MARCH 12, 2007


Shri M. M. JACOB


Mr. Speaker and Hon'ble Members,

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 December 2006. I extend my best wishes for a prosperous and productive New Year to all the Hon'ble Members.

2. This year will mark the 150th anniversary of India's first War of Independence. It will be an occasion for us to reaffirm our faith in the Indian nation and its future. Over the last several years India has captured the imagination of the world by its spectacular achievements in the field of economic development. This country is fast turning into a favorite investment destination for international capital. As a nation we have great dreams. North East India must prepare for its share of the Indian dream. In recent years the Government of India has paid special attention to the development of this region. There are numerous central schemes for developing infrastructure in the N. E. Region. There is a separate industrial policy framed by the Government of India to promote industries in North East India. We now have a central ministry exclusively devoted to the development of this region. The look East Policy of the Govt. of India is also expected to benefit the States of this region enormously by opening up trade from and through North East India to South East Asia and beyond. The North East is thus poised for a level of economic growth never imagined before. I am sure Meghalaya will be able to take advantage of the emerging opportunities.

3. We are at the end of the 10th Five Year Plan. In the last five years we have made substantial progress in the fields of infrastructure, agriculture, industry and social services like education and health. The overall annual growth rate during the 10th Plan has been about 6%. The 11th Five Year Plan is due to begin in April, 2007. The State Government has set a target of 7.3% annual rate of growth during the 11th Plan period. To ensure economic development during the 11th Five Year Plan on the sustainable basis, my Government has identified physical infrastructure as the most critical factor. Highest emphasis will be laid on road communication and power generation and transmission. Special emphasis will be laid on rural roads through the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) and electrification of villages under the Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana. The Government will also lay emphasis on education, health and other social services. A beginning has already been made with the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) and the National Rural Health Mission. These will be continued. It has been decided to decentralize the Special Nutrition Programme to make it more effective. To alleviate rural property the Meghalaya Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme has already been initiated in two districts of Meghalaya. The State Government will endeavour to extend this Programme to all the districts in the State during the 11th Plan. This will enable all rural people willing to work, to get at least 100 days of employment in a year. The State Government will accord high priority to agriculture and allied activities including agro processing and marketing.

4. The Annual Plan for 2007-08 has been recently discussed with the Planning Commission and a Plan size of Rs.1120 crore has been fixed representing an increase of 24.4% over the current year.

5. Reliable statistics is the backbone of planning. The State Government will take steps to strengthen the statistical base so as to generate reliable estimates of state domestic product, income distribution, human development, etc.

6. The State, which has been under the Fiscal Reforms Programme since 2000-2001, institutionalized the programme by enacting the Meghalaya Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act, 2006. Some of the measures for fiscal management, consolidation and transparency are as follows :

To maintain revenue surplus at least at the same level as determined by the Twelfth Finance Commission for the base year 2003-04.

Reduce fiscal deficit as a percentage of Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) in a phased manner so as to enable the State to achieve Fiscal Deficit of 3% of (GSDP) by 2008-09.

To ensure that outstanding liabilities on the consolidated fund is not more than 28% of the GSDP by 2008-09.

The immediate financial benefit as a consequence of passing the Act is the reconsolidation of loans at a lower rate of interest under the debt-relief scheme recommended by the Twelfth Finance Commission. In addition to the above benefit, the State shall also be entitled to a loan write-off on installments of loans due each year on the condition that it maintains the revenue surplus it achieved in the benchmark year, 2003-04. It is hoped that with these reform measures our financial position will improve.

7. The Meghalaya Industries (Tax Remission) Scheme, 2006 substituting the Meghalaya (Sales Tax Concessions) Scheme, 2001 was notified on 01-10-2006. Under this scheme, all existing industries covered under the Industrial Policy, 1997 and those having taken effective steps on or before 30-04-2005 are required to pay value added tax @ 1% of the tax payable. Cement industries having installed capacity of more than 600 tones per day are required to pay VAT @ 4% of the tax payable. VAT on cement produced by MCCL Ltd. and sold in Meghalaya has been reduced from 12.5% to 4% in the interest of consumers. The Taxation Department has also joined the nation wide Tax Information Exchange System for effective tracking of inter-state statutory forms under the Central Sales Tax Act to prevent evasion of tax.

