will also be laid on development of horticulture. Permanent cultivation of horticultural  crops need to be developed to replace jhumming. In line with the national policy, the Directorate of Horticulture is preparing a perspective plan to double the food production in 10 years. Potato is one of the major horticultural commercial crops covering an area of 20.863 hectare with annual production of 2.08  lakh tonnes. The target production of potato for 1999-2000 is estimated at 2.33 lakhs tonnes and ginger at 0.645 lakh tonnes. There are vast possibilities for cultivation of mushroom and tea on a commercial basis. The production of both Oyster and Button mushroom has already started. Tea plantation covers 333 hectares in which 230 small tea cultivators are involved. A Private processing factor has started functioning in the Ri-Bhoi District, which will process the green leaf produced in the area. Another factory has been set up in Rongram. The Meghalaya State Agricultural Marketing Board has taken up establishment of a secondary regulated market at Mawiong and another at Garobadha in the West Garo Hills District. Both the markets are now functioning.

        9. To achieve the goal of health for all by 2000 AD proper development of human resources is necessary. 20 Community Health Centres were sanctioned by the Government during 1997-98 of which 13 have been commissioned and are functional and 3 will be made functional soon. Two more health  Centres have been sanctioned in the current year. Government has also sanctioned the establishment of 122 Primary Health Centres of which 102 have been commissioned. Eight have been upgraded to Community Health Centres. Another 22 will be made functional shortly. Construction of 429 Sub-centres has been completed out of which 377 are functional and 41 will be made functional shortly. The incident of Aids and the threat it poses to the society has necessitated upgradation and modernisation of the State Diagnostic and analytical facilities. Full scale production of Titanus Toxoid Vaccine is proposed to be started in the near future in the Pasteur Institute. It is proposed to start an Epidemiological Unit in the Institute for studying the cause of various epidemic diseases in the State during the coming year.

        10. In the Industries sector Government Policy emphasizes the need to generate employment for the local people, generation of skilled man-power and promotion of need based industries conducive to local environmental conditions. To attract local entrepreneurs the Industrial policy enunciates a package of incentives both for the small scale sector as well as the large and medium sectors. During 1997-98, assistance amounting to Rs.1.12 crores was provided to 279 industrial units under the package scheme.

        Approval has been given to 37 Industrial Projects to be set up in the private sector with an estimated investment of Rs.12,570.50 lakhs with a potential of employing 2000 persons. During 1998-99 of Rs.70.00 lakhs was provided for the purpose. To create an atmosphere of industrialisation vis-a-vis motivation and development of local entrepreneurs. Government have taken up intensive awareness programmes in identified Growth Centres. An amount of Rs.6.00 lakhs has been proposed for 1999-2000 for the purpose. The Meghalaya Khadi and Village Industries Board is making efforts at rural industrialisation through margin money scheme. Government have identified thrust areas by way of setting up industrial estates, industrial areas, growth centres and export promotion industrial park in the districts. Some proposals for setting up Export Oriented Unit have already been examined. The establishment of these facilities expected to boost industrial development in the State.

        11. The Programme for accelerating economic and social development of the people in the rural areas will be continued. The Government is considering the creation of 7 (seven) new C & R.D. Blocks and also to shift 9 (nine) C & R.D. Blocks of urban and Sub-urban areas to suitable rural areas. Centrally sponsored special programmes for rural development is also being implemented to improve the standard of living of the poorest sections through a package of production schemes. Rural wage employment programme are being implemented to provide gainful employment in the rural areas and create rural assets. The National Social Assistance Programme will continue. Schemes under the construction of rural roads programme and the special rural works programme will continue.

