MEGHALAYA LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY
MARCH 16, 2001
ADDRESS BY Shri. M.M. JACOB GOVERNOR OF MEGHALAYA
Mr. Speaker and Hon'ble Members
1. I welcome you all to this August House and extend my warm wishes to all of you for a prosperous year ahead. I am addressing all of you in this temporary location due to the unfortunate fire that gutted the historic heritage Assembly building to ashes. It is an irreparable loss and we shall cherish the fond memories of the time we spent in the building.
2. We join the rest of the Country to express our deep sadness and concern on the tragic and devastating earthquake that rocked Bhuj and other parts of the State of Gujarat, which caused huge loss of precious lives and properties. We wish for the speedy recovery of all those who have been affected by this natural calamity.
3. Census operation of the Millennium has been conducted in the State along with the rest of the Country peacefully with active cooperation of the people. The data so generated would be useful in planning our future strategy for the growth and development of the State.
4. The Stare has remained free from communal disturbances during the last one year. However, the militant organizations like the HNLC and ANVC have been continuing their criminal activities like robbery, dacoity, extortion, kidnapping and murders in various parts of the State. The New Year unfortunately started with nine senseless killings, including four policemen. To tackle the problem of militancy the Government will continue to strengthen the State police force through modernization of arms and ammunition, communication equipments, vehicles, manpower etc. Steps have also been taken to strengthen training, operational skills and intelligence gathering. Counter insurgency operations have been intensified and will continue to be carried out wherever required.
5. Peace is an essential component for all round development of the State. The Government organized peace rallies on 8th June, 2000 in all the District headquarters of the State where people from all walks of life participated in large numbers which amply demonstrated that the society as a whole wanted peace and harmony and not militancy and violence. Government has also on numerous occasions called upon the militant organizations to come forward and discuss their problems and grievances and to shun violent activities, which not only endanger peace and harmony but also impede the progress of development.
6. I am glad to mention that a large number of ANVC militants have chosen to come over ground recently to join the mainstream of social life. The Government has constituted a Rehabilitation Advisory Committee to provide counselling and recommend for appropriate training and rehabilitation of such militants.
7. The 423 Kms. long stretch of international border with Bangladesh facilitates easy infiltration of Bangladeshi Nationals directly into Meghalaya. To tackle the problem of infiltration of foreign nationals, 47 infiltration check posts have been set up by the State Government under the scheme of Prevention of Infiltration of Foreigners and anti infiltration personnel have been maintaining vigilance. This is an addition to 82 Border Outposts set up by the Border Security Force.
8. The Ninth Five-Year Plan of the State covering a period from 1997-2002 is being implemented in full swing and we are now in the fourth year of its implementation. The State Plan outlay for the year 2000-01 has been fixed at Rs.480 crores and for the year 2001-02 the proposed plan outlay is Rs.552 crores. During this year a new initiative in the form of Prime Minister's Gramodaya Yojana (PMGY) has been introduced in order to achieve the objective of sustainable human development at the village level. Under this programme assistance will be provided for sectors like Primary Education, Primary Health Care, Provision of safe drinking water, Nutrition and Housing facilities to the families below poverty line. In addition to provide better road connectivity, through good and all weather roads, all unconnected habitations will be covered in the next few years under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana. This year being the penultimate year of the Ninth Five-Year Plan, the thrust will be on completion of the ongoing Schemes and Projects. Efforts will be made to mobilise resources for investments, utilization of untapped virgin resources and improving the efficiency of the delivery mechanisms for developmental activities.
