Proceedings of the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly assembled after the First General Election.

        The Assembly met 10 A.M. on Monday, the 29th November, 1972 in the Assembly Chamber, Shillong with hon. Speaker in the Chair.

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Mr. Speaker ; Since there are no starred questions let us take up unstarred questions.

QUESTION AND ANSWERS

UNSTARRED QUESTIONS

( To which answers were placed on the Table )

Radio Broadcasting Centre

Shri Elwin Sangma asked :

1.

Will the Minister-in-charge of Information be pleased to state -

(a) Whether the Government of Meghalaya have sent proposal to the Central Government to set up a Radio Broadcasting Centre at Shillong separately from Gauhati and small transmitting stations at Tura and Jowai ?

(b) If so, when ?

Shri D.D. Pugh (Minister, Information and Public Relations) replied :

1. (a) & (b) - The Government of Meghalaya have requested the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India to instal a powerful transmitting station at Shillong as recommended by the Satpathy Committee on Border Publicity. No direct proposal has yet been made to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting for the installation of transmitting stations at Tura and Jowai.

Name of Members of the Planning Board

Shri D. Dethwelson Lapang asked :

2.

Will the Minister-in-charge of Planning, etc., be pleased to state -

(a) The names of the members of the newly constituted Planning Board and the allowances attached to these Members and their terms of office.

(b) It is a fact that no person was appointed from Jaintia Hills District ?

(c) If so, why ?

(d) What is the approach of the State Government to the next Five Year Plan ?

(e) The amount of funds allotted to our State by the Planning Commission for our current Annual Plan and for the Fifth Five Year Plan ?

Shri Brington Buhai Lyngdoh (Minister-in-charge of Planning, etc) : replied.

2.(a)

A statement containing the names of the Members of the Planning Board, the allowances to these Members and their term of office is placed on the table of the House.

(b)&(c)

Two of the four non-official Members are Jaintias. The Board being, however, an expert body, the question of district-wise nomination of its members does not arise.

(d)

A document containing the approach to the Five Year Plan of Meghalaya is placed on the table of the House.

(e)

The approved outlay for the current year's Plan is Rs. 8.25 crores of which Rs. 7.22 crores will be Central assistance and Rs. 1.03 crores will be met from other resources.

        The outlay for the Fifth Plan is yet to be determined.    

Shri D.D. Lapang (Nongpoh S.T.) : May we know the names of the two Jaintia members of the Planning Board ?

Shri B.B. Lyngdoh (Minister, Planning) : They were Shri Pakyntein and Shri P.R. Kyndiah.

Shri D.D. Lapang : Mr. Speaker, Sir, is it not a fact that these two members are residing in the Khasi Hills District ?

Shri B.B. Lyngdoh (Minister, Planning) : They are residing in the District but nonetheless they are from the Jaintia community.

Shri D.D. Lapang : Would it be the fitness of things, if the persons residing in the Jaintia Hills District would be members of the Board ?

Shri B.B. Lyngdoh (Minister, Planning) : I have already clarified that the membership was not made district-wise.

Proposal for the Meter Factory

Shri D. Dethwelson Lapang asked :

3.

Will the Minister-in-charge of Power and Electricity be pleased to state -

(a) Whether the Government of Meghalaya is proposing to re-open the Meter Factory at Shillong ?

(b) If so, the steps taken so for ?

Shri S.D.D. Nichols-Roy (Minister, Power and Electricity) replied :

3. (A) & (b)- The possibility of re-opening the Meter Factory for production of Meters and or other diversified products is under examination.


ADJOURNMENT MOTION

Mr. Speaker : I have received notice of an Adjournment Motion from Prof. M.N. Majaw and before admitting it may I ask Prof. Majaw to explain briefly the main intention of the Adjournment Motion.

Prof. M.N. Majaw (Mawhati S.T.) : Mr. Speaker, Sir, I rise to request the House to allow me to move this Adjournment Motion.

Mr. Speaker : You cannot move now, you can move only when I have admitted it.

Prof. M.N. Majaw : But the matter as the rules have stated, should be of a definite nature, should be urgent and of public importance. Further the matter should fulfill the requirements of Rule 57 and also Rule 58. Now with regard to Rule 56 this matter of public importance is with regard to the introduction and imminent passage of the Indira Gandhi Hill University Bill in Parliament. Now, we did pass a resolution in this august House on this matter, i.e. a resolution agreeing to the setting up of an Indira Gandhi Hills University.

Mr. Speaker : It is not agreeing but recommending.

Prof. M.N. Majaw : Mr. Speaker, Sir, certain recommendations were made by this House with a view to ensuring to the Hills people of this area control over the management, function and progress of the proposed University. Instead Mr. Speaker, Sir, it is a fact as brought to our notice, by the organisation of the Khasi College Teachers in this State, that they are provisions in the Bill which they have read out, which are contrary to what had been recommended by this House. There is also a statement by the President of the Syngkhong Kyntiew Ri, the only Tribal Organisation for the Tribal College Teachers in this State, of Meghalaya, which says inter-alia that the draft Bill has betrayed the confidence and goodwill of the Hill people of the North-Eastern Region in the Government of India. I have read out from the Assam Express Government of India. I have read out from the Assam Express dated 27th November 1972, and, in the Assam Tribune of the 28th November 1972, there is also a statement from the executive committee of the Shillong Students' Union expressing their deep resentment on the draft Bill of the Indira Gandhi Gandhi University which had denied the aspirations of Hills people of the North- Eastern Region. 

Mr. Speaker :- You can place your argument if the Motion has been admitted, but first of all you must justify how this sphere of Indira Gandhi University can be considered as a matter of recent occurrence. 

