FEBRUARY 27, 2004


        Mr. Speaker and Hon'ble members of the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly.

        1.    I welcome the Hob'ble Members to this Session of the August House and extend to them my warm wishes for a prosperous year ahead. I am confident that the New Year will provide renewed strength, vigour and commitment to enable us to serve the State and its people better.

        2.    Recently, we have conducted the Election to the three Autonomous District Councils in the State sucessfully. I take this opportunity to congratulate all thise who were involved in the process.

        3.    The Election to the Lok Sabha is likely to be held soon. To facilitate the process, the Election Commisssioner of India has desired that a Vote-on-Account be taken up by the State Legislatures preferably before the end of February, 2004. I shall confine my address to the existing programmes and policies and the achievements made by the Government during the current financial year.

        4.    The State has by and large remained free from communal distribution during the last one year. the criminal activities of militant organisations like the HNLC and ANVC have been contained to a some extent. Counter-insurgency operations in militancy have been intensified and a large number of militants have arrested. A good number of militants have come overground and surrendered. Government reiterates its appeal to the organisations to come to the negotiation table to discuss their genuine grievances and problems.

        5.    Peace is a prerequisite to progress and maintain law and order and ensure peace and security in the State. In order to augment the strength of the Police force the 4th MLP Battalion and modernised the State Police Force in terms of arms and ammunitions, communication equipments and vehicles besides imparting training for upgradation of operational skills and intelligence gathering, amongst other. I am happy to mention that the Government of India has recently accorded sanction for the establishment of the 5th MLP Battalion.

        6.    The inter-State boundary with Assam continues to receive the attention of the Government. A high level Advisory Committee has been set up to advise the Government on the entire issue.

        7.    The porous international border with Bangladesh has been a long standing problem of the State.During the last three years, over 7,500 Bangladeshi nationals have been detected in the State. Most of them were push bach into Bangladesh while a few were prosecuted. A Cabinet Sub-Committee has been constitute to examine all issue relating to infiltration in comprehensive manner sand to make suitable recomendations. Using the porous border routes to their advantage, the militant outfits of the State and the North Eastern region with their base and training camps in Bangladesh have been moving across the inernational border for arms transhipment and other criminal activities. The Union Government has been apprised of the problem with a request to Strengthen the security deploying along the international border.

        8.    The State has embarkedupon fiscal reforms programme. The Memorandum of Understanding on medium Term Fiscal Reforms Programme (MTFRP) between the State Government and the Government of India has been signed. The measures broadly include increased revenue generation and expenditure compression to achieve the fiscal targets. Government has taken certain measures to curb non-plan expenditure and increase revenue collection as enumerated in the MTFRP. This has enabled the State to qualify for releases from the Incentive Fund. Steps have been taken for computerisation of the Taxation Department and all Treasuries in the State.

        9.    The approved Tenth Five-Year Plan outlay (2002-07) for Meghalaya is Rs.3,009 crore. The revised outlay for the current year's Annual Plan is Rs.536 crore and the proposed outlay for the Annual Plan 2004-05 is Rs.625 crore. Whilw the Tenth Plan envisages a national growth of 8 percent of GDP, the growth rate projected by the Planning Commission for the State is 6.3 percent of the GDP. While Agriculture and Allied Services, Rural Development, Road Communication Power Sector continue to be the priority areas of my Government, basic socila services for enhancement of the Human Development Index like Education, Health, Water Supply and Sanitation, expansion of economic and social opportunities for all individuals and groups and reduction in disparities will receive special attention.

      10.    Agriculture has been playing a dominant role in the economy of the State. Emphasis on increase in agricultural production and development of irrigation to augment the volume of productivity will continue. Horticulture is another potential area which can contribute appreciably to the economy of the State. Out of 37 ongoing schemes with a command area of 4289 hectares, 21 schemes with a command area of 2734 hectares are expected to be physically will be completed during the next financial year. The Centrally Sponsored Command Area Development Programme for optimizing productivity in the Command Areas will continue to be implemented.