8. In order to achieve the level of economic growth and development that our State is aspiring to, we need peace and stability. The mantle of building and maintaining an environment in which the society feels secure and where people can enhance their capabilities and opportunities rests not only on the government but also on the society at large. The State Police has acquitted itself well in its fight against militancy and crime. The State has seen no communal problems in the recent past which is a tribute to our people's spirit of mutual cooperation and tolerance. In the last two years, there has been a perceptible improvement in the insurgency situation in the State. We welcome this positive trend that has brought about a change in the overall law and order situation. It is expected that it will bring about more economic activity in both the public and the private sector. The activities of the HNLC have been controlled to a large extent and a large number of their cadres have surrendered. Government is keeping its doors open for talks with any group to settle its grievances.

9. As regards the Indo-Bangladesh border, while there is no denying that fencing of the international border is necessary for the security of citizens and to check infiltration and movement of militants to the State from across the international border, the Government reiterates its commitment to solving the difficulties related to border fencing. A high level Coordination Committee has been set up to look into the grievances of the people. The Government is continuing with its efforts to prevent infiltration into the State. To improve police presence along the International Border and laying emphasis on this important issue, the Government is considering a proposal to set up a Directorate of Infiltration.

10. There can be no doubt about the need for Police reforms. Various Police Reforms Commissions set up at the national level from time to time have made recommendations for the purpose. At the state level the Meghalaya Police reforms Commission was set up in the year 2004. It submitted its report in 2005. Recently, the Supreme Court has given several far-reaching directions to the Central Government and the State Governments in the area of police reforms. The State Government is in the process of implementing the orders of the Supreme Court. The Government is also drafting a new Police Act to incorporate the recommendations of various Police Commissions as well as the directions issued by the Supreme Court. I am sure that these reforms will improve the image of the Police and it will be looked upon as a fair, efficient and impartial force. In respect of modernization of the police force, the first emphasis is on fulfilling the requirement at the cutting edge level, that is, police stations, outposts and the personnel who man them. Other critical areas are weaponry, mobility, communication, security equipment, forensic science equipment and training. Steps are being taken by the Government for creation of police stations and upgrading of outposts and beat houses in a phased manner and to bring about application of science and technology to police operations under the scheme of modernization of police force.

11. Road communication is a major infrastructure requirement in the State and it is proposed to accord high priority to this sector in the Eleventh Plan. It is proposed to take up 100 Km of new construction and 230 Km of up gradation of roads in 2007-08 under the State Plan. A number of important roads of inter-state connectivity have been taken up under NEC during the current financial year. The major NEC schemes are the Agia-Mendhipara-Phulbari-Tura road (60 Kms), Rymbai-Bataw-Borghat-Jalalpur road (63 Kms), and Cherra-Mawsmai-Shella road (40 Kms) at a total cost of Rs.136.45 crore. The Government of India has given importance to the improvement and widening of national highways in the State. The Shillong bye-pass is of utmost importance to ease traffic congestion in the city. The Government approached the Central Government to implement the Scheme in two phases : construction of a double lane road in Phase - I for which land is already acquired, and widening to four-lane road in Phase - II. The Government of India has accepted this proposal, which will facilitate early implementation of this long pending project. Under Non Lapsable Central Pool of Resources (NLCPR), four schemes for upgradation of existing roads and bridges at a cost of Rs.36.78 crore have been taken up during 2006-07. Another 22 Projects for roads and bridges are under consideration of DONER. To improve the performance of the State under Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Youjana (PMGSY), dedicated P.W.D. divisions have identified to implement the scheme in every district. At the State level, an officer of the rank of Chief Engineer has been put in charge of the programme. With this initiative, the performance of the State is expected to improve substantially. In the current year, a total road length of 198.69 Kms covering 68 habitations has been taken up under PMGSY. Flood control measures will be taken up in areas affected by floods.

12. The State Government will continue to encourage and foster a policy for the healthy growth of road transport both in the public and private sector. Efforts will continue to be made to provide reliable and economical road transport to the people of the State for both conveyance of passengers and transportation of goods. The Government will provide capital contribution to Meghalaya Transport Corporation for purchase of new buses during 2007-08 and for other capital expenditure for generating additional revenue for the Corporation. The scheme for the grant of financial assistance to educated unemployed youth to run transport services will continue. Government will provide subsidy of 25% of the total cost of vehicles as margin money to the selected beneficiaries for purchase of commercial vehicles. The motor driving schools at Jowai, Mendal and Tura are functional. The State Government has been pursuing the completion of the construction of Baljek Airport with the Government of India. It has been agreed now that the Airport Authority of India will resume work on the site as soon as possible and the additional funds required for the purpose will provided by the Ministry of DONER. To put Meghalaya on the rail map of the country, extension of railway line form Azra in Assam to Byrnihat has already been announced by the Government of India. A new alignment for railway connection to Garo Hills has been taken up by the State Government with the Ministry of Railways.