        12. Government will continue to give priority to increase production of meat, milk and eggs and also to upgrade self employment for the benefit of the people especially the educated unemployed youth. The approved outlay for 1998-99 is Rs.650 lakhs for the Animal Husbandry and Rs.100 lakhs for the Dairy Development Sectors. The Animal Health Care Programme will continue for the benefit of the rural farmers through provision of improved facilities to the Veterinary hospitals, dispensaries and Aid-centres. Efforts will be made to popularise goatery in the rural areas. The new goat farm at Nongshillong in West Khasi Hills will be made fully functional. The existing rabbit farms at Nongpyiur will be strengthened and 2 new rabbits farms are proposed to be set at Garo Hills and Kyrdemkulai. With a view to generate self-employment among the farmers and educated unemployed youth the scheme for distribution of dairy, poultry and goatery units will continue and increase the number of beneficiaries. The existing feed Mills at Umshing and Tura will be provided with additional equipment and machinery to enhance their production capacity. To increase production of fodder, the existing fodder farms will be provided with additional tractors and power tillers. The new Central sector scheme for Integrated Dairy Development was implemented in Ri bhoi and East Khasi Hills District. A proposal for 2 new integrated Projects in Jaintia Hills and Garo Hills District has already been made to the Government of India.

        13. In the Sericulture sector about 36.4 lakhs silk worm seeds, 35.00 lakhs of cacoons and 84 lakhs muga cacoons is expected to be produced during 1998-99. Under the Central Silk Board Scheme about 185 acres of individual plantations have been raised under muga and Eri-plantations. Under the NEC Project 2.69 lakhs muga nurseries have been raised. In the Handloom Sector about 53.65 lakhs Sq.m. of handloom fabrics is expected to be produced during 1998-99. Government also proposed to implement the Centrally sponsored Scheme of handloom industry for the benefit of the poor weavers. Under the health package scheme about 516 Weavers will be benefited and about 200 units of weaving work sheds will be covered. In  1999-2000 the main thrust under the Sericulture Sector will be  for development of systematic plantations of Eri, muga and mulberry food plants in an individual village holdings. To boost and gear up silk production in the State it is proposed to cover 721 acres of plantations which will produce about 3.71 lakhs of mulberry and Eri-cocoons and 112.56 lakhs of muga cacoons and the production of silk worm seeds will increase to 39.61 lakhs. The Government will continue to take advantage of the catalytic development programme of the Central Silk Board of the Government of India for the welfare and upliftment of the economic condition of the poor sericulture silk worm rearers in  the State. For the handloom industry the main thrust is to increase productivity by implementing the main thrust is to increase productivity by implementing schemes to produce 64.386 lakhs Sq.m. of handloom fabrics.

        14. To increase fish production 12 lakhs fingerlings of fast growing species have been released in the Kyrdemkulai and Nongmahir Reservoirs and about 2mt. of fish has been harvested. Proposals for development of Kupli and Umtrew Reservoirs are being taken up under the Ninth Plan. To popularise and propagate fish culture financial assistance and training were provided to the fish farmers. An amount of Rs.50 lakhs is expected to be spent to benefit about 764 beneficiaries and to create additional water area of 133.50 ha. About 308 fish farmers have been provided with training so far. An amount of Rs.75 lakhs is tentatively proposed for 1999-2000 to benefit 1096 farmers. Seminars in Shillong, district headquarters and  Sub-divisional Headquarters to create awareness among the people in conservation of fisheries have been organised. Implementation of the Fish Farmers Development Agency Scheme with the intention to make use and utilise waste land for fish culture had been taken up. In 1999-2000, 390 beneficiaries are expected to be covered and an additional water area of 60 ha. will be created. To improve harvesting of fishes from natural rivers, lakes, streams etc, various types of fishing implements were distributed. Under the scheme "welfare of fishermen," 182 numbers of fishermen will be provided with fishing materials during 1998-99 and 250 are proposed for 1999-2000. Necessary steps have been taken to combat illegal fishing and for  conservation of the natural fisheries. Fish seeds were also released in certain rivers and streams of the State to replenish the population stock.

        15. In respect of Forest and Environment programmes are formulated keeping in view the National Forest Policy of the Government of India. The thrust areas are conservation of existing natural forests, and afforestation of barren and degraded forest particularly in the important catchment, areas. In order to achieve bio-genetic diversity the State Government has created protected areas in the form of National Parks and Sanctuaries to  conserve local flora and fauna. A number of recreational parks and gardens have also been set up. During 1998-99, 474 ha. of barren and degraded areas in the State have been re-afforested. In 1999-2000, Government proposed to take afforestation of 1000ha. Government is aware of the adverse economic impact of the ban on the export of timber. It will make all efforts towards scientific management and preservation of forest. This will require involvement with other related agencies such as the District Councils, private land owners, etc.

