Proceedings of the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly held at 9.00 a.m. on Monday, the 24th June, 1974, in the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly Chamber
Present -Prof. R. S. Lyngdoh, Speaker,
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
(To which replies were laid in the Table)
Mr. Speaker : Let us begin the business of the day by taking up unstarred question No. 41.
Building of a new Tura Town
Prof. Alexander Warjri asked :
41. Will the Chief Minister be pleased to state-
(a) Whether Government proposes to build a New Tura Town ?
(b) If so-
(ii) Dated fixed for starting the first phase ?
(iii) The number of phases to be taken ?
(iv) Target year fixed for completion ?
(c) The total acreage required ?
(d) The estimated cost of building of houses, roads, water supply, etc ?
Shri Stanley D. D. Nichols- Roy (Minister-in-charge, of Town and Country Planning Department) replied :
41. (a) -Government does not propose to build a New Tura Town but simply intends to extend the town in a planned manner.
(b)-(i) In the deserved forest area also at Araimile (2½miles away from the Town) on the way to Garobadha.
(ii) No specific date has been fixed.
(iii) Number of phases have not been worked out.
(iv) Not fixed.
(c)-Not yet finally decided. Data is being complied on the requirement of land by the various Departments.
(d)- The estimated cost has not been worked out as yet as the Master Plan has not yet been prepared.
41. (a). Shri S. P. Swer : Whether Government propose to extend any of the towns in the State ?
Mr. Speaker : That is a new question.
Mr. Speaker : 42.
Salient features of the Rural Credit Programme
Prof. Martin Narayan Majaw asked :
42. Will the Minister-in-charge of Community Development be pleased to state -
(a) What are the salient features of the Rural Credit Programme ?
(b) The amount sanctioned for this programme during 1973-74 ?
(c) The amount actually utilised ?
(d) To whom was the implemented of this programme entrusted ?
Shri Edwingson Bareh (Minister, Community Development) replied :
42. (a) -The salient features of the crop loan system are :-
(i) Production is the main purpose of the arrangements of finance.
(ii) Short-term loans are given on the basis of the anticipated crop.
(iii) The loans are related in amount to the estimated outlay on raising the crop.
(iv) The recoveries are to be made as and when the crop is sold, from sale proceeds.
(v) Linking of credit and marketing.
(b)-The total amount sanctioned by the Meghalaya Co-operatives Apex Bank Ltd., under the crop loan system during the year 1973-74 (as on 31st March 1974 ) is Rs. 25.12 lakhs.
(c)-Our of the sanctioned amount of Rs. 25.12 lakhs, Rs. 22.55 lakhs was disbursed to the societies and the societies have utilised the entire amount for the purpose for which it was granted.
(d)-The implementation of the programme is entrusted to the Meghalaya Co-operatives Apex Bank Ltd. under the supervision of the Co-operation Department and the Reserve Bank of India.
Development of Tourism
Prof. Martin Narayan Majaw asked :
43. Will the Minister-in-charge of Tourism be pleased to state-
(a) The progress made in the execution of various schemes taken up for the development of Tourism upto 31st March, 1974?
(b) The number of scheme completed so far ?
(c) The total amount of revenue the Government earned from Tourism during the year 1972-73 and 1973-74 ?
Shri Stanley D. D. Nichols Roy (Minister, Tourism) replied :
43. (a)- The following schemes have been taken up for development of Tourism upto 31st March, 1974 :-
(1) Improvement of Thadlaskein Lake and provision for boating, etc.
(2) Construction of approach road to Jakrem Hotspring.
(3) Improvement of Pine wood Hotel.
(4) Improvement of Wards Lake, Lady Hydari Park and construction of some new parks in Shillong Town are and other beautification schemes.
(5) Conducted tours.
The execution work of the above schemes is in progress and they are treated as spilled over schemes of the Fifth Plan.
(b)-No scheme has been completed except the scheme on Conducted tour. We have just started the execution and the work is in progress.
(c)-(1) Revenue for New Tourist Bungalow from 7th June, 1972 to 31st March, 1974- Rs. 2,300 (Rupees two thousand three hundred) only.
(2) Revenue from Old Tourist Bungalow from 14th November, 1973 to 31st March, 1974- Rs. 8,592.00 (Rupees eight thousand five hundred ninety two only.
Prof. M. N. Majaw : 48, () In these conducted tours, has Government appointed any tourist guide ?
Shri S. D. D. Nichols Roy (Minister, Tourism) : Yes, Sir.
