MEGHALAYA LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY
MARCH 16, 2000
ADDRESS BY Shri. M.M. JACOB GOVERNOR OF MEGHALAYA
Mr. Speaker and Hon'ble Members,
1. I am happy to welcome and greet you all in this august House. We assemble here today on this unique occasion to begin the first Budget session of the New Millennium. I wish you all a happy and prosperous New Year. On this occasion, let us pledge to rededicate ourselves to the all round development of the State. On this occasion, I would also like to compliment you all for ensuring the highest traditions of democracy in the State as evidenced by the smooth transition of power recently.
2. Peace and tranquility in the State is a sine-quo-non for development. During the year there was slight increase in dacoity, robbery and insurgency-related crimes. The two local militant outfits, the HNLC and the ANVC with the support from the NSCN (IM) of Nagaland and the KYKL of Manipur have been involved in some of the killings, kidnappings and extortions in different parts of the State. In order to combat the militant outfits, intensive counter insurgency operations have been taken up, and in the process, 14 (fourteen) Policemen including CRPF personnel and 10 (ten) militants lost their lives and 113 militants have been arrested. The Government is determined to contain the militant outfits and steps have been taken to wean away members of such outfits through appropriate rehabilitation schemes.
3. Vigilance is being maintained at the borders to prevent infiltration and illegal migration. A total of 4425 foreign Nationals were detected in the State and 4374 of them were pushed back during the year across the border. The remaining 51 were prosecuted and 50 of them were convicted by Courts. The State has a 423 Km long border with Bangladesh and about 260 Km of the border has been provided with fencing so far. We will take up with the Government of India to provide fencing in the remaining portions, wherever necessary.
4. To improve the effectiveness of the Police Force, steps have been taken to connect all District Headquarters with on-line-Computers. Regular inspection of Police Stations and short, in-service training programmes were also conducted at regular intervals during the year. With the help of the Government of India the modernization of the State Police Force is continuing. The State Government has also received special assistance in the form of Arms and ammunitions, vehicles, communication equipments, etc. from the Government of India. Considering the problem faced by the State in countering insurgency and the expenditure involved in such operations, the Government of India has agreed to the State Government's request to reimburse all security related expenditure incurred by the State. During the year one Indian Reserve Police Battalion has been commissioned. The Government stand committed to provide better security and countering the threat of insurgency in the State. Housing and accommodation for Police Personnel is another areas of great concern. We will take all necessary steps, subject to availability of funds to prove the required housing to the Police personnel of the State.
5. It may be mentioned here that the biggest deterrent to crime has always been the cooperative support and vigilance of Law abiding citizens themselves and this is sincerely solicited form all sections of the community in these trying times.
6. Annual Plan for the State has been proposed at Rs.517.00 crores which includes Rs.124.74 crores under the Basic Minimum Services. Over and above, the State Plan, a proposal of Rs.76.90 crores as Central Share for Centrally Sponsored Schemes and Rs.14.79 crores in respect of Central Sector Schemes have also been submitted to Planning Commission for consideration. During the visit of the Hon'ble Prime Minister to Shillong on the 21st-22nd January, 2000, the State Government had submitted a Memorandum to the Prime Minister for Financial Assistance in respect of some important Programmes and Projects to accelerate the pace of sustainable growth and development of our people and their economy.
7. Agriculture plays a dominant role in the State's economy. In the Annual Plan priority has been given to foodgrain production and horticulture. Production of Oyster and Button type of mushroom has already been started by our farmers. Tea plantation has started becoming more popular and a private green tea leaf processing factory has started functioning in Ri-Bhoi District in addition to the one in West Garo Hills District. The concept of a Food Technology Park has been projected to the Government of India and it it expected that some action will be taken on this.