        16. Government will continue combating the depletion of soil, water and vegetation through its existing programmes. The thrust will be on expansion of cash crops, land development and water harvesting works. The Jhum control and watershed Management scheme will continue during 1999-2000. Government also expects to take up large scale development of plantation, horticultural and suitable commercial crops through the Meghalaya Commercial Crops Development Board. New programmes like the valley approach to soil and water conservation will be included. Reclamation of degraded land affected by mining and water harvesting will also be taken up during the next financial year. Besides the State Plan Programme a Central Sector Scheme for Watershed Development Programme in shifting cultivation areas has also been taken up. The Training Programme under the North Eastern Council Scheme is continuing.

        17. The State has vast potential for development of tourism. The endeavour is to tap the abundant resources for developing tourism which will generate both direct and ancillary employment of the local population. All ongoing schemes will be given topmost priority for completion. Promotional activities have been undertaken in the form of participation in various international and national affairs, organising of tourism related events and providing assistance to ethnic traditional cultural activities. In the coming financial year, Government will lay special emphasis on development of various additional tourist spots and construction of tourist bungalows at Nongpoh, Williamnagar, Nongstoin, Maheshkhola and Mawsynram. Construction of Yatriniwas at Jowai is in progress. Government envisages setting up of Tourist Information Centres in different districts and completing unfinished projects. The setting up of a full fledged Hotel Management Institute is being given high priority.

        18. Urbanisation in the State has considerably increased and assumed greater importance in view of the higher growth rate shown by various urban centres. Various schemes for the development of infrastructure in the Urban areas has been formulated and implemented in order to ensure better living condition and facilitate economic growth. A Master Plan for  providing necessary infrastructure for Shillong, Jowai and Williamnagar and Tura has been completed. The Master Plan of Nongstoin is in the final stages. The shopping complexes at Williamnagar, Baghmara, Sohra and Nongstoin have been completed. The Tura shopping Complex was also completed and commissioned recently. The parking lots opposite Apex Bank Shillong and near Laitumkhrah Market are being commissioned. Land for construction of parking lot opposite the Khasi Hills District Council Office has been acquired and work will commence shortly. Efforts are being made a construct a parking lot-cum-shopping Complex at Old Civil Hospital, Police Bazar through a joint-venture . The New Shillong project is in progress. Consultants have been engaged for preparation of a detailed project report. The Scheme of environmental improvement of Urban Slums is being implemented in Shillong, Jowai, Tura, Williamnagar, Baghmara and Nongstoin. Over the years, the scheme has been playing a significant role in providing basic amenities. The target of covering 3750 beneficiaries during 1997-98 was achieved. The scheme will continue in 1999-2000. Urban poverty alleviation programme is being implemented at Shillong, Tura, Baghmara, Williamnagar and Jowai. The shifting of the Sweeper Colony at Iew Mawlong is in  progress. So for 42 families have been shifted to different areas. Efforts are being made to shift all the sweeper from the colony. The scheme of low cost sanitation which provides for construction of sanitary latrines and converting of dry latrines within the Municipal areas of Shillong and Tura is being implemented. In all, 2241 units in Shillong and 2520 units in Tura have been converted to sanitary latrines. The special Urban work Programme will continue.

        19. In the power sector an approved outlay of Rs.1064 lakhs has been provided during 1998-99 for implementation of on going schemes for generation, transmission and distribution works. Due to poor debt servicing during the year only Rs.8 crores is available as Government Loan. A revised work programme has been made which includes work relating to Umiam Stage-I Power House, construction of 132 KV S/S at Nongstoin, improvement of electric supply in Shillong city, distribution master plan, Tura improvement scheme, 8th Plan T & T Scheme and survey and investigation works. Upto the end of the second quarter an amount of Rs.219 lakhs have been spent in implementing the plan Scheme. During 1999-2000, Schemes will be taken up for implementation including renovation and modernisation schemes of the Leishka Hydro Electric Project, transmission, distribution, survey and investigation work. Construction. Construction of a 132 KV double circuit line from Umiam-Umtrue Stage-IV HEP to the border of Meghalaya towards Guwahati has been completed. An amount of Rs.10 crores is proposed under the NEC Scheme for construction of 132 KV line for the year 1999-2000.

