MEGHALAYA LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY

MARCH 17, 2006
ADDRESS
BY

SHRI M. M. JACOB

GOVERNOR OF MEGHALAYA

Mr. Speaker and Hon’ble Members.

1.

It gives me great pleasure to address this august House again. The House is meeting for the first time in the New Year after its session in October 2005. I extend my best wishes for a prosperous and productive New year to all the Hon’ble members.

2.

Since I last addressed this august House, a number of significant developments have taken place, which has a bearing on the life of the people. A note-worthy development has been the coming into force of the Right to Information Act, 2005. Transparency is regarded as one of the key elements of good governance and this Central Legislation provides the legal framework for it. The Government is committed to fulfilling the obligations cast upon it under the Act and has taken all measures required for its implementation in a proactive and time-bound manner. Another important piece of Central Legislation is the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005, which obliges the State to provide employment to one member of each rural family for 100 days in a year. This Act will initially be made applicable in two districts of the State, viz., South Garo Hills and West Garo Hills. Arrangements are being made to implement the Scheme there under. The State has recently witnessed a bye-election to the Tura Parliamentary seat. I congratulate the people and the Election Machinery of the State for peaceful conduct of the polls.

3.

On the 8th of October 2005, the State of Jammu and Kashmir and our neighbor Pakistan were devastated by an earthquake, which caused massive loss of life and property. The State Government joins the rest of the country in expressing its sympathy to the affected people. We also deeply mourn the loss of nine precious lives in Garo Hills on 30th September 2005. I would request the Hon’ble Members to join me in condoling with the families of all those who have lost their near and dear ones in the said incident.

4.

The State continued to remain free from communal disturbances during the last one year. The law and order situation in the State was, however, affected by agitations over issues relating to the Meghalaya Board of School Education (MBOSE). I am hopeful that the collective wisdom of this August House will find and acceptable solution to this vexed problem. The Government has set up two Commissions of Inquiry, headed by retired High Court Judges, to enquire into the Police firing at Tura and Williamnagar.

5.

Although militancy still continues in some parts of the State, the tripartite agreement with the Achik National Volunteer Council (ANVC) for suspension of operations has brought much needed relief to the people, especially in Garo Hills. As a result, the pace of development, which suffered somewhat during the last decade, is now picking up. The Government is keeping the door open for discussions with other organizations that desire to eschew violence and opt for peaceful redressal of their grievances.

6.

Meghalaya has 423 Km. of international border with Bangladesh, of which 195 Km. have been fenced, mostly in the Garo Hills sector. There is no denying the fact that fencing of the international border is necessary for security of citizens and also to check infiltration and cross-border movement of militants. The Government is committed to solving some difficulties related to border fencing, which have arisen in certain areas. The matter has been taken up with the Central Government at the highest level. I am confident that a solution to the satisfaction of all will be evolved with cooperation of the people of the border areas.

7.

Infiltration of foreigners poses a serious threat and the State Police and its Infiltration Branch have been vigilant against illegal migration into Meghalaya. The State Government has taken up with the Central Government, a proposal for the extension of the Multipurpose National Identity Card (MNIC) Scheme to the whole of Meghalaya. The Border Security Force (BSF) has also been requested to keep a close watch on the international border to check infiltration and the movement of the cadres of various militant organizations. The Union Government has also been apprised of the problems and requested to strengthen border management.

8.

Meghalaya has approximately 566 Km. of inter-state boundary with Assam and there are some areas of difference between the two States. The matter has been taken up with the Government of Assam and the Government of India. The Government will strive to resolve the issue through dialogue.

9.

The State Police has acquitted itself well in its fight against militancy and crime. Its capabilities are being constantly enhanced under the Modernization Scheme of the Central Government. This Scheme seeks to cover the needs of the Police Force relating to housing, transport, communication, weaponry, computerization and forensic science. A Border Management Headquarter for the Garo Hills Sector has been sanctioned. Located at Baghmara, this Headquarter will be used as a training and administration hub to supplement the capabilities of State Police to check influx and illegal migration and to fight militancy in the border areas. At present, the State of Meghalaya falls under category B1 and receives 75% assistance as grant-in-aid from the Central Government, the remaining 25% being the State’s share. Meghalaya has been granted category ‘A’ status from 2006-07 and will be entitled to 100% Central Assistance for the modernization of the State Police Force.