9. Meghalaya is basically an agrarian State and agriculture plays a predominant role in the State economy. However, the progress of agriculture continues to be handicapped due to slow changing method of technology and large scale shifting cultivation (jhuming). To realize the target of food grains production during 2001-2002 strategies to develop the existing rice fields with irrigation facilities for multiple cropping will be adopted. Thrust will be given for development of horticultural sector which yields high returns. There is also vast scope for cultivation of mushroom and tea on commercial basis. Under tea plantation the State has about 423.13 hectares involving 450 small tea cultivators. Irrigation potential in the State has been identified to be 5.48 lakhs hectares of which 2.48 lakhs hectares is for agriculture based crops and 3.00 lakhs hectares for the horticultural crops. The National Water Shed Development Project for rain fed areas is being implemented in 32 micro watershed projects in all the Districts. The regulated market at Mawiong and Garobadha under the State Agriculture Marketing Board are now fully operational. In the Irrigation sector, more projects are being proposed to the Central Water Commission for undertaking survey and investigation in the State. Rongai Valley Medium Irrigation Project could not be completed due to land dispute. However, attempt is being made to sort out the dispute so as to complete the project as early as possible. In order to strengthen the administration of Irrigation Wing and for proper supervision of implementation of irrigation projects, the Government has recently decided to create a separate Directorate of Irrigation.
10. Providing Health Care for all is the national goal. The proposed Annual Plan outlay for 2001-2002 is Rs.3437 lakhs. Priority has been given for extension, expansion and consolidation of the urban and rural health infrastructure. The ongoing upgradation of the Orthopaedic and Rehabilitation Centre at the Shillong Civil Hospital is being undertaken with funding from NEC. The centrally sponsored National Programme for eradication of Malaria and Leprosy Control of Tuberculosis and Blindness will also continue. The World Bank sponsored programme for control of AIDS has been given due importance and the Government has set up the Meghalaya AIDS Control Society to implement the programme in the right earnest. Pulse Polio Immunization Programme, the biggest National Public Health Programme, is being implemented in our State also. The National Polio Surveillance Project for detecting incidence of Polio cases will continue in the State. I am very happy to say that participation of the people and various organizations in the whole programme is very encouraging. The Pasteur Institute is a pioneer Medical research Institute in the country and is only of its kind in the entire North Eastern Region. It continues to provide various laboratory services for diagnostics and training purposes.
11. Pace of industrialization in the State is picking up. With the package of incentives of the Industrial Policy of 1997 and the fiscal concessions granted by the Government of India, a large number of entrepreneurs are approaching the Government for setting up industries in the State. So far a total number of 112 new investment units have been approved by the Single Window Agency with potential investment of Rs.43,206.41 lakhs and employment potential for about 7184 persons. The package scheme includes among others, scheme of Capital Investment Subsidy, Development Subsidy, Local Employment Promotion, Interest Subsidy and Power Subsidy. In the Small Scale Industries the total outlay has been fixed at Rs.200 lakhs. Under the Annual Plan, stipendary Assistance and awareness programmes are being conducted in all the districts of the State. The State Government will continue to promote small and village industries. Training and industrial promotion scheme will also be continued through District industries Centres. To give a further fillip to industrialization, additional allocation of Rs.10.00 crores has been made during the current Annual Plan. Steps have also been taken to modernize the Mawmluh-Cherra Ltd., with a view to enhance its productive capacity and competitiveness.
12. Community and Rural Development Department continues to play an important role in the process of accelerating the economic and social development of rural areas with a view to increase the income level and quality of the life of the rural poor. The Centrally sponsored schemes like Swarnjayanti Gram Swarojgar Yojana (SGSY), Jawahar Garm Samridhi Yojana (JGSY), Employment Assurance Schemes (EAS) and Indira Awaas Yojana (IAY), and Central Sector Schemes like National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP) and State Sector Schemes like assistance to small and Marginal Farmers, Special Rural Works Programme (SRWP) & Construction of Rural Roads Programme (CRRP) are being implemented. The main aim of these schemes is to bring people above the poverty line, generating employment in rural areas and creating rural infrastructure. The Government proposed to create seven new Community and Rural Development Blocks during the current year under the award of the Eleventh Finance Commission. During this year a new scheme called the Chief Minister Special Rural Development Fund, with an approved outlay of Rs.400 lakhs has been formulated for implementation.