Prof. M.N. Majaw :- It has now become a matter of recent occurrence under the present statement issued by the Syngkhong Kyntiew Ri. Besides, the Shillong Students' Union have today organised a huge gathering, now marching towards this Meghalaya Assembly, in order to demonstrate and clamour against the Indira Gandhi Hill University Bill. Now it may likely lead to a breach of peace and because of the strong feelings strong emotions and the widespread opposition today in the State, particularly here in this city, the adjournment motion may be placed before this august House. 

Mr. Speaker :- Do you mean to say that the organisation was manned by the unruly mob?

Prof. M.N. Majaw :-  I have used the word "likely". On previous occasions, provocations have come from unwanted elements from outside. I used the word likely Mr. Speaker, Sir, because of the strong feelings of the people in general in the Hill area and the students in particular. 

Mr. Speaker :- I request the Minister for Parliament Affairs to explain the situation.

Shri B.B. Lyngdoh (Minister for Parliamentary Affairs) :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, this Motion was sought to be moved under Rule 56 for the purpose of expressing a definite matter. Mr. Speaker, Sir, I would submit that this matter may be discussed within the other provisions of the Rules in the list of business. I would not necessitate the suspending of the business of the House but I will refer to Rules 49 A, Rule 50, Rule 54 and Rule 130 A, under which the hon. Members may bring in a discussion on this matter. Adjournment Motion is of a very rare nature, and it has been laid down, Mr. Speaker, Sir, by conventions and by rulings in the Houses of Parliament. Adjournment motion must relate to a matter which had a direct or indirect relation to the conduct or default on the part of the Government of the State. Mr. Speaker, Sir, this matter has been with us in these hill areas right from 1964-65; it is in the continuing process because of the demand of the hill representative in Parliament, because of the demand of other representatives of the north- eastern region in the Parliament. The Government of India had initiated the process of discussing and finding and taking steps towards the establishment of a Central University. It has been with us right from 1964-65; right from the time when the Wadia Committee visited our areas. Now it is at the last stage of completion. Now, because of certain people making a statement on the matter or because of some students making some demonstration, it does not mean that it is of recent occurrence. The whole matter has been in the process for a long long time, since 1964-65, and as a matter of fact, in the last session of the Parliament a statement was made by the Minister in-charge that the Bill for establishment of the Central University in the north- eastern region could not be introduced in that session and be had promised to introduce it in this session. Now, the Bill has been introduced. Therefore, it is not a matter of recent occurrence at all. Even so, I do appreciate that it is very important and it is perhaps proper that the Members of this House may discuss the matter as to the various provisions in the Bill. But that can be done, Mr. Speaker, Sir, by the hon. Member bringing a calling attention motion under Rule 54 or other motions under Rule 49 A or under Rule 50, or Rule 130A. It may be discussed even today or tomorrow or on any day that you, Sir, may fix. But it does not require a censure motion of suspending the proceedings of the House. It does not relate to any part of the conduct or default of this Government. So, Mr. Speaker, Sir, I oppose the motion. In this connection, it has been distinctly stressed that the matter is urgent because of apprehension of a breach of peace. Sir, I may submit that a motion cannot be brought to the House in anticipation of further occurrences. Therefore, I would submit that this motion is out of order, and I would, through you, Sir, request the hon. Member that if a discussion is required, there are other provisions under Rules to which he can take resort. 

Prof. M.N. Majaw :- Sir, may I point out that as per explanation given by the Minister for parliamentary Affairs, it would never be possible for any Member to raise an adjournment motion because most matters can be raised under other provisions of the rules. When the Rule Making Body located Chapter XII under the heading "Motions for adjournment etc". one of the criteria would be the urgency of the matter. This is certainly an urgent matter. We have seen today in Shillong all the colleges and schools are closed and the students are coming to the Assembly to demonstrate against this Bill. What happens later God only knows. But the present occurrence, now, Mr. Speaker, Sir, is the closing of all the colleges and schools and the people are organising a demonstration which is marching towards the Assembly. So, it is an urgent matter of public importance. 

Mr. Speaker :- But in the notice given by you, you have not mentioned about the closing of schools and colleges!

Prof. M.N. Majaw :- The closing of schools and colleges can be well anticipated because of the notice that has been issued by the Shillong Student's Union, the only Union for students in Shillong. 

Mr. Speaker :- That is also hypothetical. 

Prof. M.N. Majaw :- That is true. But the fact is that a number of students have now gathered at the I.G.P. point near the State Central Library. They are so many that there could not be any school or college. With such a large number of students remaining absent from schools and colleges, only the teachers and professors themselves will sit in the benches and become students. So, I reiterate that my adjournment motion fulfils all the requirements of Rule 57. Now, I reiterate that this adjournment motion is in order. 


RULING BY THE SPEAKER

Mr. Speaker :- The notice which I have received from Prof. Majaw for moving an adjournment motion reads as follows:- In view of the fact that there is widespread opposition, agitation and demonstration to and against the Indira Gandhi Hill University now before Parliament and in view of the fact that the Syngkhong Kyntiew Ri, ( the only organisation of tribal college teachers in the State) has, as published in the Press, called the proposed Bill " a betrayal of the confidence and good will of the hill people of the North- East in the Government of India, and further, in view of the fact that a large student demonstration is now marching towards the Legislative Assembly, clamouring against this Bill and there is a likelihood of a breach of peace, this Assembly do now stand adjourned to discuss the situation arising out of the said Bill.