10.

The State has been under a Fiscal Reforms Programme since 2000-2001 and a Memorandum of Understanding was signed with the Government of India. Going further, the Twelfth Finance Commission has Recommended, inter alia, the passage of Fiscal Reform and Budget Management Act by the State Governments. The aim of the suggested Legislation is to eliminate revenue deficit and to ensure that fiscal deficit does not exceed 3% of the Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) by 2008-2009. The Government is actively considering this recommendation as it is likely to impart greater fiscal strength to the State and also make it eligible for incentives from the Central Government.

11.

The Value Added Tax (VAT) System, which is a multi-point System of Taxation, has been implemented in the State from 1st May 2005. Due to the completion of requisite computerization and the placement of trained manpower, the transition from the Sales Tax regime to the new VAT regime was smoothly and successfully implemented. An Inter-operability Software to connect the computer systems of the North-Eastern States, for tracking the inter-State movement of goods and preventing revenue leakage, is expected to be operationalized early next year.

12.

After discussion with the Planning Commission, the Annual Plan 2006-07 has been finalized at the level of Rs 900 crore, with an increase of 12.5% over the previous year. The priorities in the Annual Plan are in concordance with the Bharat Nirman Plan launched by the Central Government for improving the Rural Infrastructure in a time bound manner between 2005-09.The components of Bharat Nirman of special interest to our State pertain to Roads, Housing, Water Supply, Electrification and Irrigation. In our Annual Plan, due emphasis is being given to Education, Health Care and Agriculture, in addition. The Members of the Legislative Assembly have been directly involved in developmental efforts through the implementation of Special Rural Works Programmes (SRWP), Special Urban Works Programme (SUWP) and Construction of Rural Roads Programme (CRRP). The allocation for these programmes will be enhanced.

13.

During 2006-07, the monitoring of implementation of various schemes, encompassing physical and financial progress as also the quality aspects, would be focussed upon in the interest of transparency and public satisfaction. Sizeable investments have been made in various Public Sector Units by the State Government and similar monitoring and evaluation of performance will also be done for all these Units.

14.

Roads and bridges are the most important infrastructure in the State as they serve as the main communication link. The Government proposes to further improve road communication and connect more villages to the existing road network.. Besides improving the connectivity of villages, steps will be taken to upgrade the existing roads and bridges and mechanise road construction. Preparation of Detailed Project Report (DPR) for construction of the road from Shillong to Nongstoin NH- 44 (Extension) has been taken up. The Government of India has recently selected for implementation the four-Laning of NH-40 and NH-44 from Jorabat to Silchar, via proposed Shillong Bye-pass, under the National Highway Development Programme of the Special Accelerated Road Development Programme in the North Eastern Region (SARDP – NE). The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways sanctioned eighteen projects under the Central Road Fund (CRF) Scheme. These projects are nearing completion and would help in providing good road connectivity in the State.

15.

The Government is pursuing the matter of better air connectivity for the State. The construction of the terminal building and runway of the Baljek Airport has almost been completed. The State Government and the NEC are in the process of identifying an Airline to operate flights to and from Baljek airport. The terminal facilities at the Umroi Airport are also being upgraded to provide better passenger amenities. The Central Government proposes to put Meghalaya on the rail map of the country. The extension of rail line from Azra in Assam to Byrnihat as also alternate alignment for the rail line for Garo Hills has been taken up by the State Government with the Ministry of Railways. The helicopter service between Shillong-Guwahati-Tura operated by Pawan Hans, continues. This year, Meghalaya Transport Corporation (MTC) has inducted 10 new buses and next year too more than 15 buses will be added to its fleet. A new Scheme has also been launched by MTC to enable plying of Private Buses under its banner. All these measures are expected to enable MTC to serve the people of the State more effectively.