13. In order to address the power shortage in the State, it is proposed to accord high priority to the power sector during the Eleventh Plan. As against the installed capacity of 185 MW in the State, the requirement of power has gone up to 610 MW, and is likely to go up to 1000 MW by the end of the Eleventh Plan. At, present, the peak power availability in the State, including central sector power, is only 240 MW during the monsoons and 200 MW during the rest of the year. Due to the failure of the monsoons in the last two seasons, the generation has been only around 50% of the capacity. Therefore, it is necessary to augment the generation capacity of the State and also connect the State to the North Eastern Grid for purchase of adequate power. The Sarusajai-Byrnihat Transmission Line was commissioned in December, 2006 and the State is able to draw 50 MW from the Grid. The second circuit is expected to be completed by the end of March 2007 and will enable the State to draw another 50 MW. The Transmission Line from Khliehriat Power Grid Sub Station to the Meghalaya State Electricity Board (MeSEB) Sub Station was completed in November 2006 and the MeSEB is able to draw another 50 MW from this project. The Agia-Nangalbibra Transmission Line has recently been approved by the Expenditure Finance Committee of the Ministry and funds are expected to be released shortly for commencement of the project. The Misa-Byrnihat Transmission Line has been approved in principle for funding by the Ministry of DONER to draw 250 MW of power from the North Eastern Grid. Besides the 84 MW Myntdu-Leshka Hydro Electric Project in Jaintia Hills, the MeSEB proposes to take up two more generation projects in 2007-08. The feasibility report for the new Umtru Hydro Electric Project with a capacity of 40 MW has been forwarded to the Ministry of DONER for funding the equity component of Rs.68 crores. It is expected that funds will be released during the current financial year for the implementation of this project. The feasibility report for the Ganol Hydro Electric Project near Tura, with a capacity of 25 MW, has been forwarded to the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy for funding as per their approved norms for Small Hydro Projects.

14. Since all power generation in Meghalaya is hydro based, it is proposed to develop thermal projects in the coal belt areas of the State. A thermal power plant at Nangalbibra with a capacity of 750 MW is under consideration for implementation. The State Government is in the process of formulating its own Power Policy to identify hydel and thermal projects that are to be taken up in the State Sector, Central Sector, Joint Ventures and Public Private Partnerships.

15. Around 70% of the villages of Meghalaya have so far been electrified. The remaining 1565 villages are proposed to be electrified in the next two years under the Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana at a cost of Rs.264.54 crore. Under the same scheme, and in line with the National Electricity Policy, all households are proposed to be electrified by the year 2012.

16. The Government is committed to providing safe drinking water to rural and urban areas of the State, and to implement the Rural Sanitation Programme. During 2006-07, 700 rural habitations and 600 rural schools are expected to be covered under the Bharat Nirman Programme. It is proposed to cover all the remaining villages and rural schools by 2008-09. In the urban areas, the work on Tura Phase III Water Supply Scheme is progressing on schedule and is expected to be completed by March 2008. The schemes taken up in Jowai and Mairang are also progressing smoothly. Augmentation of the Baghamara Water Supply Scheme is progressing well, and is expected to be completed by December 2007. The Greater Shillong Water Supply Scheme will be augmented by replacing the State II pumping machineries. The schemes is expected to be completed by June 2007 increasing the availability of water from 7.5 million gallons to 11.3 million gallon per day. Projects under Total Sanitation Campaign (TSC) for East Khasi Hills, West Garo Hills, RiBhoi and East Garo Hills Districts have been sanctioned. Projects for West Khasi Hills and Jaintia Hills District are awaiting sanction from Government of India. The TSC project of South Garo Hills is under preparation. Government of India has launched the National Drinking Water Quality Monitoring & Surveillance Programme during 2005-06. This involves laboratory and spot testing of water samples collected from different locations in the water supply system including all sources, water treatment plants, distribution systems and house reservoirs. Government of India has also sanctioned setting up of Community Capacity Development Units (CCDU), which will motivate & train the villagers to actively adopt the demand responsive Swajaldhara Programme. The Programme provides drinking water facilities to the habitations willing to contribute 10% of the capital cost for implementation of schemes and to take over completed schemes for operation & maintenance.