8. Government's objective is to ensure better health care facilities to the people of the State. Towards this objective, a number of Health Care Programmes like eradication of Malaria, Leprosy, Control of Tuberculosis and Blindness, Aids Control Programme, etc., are being implemented. Government is also paying special attention to ensure safe motherhood and healthy childhood by implementing immunization and family planning programmes like administration of B.C.G., D.P.T., I.F.A., tablets and Vitamin A solution to children. Sterilization and promotion of use of contraceptives have been taken up. Information, education and counseling activities on the health care needs and various preventive methods have also been undertaken. During 1999-2000 , Intensive Pulse Polio Immunization Programme, National Blindness Control Programme and National Leprosy Eradication fortnight have been successfully observed with mass participation. It has also been the endeavor of the Government to expand the health care institution by construction of C.H.Cs and Sub-centres in the State. Such programme will be continued according to necessity. Upgradation of the Community Health Centres at Mairang, Williamnagar, Nongstoin and Nongpoh are in progress. The new O.P.D. Complex and Nurse's Training Centre-cum-Hostel in the Civil Hospital, Shillong have been inaugurated. Construction of the Meghalaya Institute of Mental Health and Neurological Sciences building, O.P.D. Complex and Nurses' Training Centre-cum- Hostel attached to the Ganesh Das Hospital have also been started. Upgradation of the Orthopaedic and Rehabilitation Centre at Shillong Civil Hospital sponsored by the North Easter Council is in progress. I am happy to announce that the C.T. Scan Machine procured under the scheme will be ready for commissioning within this financial year. Installation of incinerators at Civil Hospital, Ganesh Das Hospital and the R.P. Chest Hospital is under process. Out of the 10 (ten) newly procured X-Ray Machines, 7 (seven) have already been installed. Government plans to improve the quality of specialised services to the people of the State in rural and urban areas both.
9. The Government seeks to promote industrialization through a number of policies and schemes designed to encourage the setting up of industrial units in the State. Various incentives declared by the Government of India for rapid industrialization of the North Eastern States is likely to attract a large number of Industries to our State in the near future. Various infrastructural development schemes with the objective of encouraging new industrial units have also been implemented of which the Export Promotion Industrial Park at Byrnihat is the most ambitious. The State Government will continue to promote Tiny and Village Industries and the Meghalaya Industrial Development Corporation and the DICs will also continue. Training and Industrial promotion schemes with the objective of developing the requisite entrepreneurial skills in the State. I am happy to inform that MCCL a State Government Undertaking has been making very decent profits. A prominent multinational cement company has shown interest in our State in the field of Cement production and I hope that it will be precursor of many more industries in the years to come.
10. In the Community and Rural Development Sector during the Ninth Five Year Plan period, it is proposed to create seven new Community and Rural Development Blocks one in each of the seven District. The Swarnjayanti Gram Samridhi Swarozgar Yojana (SGSY) programme has been launched from 1st April, 1999. The objective of this new programme is to bring the poor families above the poverty line by providing income generating assets through bank credit and Government subsidy. Another important programme the Jawahar Gram Samridhi Yojana (JGSY) was also launched on the 1st April, 1999 for the development of the rural villages through village communities for sustained employment. Ongoing scheme like the Indira Awas Yojana (IAY), the Employment Assurance Scheme and the National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP, SRWP & CRRP) will continue to be implemented.
11. It is proposed that, besides the Special Rural Works Programme, a fund to be named as "Chief Minister's Special Rural Development Fund" be created as a component of the Special Rural Works Programme. The budget provision of this Fund will be made in the Community & Rural Development Budget. The schemes identified by Chief Minister and amount to be sanctioned by him will be indicated to the Community & Rural Development Department which will issue necessary sanction after proper technical scrutiny and place the amount with the Chief Minister's Secretariat. The Chief Minister's Secretariat will release sanctioned funds in favour of the beneficiaries through the Deputy Commissioners concerned. No individual beneficiary will be permissible under this Fund.