13. The rate of urbanisation in Meghalaya has been found to be higher than that of other States of the North-Eastern region, resulting in traffic congestion and growth of slums. Efforts will be made to improve infrastructure and civic amenities in all urban centres of the State. Urban Poverty Alleviation Programmes, Chief Minister's Urban Development Fund and Special Urban Works Programme (SUWP) will continue to be implemented in all urban centres of the State through the respective Municipal Boards. Construction of an Electric Crematorium at Shillong, a Market-cum-Parking complex at Police Bazaar, at Khlieh Iewduh near Khasi Hills District Council Office and at Nongpoh will be taken up. The Shillong Solid Waste Disposal Project is expected to be commissioned by the end of this year.
14. The focus of the Animal Husbandry sector will be for increasing output of farm products. The programmes for qualitative improvement of livestocks and poultry will continue. Public participation for increasing milk, meat and egg production in private sector will be encouraged. Intensive Cattle Development Project at Tura and Upper Shillong will be strengthened.
15. The programmes for Sericulture, Handloom & Weaving sector will continue. Emphasis will be given for imparting training for use of improved technology in Eri spinning as well as mulberry and muga reeling. Departmental seed farms and Centres will be improved and strengthened. A Central Sector Scheme called Deen Dayal Hatkargha Protsahan Yojana will also be implemented in the State for improvement of the Handloom sector.
16. The programmes for increasing fish production in the State will be accelerated. Technical and financial assistance will continue to be provided through the Fish Farmers Development Agency.
17. The restrictions and regulations imposed on forest operation by the direction of the Apex Court of the country continue. Working Plans for the operation of State Forests for all three Divisions of the State have been approved by the Central Government. However, the operation of these Plans has been temporarily kept in abeyance due to recent direction of the Apex Court. Efforts are being made to meet the requirements of the aforesaid direction in order to operationalise the Working Plans quickly. Efforts for increasing the area under afforestation and forest plantations will continue. The implementation of the Village Reserve Forest Scheme, which had been pending for long, has been taken up. With a view to create a Biogenetic Diversity Research Centre, a suitable plot of land has been identified in Ri Bhoi District and steps are being taken to acquire the site for establishment of the Centre which will be funded by the Central Government. An Armed Forest Task Force will be set up during the year with grants provided for such purpose by the Eleventh Finance Commission. The Force will be dedicated for the purpose of protecting the State reserve forests from encroachment as well as illegal felling. The Autonomous District Councils are being assisted in the manner of preparation of Working Plans for forests under their control. Likewise, steps have also been taken to support the preparation of Working Plans of private plantations.
18. Meghalaya is susceptible to acute soil erosion due to its topography and high rainfall. The practicing of Jhum cultivation, unscientific mining and quarrying further aggravates the problem of soil erosion. The major task for the Government therefore is combating degradation of our natural resources especially soil, water, vegetation and investing into their conservation for future generations. The Government will continue to prevent depletion of soil, water and vegetation with the objective of conserving them for achieving sustained food production, ensuring food security and generating employment.
19. Tourism has a vast potential in the State of Meghalaya because of its enchanting and alluring scenic beauty. With a view to exploit this potential, the Government has recently finalised a new Tourism Policy for the State providing for incentives to attract investments in this sector. Government proposes to expand its activities in areas of Adventure Tourism like trekking, cave exploration, river rafting, hand-gliding and rock climbing. Special emphasis on development of various tourist spots in the State and construction of tourist bungalows at district headquarters, where no such facilities are available, will be taken up. Setting up of tourist information centres in different districts will also be taken up. The setting up of Hotel Management Institute is also under progress and it has been made functional.