17. The State is blessed with abundant rainfall and harvesting of rain water is proposed to be taken up specially in those areas, where feasible surface/underground sources are not available, or are insufficient to meet the demand. Government is also considering setting up a rain water harvesting programme for drinking water and irrigation in a mission mode.

18. Though Meghalaya's economy is basically agrarian, with about three fourths of the population depending for their livelihood on agriculture, yet the contribution of this sector to the State's economy is only around 22 percent of NSDP. This indicates that most agriculture is at the subsistence level, with a large percentage of farmers living below the poverty line. Development of the Crop Husbandry sector is thus vital. The area under food grains cannot be increased significantly because of constraints imposed by topography. Therefore, the emphasis will be on improving productivity through improved irrigation facilities, use of HYV seeds, application of fertilizers and measures for pest control. The production of food grains is estimated at 269.93 thousands tonnes in 2006-07 against the production of 248.40 thousands tonnes in 2005-06. The target during 2007-08 is to produce 291 thousand tonnes of food grains. One of the major constraints which this sector faces is water availability. Different strategies are being considered which are aimed at ensuring water availability in completed projects, expeditious completion of ongoing projects, restoring damaged irrigation projects, popularisation of micro-irrigation facilities, rainwater- harvesting, exploitation of ground water resources and recharging of wells. The use of water conservation measures like plastic mulching and implementation of Participatory Irrigation Management through Water Users Association in all command areas is also being encouraged.

19. Historically, horticulture has been very popular in our State as an important source of supplementary income and employment to the rural people. In view of the constraints on enhancement of food grain production, and the major advantages of horticulture, the State Government has decided to assign top priority to horticulture development with a view to generating income and employment. The Government has therefore sought more vigorous implementation of the Technology Mission on Integrated Development of Horticulture. It is targeted to reach a level of production of 288.64 thousand tonnes of fruits and vegetables in 2007-08. The State Government will lay much greater emphasis on post harvest management, processing and marketing of horticultural produce.

20. Animal Husbandry and Dairying plays an important role in economic development of the people of the State. The objective of the Government is to increase the productivity of livestock and poultry through improved breeding, management and health care facilities and various schemes are being implemented to achieve these objectives. In order to ensure that the required care and treatment facilities are available to the farmers within a reasonable distance, the cluster approach for selection of beneficiaries is being adopted. Under the Dairy sector, the mode of functioning of various units has been revamped to improve efficiency. The Town Milk Supply Schemes in Shillong and in Tura in particular are functioning satisfactorily.

21. There are several schemes for the production of fish seed and training of fish farmers in modern methods of fish culture to augment fish production in the State. The scheme for aquaculture development through the "One Thousand Ponds" Scheme is under implementation. New initiatives will be put in place for ensuring a faster pace of implementation of this scheme. The training for fish farmers at the district level will also continue for the benefit of the farming community.

22. Preservation of the environment is globally accepted as one of the corner stones of sustainable development. It is thus essential to preserve, protect and manage the environment in a sustainable manner. As a preliminary step, management plans of state forest resources and surveys of bamboo, canes and medicinal plants will be taken up by the Forest and Environment Department. The Wild Life Wing will continue its efforts for habitat improvement. The Government has been laying great emphasis on development of bamboo and the rich medicinal plant resource which exists in the State. A Bamboo Mission for the State under the care of a Bamboo Development Agency is proposed. The Meghalaya State Medicinal Plants Board has been constituted and notified by the Government, and steps would be taken for cataloguing and inventorising the resources and also for their regeneration and propagation. A Remote Sensing and GIS Cell has been established in the Forest and Environment Department for augmenting capabilities in resource assessment and mapping which are essential for scientific forestry.

23. Meghalaya with its undulating topography and high intensity rainfall is affected by substantial soil erosion in agricultural land thereby leading to land degradation. The Government will continue in its effort to take up programmes for enhancing and sustaining productivity of land so as to support the community's demand for food and water. New strategies have been adopted to check the slash and burn method of cultivation through Watershed Management Project in Shifting cultivation Areas. Schemes to control soil erosion to sustain productivity of land for crop cultivation will continue and special focus will be given to rain water harvesting, so that water is available throughout the year for irrigation and other uses.