16.

In order to meet the emerging demand for power, new power projects are under consideration. The 84 MW Leshka Hydro Electric Project, located in the Jaintia Hills District, is expected to be completed in 2007-08. The Second phase of the renovation and modernization work of Umiam Stage II Power Station with funding from the Japan Bank of International Cooperation is expected to be completed by the year 2007. The Meghalaya portion of the transmission line from Sarusajai in Assam to Byrnihat has been completed. The work for the Assam portion is in progress. The construction of a transmission line from Misa in Assam To Byrnihat is proposed to be taken up as a joint venture between the MeSEB and the Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd. In line with the Memorandum of Understanding signed with the Government of India, and pursuant to provisions of the Electricity Act 2003, Steps have been taken to replace to MeSEB with a Corporation.

17.

In the field of education, due attention is given to the Constitutional obligation of providing free and compulsory education to children upto the age of 14 years. With a set target of providing to all children primary schooling by 2007 and eight years of elementary schooling by 2010, the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) programme is being implemented with financial support from the Central Government in 1560 schools. This is in addition to the State’s own programmes. Plans are under way to bring all out-of-school children to school by way of mainstreaming, through Education Guarantee Scheme [EGS], Back to School Camps, Bridge Courses and Remedial Teaching. Steps have been taken to improve school environment making it conducive for retention of children in the School System by providing better school buildings, teaching and learning equipments, and textbooks. School grants are provided to enable schools to carry out immediate maintenance works and teachers’ grants are given to enable teachers to prepare low cost teaching aids. Furthermore, teachers and community leaders have been trained to encourage enrolment and motivate parents to prevent students dropping out of school. Under the Mid Day Meal Scheme, Primary School children and children of EGS Centres are being provided cooked meals 200 days in a year. SSA cannot be successful unless the Primary School teachers are properly trained. Time bound plans have been drawn up to do this through the Indira Gandhi National Open University, Teachers Training Institutes etc. About 450 Primary and Upper Primary teachers have already been deputed for training and more than 2450 teachers will be deputed next year.

18.

The Government will continue to provide assistance for the management and control of Secondary, Higher Secondary, College and Technical Education through the provision of grants-in-aid and the establishment of a regulatory framework. Technical Education is being augmented through introduction of additional courses in the Shillong Polytechnic namely, three years’ Diploma in Computer Science and Engineering and two years’ Post Graduate Diploma in Information Technology. Besides, two new Polytechnics, set up in Jowai and Tura, have started functioning under the World Bank Assistance, offering courses like Food Processing and Preservation, Computer Applications, Medical Electronics, Architectural Assistantship, Costume Design & Garment Technology and Automobile Engineering. The Government has also taken steps to strengthen the MBOSE in terms of manpower and infrastructure in order to improve its efficiency. The State is looking forward to the setting up of the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) in Shillong on the initiative of the Ministry of Human Resource Development and the Government has already located a suitable site for it.

19.

Health care is a key priority sector for the Government. The National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), launched through the country last year, aims at ensuring health care especially to the poor and downtrodden within seven years by 2012, through a range of interventions. The implementation of NRHM has been initiated in the State with the urgency it deserves. For both Rural and Urban areas, efforts have been made to improve the primary health care with active involvement of the community. The Government has sanctioned setting up of new health facilities as well as upgradation of the existing facilities. Notable amongst these is the upgradation of the Community Health Centres (CHCs) at Nongstoin, Mairang, Baghmara, Williamnagar and Sohra to 100 bedded Hospitals. Similarity, the bed strength of Civil Hospitals in Shillong and Tura is being increased and they are being provided with requisite equipment in order to upgrade them to the status of a referral hospital. The Civil Hospital at Jowai will be similarly upgraded. As a result of the increasing work load in the Health Centres and Hospitals, disposal of hospital waste has become a priority area and Waste Management Facilities will be provided in a phased manner. Fortunately the menace of HIV/AIDS is still not a major problem in Meghalaya. However, Meghalaya AIDS Control Society is implementing the Targeted Intervention Project, with the help of NGOs and Civil Society, to cover high risk population and also educate the people. At present there are two Government Blood Banks at Tura and Shillong. It is proposed to set up Blood Banks in the remaining districts with effective screening of blood before transfusion. With the initiatives in the Health sector highlighted above, the present shortage in medical and para medical staff may increase and effective strategies to fill this gap are on the anvil.