     11.    Government continues to provide improved health care services to the people. Priority has been given to improvement of health infrastructure facilities, strengthening of the existing Hospitals and upgrading of laboratory facilities. The CHC at Mairang has been upgraded to a 100-bedded Hospital and similar Hospital at Nongpoh in in an advanced stage of establishment. National Health Programmes with emphasis on Malaria, Tuberculosis, Blidness and Aids Control are being carried on through awareness campaigns and health education. The Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme has been launched in the State. The State Cancer Society of Meghalaya has been formed and the Cancer Detection Centre in Shillong Civil Hospital ios now operational. A collaboration arrangement with the Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Centre and Research Institute has been initiated. The Trauma Centre at the Shillong Civil Hospital is now ready for commissioning.

    12.    State Government has been undertaking a number of prgrammes for entrepreneurship develomet, skill - upgradation and improvement of industrial infrastructure. A number of local educated unemployed youths hav been assisted under the Prime Minister's Rozgar Yojana in setting up of self - employment ventures. The State Government supports the Meghalaya Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) for equity participation and loans to industrial units. Under th Rural Employment Generation Programme (REGP), the Khadi and Village Industries Board is implementing the Margin Money Scheme whereby local entrepreneurs are suppored with Margin Money to the extent of 30 percent of the project cost. The Meghalaya Handloom and Handicraft Development Corporation extends support to the handloom and handicrafts sector in technology upgradation of the local products and also assists the local artisans in marketing their products. Govenmet has secured assistance under the Central Scheme of Assistance to States for Developing Export Infrastructure and Allied Activities (ASIDE) to promote export-oriented industrial products.

    13.    Government is committed to the eradication of poverty especially in the rural areas. The recent BPL census has identified the remaining BPL households for coverage under the various poverty-alleviation programmes. Community and Rural Development Department will continue to play an important role for the economic and social development of the rural areas of the State. The Chief Minister's Special Rural Development Programme envisages active involvement of the village community and local Durbar in the process of development. The Centrally Sponsored Schemes, namely SGSY (Swarn Jayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana), SGRY (Sampoorna Gram Samridhi Yojana) and IAY (Indira Awaas Yojana) will continue to be implemented with renewed vigour along with State sector schems like Assistance to Samll and Marginal Farmers, National Social Assistance Programme, Special Rural Works Programme, Construction of Rural Roads Programme and Community Development schemes.

    14.    The Government will strive to fulfil the constitutional obligation of providing free and compulsory education to all children within 14 years of age. The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) is being implemented in the State. For effective functioning of this scheme at the grassroot level, 39 Block Resource Centres, 184 Cluster Resource Centre and Village Education Committees in all the Villages have been formed during the year. 667 LP Schools have been provided grants-in-aid for teachers' salary. 32 LP Schools have been upgraded to Upper Primary School level. 570 elementary school teachers have been trained during 2003-2004 in different institutes of the State. Repair of 2888 Lower Primary Schools and construction of 50 Upper Primary Schools, 10 Block Resource Centres, 772 toilets and 5 additional classrooms are being undertaken. The Midday Meal Scheme will continue to be implemented in all Government and Government - Aided LP Schools. The total Literacy Campaign and the Post Literacy Project will be revived. Existing Grant - in - aid to the non Government institutions will continue. Science education will continue to be strengthened. The State will continue to augment Technical Education. Two new Polytechnics at Jowai and Tura are being set up with World Bank Assistance. Polytechnic classes have been started at Tura and Jowai in temporary accommodation pending completion of construction of the Polytechnic buildings.

    15.    Government continues to accord priority to the Housing programme for giving assistance to the economically weaker sections and Low Income Groups for qualitative upgradation and provision of more durable and cheaper houses particularly in the rural areas. During 2002-2003, 5333 families were covered under the Rural Housing Scheme and 2788 families are being covered during the current financial year.

    16.    In the Sericulture and Weaving sector, Government's efforts are directed towards generating self employment of sericulture farmers. During the current year, over 1095 hectares of individual land holdings were covered with plantations of Eri, Muga and Mulberry. Government will continue to take advantage of the Catalytic Development Programme of the Central Silk Board to increase cocoon production in the State. 1040 Weavers have been trained in Handloom technology to improve the production of Handloom fabrics from the present lever. The Central scheme under Handloom sector to provide workshed - cum - housing to the weavers will continue.