12. It is also proposed that, besides the Special Urban Works Programme, a fund to be named as "Chief Minister's Special Urban Development Fund", be created. The scheme to be implemented from this fund as identified by Chief Minister himself will be communicated to the Urban Affairs Department, which will issue sanction after observing technical requirements and place the fund at the disposal of the Chief Minister's Secretariat. The Chief Minister's Secretariat will release the funds in favour of the beneficiaries through the concerned Municipalities. No individual beneficiary will be permissible under this fund.
13. Under the Animal Husbandry Sector, 4 new dispensaries/aid centres are proposed to be set up in the next Financial Year. One liquid nitrogen plant is being procured for the Intensive Cattle Development Project, Tura, Schemes for strengthening the cattle farms at Upper Shillong and Kyrdemkulai are proposed to be taken up with NABARD assistance. One poultry based farm to strengthen the existing poultry Breeding Project at Kyrdemkulai is under implementation with NEC assistance. To introduce low impact and high production breeds of poultry, the existing poultry farms at Umsning will be strengthened under the Central Sector Scheme. A similar project will be set up at Tura shortly.
14. In the Sericulture Sector, emphasis is laid on developing infrastructure imparting training on improved technologies to the farmers. It is expected that about 585 progressive farmers, reelers and spinners will be trained. In the handloom sector production of handloom fabrics is expected to increase from 64.38 lakhs sq. metres to 67.50 lakhs sq. metres. It is envisaged to train educated unemployed youths and progressive weavers, artisan weavers and silk weavers. Efforts will be made to encourage rural prosperity.
15. In the Pisciculture sector the proposed outlay for 2000-2001 is Rs.175.00 lakhs. To boost fish production the Government will develop innovative schemes in the private sector and utilize available resources. The scheme for providing financial assistance and distribution of fish seeds to fish farmers will continue.
16. Historically, Government owned forests have very little coverage, whereas private forests constitute the major bulk of the forest area in the State. The unbridled exploitation of forests has also badly affected the bio-genetic diversity and the environment at large, and has also contributed to environmental depredation. The main emphasis of forestry related programmes would be to augment the forest cover, promotion of endangered species and medicinal plants. Since major chunks of forests are under the control and management of the District Councils and in order to effectively comply with the Supreme Court's order, the Government have taken steps for the preparation of the Working Plan/Working Schemes in respect of the forest areas owned or managed by the District Councils to ensure their scientific management. This is being done in close association with the District Councils.
17. Meghalaya is adversely affected by the serious misuse of land resources which is caused mainly by man's exploitation of the natural resources like soil, water and vegetation. The Government will continue to implement schemes with a view to combat depletion of soil, water and vegetation. The Development of plantation crops, horticultural crops and suitable Commercial Crops through the Meghalaya Commercial Crops Development Board is being done in order to help the people in properly utilising land resources.
18. It is recognised that Tourism in the State has a vast potential and this could generate both direct and ancillary employment facilities for the local population. Quite a lot remains to be done for infrastructural development. A comprehensive Tourism Policy is being formulated by the State Government, which would include a scheme for tourism-related incentives. Setting up of the Hotel Management Institute is under process. Steps to make it operational from a temporary location have been taken by the Government. Training facilities will be made available to the youths of the State in this Institute. Privatisation of Tourist Institutes and activities will be encouraged.
19. It has been found that the urbanization rate in Meghalaya is higher than that many of other North Eastern States. The migration from the rural areas and smaller towns, increase in the number of vehicles, etc., have resulted in rapid urban growth and urbanization problems like traffic congestion emergence of slums, etc. To ease these problems, Master Plans have been proposed for Shillong, Tura and Jowai. The Master Plan of Williamnagar and Nongstoin is being processed, and that for Baghmara and Nongpoh will be initiated soon. Various Schemes for the development of infrastructure and civic amenities in all Urban centres have been formulated. The New Shillong Township project is in the offing and some land has already been acquired for this project. Solid waste management scheme for Shillong has been approved for implementation. Attempts will be made to improve drainage & sewerage system in Urban agglomeration in the State. Special Urban Works Programme will continue.