20.

Efforts continue to increase food grains production by use of High Yielding Variety (HYV) and Hybrid seeds coupled with judicious application of other inputs. The Government is also implementing the Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme (AIBP) to complete ongoing irrigation projects so that cropping intensity as well as productivity in the irrigated areas may be enhanced. In view of the importance of the long term food security; the focus for some time past has been on the low-volume high-value crops, to augment rural wages and incomes significantly. The Government has, therefore, sought vigorous implementation of the Technology Mission on Integrated Development of Horticulture. Significant break-through has been achieved for non-traditional crops like strawberries, roses and anthurium. Efforts to expand area of cultivation of these and other high-value crops will continue. Next year initiatives will be taken for introducing crops like cherry-tomato, coloured capsicum (bell pepper) and asparagus which are in, great demand in the metropolitan markets of the country. A Scheme to provide 1,500 power tillers over a 3 year period has been launched and around 415 power tillers are expected to be distributed this year itself.

21.

The Integrated Co-operative Development Project (ICDP) has been extended to Ri-Bhoi and South Garo Hills Districts and the co-operative movement is expected to be strengthened thereby. The Action Plan on the Vaidyanathan Committee Report, regarding the revival of cooperative credit structure, is under finalization for implementation next year. For revitalization of MECOFED, a study by NABARD has been commissioned recently and after receipt of the report suitable measures will be taken up on priority.

22.

Efforts continue to improve the livestock, increase production and strengthen animal health care, especially preventive measures. This last goal has assumed topical relevance in view of the recent report of Avian Flu in certain parts of the country. Prompt and appropriate steps to tackle this threat were taken and no case of Avian Flu has so far been reported in the State. To boost production in the dairy sector the Integrated Dairy Development Project (IDDP) has been operationalized in the Jaintia Hills District and it will shortly be commissioned in the West Garo Hills District.

23.

Efforts to tackle Rural Poverty and upgrade the quality of Rural Housing, continue through accelerated implementation of various programmes in the Central and State Sector. I have already mentioned about implementation of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) in two Garo Hills Districts, subsuming the existing employment Schemes. The Central Government has been requested to extend the coverage of NREGS to more districts in the State. The implementation machinery is also being geared up to further accelerate various programmes in this sector. West Garo Hills district has been selected for implementation of Rashtriya Sam Vikas Yojana (RSVY) in the State as a Pilot Scheme through which creation of critical infrastructure is sought to be effected. This Scheme is now under implementation.

24.

The Government intends to continue improving the management of forest areas and increase the forest cover. The National Afforestation Project, implemented by seventy three Joint Forest Management Committees has already started. A Forests Development Agency for each of the seven Districts has also been setup. The Medicinal Plants Board has recently been constituted because of a number of important medicinal plants being native to the State. Under the aegis of the Board, farmers will be assisted, technically and financially, to go into commercial ventures involving medicinal plants. Another initiative planned for the next year is encouraging the commercial plantation of economically important species of bamboo, with higher productivity and value as compared to the present stock. Data, based on Remote Sensing and Geographical Information System (GIS), will be utilized extensively in the days to come for assessment and mapping of the forest resources.

25.

Activities related to sericulture and weaving provide supplementary income to the rural folk and the programmes of the Government in this regard will be stepped up. A project under the Special Swarnjayanti Gram Swarozgal Yojana (SGSY) for integrated development of Silk Industry in Meghalaya has been posed to the Union Rural Development Ministry and its implementation from next year is expected to have beneficial effects.

26.

Pisciculture in Meghalaya can provide not only supplementary income but also improve the nutritional status of the people. With this in view, the Thousand-ponds Scheme has been launched and this year two hundred and twenty three one acre ponds have been sanctioned. This is expected to impact beneficially on the employment of rural educated youth. The Fish Farmers Development Agency continues its schemes to enhance fish production.