        It can be pointed out that the main aim of Rule 56 is to raise an adjournment motion on a matter where discussion cannot be postponed for a single minute. But the subject- matter concerning the proposed Hill University has been discussed in and around the country, and not only in this State. This matter was discussed in this Assembly and a resolution passed by this Assembly to recommend the Government of India for the establishment of the Central University for North- East India. Secondly, in this particular, notice, I have found that there is another issue. The issue is that the hon. Member is anticipating that there would be a breach of peace. An adjournment motion cannot be moved on ground of anticipation. Now I refer to Practice and Procedure of Parliament by M.N. Kaul and S.L. Shakdher page 380 under the Chapter- Admissibility of Adjournment motions which reads as follows- Generally speaking the subject- matter of an adjournment motion must have direct or indirect relation to the conduct or default on the part of the Government of the State and must be in the nature of criticism of the action of the Government of the State either for having done some action or for having omitted to do some action which was urgently necessary at the moment". Now, this Assembly had already passed a resolution to recommend to the Government of India to set up the Indira Gandhi Hill University. There is nothing to follow up the resolution of this Assembly, and since there is nothing which is connected with the failure or default on the part of the Government the adjournment motion is disallowed. 


DISCUSSION ON ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF ASSAM STATE ELECTRICITY BOARD

Mr. Speaker :- Now, Item No.2. Discussion on the Annual Financial Statement for the year 1972-73 of the Assam State Electricity Board.

        ( Opposition Members belonging to H.S.P.D.P. and Independent group walked out ) Now Mr. Zaman. 

*Shri Akramozzaman ( Phulbari ) :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, we had some discussions about the expansion of power in our State when we took up the matter during the Budget Session. In the Budget Speech also, we have heard from the Finance Minister that there was a proposal for electrification of 40 villages in the last year and he also stated that 6 villages only could be electrified and the rest 34 villages remained to be electrified. Now we have seen from the report that only 7 villages or 9 villages are to be electrified during this year. So from the progress of work the Electricity Board of it seems that the rural electrification in the State of Meghalaya is rather slow. I believe that the target fixed by the Government for implementing the electrification programme in 40 villages will not come even within this Fourth Five Year Plan. The other day, we had also some discussions about this. It was informed that rural electrification is held up for non- supply of materials and non- availability of materials. There are two explanations. The explanation given by the Finance Minister is that the short-fall can be ascribed to the difficulties of transport and booking of materials to Assam and Meghalaya from outside the State. But on the other hand it was also learnt that the sal posts are not available for taking the line to the villages. I do not know whether there is any collaboration between the State Electricity Board and the Forest Department of our Government. This important Department has to face a lot of difficulties in the work of electrification for non- availability of posts. I believe these two Departments could easily sit together and find out how this problem can be solved. I am sorry that this coordination between the Assam State Electricity Board and the Forest Department is lacking and for this there are lots of difficulties. Sir, it is very easy to give an explanation and it is more easy for an intelligent man. It is better to avoid giving an explanation, we want action and not explanation. I think nobody can give an excuse just for this or that reason. The matter has not materialised. 

        Sir, another thing I want to point out is the Report of the Assam State Electricity Board Enquiry Commission at Page 17 (part 1). It should be remembered by this House that the activities of the Electricity Board so far as it concerns Garo Hills have been summed up in one single sentence which runs like this..."It will be difficult to find a parallel case where so much of confusion is created right from the planning stage and involving so many departments and agencies as it is seen in the case of this tiny 5 MV Thermal Project". 

Prof. Martin Narayan Majaw :- On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, Sir. We have walked out of the House in protest against the disallowance of the Adjournment Motion. 

        ( A Voice - He forgot to tell at the beginning Laughter............).

Shri Akkramozzaman :- Suddenly, I was shocked by the interruption of my friend from the Opposition. Sometimes, electricity lines also got fused and dislocated. Whatever might be the confusion, the works have not yet been completed in Garo Hills. Sir, to cite an example I may refer to pages 50-51. There was a project report prepared in 1960, but we have not got that report and we do not know how the Electricity Board is going to work and what are the projects they are contemplating to undertake. We, of course, do not know anything, but we got the information that the Project Report was revised in August 1961 keeping in view the comments of the C.W.P.C. and the change of location. As per revised project report, the total cost came to Rs.97.51 lakhs and it was anticipated that the full load would develop by 1970-71 where Mankachar and Phulbari would be included. It has been shown in 1970-71 that the voltage load at Phulbari would be 150 KW. Now we have crossed over to 1972. But from Tura not a single line has been extended to Phulbari till now. If this is the speed of electrification in Garo Hills, I do not know what will be the position. One thing which is important which I would like to bring to the notice of the House is this. It is known to the Government and the Agriculture Department particularly, that there is less consumption of mineral fertilizers by the peasantry in Garo Hills. This matter was also discussed in the Board of Directors' meeting in Meghalaya. It was found that there was very less consumption of fertilizers in Garo Hills. But what is the cause? The cause is water because the fertilizers, particularly the chemical fertilizers, cannot be used for want of water. Without water, if the fertilizer is used, the land is spoiled and the crops will be also spoiled. There are so many instances in Garo Hills and there are cases in Khasi Hills also, specially in Bhoi area, where water is not available. Sir, this matter has also been discussed in this House and the Government was also informed of the Planning Board's decision about lift irrigation. But I do not know as to how this plan of lift irrigation would materialise without the expansion of electricity to the field. Sir, power is not only meant for industrial enlightening purposes but it has got a vital role to play in the field of agriculture. Intensive Agricultural Programme cannot be a success if electricity is not made available to the peasantry. Sir, our land are very fertile but no scientific method of cultivation is possible unless power is extended right up to the fields. In the entire eastern region, Meghalaya is producing maximum electricity. But our lot is such that we are not getting this electric power for our own benefit. It is going somewhere else. Even electricity is being supplied to the foreign countries and to some other parts of our country. But charity begins at home. So we say in Bengali "bathir thale andha-kar". We are generating electricity but we are not getting the benefit out of it. Unless electricity is extended up to the field, no amount of talking of scientific method of agriculture would bear any fruit. As you know, Sir, that fertilizers were supplied to the peasants at a subsidised rate but it could not be utilised because there was no water.  I have seen that our lands in Meghalaya are far better than those of Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh or Bihar. As for example in the Punjab, the eastern part of it was completely barren. It was found at the time of partition of India that this barren portion has fallen inside India. But now Punjab is feeding the whole country. What is the cause? It is due to the fact that all the cultivable lands were electrified. 