24. Government is implementing various programmes for increasing the income level and improving the quality of life of the rural people. Centrally sponsored schemes of rural development are being implemented by the DRDAs through the Block Development Officers, as per guidelines prescribed by the Government of India. State schemes, such as, SRWP and CRRP are implemented to target remote areas and communities. Government will take further steps to ensure greater transparency and accountability in the implementation of these schemes in the State. The National Rural employment Guarantee Act, 2005 is in the process of implementation and Government of India has been moved for extension of the area of coverage of the NREG programme to the remaining uncovered districts of the State.

25. The Government will continue to work with District Councils for safeguarding the rights and customs of the indigenous tribal people. To assist the District Council, grants-in-aids have been sanctioned from time to time. The Government will work closely with the District Councils and traditional institutions to address the needs and meet the aspirations of the people.

26. Road communication is a critical input for the utilisation of resources in the areas along the international border. The total road length constructed under the border areas development programme upto 31.3.2006 stands at 262.64 km. The Government is supplementing the State schemes in these areas with schemes under the special central assistance extended by the Government of India. Most of these schemes are being implemented by local village committees. The border areas Scholarship Scheme will continue to provide financial assistance to students from Border Areas. The State Government has mooted proposals for the improvement of Land Custom Stations on the Indo-Bangladesh border, particularly those at Dawki, Borsora and Gasuapara under various schemes of the Government of India.

27. The outreach of formal banking leaves a lot of uncovered gap and the Credit Deposit Ratio in the State remains at around 35 percent only. Revival of the co-operative credit structure is thus important. For this purpose, NABARD has been entrusted to work out relaxed norms for implementing the recommendations of the Vaidyanathan Committee Report in the north eastern region. The Government has given in-principle consent to implement the recommendations of the Vaidyanathan Committee. It is expected that this will help improve the financial health of the Meghalaya Co-operative Apex Bank and eligible primary agricultural co-operative societies in the State.

28. Meghalaya has been one of the major beneficiaries of the North East Industrial Policy of the Government of India. Since the Policy was announced, 108 medium and large industrial units have been set up with a total investment of about Rs.511 crore, creating direct employment for 6500 persons. Indirect employment in transportation and other activities would be several times more. 179 units with an investment of about Rs.1500 crore have been approved and their implementation is in progress. You would be happy to know that M/s Lafarge (India) Ltd, the largest cement company in the world, has been granted permission for setting up a large cement plant in the State, bringing us on the world map of cement producing areas. In the small scale sector there is a total investment of about Rs.100 crore creating direct employment for 31,688 persons. Since the 1997 Policy of Government of India was announced, similar benefits have been extended to other parts of the country. The north eastern states have therefore represented to the Government of India for higher incentives for industries in the northeast in the forthcoming policy which is expected to be finalized soon. The Rural Employment Generation Programme (REGP) which provides 30% margin money through the Khadi and Village Industries Board for setting up any manufacturing or service unit has been a very popular programme for rural artisans and youth. This programme will be continued with awareness generation activities to encourage the youth to take advantage of the scheme. The Prime Minister's Rozgar Yojana (PMRY) will continue.

29. Meghalaya occupies a significant position in the mineral map of India. The State is endowed with large deposits of a number of valuable minerals. Coal, Limestone, Granite, Kaolin, Clay, Glass-sand and Uranium are some of the principal minerals of Meghalaya. India's Atomic Minerals Division found Uranium Oxide deposit at Domiasiat and at Wahkaji in West Khasi Hills District. The total deposits of Uranium in the State are estimated to be about 13,500 tonnes and Meghalaya at present accounts for nearly 16% of India's Uranium reserves. Deposits of Limestone and Coal have been explored all over the State and sizeable reserves of these minerals have already been established. However, prospects of other minerals found in the State are yet to be fully ascertained. The potentiality of such deposits needs to be proved by detailed survey and drilling for preparation of geological reports. There is also a need to train people to prevent the degradation of mining areas and wastage of resources. The State Government is in the process of framing a mining policy which will address these and other issues, striking a balance between environmental concerns and economic development.