Prof. M. N. Majaw : How many tourist guides are there ?
Shri S. D. D. Nichols Roy (Minister, Tourism) : I need notice for that, but I think there is one and some more to be employed later.
Mr. Speaker : No. 44.
Reserved Forests to some Company
Shri G. Mylliemngap asked :
44. Will the Minister-in-charge of Forests be pleased to state-
(a). Whether the Meghalaya Government has leased its Reserved Forests to some Company ?
(b) The number and names of such Forests ?
(c) The name of the Company ?
(d) The terms and conditions of agreement of the lease ?
Shri Edwingson Bareh (Minister, Forests) replied :
44. (a) Yes, but since kept in abeyance.
(b)- Three Reserved Forests, namely -Nongkhyllem, Narpuh and Saipung.
(c)-M/s. Meghalaya Plywoods Ltd.
(d)- A copy of the agreement is placed on the Table of the House.
Shri Maham Singh :For how many years will the lease be kept in abeyance ?
Shri E. Bareh (Minister, Forests) : Time has not been fixed, Sir.
Shri Maham Singh : Is there provision in the lease for keeping the lease in abeyance ?
Mr. Speaker : Is there any clause in the original lease agreement ?
Shri E. Bareh (Minister, Forests) : There no clause in the original lease.
Shri Maham Singh : Has any clause been incorporated, Mr. Speaker, Sir, for keeping the lease in abeyance ?
Shri W. A. Sangma (Chief Minister) : Mr. Speaker, Sir, there is no need for any clause .
Prof. M. N. Majaw : Whether the decision to keep it in abeyance was agreed to by both sides ?
Shri E. Bareh (Minister, Forests) :Yes, Mr. Speaker, Sir.
Mr. Speaker : Nos. 45, 46, and 47.
Upper Division Assistants in the office of the Directorate of Mineral Resources.
Shri Humphrey Hadem asked :
45. Will the Minister-in-charge of Industries be pleased to state-
(a) The total strength of Upper Division Assistants' posts at present, in the office of the Directorate of Mineral Resources?
(b) Whether these posts have been since been filled up ?
(c) If so, whether the incumbents holding those posts, are either in permanent, temporary or officiating basic ?
(d) Whether the occurrence of the Government for those appointments have been received by the Directorate ?
Shri Stanley D. D. Nichols Roy (Minister-in-charge of Power, Mining and Geology) replied :
45. (a) - Three.
(b)- Two posts have since been filled up.
(c)- The incumbents are holding the posts temporarily.
(d)- Appointment against one posts is made by Governments and the other by the Director with intimation to Government.
Construction of Jowai Government College Building
Shri H. Enowell Pohshna asked :
46. Will the Minister-in-charge of Education be pleased to state-
(a) Whether the Government proposes to construct the Jowai Government College Building this year ?
(b) If so, when will the construction commence ?
(c) If not, why ?
Shri Darwin D. Pugh (Minister of State, incharge of Education) replied :
46. (a) -Yes, Sir.
(b)- As soon as allocation of fund is finalised.
(c) Does not arise.
Assam-Meghalaya Road Transport Corporation
Shri Dlosing Lyngdoh asked :
47. Will the Minister-in-charge of Transport be please to state-
(a) When was the Assam -Meghalaya Road Transport Corporation established ?
(b) The members of the Corporation representing the State of Meghalaya ?
(c) The shares of the Government of Meghalaya from the revenue received from the routes operated by the Assam-Meghalaya Road Transport Corporation in the State of Meghalaya for the years 1970-71, 1971-72, 1972-73 ?
(d) Whether the Government proposes to take over all the routes operated by the Assam -Meghalaya State Transport Corporation in Meghalaya ?
(e) If so, when ?
(f) If not, why not ?
Shri Stanley D. D. Nichols Roy (Minister, Transport) replied :
47. (a) - On the 21st January 1972.
(b)-(1) Shri Ramesh Chandra, I.A. S. Financial Commissioner and Secretary to Government of Meghalaya Finance Department.
(2) Shri S. L. Khosla, I.A. S., Secretary to the Government of Meghalaya, Transport Department.
(c) -Share of revenue receipt for the year 1970-71,1971-72 and 1972-73 is not determined yet.
(d) - Yes.
(e) The scheme is under preparation.
(f) - Does not rise.
Mr. Speaker : Let us pass on to the second item of today list of business.
VOTING ON DEMANDS FOR GRANTS
Cut Motion No. 3. against Grant No. 17 to be moved by any of the 4 Members.