        20. Under the Public Health Engineering Department, out of 7876 habitations identified so far 511 remained as not covered and 1834 as partially covered as on 1.4.97. During 1997-98, 264 not-covered habitations and 213 partially-covered habitations were covered leaving a balance of 247 not-covered habitations and 1631 partially-covered habitation to be provided with safe drinking water facilities as on 1.4.98. During 1999-2000 it is proposed to cover 355 not covered habitation and 295 partially covered habitations apart from 55 iron affected habitations. The final target will however depend upon the availability of funds. To meet the increased demand augmentation schemes are in progress in Shillong, Jowai, Tura, Williamnagar and Nongstoin town. For Cherrapunjee Town an augmentation scheme is proposed to be taken up under Accelerated Rural Water Supply Programme. The Greater Shillong Water Supply Scheme at present supplies 7.5 million gallons of water daily. The distribution system in 4 out of 9 Zones are already completed. Work in two other Zones is in progress. The Mass gravity concrete dam over river Umiew in Mawphlang is under construction and is likely to be completed by 2002 A.D.

        21. With the adoption of the Meghalaya State Housing Policy, special thrust has been directed towards the economically weaker section and low income groups houseless people especially in the rural areas. A loan-cum-subsidy Schemes is being implemented under which 10872 families were covered. Grant-in-aid in the form of 3 bundles of G.I. Sheets is being provided to the poor rural houseless. Loans are also given to the middle and high income group by the Meghalaya State Housing Board.

        22. Under the modernisation of prison administration the Central Government released fund amounting to Rs.14.95 lakhs on a sharing basis to take up schemes for improvement of jail conditions. Government has taken up construction of 9 (nine) Watch Towers in the Shillong Jail and 4(four) in the Williamnagar Jail respectively. Facilities for recreation and physical activities like indoor games etc. have been provided in the prisons to keep the prisoners engaged. As the security of the prison cannot be compromised. Government has taken up scheme for proper and adequate lighting system of all parts of the prison. Construction of district Jails at Nongstoin, Nongpoh and Baghmara will be taken up on priority. Construction works of a new jail complex at Shillong is being taken up in a phased manner. Government will continue with the ongoing new schemes in all the four functional District Jails.

        23. Regular procurement of essential commodities in the open market from outside the State are monitored regularly to ensure that there is no shortage of essential commodities in the State. In addition the mobile shops scheme is also being implemented to provide essential commodities to the interior and far-flung areas. For speedy disposal of pending cases in the Consumers Court and to strengthen their infrastructure Rs.120 lakhs have been released by the Government of India as a one time grant.

        24. Considerable progress has been achieved in the construction and maintenance of roads and bridges in the State with a total road length of 6817 Kms and a road density of 30.39 Kms/100 Sq.Kms. The Government feels that the improvement and upgradation of the existing road and bridges should get priority. With a view to further improve the road network of the State, efforts have been made to upgrade the existing roads by way of improvement, widening, strengthening, metalling and black topping of bridges and culverts. The development of the road in rural areas including the border areas will continue. The Government of India have agreed to take up the Jowai-Dawki Road via Amlarem, and the Baghmara-Dalu Road under the National Highway Programme.

        25. Government is committed to provide transport services to all parts of the State. Practically all major villages have been connected by road transport services. The State Government has recently decided to grant tourist permits to maxi-cabs besides the existing national permits. To encourage scheduled castes, and scheduled tribes particularly the educated youth to go in for road transport service as a means of self-employment, Government is providing financial assistance to eligible youth for purchase of vehicles. The Meghalaya Transport Corporation is providing road transport services side by side, with the private operators particularly in those areas where private operators do not venture because of the economic non-viability of those routes. Government is examining the performance of the Transport Corporation and the options on how to deal with it. A decision in this regard will be taken soon. Steps have also been taken to reintroduce air services in the State. A proposal for upgradation of Umroi Airport is under consideration. The estimated cost is about Rs.35.00 crores excluding the land acquisition cost.