27.

The Department of Soil Conservation has now been renamed as the Soil and Water Conservation Department, in order to bring out its role in conservation of natural resources and revitalization thereof. The schemes and programmes of the Government in this sector pertain to Jhum Control, Watershed Management and Soil Conservation. A significant development has been Central Assistance for a Special Project to regenerate the environment at Cherrapunjee and surrounding areas and for another scheme to control soil erosion in river valleys affected by flash floods. Next year, a new initiative is being launched to cultivate Jatropha in the wastelands of the State leading to extraction of bio-fuel from its seeds, to be blended with high speed diesel.

28.

Over the past few years the efforts of Government to promote entrepreneurship and generate employment through industrialization have borne fruit. At present there are 111 large and medium industries in the State with investment of approximately Rs. 400 crore. Besides, approximately 5000 small industries are registered with the Industries Department with a total investment of around Rs. 61 crore. A number of industries based on local minerals like cement, ferro alloys, lime and coke have been set up. The Government is keen to promote Food Processing Industries in the State to process horticulture products and spices available in the State. It is, proposed to build up on the success of Byrnihat and Umiam Industrial areas by expanding industrial infrastructure. Work has already started on the Industrial Growth Centre at Mendipathar. Promotional and developmental efforts including Prime Minister’s Rozgar Yojana (PMRY) will continue to be implemented.

29.

Steady progress is being made in introduction of e-Governance and Information Technology (IT) in the State; after announcement of the State IT Policy. Training in IT sector is being imparted to the youth to equip them with the right skills for today’s job market. The Software Technology Park (STP) will be completed shortly and the State Geographical Information System (GIS) Laboratory is now fully operational. With Central Assistance, projects under National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) and State Wide Area Network (SWAN) have been initiated. Provision of training and computing infrastructure in the Secretariat and Field Offices is also under way to effectively implement the above initiatives in the Government.

30.

Tourist arrivals in the State have increased by more than 150% between 2001 and 2004. This momentum will be sustained by creating and upgrading infrastructure and by promoting specialized brands of Tourism as also a tourist friendly environment. Concerted efforts of Tourism Industry and the Government Agencies will be a prerequisite to establish Meghalaya as a National and indeed as a Global destination. The Government’s efforts next year will be geared towards achieving this. Full advantage will be taken of the Central Schemes for development of tourist circuits and tourist destinations in order to cover the whole State. The Crowborough Project is expected to restart next year and to be completed within 24 months thereafter.

31.

Meghalaya is blessed with a variety of minerals. The State Government aims to tap these Mineral Resources scientifically and in a sustainable manner, keeping in mind the interests of the community as also environmental concerns. Investigation programmes for minerals like limestone, clay, quartz, granite and iron-ore are under way in various parts of the State, as a prelude to commercial exploitation. Side-effects of coal mining are indeed a matter of concern and efforts to educate local mine-owners and workers regarding systematic and methodical mining practices will be further extended next year.

32.

To enable the urban areas of the country to realize their full potential and become significant engines of growth and development, the Central Government has recently introduced three schemes; namely, the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), the Urban Infrastructure Development Scheme for Small & Medium Towns (UIDSSMT) and the Integrated Housing & Slum Development Programme (IHSDP). While Shillong, the Capital of the State, has been selected to be covered under JNNURM, other towns are proposed to be covered under the UIDSSMT and IHSDP. During the next year, detailed projects under the three Schemes will be firmed up and posed to the Central Government for approval. The reports prepared by the Shillong Water and Sanitation Project of Aus-aid and utilization of remote sensing and Geographical Information System (GIS) by the Directorate of Urban Affairs would be useful in this context.

33.