20. Government is trying its best to secure environmental clearance for Myntdu-Leishka Hydro Electric Project in the State. The renovation and modernisation work of Umiam Stage I Power Station is being taken up. The centrally sponsored scheme for construction of 1.32 KV double circuit transmission line from Umiam-Umtru Stage IV to border of Meghalaya towards Guwahati was completed and commissioned in May, 2000. A scheme has been formulated to strengthen and improve the existing sub transmission and distribution system in the State. Strengthening and augmentation of the existing electricity system in Shillong and Tura is in progress. Due to increasing load demand in the industrial areas setting up of two thermal power Stations of 4 x 6 MV, one each at Byrnihat and Mendipathar, is proposed. During the year 2000-2001 survey and investigation work of Umiam Umtru Stage-V Hydro Electric Project, Umngot Hydro Electric Project Stage I, Leishka Stage II and Umngi along with some small hydro project works have been taken up. To undertake the electrification of villages an amount of Rs.75 lakhs has been sanctioned under the Prime Minister's package for the socio economic development of the North Eastern States for electrification of 10 tribal villages in the State. Besides this, Government has decided to cover 240 more villages during the current and next year with a loan assistance of Rs.18.72 crores from Government of India under the Rural Electrification Programme. The Government of India has also approved a scheme for grant of interest subsidy for electrification of tribal villages in the state that is being implemented now.
21. For providing safe drinking water and sanitation facilities, the programmes are being implemented both in rural and urban areas of the State. Safe drinking water in the rural areas has been included as one of the components under the Prime Minister's Gramodaya Yojana with an objective to provide safe drinking water to the entire population by 2004 as per the National Agenda. During 2000-2001 it is proposed to cover 150 numbers of un-covered habitations, 210 numbers of partially covered habitations and 25 numbers of iron affected habitations. Greater Shillong Water Supply Scheme, which caters to the drinking water needs of the Capital town is partially completed and at present 7.5 MGD of water is supplied daily to Shillong and enroute villages. The construction of Mass Gravity Concrete Dam over river "Umiew" in Mawphlang is progressing and is scheduled to be completed by March, 2002. An augmentation scheme has been taken up for Cherrapunjee and Williamnagar. Improvement and Augmentation Schemes for Tura, Jowai and Baghmara towns are being proposed. Under the Human resources Development Programme, grass root level training is being imparted to the villagers in operation and maintenance of Water Supply Schemes so that the schemes may be handed over to the village committees for maintenance.
22. The Government policy for providing shelter to families below poverty line will be continued with special emphasis for qualitative upgradation of house. During 2000-2001 the Government decided to cover 10,000 rural poor families.
23. In the Prison administration, security of the Jails is one of the priority areas that is to be reinforced and upgraded in a phased manner. The Eleventh Finance Commission Grants will be fully utilised for modernisation of prison administration in the State.
24. The Public Distribution System in the State consists of a network of 649 Fair Price Shops in urban areas and 3644 Fair Price Shops in rural areas. Mobile shops also operate in the far-flung areas . The distribution system works under direct control of DCs and SDOs. The streamlining and strengthening of system of procurement of essential commodities will continue. Steps are being taken to enforce various controls orders issued under the Essential Commodities Act. The District Forums have been set up under the Consumer Protection Act in all the seven Districts.
25. Road network is the only means of communication in the hilly State. The Government is giving utmost importance for speedy development of road infrastructure as the socio-economic development of the State depends entirely on this Sector. At the end of 1999-2000, a total of 2633 numbers of villages have been connected with road network. Under the newly launched Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) 60 more villages would be provided connectivity during 2000-2001. Apart from continuing other development schemes, Government will continue to give thrust to the development of roads and communication in border areas.
26. Road Transport plays a dominant role towards communication in the State. The Government, therefore, is encouraging and fostering a healthy growth of the road transport sector. Permits are being granted liberally both for "Goods transport" and "Passengers transport" vehicles to private operators. The Meghalaya Transport Corporation has acquired 10 new bus chassis for replacement of old vehicles during 2000-2001. Helicopter service between Shillong, Guwahati and Tura, which has been operating since 1999, will be continued during the current year also. The construction of "Baljek Airport" near Tura has been nearly completed except installation of air traffic control equipments, navigation aids and other instruments and the same is expected to become operational shortly. The matter of upgradation of Umroi Airport is also being pursued with the Government of India.