    17.    In the Animal Husbandry and Dairying Sector, emphasis is being given to schemes for generating employment among the farmers and educated un - employed youth. Special attention has been given to Animal Health Services to protect the cattle and livestock population. Under the Centrally Sponsored Scheme of Assistance to the States for Control of Animal Disease (ASCAD), Government will continue to provide Veterinary Health cover to reduce incidence of animal disease and preserve the livestock wealth of the State. The Centrally Sponsored Scheme for Integrated Dairy Development Project in Jaintia Hills and West Garo Hills Districts is making good progress.

    18    The Fishery Sector has adequate potential for development to supplement the income of farmers in the State. Fish production in the State is much below the requirements and the shortfall is met by large scale import of fish from outside the State. Government continues to endeavour to bridge the gap and to raise the level of fish production in the State. The Fish Farmers Development Agency provides technical and financial help to the fish production. To equip the local farmers with the latest methods and technology of fish farming for improving fish production, training of Fish Farmers in consultation with the Central Fishery Agencies were organised.

    19.    Government is committed to the need for conservation and enrichment of existing natural forests in the State and steps continue to be taken to preserve the rich bio-diversity. Government have constituted the Joint Forest Management Committee and Forest Development Agency in the State. These measures are expected to halt the degradation of forests and improve them. The Forest Development Agency at Forest Division level shall function as a decentralised institutional structure for greater participation of the people in planning and successful implementation of the people in planning and succesful implementation of Forestry Programmes. Schemes for development of bamboo and medicinal plant resources in the State have been taken up and proposals for creating necessary set-up for developing these resources are under consideration. Government will also promote eco-tourism as an economic activity. The existing network of National Parks, sanctuaries and Biosphere Reserve will be maintained. 

20.    Government has accorded priority to the conservation of natural resources particularly soil, water and vegetation with the twin objectives of weaning away the rural farmers from the destructive traditional methods of cultivation and upliftment the socio-economic status of the State. The programmes for jhum Control, Watershed Management and Soil Conservation will continue. The Watershed Development Project in Shifting Cultivation areas (WDPSCA) for treatment of arable and non-arable lands affected by shifting cultivation will also continue.

21.    There is immense potential for the development of tourism in the State in terms of providing large scale employment and improving the economic conditions of the people. A number of schemes have been undertaken under this sector. Government will endeavour to upgrade and expand the infrastructural facilities to meet the increasing demands and take appropriate steps to market the State as a tourist destination.

22.    Rapid industrialisation in the State has resulted in the demand for power increasing to around 430 Mega Watts against an installed capacity of 185 Mega Watts. To meet the increasing demand by import of power from the North Eastern Grid, the MeSEB has imitated the construction of a transmission line from the MeSEB Sub Station to the Power Grid Sun Station at Khliehriat for drawals of 60 MW of power. Additionally, a Memorandum of Understanding has been signed with the Assam State Electricity Board for construction of a 9 Kilometre transmission line from Sarasujai in Assam to Byrnihat. This will enable the State to draw an additional 35 MW of power. The scheme for construction of a transmission line from Agia in Assam to Nangalbibra in South Garo Hills is being taken up under the Tenth Plan with NEC funding. A scheme for a 220 KVADC transmission line from Misa in Assam to Byrnihat is being sanctioned with NLCPR assistance. With the completion of these schemes, the State will be able to draw 165 MW of additional power from the Grid. Works on the 242 MW Mybtdu - Leshka Hydel Power Project has been taken up and an expenditure of Rs. 12 crore has been incurred till date. Out of 5484 villages in Meghalaya, 3077 villages have been electrified upto December, 2003. The target under rural electrification during the current year 2003-2004 of 418 villages will be achieved.