        Now about the Assam State Electricity Board. I would like to draw the attention of the Government to the fact that at the time of re- organisation of North East India a Commission was set up to watch the working of the Electricity Board. But I do not know whether Meghalaya is represented in that Commission or not. But time cannot be wasted like this. Say after two years what will happen? Particularly for the peasantry they cannot wait because within these two years they could have done a lot. I remember, in the Project Report presented by our Finance Minister, it was mentioned that 40 villages would be electrified within one year. But what we see today? Out of 40 villages only 5 or 6 villages have been electrified. So it seems the speed of expansion of electricity in our State is at snail's pace. This is the actual state of affairs. If these things continue like this, I do not know what will be our fate. So, I believe that the Government would take appropriate stops in this matter. (Mr. Deputy Speaker in the Chair).  

        Now Sir, I would like to point out also that there is an acute problem of unemployment. This unemployment problem cannot be solved by employing people under Government services only because the Government cannot employ all the people. So other avenues have to be created. I do not know the exact ratio of employment of Meghalayans under the State Electricity Board. Again unless we set up some more industries, either big or small, unemployment problem cannot be solved. Our State is a small State. But the problem of unemployment in our State is not small. So I hope the Government will take necessary steps to implement those plans for setting up industries as envisaged in the Project Report submitted by the Electricity Board. The other day I had the opportunity to discuss the Chief Engineer, Meghalaya about the proposed schemes of electrification connecting Mankachar and Phulbari. The Chief Engineering gave me the assurance that this would be done within the current financial year or in the next year. However, I do not know how far this assurance would be translated into action. The Chief Engineer might have forgotten his assurance. We have got enough electricity but we have got no switch. So the Government should see that the switch is maintained and made workable. With these few words I resume my seat. 

Shri Peter G. Marbaniang (Laitumkhrah) :- Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I won't go into a lengthy discussion on this financial report. I would only like to draw the attention of the Government to one very peculiar situation here, very close to the Shillong Town. Well, Sir, there is one village, known as Umpling Village, where there are about 400 houses. This village is near the B.S.F. Headquarters, and, on the peculiar situation. Here is this: that for many years the people of this village have written to the Government and also to other authorities requesting them to extend the power line to their village which is hardly 40 to 50 yards away form the main power line to their village which is hardly and surprising that when you turn to your right you will find that all the houses are well-lit and when you turn to your left you will find that both the houses and streets are likewise well-lit whereas this poor village is shadowed in darkness. Therefore, I would earnestly request the Government to please see into this problem and help these poor villagers. As I understand, villages are going to be electrified and as this village is outside the Municipality I think it falls within one of the scheme which the Government is taking up.

Shri Jormanick Syiem (Mylliem S. T.) : Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, in this connection I would also like to draw the attention of the Government to the fact that the electrification of villages has been very slow. Last year and this year, the Executive Engineer of the Electricity Board visited the villages in Laitkroh-Laitkroh is not only one village but a number of villages-and the villagers had been asked to submit an application for getting lights.

Mr. Deputy Speaker : I think you have already spoken last time. Now, have you got anything important?

Shri Jormanick Syiem : One thing Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir. As far as I remember, the Autonomous State of Meghalaya advanced an amount of Rs.38 lakhs to the Assam State Electricity Board. I would like to know how that amount was utilised and whether any utilisation certificate had been furnished. I think this House will be interested to know whether the Board has actually utilised the amount advanced by the Autonomous State of Meghalaya.

Shri Salseng Marak (Resubelpara S. T.) :Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I rise to speak a few words on the financial statement of the Assam State Electricity Board. I quite agree with the suggestions of some of the hon. Members during the last session to have a separate financial statement of our own State. I also agree with the suggestions of some of the hon. Members that the Meghalaya State should have its own Electricity Board and I would like to suggest that the Government should take this into consideration. Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I want to make some certain observations and also some suggestions to the Government. As a matter of fact, electricity has been extended to Mendipathar and, of course, to some industries and some private shops and some private residences which have been benefited by this extension. But there are no street lights at important spots where such lightings are absolutely necessary. There are important areas like Resubelpara where extension of electricity is supposed to have been done but nothing has so far been done. I have also learnt that the Electricity Board is very much in mind to extend it through the flooded low-lands leaving out some villages which are big and populated like Dilma and Gajingpara. Sir, if such places are excluded from the scheme of electrification then the purpose of these schemes is meaningless. I would, therefore, request the Government to see that such villages are included in the schemes so that our own people will be benefited. I think the rural electrification scheme means for the benefit of the common people and I, therefore, request the Government, specially the Minister-in-charge, to look into this matter : that the important and populated areas be brought under the scheme. Lastly, I would suggest to the Government that the street lights should be provided for the benefit of the common people. With these few words, Sir, I resume my seat. 