As regards the New Shillong Township, the Ministry of DONER has been approached for funding under Non-Lapsable Central Pool of Resources (NLCPR). The alignment of the link road connecting Shillong with the New Township has also been finalized. Work on the Electric Crematorium at Shillong is going on satisfactorily and various schemes for providing and upgrading urban and civic amenities continue apace. With the availability of parking area at Khlieh Iewduh and complex near the office of Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council, a dent has been made in the parking problem. The completion of the parking lot near Anjalee Cinema would further reduce the pressure in the busy Iewduh area. Implementation of projects in various towns, under Central and State Schemes, would be expedited.

34.

A number of programmes are being taken up to promote Science & Technology in the State. In particular, the programme for application of appropriate technologies, for purposes such as sanitation, housing and rainwater harvesting, will receive attention. A Bio-resources Development Centre has been set up at Upper Shillong as an Autonomous Society. The Shillong Science Centre located in the campus of the North Eastern Hill University (NEHU), has been inaugurated recently as a joint venture between the Centre and the State Government, for promoting scientific temperament.

35.

The Department of Revenue has been renamed as the Department of Revenue and Disaster Management and the Relief and Rehabilitation Department has been merged with it. Meghalaya is situated in Zone V of the Earthquake Atlas of India and is also plagued by a number of natural calamities from time to time. The Government has initiated steps, in coordination with United Nation Development Programme (UNDP) and the Central Government, for capacity building of the organizations concerned and for awareness generation amongst the people. Training is also being imparted to volunteers to enable them to respond adequately in times of emergency. The Government will continue to undertake focused efforts with due priority for preparing the State to effectively meet challenges posed by any future calamity.

36.

Cadastral Survey and Land Records are crucial in defining rights over land and are also important developmental tools. However, the Government is committed to undertake any Cadastral Survey only after the people have willingly consented. An important Seminar was held in November 2005 to enlighten the people about the benefits of such a Survey. This Seminar was attended by many heads of Traditional Institutions and generated considerable interest. Such seminars and interactions will continue next year.

37.

Construction of a number of important buildings, especially the Administrative Building replacing the earlier Transport Building, the State Convention Centre and the Headquarters of Home Guards and Civil Defence are making good progress. Work has been initiated for construction of Meghalaya House at Kolkata and Mumbai as also second Meghalaya House at Vasant Vihar, New Delhi.

38.

The High Powered Committee of the State Legislative Assembly has agreed in principle to construct the new Assembly building at Upper Shillong with the conditions that a “No Objection Certificate” be obtained from the Eastern Air Command (EAC) or Defence Authorities and the matter be finalized by the House.

39.

The Nation owes a debt of gratitude to the Officers and Jawans of our Defence Forces. The Special Fund for Re-construction and Re-habilitation of Ex-servicemen has been augmented to benefit old and destitute ex-servicemen, their widows and dependants.

40.

The three Fast Track Courts at Tura, Jowai and Shillong will continue to function, with 100% Central funding, as further extended by the Central Government for a period of five years till 31.3.2010. The modalities for the separation of the Judiciary from the Executive are being worked out after the principles of the process have been agreed in consultation with the Hon’ble High Court. The building for the Shillong Bench of High Court is making good progress and is likely to be completed within a year.

41.

The role of museums in preservation of our cultural heritage cannot be over stated. Captain Williamson Sangma Museum at Shillong will be further upgraded with assistance from the Victoria Memorial Hall and the Indian museum, both from Kolkata. Information Technology is already being used in the State Central Library, Shillong and similar work in the District Libraries at Jowai, Nongstoin, Tura and Williamnagar is in progress.

42.

In today’s world, the rehabilitation aspects of imprisonment are as important as the penal and the preventive aspects. Vocational training and medical care provided to the prisoners in the Jails will be further improved. Also, Close Circuit TVs would be installed and the security of the Jails strengthened. The construction of new District Jail Complexes has been started at Nongpoh and Nongstoin and the work for Baghmara Jail Complex will start soon.

43.

The Government Printing Press at Shillong has been upgraded with installation of additional Desk Top Printing (DTP) Machines. During the next year, the Government Printing Presses at Shillong and Tura will be further modernized.

44.