23.    The programme for providing safe drinking water and sanitation facilities in the rural areas of the State will continue. Work on the Dam of the Greater Shillong Water Supply Network under this scheme is expected to be completed in all respect by  September, 2004.  out of 8639 habitations identified in the department survey in 1991, 8445 habitations have been covered at least one source of drinking water supply. A fresh survey is being conducted to review the existing status of water supply to all the habitations in the State. This is expected to be completed by March, 2004. A concurrent scheme for integration of Municipal sources with Greater Shillong Water Supply Scheme for adequate supply of water to the State capital has been taken up for implementation during the current year. The scheme is funded on a 90:10 share basis between the Central and State Governments. The augmentation scheme for bagmara town under Central sector Accelerated Urban Water Supply Programme (AUWSP) has been started. An augmentation scheme for Cherrapunjee town and near by rural habitations has been taken up during the current year. Measures for meeting the scarcity of Shillong Town during the dry months of April to June have benn taken up as a short term measures to meet water shortage till the Shillong Water Distribution Network is completed. Scheme for augmentation of the Water Suply under the Tura Water Supply Scheme have been taken up.

24.    With a view to counter the unplanned growth of urban areas, Government has adopted the masterplan for Shillong, Tura and Jowai. In order to improve civic amenties, parking lots, footpaths, drains etc. a number of scheme are under implementations. Construction of the Rs. 7 crore Parking-cum-shopping complex at police Bazar with a capacity of accommodating upto 215 light vehicles and Housing 81 shops has benn completed. To address the problem of traffic congestion in the Barabazar-area, construction of the Khlieh Iewduh Parking complex is in progress. This project with cold storage facilities and parking space for 75 heavy vehicles will cost around Rs. 11 Crore. Implementation of the Environmental Improvement of Urban Slums (EIUS), National Slum Development Programme (NSDP) and Swarna Jayanti Shahari Rozgar Yojana (SJSRY) will continue.

25.    Essential commodities continue to be supplied through the Fair Price shops to the rural poor in the State. The scheme of Targetted Public Distribution System (TPDS) under which rice is distributed at highly subsidised rates to the BPL families will continue.The Antyodana Yojna Scheme has also been expanded during the year to cover addtional beneficiaries. The Annapurna and the scheme for distributuion of rice inmates of SC/ST hostels at subsidised rates will continue. Ste[ps will continue to strengthen Consumer Courts at the State and District levels in accordance with the provisions of the Consumers Protection Act, 1986.

26.     Roads are only means of communication in the State and will continue to receive the highest priority. Steps have been taken to upgrade existing roads and improve bridges and culverts. Necessary steps have been taken to bring the road network closer to the villages to ensure enhanced connectivity in the rural areas. As many as 2876 villages in the State have been connected by roads. The Jadukata Bridge at Ranikor on the Shillong - Balat - Maheshkhola road has been completed at a cost of Rs.10.78 crore. The State Government will continue to accelerate the development of road network in the rural areas. The Shillong - Nongstoin - Tura State Highway is being widened with NLCPR Funds, in phases. The Shillong Bye-Pass is being established. Efforts are being made to acquired land for the Jowai Bye - Pass. Selected roads of economic importance are being converted to double - lane roads to facilitate traffic.

27.     Road transport continues to play a dominant role in the sphere of economic development of the land - locked State. Efforts of Government to free the National and State Highways of obstructions caused by the existence of a large number number of check and toll gates will continue. The 50 seater Indian Airlines service between Umroi and Kolkata has been commissioned during the current year. Efforts will continue to make the Baljek Airport functional.

28.     Government attaches special importance to the healthy development of children and women and the physically challenged. Steps have been taken for convergence of women and child development programmes with other developmental programmes with the involvement of Non - Governmental Organisations. Financial assistance has been provided to 52 Voluntary Organisations working for the welfare and development of children in rural areas for running of creches and orphanages, etc. One creche is also being run for the benefit of the State Government Employees' Children at Shillong. Government will continue to address the problems of juvenile delinquents and neglected and abandoned children. The Supplementary Nutrition Programme in the State which provides supplementary nutrition to children below 6 years, pregnant and nursing mothers and adolescent girls hailing from Below Poverty Line (BPL) families will continue to be complemented. The project for "Development of Nutrition Surveillance System" is being implemented in collaboration with the National Institute of Nutrition, Hyderabad. Scholarships and stipends are being provided to the physically challenged students for undergoing studies upto University level.