Shri Dlosing Lyngdoh (Umroi S.T.) : Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, it is a pride to Meghalaya that we have been able to produce electricity and Supply electric power to neighbouring States and also to some Union Territories. But it is very sad that the very place where electricity has been generated has been responsible for the loss incurred by the Poultry Farm at Nayabungalow, which is a Government concern, due to failure of electricity. For your information, Sir, this farm is very close to the place or site where electricity is generated. It is also in the National Highway. For your further information, Sir, this matter was discussed with the officers of the Electricity Board twice in the Office Chamber of the Minister-in-charge of Electricity and Power. During the discussions, the A.S.E.B authorities had been asked to place a transformer there at Nayabungalow and they had also promised to see to it immediately. But till yesterday, when I came from Nayabungalow, nothing has been done. Sir, this constant failure of electric current has caused great loss to the Government and also great loss to the cottage industries which are established  at Nayabungalow of the Bhoi Area. Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, for your information I would like to cite one instance that on the 1st of April 1972, due to the failure of electricity there, the poultry farm at Naya Bungalow incurred a loss of Rs.3,223.00 and also there are several instances of the failure of electricity in that area e.g. on 21st September, 1972, 23rd June, 1972 and so on and so forth. The people there have informed the authorities concerned several times about the failure of electric current, but, nothing has been done. Government should see that the people living there get the electricity and try to avoid such losses. I would like to inform the House through you and the Government that land compensation where Electricity Board has acquired land at Barapani in the Bhoi Areas has not yet been paid in spite of repeated reminders from the people. I also understand that a gate has been constructed on the road to Kyrdemkulai where the electricity project has been established, so that the public vehicles may not be able to pass through that area where there are vast agricultural lands and forests. This is very inconvenient for the people, and as pointed out by the hon. Member, that in some areas, the street lights have been installed but no bulbs were fixed, only the electric shades. So it is valueless to supply electric power to other States when there is nothing at home where electricity is generated. I have seen in the financial statement of the Electricity Board that an amount of Rs.28 lakhs has been provided for the year 1972-73 for rural electrification. I have got a letter with me. The Chairman of the Electricity Board has given order to his subordinate officers to electrify the 5 villages in the Bhoi Areas. But so far nothing has been done. They said that the road is not good for transport. Sir, for your information the various trucks ply day and night to carry wood and logs from Mikir Hills. But the Electricity Board said that they cannot run their trucks. I do not understand whether the Electricity trucks are inferior to the trucks or vehicles owned by the forest contractors. That I do not know. So I would appeal through you, Sir, to the Government to press the Assam State Electricity Board to attend to the needs of the people before they sell electric current to the neighbouring States. Thank you, Sir.

Shri Grosswell Mylliemngap (Sohryngkham S. T.) : Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I rise to make some observations on the annual financial statement of the Electricity Board for the year 1972-73, It is an admitted fact that the Assam State Electricity Consultative Council which is functioning for the State of Meghalaya is also the Board for Assam. But I just want to get the information from the Government whether the Meghalaya Government are having members in this Consultative Council which is still under the jurisdiction of the Assam State Electricity Board and which had a meeting on the 28th February, 1972 in which this annual financial statement was placed and adopted. Secondly, I want to make some observations that according to the budget which we have passed last time, it is shown that Rs. 22 lakhs have been earmarked as loan to the Assam State Electricity Board. Whereas in this annual financial statement it was shown only Rs.20 lakhs as loan from the Government of Meghalaya to the State Electricity Board.

        As regards to rural electrification, we are not aware of the basic criteria under which the Board are taking into consideration before they take up any village for electrification and in this annual financial statement we have seen Rs. 28 lakhs and 10 lakhs respectively have been earmarked for Khasi, Jaintia Hills and Garo Hills. So, we would like to have some clarifications on the basic criteria in which the Board is taking in to consideration for electrification of such villages. And the last observation I would like to make is that in this annual financial statement it is laid down that the Assam State Transport Electricity Board will stand dissolved on the expiry of two years' period from the date of requisition or such earlier dates as the Central Government may appoint and upon such dissolution, the assets, rights and liabilities shall be agreed apportioned between the respective States in such a manner as may be agreed upon among them within one year of the dissolution of the Board or if any agreement is reached in such a manner as the Central Government may order to determine.

        In this connection, I would like to remind the Government that the Joint Consultative Council will not be dissolved before two years' time, but during these two years before the appointment could be done, I would request the Government to be alert to know all the properties of the Board which are under the jurisdiction of this Government, I mean the Meghalaya Government. Because when the time for apportionment comes there may be no more things left and especially the moveable machineries and by that time we may find that  there will be only scrap and rats. Therefore, it may be just like that fable of Aesop which says that ; when the Eyes Specialist has treated one blind old woman and by the time she got sight gain, there was nothing more in her house. So I would like to remind the Government that during these years when we are still working together under the same Consultative Council we should know all the assets which are here under our jurisdiction. Why I say this ? It is because, I have heard that before we get our full fledged State there were in some Departments, which I need not mention here, some of the jurisdiction of our State so that when the time of appointment comes we will not have any thing to say on such properties. With these few words, I resume my seat.