Prof. M. N. Majaw :Mr. Speaker, Sir, as I am the only one here among the 4 original Movers, and as I feel that we have had quite an exhaustive discussion on the subject, I will not move my cut motion.
Mr. Speaker : Let us pass on to cut motion no. 4- Mr. Khongwir.
Shri S. D. Khongwir : Mr. Speaker, Sir, on this point also, we have had a discussion and got a reply from the Government. So I will not move my cut motion.
Mr. Speaker :Let us put the main question before the House. The question is that an amount of Rs. 2,12,47,800 be granted to the Minister-in-charge to defray certain charges which will come in the course of payment during the year ending the 31st March, 1975 for the administration of the head "255-Police and 260 -Fire Protection and Control".
(After a pause)
The motion is carried. The demand is passed.
Now the Chief Minister to move Grant No. 18.
Shri W. A. Sangma (Chief Minister) :On the recommendation of the Governor, I beg, Sir, to move that an amount of Rs. 10,83,000 be granted to the Minister-in-charge to defray certain charges which will come in the course of payment during the year ending 31st March, 1975 for the administration of the heads "256-Jails".
Mr. Speaker :Motion moved. I have received one cut Motion which stands in the name of Prof. M. N. Majaw.
Prof. M. N. Majaw : Mr. Speaker, Sir, I beg to move that the total provision of Rs.10,83,000 , under Grant No. 18, Major Head "256-Jails", at page 110 of the budget be reduced by Rs. 100, i.e., the amount of the whole grant of Rs.10,83,000 do stand reduced by Rs.100.
Mr. Speaker : Motion moved. Now you can initiate the discussion to ventilate the grievances of the inmates of the District Jail of Shillong.
Prof. M. N. Majaw : Mr. Speaker, Sir, I think the measures of concern and care that has been taken for the jails is shown by the inadvertent explanation of it from the printed context only by chance, I supposed it had to be introduced by cyclostyled addition. But I should, on the other hand, be happy that it is the only cut-motion which is correctly printed.
Now, Mr. Speaker, Sir, the District Jails of Shillong is a place that can be better understood by visiting it, than by describing it here in this House. It really beggars description, but I can make an attempt. I have had the privilege to go with the hon. Member from Malki, as a result of the repressive measures by this Government, to have had a first-hand knowledge of the conditions of this jail.
(Voices-Were you taken inside the Jail ? ) (Laughter).
Prof. M. N. Majaw : Yes, for half an hour. I tell you, one minute only Mr. Speaker, Sir, is enough to make anybody faint. (Laughter). Most of the rooms have a leaky roof above them and the dirt that lies concealed and exposed in the corners of this Jail, I think, it will take years to scrape any of the accumulated filth. The monstrom rats that scrambled about , these are the things to be seen Mr. Speaker, Sir. (interruption).
Mr. Speaker :Prof. Majaw, in fact that Minister-in-charge of Law has already expressed that this is a matter of opinion, whether the Jail should be treated as a place for comfort or for punishment.
Prof. M. N. Majaw : May I point out, Mr. Speaker, Sir, that in the first place, there are number trial prisoners, who by any norms of any society , are regarded as being innocent until proved to the quilt, and therefore, at least under trial prisoners are entitled to the minimum of comfort at least the bare necessities of life that they would have got while they were at home. In any case, all these under-trial prisoners the most unfortunate, that has come to my memory was the case of a Naga student who died sometime in January this year. The exact date escapes my memory, but this is most unfortunate case of the accused person, for even the person who accused him over the stealing of a type-writer, had confessed that this Naga boy had nothing to do with it, and his only fault is that he shared the same house with that of the thief, but before the hearing, he was held for two years. For two years, he rotted because he contracted tuberculosis in the chest and in the abdomen.
Mr. Speaker : Did he develop this disease in the jail or long before that ?
Prof. M. N. Majaw : In the jail, Mr. Speaker, Sir. He was sent for treatment, but his body was beyond repair and nothing can be done to save him. And I wish to express my condolences to the family and on behalf of the people of Nagaland, who, in my opinion, and in the opinion of many was not guilty, that such a person should have died due to the neglect in this jail. He died of tuberculosis of the chest and tuberculosis of the abdomen. He had no father and no mother but only a brother. We did our best to inform him. Then, Mr. Speaker, Sir, with great difficulty we persuaded the jailor to provide a pinewood, a wooden coffin for him in order to be able to bury him.
Mr. Speaker : I thought you are thinking of Pinewood Hotel.