30. The State's tourism potential still remains only partially explored. This sector can generate jobs and incomes with comparatively less investment than most other economic activities. At present the State is receiving about 4 lakh domestic tourists and just about 10 thousand foreign tourists annually. To increase these numbers substantially Government proposes to make community participation, the most important ingredient of its tourism development strategy. While efforts to create tourist infrastructure will continue, the Government will lay much greater emphasis on the direct involvement of the local people in providing accommodation, ensuring tourist safety and security and preventing adverse environmental effects of tourism. Apart from general tourism, Meghalaya has vast potential for eco tourism, adventure tourism including caving and cultural tourism. Government will endeavour to attract tourists to the traditional colourful festivals of the tribes of Meghalaya. In addition, events such as the Shillong Autumn Festival and the Willamnagar Winter Festival will be replicated in other areas of the State.

31. Government has taken several initiatives to facilitate growth and development of Information Technology in the State. Steps have been initiated to make Meghalaya a favoured destination for IT related business, industries, education and services. An IT society has been established and registered for effective implementation of IT related ventures. During this financial year, computer learning centres for e-governance training programme in all the district headquarters will be completed. Training in IT enabled services and IT based Fashion Designing has been imparted. The IT park at Shillong will be functional in 2007. Activities of the GIS laboratory of the IT Department are being strengthened by way of implementing GIS application related to road network, hazard zonation and disaster management. Incentives to IT Entrepreneurs for setting up business in the IT park will be provided and hardware/software infrastructure augmented. Establishment of Data Centre under the National Electronic Governance Programme, State Wide Area Network (SWAN) and Common Service Centre will be taken up.

32. Under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), the city development plan and vision document for Shillong has been sent to the Central Government for approval. Preparation of vision statement and detailed project reports under the Urban Infrastructure Development Scheme for Small & Medium Towns and the Integrated Housing and Slum Development Programme is under way. Under these programme, the State Government plans to create and improve urban infrastructure such as water supply, transportation, drainage system, solid waste management, sanitation and housing. It is also envisaged to improve the delivery of municipal services and sustain the assets created. The electric crematorium at Barapathar, Shillong has been completed during 2006-2007 at a cost of Rs.409 lakh. The multi-storeyed parking lot opposite Anjalee Cinema at a cost of Rs.12.22 crore is nearing completion. Another multi storied parking lot is proposed to be constructed at Mawlong Hat at a cost of Rs.11.13 crore. Two priority projects are also proposed under JNNURM. These are a link road connecting New Shillong Township with Shillong City and a road cum flyover from DC's office to Mawlong Hat. The Meghalaya Building Bye-Laws, 2001 are proposed to be amended to incorporate earthquake/disaster resistant measures in building norms to regulate future building activities in the State. The Town & Country Planning Act, 1973 is also proposed to be amended to regulate development in disaster prone areas.

33. Access to knowledge and quality learning can transform people's potential for development. With the implementation of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, the Government has initiated interventions for improving the quality of teaching in the elementary education sector by providing training inputs to teachers to equip them for class room activities. 212 primary and 182 upper primary teachers have been deputed for the diploma course being conducted by the Teacher's Trainning Institutes/District Institutes of Educational Training, 4368 untrained teachers are being deputed in two cycles within a year for the Certificate for Primary Education (CPE) Course being conducted by IGNOU. In response to a massive campaign for bringing out-of-school children into the school system launched in 2006, 66341 out-of-school children have been enrolled in Back-to-School Camps, Education Guarantee Schemes Centres, LP schools and UP schools. Taking advantage of the rapid advance in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in education and digital learning, all Government Upper Primary and some deficit upper primary schools have been provided with computers and software support. Under Mid-Day Meal Scheme, the Government is providing cooked meals for 200 days in a year to children in Government and Government aided primary schools in the State including children under the Education Guarantee Schemes. The Government of India proposes to extend the schemes to upper primary schools as well. A proposal for upward revision of the grant for adhoc primary and upper primary schools is under consideration of the Government. To bridge the digital divide, computer education has been introduced in 36 schools. Under the revised Computer Literacy and Study in School (CLASS) Project, 25 schools are being taken up during the current year by providing computers with software support. The Government will implement the Education Satellite( EDUSAT) Project and 50 institutions have been identified for assistance under the project. The Government is examining the feasibility of provinsializing one college in every district to improve the quality of higher education. For skill development, Polytechnics in Shillong, Tura and Jowai are now fully functional, offering a number of jobs oriented courses. This year the Government aims to attract more enrolment of students especially those from the rural areas and women. The IIM Shillong Project has got the approval of Government of India recently. Land for the permanent IIM campus at Mawdiangdiang has been allotted by the Government and the interim campus will function from the Mayurbhanj Complex.