29.     Scientific investigation and exploration of mineral deposits in the State continue. Eight mineral investigation programmes have been conducted for exploration of limestone, quartz, feldspar, dolerite, clay and iron - stone. Mining accounts for a substantial portion of the State's GDP. During April, 2003 to December, 2003, production of coal and limestone were to the extent of 32.35 lakh tonnes and 4.45 lakh tonnes respectively. The total revenue collected during the period is Rs.51.57 crore. The programme for providing scholarships to local students for undergoing higher studies in earth sciences will continue. Export of coal and limestone to Bangladesh is carried out through different trade routes in the State earning valuable foreign exchange for the country.

30.     The State Government will continue to support Autonomous District Councils in the performance of their constitutional functions. An annual outlay of Rs.5 crore has been earmarked for the Development Schemes of the three District Councils, Rs.4.39 crore is available to the Councils under the award of 11th Finance Commission during the current financial year.

31.     Government has decided to construct the second Meghalaya House on the land allotted by Government of India at Vasant Vihar, New Delhi. The flats for residential quarters at Dwarka, New Delhi will soon be taken over. Government will develop the land at Hengrabari, Guwahati allotted by the Government of Assam for construction of a new Meghalaya House. 10 HIG Houses allotted by Tamil Nadu Housing Board at Vellore have been taken over during October, 2003 and will be utilised for Meghalaya House, Vellore. The construction of the Yojana Bhavan and the Administrative Building within the compound of the Old Transport Building are in good progress.

32.     Government will continue to implement the Intensive Art and Culture Development Programme and Development of Traditional Folk Music in the rural and urban areas. Implementation of schemes for heritage protection and strengthening and upgradation of Public Libraries under the Eleventh Finance Commission Award has made good progress. Work on the first phase of construction of the State Cultural Complex at Brookside, Rilbong has been completed. The schemes for computerisation of the State Central Library and digitization of Museum objects at the Williamson Sangma, Museum, Shillong are in progress.

33.     The potential of Information Technology and Information Technology Enabled Services in the State is yet to be exploited. While Government is committed to cause adequate investment for tapping this potential, efforts will continue to attract private participation in this sector. All sectors under the Government will earmark adequate funds towards computerisation, customisation and use by investing in training and Human Resource Development to achieve E-Governance for the people of the State.

34.     Government continues to implement the schemes under the Special Central Assistance Programme for the Border Areas of the State with vigour. These schemes are in addition to the normal schemes taken up in the border areas under State programmes.

35.     Government is committed to protect the interests of consumers through proper enforcement of rules governing weights, measures and packaged commodities. Apart from normal checks carried out by the weights and measures personnel, surprise checks in response to public complaints have been conducted. The enforcement machinery will be strengthened by way of modernization.

36.     The development of the youth continues to receive priority. Government acknowledges the contributions made by Sportspersons of the State in different disciplines at national and international fora. Government will continue to promote programmes for youth welfare and sports infrastructure development for the benefit of the youth of the State. Government have embarked upon a number of schemes for uplifting Sports activities in the State. These include resumption of works on the Jawaharlal Nehru Sports Complex, Shillong and the setting up of a Sports Centre at Excellence.

37.     Government will continue to promote, catalyse and regulate the growth and development of co-operatives in the State. Significant achievements have been made under the Co-operative Sector. Co-operative Movements is one of the effective instruments for uplifting the socio-economic condition of the people of the State. Efforts will continue to address the problems of Co-operatives and to improve their functioning while  formulating the programmes and proposals. The Scheme of Integrated Co-operative Development Project is being implemented in Jaintia Hills District, West Garo Hills District, West Khasi Hills District and East Garo Hills District.

        I have briefly outlined the programmes and achievements of the Government during the current year. I hope that your deliberations culminate in constructive decisions for the benefit of the State and its people.

        I wish your deliberations all success.