Shri M. Reidson Momin (Dadengiri S. T.) : Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I would not make any observation on the annual financial statement of the Electricity Board, but I would like to bring some points to the attention of the Government. Sir, in Garo Hills especially in Tura, if one goes there today he will find that almost all the electric poles are in a very dilapidated condition and it is a danger to human life. I tried to draw the attention of the Electricity Board authorities in this respect. But when I approached the Electricity Board authorities in this respect, they said that these posts were not supplied by the Forest Department and when I approached the Forest Department they replied that State Electricity Board are not taking delivery of these posts from the forest reserve where they are lying. So, Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I do not know who is actually the culprit or who is at fault. So I do not understand whether the Forest Department is not supplying the posts required for the Electricity Board or the authorities of the Power Supply under the Electricity Board in Tura are hot lifting all these posts which are lying at some depots. In this connection, I would say that some areas of Tura Town which have been scheduled to be taken up by the Electricity Board for electrification have not been electrified not to talk of electrification in rural areas. Even in the town area, at some place we are not getting electricity supply or street lights at all. Then again, where there is electric supply there is so much fluctuation of voltage and disruption of power supply and sometimes it is really disturbing and very annoying when someone is doing important work or when some meetings are being held when such weak power supply is there. It is seen that sometimes electricity supply goes off for 5 minutes and it come on for 1 minute and it goes off again. So I do not know why all these things are there. When I approached the Electricity Board in Tura, they said that the fault of power failure is not in Tura but it is in Nagalbibara, but when I again approached the authorities there, they said that the fault lies with power house at Tura. So I would like to draw the attention of the Government, through you, Sir, to kindly look into this matter so that when some foreigners coming here or some people from outside visiting Tura may not think that we are unable to manage our own affairs. Then another thing, even if we get the electric supply from the Electricity Board, the light is very dim, the voltage sometimes is so much down that when we switch on the fan fine it does not move, when we switch the light on there is only flickering light and when I enquired from the authorities of Power Supply they said that the overhead wires are old and even not of requisite gauge. So, Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I would like to request the Government through you, Sir, to kindly look into this matter and see that there are no shortcomings on our part and relieve the sufferings of the people.

Mr. Deputy Speaker : Any other hon. Member who would like to participate in this discussion ? There is none, so I close the discussion and now I request the Minister-in-charge of Power to give a reply.

Shri Stanley D. D. Nichols-Roy (Minister, Power, etc.) :Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I am indeed very grateful to the hon. Members who have participated in this debate on the working of the State Electricity Board. As you all know, we have only very recently taken this responsibility. So far as this matter is concerned, we have taken over only with effect from the 21st January, and it will, therefore, take a little time for us to get a few of the anomalies and the problems solved, which were there in the past. There are a number of basic considerations which were raised in the last discussion ad I would like to point out some of these basic considerations in reply to the Members who have raised certain objections. Power is the basic ingredient for national growth and like communication, it cannot be thought of in isolation. As a matter of fact, the concept of power production may have to be changed. Up till now, the State Electricity Board had been given loans and on the date that the loan is given, interest started accruing. Whereas we are at  stage and at a backward level, of the power consumption and production that it would not be possible to expect   a good return on our investment for power. In Meghalaya, consumption of power is of the order of 20 Kilowatt hours as compared with 90 Kwh. in the rest of the country and in other developed countries 175 kilowatt hours and 4,450 Kwh. in advanced countries. This is really a very low condition of our State so far as power production and utilisation are concerned. This has been taken as indicator of advancement and prosperity of our nation and this has indicated that we are very low in advancement and prosperity as compared to other States of the country as well as other parts of the world. Without power consumption, growth and economy cannot progress. Now, in 1958, when the State Electricity Board was formed, there was practically no proper power generation in the State.

Shri B. B. Lyngdoh (Minister, Finance, etc.) : Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, may I make a suggestion ? In view of the noise outside we may adjourn the House.

Shri Stanley D. D. Nichols-Roy (Minister, Power, etc.) : When this State Electricity Board was formed, there was one project only and that was the Umtru Hydel Project with an installed capacity of 8.2 megawatts and firm capacity of 1.5 megawatts. There were no high voltage transmission lines except very small lengths of 11KV lines. Even consumption of power in the towns was supplied by private Companies. A few Subdivisional Headquarters and big villages were fell from isolated and uneconomical diesel generating stations. Realising the urgent necessity for power requirements in the State, immediate steps were taken by the A. S. E. B. to find out other suitable sources. Thus, A. S. E. B. started  the work on two important projects. i.e., the Umiam Hydel Project and the Namrup Thermal Project with a capacity of producing 36 Megawatts ands 69 Megawatts respectively. These two projects came into operation from the middle of 1965. It is only from that time the base for power development in the region was set up. Further investigations and surveys were taken up by the A. S. E. B. to find out other sources of power. When these new sources will be tapped, I believe there will be no difficulty to have a large scale power development in the light of scientific investigations.

Mr. Deputy Speaker : The House stands adjourned till 11-45 a. m. for tea break.

        The House resumed its sitting at 11-45 a. m.

Mr. Deputy Speaker : Now I request the Minister-in-charge of Power to continue.

Shri S.D. D. Nichols-Roy (Minister, Power, etc.) : Well, Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I do not know whether in this atmosphere of shouting outside we can have a reasonable discussion. But since you asked to continue, I shall continue from where I left. Regarding the actual position, as it is today, the present installed capacity of the State Electricity Board has reached a mark of 150 MW. with another 120 MW. likely to be commissioned progressively by about 1976-77. The capital investment on an sizeable power project is large and the gestation period is long varying from 5 to 10 years. Criticism has been made against the Board for high cost of projects and it is very easy to criticise the project on a few avoidable expenditure but the fact remains that all the project done by the Board have been without any remains that all the projects done by the Board have been without any slightest technical flow whatsoever. We should, however, see the basis of criticism. The line losses in the distribution of power have been considerably brought down from 24 per cent to 16 per cent which is one of lowest in India. This can be seen when compared with projects like Jaldhaka in West Bengal, Patratu, Badarpur Project by the Central Water and Power Commission Koyna Project, etc., from where normal continuous power supply has not yet been assured. With the reorganisation of the North-Eastern Region into different units and the establishment of the North Eastern Council, it is most likely that the power development, like communication will have to be conceived in the most efficient and economical manner. The regional Grid with high voltage transmission line will feed power to individual States and Union Territories. There is no doubt that this Board may be reorganised and may play a vital role in the new set-up. But we leave that to the future. Now when we look to the future need of power in the entire region, the generation of power against the probable demand is indicated as follows :-

Year

Power demand

Installed capacity

Firm capacity

(1)

(2)

(3)

(4)

1971-72

...