20. The schemes under the Urban Poverty Alleviation programme viz; Savarna Jayanti Shahari Rozgar Yojana are being implemented in Shillong, Tura, Baghmara, Williamnagar, Jowai and Resubelpara through the respective Municipal Boards. This Scheme will continue in 2000-2001 also.
21. In the field of power generation scheme during the year 2000-2001 the Central Electricity Authority, after a study of a detailed Project Report and in collaboration with the Meghalaya State Electricity Board have revised the estimates of the Myntdu Leishka Project to Rs.303.00 crores. Techno-economic clearance was issued in September, 1999 but environmental clearance is still awaited. The renovation and modernisation work of Umiam Stage I power station is being taken up. During 1998-99, the consultant had been engaged for preparation of project report and and tender documents for detailed execution of work at an estimated cost of Rs.264.00 lakhs in phases I and II. The transmission and distribution network is also being strengthened. Non Conventional Energy Programmes will continue to be implemented.
22. Provision of safe drinking water to the people is a priority programme, being one of the seven Basic Minimum Services. The objective of the Government is to provide safe drinking water to the entire population by the years 2004 as per the National Agenda. Quality improvement Schemes are also being taken under Sub Mission Programme of the Government to tackle the problem of excess iron present in drinking water. The Greater Shillong Water Supply Scheme has been partially completed. The mass gravity concrete dam over the Umiam River in Mawphlang is under construction and it is likely to be completed by the year 2002 A.D. Scientific of waste and effluent of rivers discharged in the Umiam lake engaged priority attention to save aquatic beings and environment.
23. In the housing sector, the Government propose to provide shelter to the shelter less. As two-thirds of the houses in the State are temporary structures, steps are being taken to replace them with durable ones within a time frame.
24. Government propose to construct three more District Jails in the State, for which land is already acquired at Nongstoin while acquisition process is on at Nongpoh. Construction works are proposed during 2000-2001. For the proposed District Jail at Baghmara, steps have been taken for obtaining the land.
25. As per the guidelines of the Central Government, special subsidised foodgrains are distributed to the consumers who are below the poverty level. Regular monitoring of the prices in the open market is being made by the Government to ensure price stability. The Meghalaya Consumers Grievances Redressal Commission at the State Level and the District Forum for each of the Districts have been set up under the provision of the Consumers Protection Act. Mobile Fair Price Shop Scheme has been implemented for distribution of essential commodities through Vans to the consumers at the far-flung areas.
26. The overall development of the State depends primarily on the road communication system. While priority has been given to improvement and upgradation of existing roads and bridges, new projects will also be taken up as per needs of connectivity. Modern machineries are increasingly being used to achieve better quality work.
27. The Rongai Valley Irrigation Scheme is expected to be completed by the end of 1999-2000. Four other Medium Irrigation Projects viz: Kodaldhawa, Pynthorwah, Pynthornein and Mawramhah Valley Medium Irrigation Projects are under different stages of survey and investigation.
28. Road Transport in Meghalaya plays a pivotal role. The Meghalaya Transport Corporation has provided services to 643 villages in the State. During the year 2000 - 2001, Rs.175.00 lakhs is proposed for fleet renewal. With the help of the Government of India subsidy, a daily Helicopter service by Pawan Hans Helicopters Ltd. has been re-introduced in the State connecting Shillong to Tura and Gauhati. The State Government has also taken up with the Government of India for upgrading Umroi airport for Boeing services and commencing 52 Seater capacity aircraft. The other airport at Baljek is almost complete and will be handed over in a few months.