The Government is conscious of the need to pro-actively inform the people about its policies and programmes, right from the stage of their framing to their implementation and completion. The programmes and schemes of Information & Public Relations Sectors next year will be aimed at achieving this objective. The State participated in the India International Trade Fair 2005 and the Republic Day Parade 2006, and prizes for meritorious performance were won.

45.

Programmes to educate the consumers about their rights and duties will be continued vigorously. Verifications, inspections and surprise raids to protect the consumers against adulteration and cheating by use of non-standard weights and measures will be further intensified.

46.

The Constitution of India envisages a special role for the Autonomous District Councils in safe-guarding the rights and interests of the tribal populace. The Government will continue working jointly with the Autonomous District Councils to fulfil this mandate.

47.

The Border areas adjoining Bangladesh suffer from various disadvantages. The Schemes under Special Central Assistance for Border Areas Development Programme, seek to alleviate these with active involvement of the local community. Amongst various measures the improvement of Road Communication will be accorded the highest priority. The Border Areas Scholarship Scheme next year is expected to cover around 2500 students.

48.

Besides promoting sports and games, the creation of sports infrastructure and facilities right from the village level to the state level will continue receiving appropriate priority. One hundred seventy five Meghalaya sports-persons who earned laurels at international, national and regional levels were felicitated recently on 3rd March, 2006, by the Government. The 67th Junior National and Interstate Table Tennis Championship was successfully conducted in Shillong in December 2005. During the next year, assistance will be extended to various Sports Associations/Clubs for conducting tournaments and the on-going schemes will be closely monitored for early completion.

49.

The State has seen increased economic activities over the years as also the growth of industry and services. In this context, Labour welfare and improved safety and health for workers through the enforcement of various labour laws continues to occupy the attention of the Government. Efforts for expansion of employment opportunities by imparting skills to our educated unemployed through Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) will continue. At present a total number of 914 seats exist in the ITIs. Special attention will be paid to the enforcement of laws relating to prevention of Child labour. The Employees State Insurance scheme has been extended to Byrnihat area. Twenty six establishments and over four thousand workers and their families are expected to benefit from it.

50.

Social Security to the people is available through Schemes of Old Age Pension, Family Benefit and Maternity Benefit, Food Security to the poor and elderly is taken care of through the Targeted Public Distribution system, Antyodaya Anna Yojana and Annapurna Schemes. The Welfare Programmes for women, children, physically handicapped, juvenile delinquents and infirm will continue to receive due priority. Notable amongst these schemes are the Supplementary Nutrition Programme, Integrated Women’s Empowerment Programme and the Scheme for the Women in Need of Care and Protection. The NGOs are being assisted in their social endeavors. The Meghalaya State Commission for Women has started functioning in 2005-06.

51.

In the light of the Bharat Nirman Plan, the schemes for providing adequate and safe drinking water will be executed more vigorously. It is proposed to provide drinking water by the year 2009 to all remaining “Not Covered” (NC) and “Partially Covered” (PC) habitations, including “slipped back”, “newly indentified” and “water quality affected” habitations. Similarly, all the schools will be covered by the year 2007. Sixteen Projects under Swajaldhara-I have been initiated in various Districts and the Projects under Swajaldhara-II will be taken up in Ri-Bhoi District next year. The Water Supply Augmentation Scheme for Williamnagar Town has been completed. The Water Supply Schemes for Jowai and Baghmara Towns are making satisfactory progress. During 2006-07, the Greater Shillong Water Supply Scheme will be upgraded substantially and the Tura Phase III Water Supply Scheme will be completed. To Achieve greater transparency, the relevant information on the functioning of all completed PHE schemes as well as the status of all on-going schemes has been put on the State Government web-site. The Meghalaya Pollution Control Board will be strengthened to enable it to discharge its responsibilities better.

52.

I have outlined the major policies and programmes of the Government in this Address. In my Address to you last year, I had said that the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly is known for its high level of decorum, dignity and debate. I am confident that high standard of this House will be maintained in this session as well. I wish you all success and hope your deliberations will most fruitful and benefit the State and its people.

JAI HIND

KHUBLEI

MITELA