        26. In the field of education, the programmes of the Government includes sanctioned a new posts of teachers at the Primary and Upper Primary level to cater to the increased enrollment, setting up of new schools in school-less villages and providing basic infrastructural facilities. The strategy adopted is  to extend financial assistance to non-government-organisations in the establishment and running of schools. The revised pay scale was extended to all teachers during the current financial year. Administration was streamlined with the establishment of a  separate office in the Directorate of Elementary and Mass Education. Under the 10th Finance Award, 87 additional class rooms were being constructed, 492 Primary Schools were provided drinking water facilities and 330 Upper Primary Schools were provided water and toilet facilities. 200 Primary Schools are proposed to be provided with drinking Water facilities in 1999-2000. 100 Posts of teachers in Government Primary Schools are proposed to be created. Financial and other assistance will be provided for new non-Government primary Schools by way of adhoc grants. Higher and technical  education will continue to play its role of imparting knowledge for development of human resources through setting up of new schools and colleges, and technical institutions on need based assessment whenever possible and also to provide better services to the teachers in order to enhance their competence. Following the National Policy on education Government of India have sanctioned 6 (six) District Institute of Education and training for Meghalaya. The objective is to provide academic as well as resource support at the grass-roots level under programmes being under taken in the areas of Elementary Education and Adult Education with special reference to Primary Education. In 1999-2000 the number of coaching classes centres is proposed to be increased to 65 centres and about 2970 students will be benefited. The Education Technology Cell has been broadcasting Programmes to acquaint teachers with up-to-date teaching and learning strategies. To help the schools to avail of the Programme Radio-cum-Cassette players have been distributed. In 1999-2000 this facility is proposed to be extended to 400 schools not covered earlier.

        27. To facilitate development of sport and games in the State, various programmes have been formulated which includes construction of infrastructure such as Stadia, Indoor Sports halls, development of existing play ground and training of coaches. Government is providing financial assistance to different sports and youth organisation.

        28. With a view to ameliorate hardship and suffering of the people in the Border Areas and to uplift their economic condition various schemes had been taken under the Boarder Areas Development Programme. Under Agriculture 5 tractors, 25 Power Tillers and 30 Power Pump were distributed to the farmers at 50 per cent subsidy. During 1998-99, a scheme amounting to Rs.19 lakhs have been submitted for purchasing and distribution of Power Tillers and Power Pumps to the border areas farmers at 50 percent subsidy. During 1998-99, a scheme amounting to Rs.19 lakhs have been submitted for purchasing and distribution of Power Tillers and Power Pump to the border areas farmers at 50 percent subsidy. Considering the importance and popularity of the Scheme more fund are being provided in the coming year. It is proposed to take up cash crops plantation on a subsidised basis and preliminary works for cashew cultivation and construction of check dams, irrigation channels and retaining walls is proposed to be taken up. To accelerate the pace of all around development in the border areas priority is being given to road communication. It is anticipated that the amount earmarked will be spent and physical target will be achieved. An amount of Rs.10 lakhs is earmarked to implement schemes for improving cultural and sports activities in the Border Areas. To encourage handling of transport needs a scheme to provide subsidy at the rate of 25 percent of the cost of the vehicle with a maximum of Rs.1 lakh for each vehicle is proposed to be implemented. This scheme will help to generate employment among unemployed youth. The scheme for providing financial assistance for building projects in Non-Government Schools is being implemented.