...

...

96 MW

146 MW

95 MW

1972-73

...

...

...

134 MW

176 MW

110 MW

1973-74

...

...

...

171 MW

206 MW

133 MW

1974-75

...

...

...

191 MW

208 MW

133 MW

1975-76

...

...

...

211 MW

238 MW

163 MW

1976-77

...

...

...

236 MW

298 MW

215 MW

        Now this is just the normal growth. This will alter most radically upward if any major industries and rapid rural electrification are taken up. However, considering the normal development and some reserve for major industries, the net shortfall in power demand will be about 400 MW by 1980-81. This is a very serious situation and that is why the Board needs to investigate a number of schemes and implement them quickly. At the moment, the following are the schemes under construction. Kyrdemkulai Hydro Electric Project at an estimated cost of Rs. 9.42 crores with 2 X 30 MW installed capacity. This is to be commissioned in 1976-77 and the other one is the 1 X 30 MW Chandrapur Thermal Station. These are all continuing schemes. The Board have also submitted a preliminary project report for 180 MW for Umiam-Umkhen Hydro Electric project at an estimated cost of about Rs. 35 crores and we are yet to finalise the permission for the investigation. Now serious thought will have to be given for financing these new schemes. At it is, the Board is finding it extremely difficult to continue with the existing continuing schemes. As I have already indicated, electrical energy is a basic infra-structure for growth for a developing economy. The Government must be prepared to invest large sums of money without expecting any immediate return. The gestation period of any sizeable project is long, particularly for large hydel projects. The North-Eastern Region has the vast potential for hydel power generation estimated at 13,000 MWs. But not even one per cent of it has so far been tapped. As the fund for meeting the expenditure on these projects is provided in the shape of loan which starts accruing interest from the date it is paid, there is bound to be accumulation of interest during the construction period especially in the developing region. The Board itself take these measures to finance these power plants. Every year a power plants is decided for a State in consultation with the Planning Commission and the Ministry of Irrigation and Power. The Board requires finance to execute these power plants. The finance is provided by three means - (1) by loan from the Government, (2) by borrowing from the market and financial institutions, and (3) from Board's own resources. The Board's resources include surplus revenue after meeting the opening expenditure excluding depreciation. The Electricity Board has no share capital of its own. Whatever meagre surplus is there, it is ploughed back in the business for further development. Therefore, the loan cannot be repaid by the Board concentrate their activities only in viable areas which offer sizeable returns. Only the operating surplus can be utilised for the refund of the capital loan. Such a measures will be anathema to the concept of a socialistic and egalitarian society where the benefits of development are shared by all, particularly in the rural sector where most of the population live.

        The State Electricity Board undertakings are in effect, commercial-cum-service organisations. In the present state of our national economy and the development ahead it may not be appropriate to expect the State Electricity. Boards to immediately function on a financial level comparable to the similar undertakings in advanced countries. With the loan, assets are created and as long as those assets remain there is adequate security for the loan and the service that it renders to the people amply repays the money invested. Actually in effect, the State's loans are in perpetuity. The original Supply Act had made no provision for the fund of the Government loans.

        The hon. Member from Mawhati has made a mention about losses. Mr. Deputy Speaker Sir, the losses mentioned are included in the unpaid interest on account of arrear of depreciation. The Government of India and the World bank have appreciated the peculiar difficulties of all the Boards and have requested the respective Governments to waive the areas of interest. It is reported that some of the State Governments have already written off the areas of interest and other State Governments are considering this proposal. Now, Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, a question was raised last time about registers of property and stores and today also someone mentioned about immovable stores. I have been informed that all the Divisions have already complied with the requirements of the above matters. There may be lapses but I think the position is quite satisfactory. Actually the Government of India is trying to evolve certain uniform systems of reckoning for all the Boards in India so that the Boards' accounts may be simplified and maintained on commercial pattern. Regarding interruptions in the power supply which were mentioned last time and today also some of the hon. Members have referred to it. Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, indeed it is a very sad thing that interruptions have taken place. But we are very fortunate to have a higher percentage of power supply compared to other States in the country and many places in the States of Assam and Meghalaya have been able to get power supply although there are some interruptions. One of the reasons for interruptions is the weather conditions prevailing in this part of the country ( a number of thunder showers ). During monsoon period it has become practically impossible to maintain a cent per cent continuity of power supply and also due to nature of the terrain, interruptions are likely to continue for a longer period as carriage of men and material to the site is difficult. The hon. Members have also raised the point about destruction or felling of trees etc, and damage to sacred land in Jaintia Hills. In Jowai area two 11 KV lines are under construction. These are (a) mawkyndiang-Laskein-Mawkaiew, (b) Pasyih-Mynso. During construction of a line some confusion areas about the name of the village Mawkhap with Mawkaiew. I am told that it was due to ignorance that some stones in a scared place were damaged by felling of trees. This matter is being looked into for reasonable compensation. In the construction of (b), all the trees have been felled with the permission of the owners and those trees whose owners are not available readily, have not been felled so far. Now there is another question raised about shut-down of power. Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, generally notices are circulated to the persons likely to be affected by this shut-down. It has to be borne in mind that a power shut-down in the rural areas is sometimes consequent on the shut-down of power from the main Power Station or for maintenance of shut-down of the high voltage line feeding power to the sub-transmission lines. These shut-downs are always taken everywhere on Sundays to cause minimum loss to industrial production. Also the rural areas now from part of the main grid. In the case, it is not possible to avoid the power shut down on any Sunday which is a practice universally adopted. However I am told by the Board's representative that it will be their endeavour to see that shut-downs are not taken to cause inconvenience to consumers if and when these are due to repair and maintenance of local 11 KV distribution lines. The hon. Member from Jowai has raised the question of electrification of border areas of Jowai District. I have been informed that lines are under construction to electrify Jarain, Thanguli, Umlyngdkur. The line will then further extend upto border villages namely, Nongtalang, Shokham Lamin and Dawki. All these villages are likely to be electrified within 1973-74. The remaining villages of the border areas will be electrified progressively when high voltage distribution lines reach that area. Hon. Members have raised the question of having a separate Board for Meghalaya. The matter needs very careful examination. As I have already stated that power is a basic infra-structure for growth but we should minimise our expenditure. With the setting up of the North-Eastern Council which has the power development as one of its important functions, we have to carefully examine the whole question. Now, today some of the Members have raised certain points and I would like to answer to the hon. Member from Phulbari, Shri Zaman, questioning about the provision relating to Garo Hills Project. This project was commissioned by the machinery under the Indo-Hungarian Trade agreement. There was confusion caused by devaluation. Originally the cost was about Rs. 50 lakhs. After the payment of custom duties, etc., the cost is originally Rs. 70 lakhs. When devaluation came, the Board was not able to give additional amount called for by devaluation and the contractor withdrew. This has created some confusion. Then the question was raised why electrification of villages was slow. Transport and non-availability of sal posts are the main reasons for the slow progress of village electrification. The question was also raised by the hon. Member from Laitumkhrah about the electrification of Umpling village. This is not within the purview of the State Electricity Board but it is under the jurisdiction of the Hydro Electric Company. Personally took up the matter with Hydro Electric Company to take up the scheme but it cam just as the time of renewal of licences.