29. In the field of Technical Education, the State is poised for a great leap forward. At present, the State of Meghalaya has only one Polytechnic at Shillong. I am happy to say that with the assistance from the World Bank, it is proposed to set up two more Polytechnics at Tura and Jowai. The existing Shillong Polytechnic is also being strengthened with more disciplines. The projects are time bound and expected to come up within two years. All this will generate the much needed impetus for Technical Education and respect for blue collared workers. In Higher Education, during 1999-2000 opening permission has been granted to 61 new Adhoc secondary schools, 16 new higher secondary schools and 6 new colleges run by private bodies.
30. The Government will continue to play a regulatory role by determining minimum standards for the teachers. Under the 10th Finance Commission Award, 2770 Primary Schools and deficit Upper Primary Schools were provided with drinking water facility. Opening permission was granted to 194 Primary Schools and 33 Upper Primary Schools. Out of 6576 villages in the State, schooling facilities within walking distance are available in 5000 villages. During 2000-2001 it is proposed to cover 400 such school in villages. The non-formal education centres will continue in 2000-2001. Grant-in-aid will be given to 346 Upper Primary Schools in 2000-2001. The State Government is formulating a new Education Policy to streamline the administration by giving more powers to the Managing Committee in Deficit Educational Institutions and encouraging academic autonomy.
31. The Second Phase of the Jawaharlal Nehru Sports Complex was inaugurated on the 25th May, 1999. I am happy to state that in the recent months, some sports personalities from the State had brought laurels to the State and the Country as a whole. Government would continue to nurture the development of Sports and Games in the State. It is proposed to construct stadia at all District Headquarters. Rural Sports will be encouraged aimed at reaching and tapping talent in the State. C.M's. Youth Development Programme will continue.
32. With a view to promoting the economic condition of the people living in the Border Areas, various Schemes in the Agriculture, Education, Soil Conservation, Roads and Bridges and Co-operation sectors will continue to be implemented. Under the Special Central Assistance, ropeways have been commissioned already, it is proposed to construct 37 numbers of ropeways in the border villages where road construction is not possible.
33. The co-operative movement in the State, being a people's movement and basically democratic in nature, and voluntary in character, is yet to take the shape of mass movement, but all attempts will be made so that it becomes and instrument of socio-economic transformation. The performance of the Meghalaya Co-operative Apex Bank with its strong outreach of 37 branches in the State is worth mentioning with a credit deposit ratio of 30%, which is likely to improve in the coming years.
34. In the Social Welfare Sector, it is proposed to increase the financial assistance to the passed out trainees in different trades like Weaving, Tailoring, Embroidery and Knitting from Rs.500/- to Rs.5000/- to enable the trainees to start self employment ventures. The Government will continue the schemes of sponsoring 10 poor orphan, destitute and single parent girls to undergo a one year training in Computers with a monthly stipend of Rs.500/-. Financial assistance to NGOs for taking care of the neglected, aged destitutes suffering from incurable diseases will continue. A centrally sponsored Indira Mahila Yojana Scheme is being implemented in the Mylliem Community and Rural Development Block, East Khasi Hills. The main object of the scheme is to help women to be self reliant and independent through income generation activities and active participation in decision making at various stages. Under this scheme 73 Indira Mahila Kendra (IMK) has been registered. Efforts are made to register more Kendras against the specified target of 120 Kendras in the State. The Government will also continue to assist voluntary organisations in the field of welfare activities. Financial assistance is provided to 24 institutions run by voluntary organisations for taking care of 835 needy children. Financial assistance is being given to 60 orphanages and two crèches for providing food, shelter, education to the orphans and the destitutes.
35. Eight Mineral exploration programmes in the arena of Mining and Geology, were taken up which include ground water investigation and geo-technical studies during 1999-2000. An amount of Rs.32.31 crores was collected as mineral revenue upto the 31st December, 1999. Contribution of share capital/grant-in-aid to the Meghalaya Mineral Development Co-operation Limited for mineral development activities and sponsored scholarship to the local students for man power development is being continued.