27. In the area of Education, the State will continue to strive for the improvement of educational standards including facilities and service conditions of teachers. Financial support in the form of Grants-in-Aid within available resources is being extended to private agencies in the management of schools and colleges. The District Institutes of Education and Training have been made operational with a view to improve quality of Elementary Education in the State. Talent Search Examinations to identify bright and talented students from the State are being conducted at different stages of school education and successful candidates are provided with financial assistance in the form of scholarships and book grants. Under the PMGY Scheme as well as Eleventh Finance Commission grants, the construction of new Primary School buildings will be undertaken besides providing drinking water and toilet facilities in the existing primary schools. To improve technical education, the objective of the Government during the current year has been to bring about modernisation and improvement of the facilities available in the Shillong Polytechnic to meet the demand of the middle level technicians. Setting up of new polytechnics at Tura and Jowai and strengthening of the Shillong Polytechnic has already been initiated under the recently approved World Bank Assisted Project.
28. Information Technology, which represents a rapidly changing and growing sector of the world economy, is becoming a critical ingredients of development. The Government has decided to provide a major thrust to this area. The computer infrastructure in the State Secretariat has been strengthened. Local Area Network and Internet connectivity has been made available in the Secretariat. Efforts are being made to establish a Software Technology Park at Shillong. Recently with the assistance of the Government of India, Community Information Centres have been set up in the two Development Blocks. Over a period of next two years, similar Centres would be set up in all the Development Blocks in the State. This would enable people of the State to obtain immense benefits from the latest technology and bring them closer to the Government. Information Technology (IT) in the form of computer education will be introduced in the High Schools and Higher Secondary Schools.
29. The State Government will continue to promote sports and games. Sports infrastructure at village, block and State level will also be given impetus in a phased manner. Financial assistance is being given to the Sports Associations and Clubs for conducting sports in different disciplines, for improvement of playgrounds in Districts and for participation in the National Regional and State Level Competitions. Intensive Sports and Youth Development Scheme will be continued.
30. Cooperative movement in the State is making slow but steady progress. I am sure that Cooperative Societies will be able to play a vital role in the development and welfare of the tribals and other weaker sections of the society. With initiatives and efforts of the Government there has been a visible impact and now people are coming forward in increasing numbers to form cooperative societies. The Meghalaya Cooperative Apex Bank with its outreach of 37 branches in the State has been playing a vital role in providing credit to societies and people of the State.
31. In the social welfare sector, financial assistance to two Non-Governmental Organisations, namely Mercy Home Demthring, Shillong and St. Xaviers' Society of Christ Jesus, Tura for taking care of neglected, aged and destitute persons and similar assistance to other Non-Governmental Organisations working for the welfare of women, for organising awareness campaign against evils of drugs, and for the welfare of the disabled person in the State will continue.
32. Mineral exploration is an important revenue earning area for the State. During the year 1999-2000 as many as six mineral investigation programmes and five geo-hydrological investigations for exploration of ground water resources were conducted. An amount of Rs.21.77 crores was collected up to October, 2000 in the form of royalty and cess. Thirteen check gates in different parts of the State have been erected to check transportation of minerals produces through different outlets. Weigh-bridges are proposed to be installed for mobilisation of additional resources. On-going schemes will be continued.
33. Government of Meghalaya is keen to settle the Inter-State boundary problem with the Government of Assam. The Chief Ministers of Meghalaya and Assam agreed to resolve border issues in an amicable manner and to strengthen the age-old friendly ties among the people of the two States. Both the Chief Ministers have met a number of times for this purpose. The State Level Land Revenue Committee has also been constituted for advising the Government in the matter. The first report of the Committee is under examination.