        However this matter is being actively looked into and the company should empower the State Electricity Board to supply transmission lines and power. 

Prof. A. Warjri (Mawkhar S.T.) : Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, may I ask for the information of the House, for how many years these licences will be granted to the Hydro Electric Company. 

Shri S. D. D. Nichols-Roy (Minister, Power, etc.) : I cannot remember right now. I require a little time to collect the information. Then, Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, a question was asked about how the amount of loan given by the Autonomous State was utilised. The reply given by the Board is that purchase of materials and labour for electrification of villages has taken the amount advanced to the Board. The problem of getting sal posts is being worked out between the Forest Department and the Board. They are generally finding difficulty to supply rigidly to the specification of sal posts required by the Board. Now, that the Board's specification has been reduced, we are expecting that the Forest Department will be able to supply more sal posts. Now, last time the Members had criticised the propaganda that cheap power will be available to the people but with the completion of one or two projects, the power is not cheap. If we compare the tarrif rate of the State with the other parts of the country, it is favourably compared to most of the States. For large industries the demand for power is supplied at a very low rate compared with any part of the country. It is supplied at 6 or 7 paise per unit. It is quite satisfactory. So far as compensation of the land for the Umiam Project is concerned, the hon. Member from Umroi has referred to it. The amount was placed at the disposal of the D.C. who has to make the payment according to the assessment work done by him. It is found out that there were some misappropriation cases that the compensation money in the Office of the D.C. have been misused and this has created confusion in the office of the D.C. who has not been able to complete the compensation. Regarding the compensation for the road at Kyrdemkulai, this is still under the process of consideration.

Shri Dlosing Lyngdoh (Umroi S.T.) : @@@Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, for misappropriation by the D.C. office the public are not supposed to lose or suffer.

Shri Stanley D.D. Nichols Roy (Minister, Power) : Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, the Member is quite correct. Their money will be paid. So far as Kyrdemkulai is concerned, it is being taken into consideration and the amount will be paid accordingly. Regarding construction of the gate at Kyrdemkuali road, it is purely a temporary matter and the gate is for construction of that road, nevertheless, the public and private vehicles are allowed to pass during the construction period. Then one Member from Garo Hills has stated that there are certain fluctuations of power supply due to low voltage and this has been one of the reasons for the fluctuation, long line from the source of supply and low capacity of the source of electricity have caused fluctuation in the supply of power in Tura. But when the Namrup Thermal Project is completed supply of power in Tura will be much better. The reason why the power is so low is the disproportionate increase of power was not taken up in the best manner. Now Members have also raised about the membership from Meghalaya in the consultative Council of the State Electricity Board. Membership in the Council was constituted as follows :- In the Electricity Board there is one member who is the Secretary, Industries as Member of the Board. In the Consultative Council there are five members who are from this area. The Secretary, Industries, the Chairman of the Municipal Board, the Chief Executive Member of the Garo Hills District Council, the Syiem of Mylliem and the representative of the Chamber of Commerce Shri J.N. Bawri. I enquired about this and in the next re-constitution of the Council perhaps some more members of this State will be taken in. The dilapitated conditions of the electric posts as mentioned by Mr. R. Momin have been brought to the attention of the State Electricity Board and they will take up to replace those post quickly. Well, Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I have just touched on some of the specific points raised by the Members and I have given a brief outline of basic considerations in the course of reply to the discussion on the Electricity Board.

Mr. Deputy Speaker : The debate is closed now.


Adjournment

        Since there is no other business for today, the House stands adjourned till 10 a.m. on Thursday the 30th November, 1972.

Dated Shillong :

R.T. RYMBAI,

The 29th November, 1972.

Secretary,

Meghalaya Legislative Assembly.

******