36. Expired leases of Government land in Shillong are being renewed, and land revenue at enhanced rates is being collected. A fresh detailed survey of these lands is also being undertaken with a view to updating all the relevant revenue records. With regard to the problem of Inter-State Boundary with Assam, attempts will continue to resolve the matter amicably through bilateral negotiations.
37. The State Government will continue to give financial support of the Autonomous District Councils and work jointly in co-operation with them so that various development programmes sanctioned by the Government get effectively implemented.
38. Construction of the Administrative building at the old Transport Office Compound will be started soon. The construction of the staff quarters at Kench's Trace, Shadbash Bungalow compound and the Officer's quarters at Motinagar and Arbuthnot Road have been completed. It has also been decided to purchase some flats at Dwarka, New Delhi from the Delhi Development Authority. More residential buildings are proposed to be constructed in Shillong to accommodate the Ministers and Officers. Government also propose to acquire land at Tura for the construction of the Governor's Guest House and at Mawshynrut for the administrative Unit. Government propose to acquire 10 flats from T.H.B. at a cost of 69 lakhs to be paid in 14 installments. Government of India have allotted a new plot at Vasant Vihar for a new Meghalaya House. Attempts will be made to suitably upgrade the level of accommodation at Jowai Circuit House.
39. The State Government is gearing itself to take advantage of advancements in the field of Science and Technology, and is also contemplating the formulation of an appropriate IT policy for the State. Land has also been made available at Umiam for setting up of the North Eastern Space Application Centre of the Department of Space, which is expected to be inaugurated soon.
40. The State Government is continuing to preserve and promote the rich traditional and cultural heritage of the ethnic tribes of Meghalaya in the field of drama, dance, music, and painting and is also undertaking research documentation of vanishing art forms. The scheme for intensive Art and Cultural Development Programme in the urban and rural areas through the Hon'ble Members of this Assembly is implemented to help people preserve and promote their cultural identity. Grant-in-aid is being provided to skilled artisans/modelers/painters, etc. Steps will be taken in a phase manner to promote and strengthen the State and District museum. Construction of the first phase of the State Cultural Complex at Brookeside, Shillong will be completed soon. The building for District Museum-cum- Cultural Complex at Dakopgre will also be constructed soon.
41. In the Labour and Employment sector, the facilities for coaching and guidance of the SC/ST to appear in the competitive examinations conducted by the Central recruiting agencies like the Staff Selection Commission, Banking Recruitment Board, etc., are functioning at Shillong. These will be given the required facilities.
42. The Administration of the State Excise Department has been geared up to check illicit sale of liquor and evasion of Excise Revenue. 2547 Excise cases were detected during the first nine months of the year as compared to 2326 cases during 1998-99. Excise Revenue exceeding Rs.38.00 crores is likely to be collected till 1999-2000 as against Rs.33.12 crores during 1998-99. Excise Officers will be further trained and equipped during the year, with a view to step up detection of illicit sale of liquor and improving collection of Excise Revenue.
43. The Administrative network for the enforcement of taxation laws, prevention of tax evasion and collection of taxes has been strengthened. Uniform Floor Rate of Sales Tax has been introduced in the State along with the rest of the country with effect from 1st January, 2000. These measures have resulted in the likely collection exceeding Rs.54.00 crores as tax revenue during the current year as compared to Rs.49.33 crores during 1998-99. The introduction of Value Added Tax with effect from 1st April 2001 in pursuance of the decision of the Government of India to replace present tax laws with the Uniform Value Added Tax is under consideration of the State Government.
44. My Government appreciates the role of Civil Defence and Home Guards personnel, and commends their service. Government have made 708 posts permanent which will generated better interest.
45. Government attaches great importance to transparency and fair play in dealing with issues of public importance which will ensure accountability.
46. I have attempted to highlight some of the important policies and programmes of the Government. I am sure that the deliberations in this House will be constructive. I wish all the Members success.