34. The State Government would continue to work closely with the Autonomous District Councils and provide them financial support to supplement the Government effort in bringing about the development of the rural poor.
35. For convenience of the people of the State, the Government has constructed two dormitories in Meghalaya House at Guwahati. The construction work of second Meghalaya House at Kolkata is in progress and is expected to be completed soon. Construction of Yojana Bhavan as an extension of Main Secretariat is in progress. The Government will develop the land already allotted by Government of India at Vasant Vihar, New Delhi measuring 1817.5 Sq. metres, so that more accommodation can be made available.
36. In the Ninth Plan, implementation of new and innovative appropriate technologies has been emphasised with regard to development of Science and Technology. Appropriate technology and equipments are being procured from time to time for the purpose of popularising relevant technologies for the benefit of the people of the State. Setting up of a technology part at Nongpoh at a cost of Rs.7 lakhs is proposed to be taken up in the next financial year.
37. The State is rightfully proud of its rich cultural heritage. To preserve and protect the rich cultural heritage of the people of the State in the field of music, dance, drama, folk lore, research and documentation of vanishing art forms etc. and also for promotion and development of literature and creative arts the scheme known as "Living Heritage Scheme" is being implemented. Intensive Arts and Culture Development Scheme will be continued.
38. In the labour and employment sector, efforts are being made to strengthen facilities for coaching and career guidance for ST/SC candidates. Under Employees State Insurance Scheme, 2150 workers and their family members have benefited. The Scheme will continue to be implemented.
39. Steps are being taken to procure modern machineries for enhancing quality printing as well as increasing the capacity of the Government Presses.
40. Strengthening the administrative network for enforcement of taxation laws, prevention of tax evasion and collection of tax will be continued. In order to check evasion of taxes the Government has set up seventeen check gages at strategic locations. In the year 2000 Government has amended sales tax laws to give sales tax exemption to industrial units for promoting industrial growth in our State and also to partly solve the unemployment problem faced by the youths. The Act has also been amended to make every cable T.V. operator to pay the Amusement Tax.
41. To improve the working knowledge of the State administration on the knowledge of relevant rules, office procedures and financial management and to keep pace with the changing needs of the time, the Meghalaya Administrative Training Institute is conducting regular training programmes for the officers/staff. Computer awareness programmes and various training programmes sponsored by Government of India are being organised by this Institute.
42. Government proposed to contribute to control expenditure by issuing LOC/LOA and monitoring of receipt and expenditure on day to day basis. Computerisation of Treasuries in the State will continue. Government is taking steps for setting up of Sub-Treasuries at Khliehriat and Amlarem.
43. Dissemination of information plays a vital role for people to know about the various developmental programmes of the Government. The Government has made efforts to involve mass media for the purpose and it also proposes to acquire seven mobile audio-visual units, one for each District.
44. To strengthen the judicial set up in the State, a plot of land of "Hermitage property" measuring 1.68 acres has been made available for construction of the building of the Shillong Bench of the Guwahati High Court. Under the Eleventh Finance Commission, Rs.1 crore has been allotted to Meghalaya for creation 3 ad hoc courts specifically for disposing of pending cases, which are more than two years old and the said courts will be made operational early and will be functional for a period of five years.
45. Government appreciates the role of Home Guards and Civil Defence personnel for rendering useful service to the community and assisting the Police force. They have also been engaged in security-duties and guarding of vital installations that needs commendation.
46. Government emphasizes importance of transparency and fair play in dealing with the issues of public importance. It will continue to work for bringing in more accountability.
47. During this session, the Vote-on-Account for a part of the year will be presented. Appropriation and other bills will also be placed.
48. I have attempted to outline the main policies and programmes of the Government. I hope that the deliberations in the House will be constructive and beneficial to the people at large.
I wish your deliberations all success.