34. To promote sustainable development, a wide rage of appropriate technologies are propagated throughout the State. Improved chulhas, low-cost water filters, low- cost sanitation, stabilized mud-blocks for low-cost housing, rain- water harvesting, organic composting and low-cost ovens are such technologies implemented. These are propagated through various awareness, demonstration and training activities conducted throughout the State. Activities like science & environment fairs, science awareness camps, science exposure trips, children's science congress and meet-the-scientist programme are organized with the active involvement of schools. These schemes are implemented with the objective of inculcating a scientific temper among the people of the State, particularly school children.

35. The promotion of health is a vital public good and a basic human right. The health of the people of the state contributes significantly to economic growth. To improve the health scenario in the State, the existing infrastructure has been strengthened. Facilities in the Civil Hospitals at Shillong and Tura and the Ganesh Das Hospital at Shillong will be further upgraded. Construction of 100 bedded hospitals at Williamnagar and Baghmara is nearing completion. Upgradation of Tura T.B. hospital and construction of separate hospital for women and children at Tura are under implementation. Construction of Trauma Centre at Shillong is completed and the one at Nongpoh is nearing completion. In the process of modernization and upgradation of equipments, Shillong Civil Hospital has been equipped with a cancer radiotherapy unit and Ganesh Das Hospital with a modern laparoscopic surgery unit. Professionalisation of medical services is a priority area of the Government. The National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) was launched in the State during the last year. Community participation and Inter-sectoral covergence are the key components of NRHM. Under this programme, a female health worker called ASHA who plays a vital role in the health delivery system at the grass root level has been appointed for most villages. 20 CHCs are being upgraded to Indian Public Health Standards. All the hospitals, CHCs & PHCs will have Hospital management societies. The Nongpoh CHCs is fully upgraded to First Referral Unit (FRU). Full immunization coverage is expected to cross 80% soon. 20 PHCs will be upgraded to function on 24 hour basis. There was a resurgence of malaria in the whole of North East and special measures were taken to control it in the State with the assistance of Government of India. The Integrated Diseases Surveillance Programme (IDSP) has been launched in the State with the aim of monitoring all major diseases including malaria.

36. Government assigns utmost importance to the welfare of women, children, persons with disabilities, juvenile delinquents and the aged and infirm. Government has taken a new initiative for the effective implementation of the Supplementary Nutrition Programme by streamlining the procurement procedure for supply of foodstuff through self help groups, mother's groups and voluntary organisations. District Level Committees under the chairmanship of the Deputy Commissioner have been constituted in all the districts to select the items of locally available foodstuff to identify self help groups/NGOs and to ensure regular supply of foodstuff to the Anganwadis. The Meghalaya State Commission for Women, set up to protect women's rights, has organized a number of sensitization programmes, public hearings, and seminars on women's issues. The Commission has also taken up a number of cases relating to maintenance, domestic violence, etc. For comprehensive rehabilitation services to persons with disabilities, the National Programme for Rehabilitation of Persons with Disabilities is implemented through a State Resource Centre at Shillong Civil Hospital and District Rehabilitative Centres at Shillong and Tura Civil Hospitals.

37. The Targeted Public Distribution System aim at providing food security to the economically weaker sections of the society through a network of 4284 fair price shops. 127400 families identified as BPL families are provided with 35 kgs of rice per month at subsidized rate of Rs.6.15 to 6.50 per kg and 55600 families identified as the poorest of the BPL families are provided with the same scale of rice at a further subsidized rate of Rs.3 per kg under the Antyodaya Anna Yojana. Sugar and kerosene are also distributed to all classes of families at a subsidized rate. Under the Annapurna Scheme 9263 destitute and indigent old person not covered under the National Old Age Pension Scheme are provided with 10 kg of rice free of cost per month. The Government of India has sanctioned 44 Village Grain banks to ensure food security to BPL families during the lean season. To ensure protection of consumer rights and to provide speedy redressal of grievances, Consumer Courts have been set up at the State level and in all districts. Creation of consumer awareness through various programmes is a priority of the Government. The weights and measures enforcement machinery will be modernized further to protect the consumers.

38. Government will continue to promote sports and implement various schemes and programmes for the development of the youth. 49 sports infrastructure projects are at various stages of completion. On 3rd March 2007, 177 sports persons were felicitated for their outstanding achievements in various disciplines during the period 2000-2005. The "World Disability Day" was observed on 1st December, 2006 by organizing sports activities for the disabled. A youth festival is proposed to be held this year.