        29. In order to give the co-operative movement the desired momentum well-co-ordinated effort will be continued to revitalise the co-operatives in order to make them effective instrument of socio-economic upliftment through implementation of time bound programmes and schemes. The endeavour will be to secure sustainable, natural and spontaneous growths of the co-operatives capable of fulfilling the aspiration of the needy people. The consumer co-operative societies both in urban and rural areas are making steady progress inspite of numerous limitations and financial constraints. The performance of marketing co-operative societies is progressing and has achieved business turn-over to the tune of Rs.256.66 lakhs during 1997-98. Streamlining and strengthening of marketing and processing co-operatives societies has been initiated to ensure remunerative prices for the produce of the farmers. The Meghalaya Co-operative Apex Bank Ltd., has been able to maintain good recovery rate and high C.D. ratio in the current year. Co-operative in area like transport, dairy, handloom , women co-operatives and multi-purpose co-operative societies are making slow but steady progress. Schemes under the Ninth Five Year Plan have been formulated keeping in view the need for achieving sustainable growth of the movement giving priority to credit, marketing, processing, consumer dairy, handloom and women co-operatives.

        30. Various programmes for women, children, the physically handicapped, juvenile delinquents, the aged and infirm are being implemented by the Government. The scheme for making children job-worthy will be continued. During 1999-2000 Rs.49.32 lakhs is being proposed to continue the programme covering 85 Voluntary Organisations.

        To combat drug abuse, financial assistance is given to those voluntary organisations working actively in organising  awareness campaign against the evils of drugs in different localities. Recently the organisation received grant from the Government of India for setting up Drug-De-Addiction Centres.

        31. The mineral exploration programme is a continuing scheme and include ground water investigation and geotechnical studies. A Programme for the field season 1999-2000 has been prepared and the same will be finalised and approved by the State Geological programming Board. Mineral revenue in the form of royalty and cess have been collected and an amount of Rs.32.15 crores have been collected upto 31st December, 1998. The target for 1999-2000 is 41.00 crores.

        32. As a first step towards land reforms. Government is taking steps to renew the expired lease of all Government land in Shillong and also to realise the land revenue at enhanced rate. Possession of the Jatedari Estate in West Garo Hills has been taken and compensation paid to the tenure holders. The work at raiytwari settlement  will be taken up during the current financial year. With regard to inter-State boundary mattes, negotiation is continuing to resolve amicably the boundary dispute with Assam. Physical demarcation on the ground will be undertaken with the assistance of Survey of India.

        33. Government will continue to follow its policy of working jointly with the District Councils in all fields of development to strengthen their administration. Elections to the District Councils were completed recently.

        34. The working of computerisation of electoral rolls is in progress and the initial data entry work has now been completed in all the districts. C.M.C. Ltd., has been appointed as State Level Agency to render technical supervision for computerisation of the electoral rolls as well as to function as consultant for setting up of Computer Centres and training of staff.

        35. The work for construction of the second Meghalaya House at Calcutta is in progress. It is expected to be completely by the year 2000. Government have also decided to take up with Government of India for the allotment of 4000 to 5000 Sq. Metres of land for the construction of the Second Meghalaya House in New Delhi, and to purchase some flats at Dwarka, New Delhi or accommodation of staff. It is also felt necessary to consider acquisition of land at Vellore, Chennai for setting up of a Meghalaya House in view of the increased number of visitors to Vellore. Government also propose to acquire land at Tura for the Governor Guest House and at Mawhynrut for the Administrative Unit. Construction of an administrative building within the old transport office will be started soon.

        36. Action has been taken to procure modern machinery in the Government Presses. During 1999-2000 it is proposed to construct some residential quarters for the employees of the branch press Tura and to procure modern equipment to replace out-dated ones.

        37. Information and Public relations play a very important role in promoting transparency in the functioning of the Government. Efforts will continue to create awareness among the people and to ensure their involvement and participation in the implementation of development schemes and programmes through such activities like holding of Exhibitions at the State, District and Sub-divisional levels and appropriate publications. To improve the information flow to the rural areas the Scheme of Integrated Rural Information Centres will be improved.

        38. In this Session the Budget for 1999-2000 and the Vote on Account for part of the year will be presented. The Appropriation bill will also be placed.

        39. I have given a brief outline of the main policies and programmes of the Government which the Hon'ble Members would like to discuss.

        I wish your deliberation success.

J A I   H I N D