39. The Government is taking steps to strengthen the enforcement machinery through provision of additional staff, vehicles and other infrastructure to ensure effective implementation of labor laws. The Industrial Training Institutes throughout the State catering to craftsmen training in different trades will continue to be strengthened through induction of more vocational trades and creation of more posts of trainers in the various trades. A new ITI building specially meant for Women Trainees at Shillong and a new ITI Building at Baghmara are under construction. Steps are being taken to set up permanent ITIs at Nongpoh and Nongstoin. A proposal for introduction of short term employment courses in ITIs is under consideration. For providing self employment to women, a training programme of four month duration in soft toy making is being conducted at Shillong with financial assistance from DONER.

40. The Government assigns priority to providing shelter to the economically weaker sections and low income groups particularly in the rural areas under the rural housing scheme. Under this scheme, which started in the year 1981-82, 58010 families have been covered up to 2005-06. During the current financial year, it is proposed to cover 3772 families. In 2007-08, 3942 families are proposed to be covered.

41. More areas have been covered under cadastral survey. Since active participation of the people is necessary in cadastral survey operations, the Government has organized workshops and seminars with the local headmen and prominent citizens of the State with a view to allaying their fears and making them aware of the need and benefit of the survey operation. Meghalaya being an earthquake prone areas, stress has been laid on capacity building in disaster management for a quick response in the event of a calamity. The State, the District and the Village Disaster Management Plans have been prepared and are nearing finalization.

42. The construction work for the Meghalaya House at Russel Street, Kolkata and the second Meghalaya House at Vasant Vihar, New Delhi are in progress. The construction of the Meghalaya House at Navi Mumbai has also started. The Administrative building within the compound of the old transport building at Lachumiere is completed and will be allotted to the various Government departments shortly. The construction of the State Convention Centre near Hotel Pinewood, Shillong is progressing well.

43. The construction of the permanent building of the Shillong Bench of the Guwahati High Court is in progress and nearing completion. The State Government has decided in principle to give effect to the separation of Judiciary from the Executive. As a first step in this direction the Meghalaya Judicial Services Rules, 2006 have already been notified. The State Government has also implemented revised pay scale for judicial officers as per the recommendations of the Shetty Commission.

44. The Government will continue to preserve and document the rich cultural heritage of the state. Research activities as well as collection of museum artifacts in order to enrich the collection in the museums will continue. The scheme of "Living Heritage" to encourage the local artists, artisans and exponents of traditional art forms and imparting of training to the youth will continue. Williamson Sangma museum is being modernized and developed with assistance received from the Victoria Memorial Hall and the Indian Museum, Kolkata. In 2006, the Government received back the artifacts discovered at Bhaitbari in excavations carried out by the Archaeological Survey of India some years back. The artifacts are now housed in the Williamson Sangma museum.

45. There is encouraging response from the public to the RTI Act, 2005. Government will further intensify its efforts to create awareness and to encourage the people to use the provisions of the Act for achieving transparency and accountability on the part of public functionaries.

46. Meghalaya Administrative Training Institute (MATI) continues to provide training programmes to various officers and staff of the State government with a view to promoting efficiency in their functioning. A Disaster Management Training Cell has been set up in MATI to sensitize civil service officers, technical officers teachers, community leaders, headmen and various NGOs.

47. For the general elections to the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly due in 2008, the Govt. will ensure that the electoral rolls will reflect the correct status of voters in all aspects as per the direction of the Election Commission of India. Photo electoral rolls will be used for the first time in the State and efforts will be made to cover all voters with electoral photo identity cards.

48. The permanent headquarters of the Directorate of Civil Defence and Home Guards at Mawdiangdiang have been completed and the different units are in the process of shifting to the new location. To enable the department to effectively assist the administration in times of emergency/natural calamities, different types of training have been conducted in various parts of the State with special emphasis on Disaster Management. The Central Training Institute of Civil Defence & Home Guards has constituted a search and rescue team which is being engaged for the purpose.

49. To modernize the security system in jails, closed circuit TVs for the District Jails of Shillong, Tura and Jowai are being introduced. For correction and reformation of the prisoners, training is imparted in vocational trades. Construction of new jail complexes at Nongpoh and Nongstoin is in progress.

I have attempted to outline the policies and programmes of the Government. I hope the deliberations in the House will be constructive and will benefit the people of the State.

I wish your deliberations all success.