Prof. M. N. Majaw : It is not yet as dirty as the jail though it is approaching it. Then we persuade the Roman Catholic Parish to allocate a small plot of land for him; we got a cross made for him and I had a privilege of painting out the name on the cross. We had a small burial service in the Nagaland House. Thanks to the Deputy Commissioner of Khasi Hills for allowing us to use a Government truck to carry the dead body from the jail to the Nagaland House and from the Nagaland House to the cemetery.
Mr. Speaker : When you are thanking the Deputy Commissioner it means you are thanking the Government.
Prof. M. N. Majaw : No, Sir, only to the Deputy Commissioner. He is one of the best Deputy Commissioners we have had since the British days. But as far as the police are concerned, Mr. Speaker, Sir.
Mr. Speaker : I want to ascertain whether the Deputy Commissioner offered his private personnel truck to you or he offered the Government truck ?
Prof. M. N. Majaw : He offered the Government truck, no doubt but Mr. Speaker, Sir, when I first.
Shri P. R. Kyndiah : On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, Sir, let us clear about one thing. Whether the Deputy Commissioner whom I consider to be the important limb of the Government is not to treated as part of it ?
Mr. Speaker : I have already told that the Deputy Commissioner or any other officer of the Government is one of the limbs of the Government and when thank is due to a particular officer it means also to the Government (laughter).
Prof. M. N. Majaw :But the Government only gets a reflected ray but not the bright sunshine, (laughter) and in this particular case we approached the police requesting them to allow us to use one of their closed vans to carry the dead body from the jail to the Nagaland House. But they said that there is no provision for doing so. I argued that since they have carried the live body from the jail to the court why not they carry the dead body from the jail. But they said that there is no provision for carrying the dead body and we had to go to the Deputy Commissioner. This is one of the saddest cases. And when ringing up the Civil Surgeon in this matter as to how this boy developed tuberculosis and had been lying in the jail for almost two years waiting for trial I was told that there were cases of under trial prisoner lying for 14 years in the district jail. There were cases of under trial prisoners lying in the jail for 10 years. This shows how long these people are to be punished and kept here. This shows how long these people are to be punished and kept there. If under trial prisoners are kept for more than 10 years, condition in the jail ought to have been made relatively comfortable. But they are kept in such heinous conditions where they are mixed up with criminals. There is no provision for young boys. There are a few young offenders and due to the bad examples and due to the influence by others, they will be further spoilt . There is no provision to segregate these young boys from the old and hardened criminal and these boys are quickly taken away by the influence of the hardened and desperate criminals. There is also no provision to separate the lunatics from half-demented persons in this jail as the Minister said that the insane persons cannot be accommodated at Tezpur because I suppose they are made more made than the people at Tezpur and are kept here. You can hear the screams of half-demented women and full demented women, and the inmates in the jail are to listen to all this howling throughout night and day.
Again, Mr. Speaker, Sir, there is a big network of corruption in this jail. For example, we demanded Class A but we have been given Class B. However, we do not grudge for that small mistake. But for the ordinary prisoner, he had to sleep on the floor. If he wants a plank he has to write a slip to his family and this slip is sent through the excellent post office of the jail and the jailor used to collect rupees ten from the relatives of the inmates and then a plank is provided . For the next day, he has again to do the same thing. So what they did ? For the same plank to make them pay, they pour water on it and if the prisoner pays another rupees ten, then he gets another plank. In this way, they will tell the prisoner to write another slip and pay rupees ten. There is no soap, Mr. Speaker, Sir, anywhere in the jail except for scraping of pots and pans of the jailor. There are no other things. To cite an example. There is no library for the better educated prisoners, there are no magazines or newspapers. Then again, if they want a packet of cigarettes the relatives have to send two packets, one goes to the guard and the other to the inmate, if at all it reaches him. For anything which the inmates man has to be sent has to sent in duplicate like sending duplicate copies. So, if you are to send Rs. 10, you should send Rs. 20 i.e., Rs. 10 to the jailor and Rs. 10 to the jailor and the other packet of cigarettes, one packet to the jailor and the other packet to the inmates. This has become a fixed custom in the jail.
Shri W. A. Sangma (Chief Minister) : Are these informations based on his personal experience ?
Prof. M. N. Majaw : Mr. Speaker, Sir, on first hand experience from so many persons. We have also mentioned these thing in the earlier session, but it does not seem to have to have any change. If my memory is right, there should be a kind of board I forget the legal and technical terms there should be a board of four or five persons to visit this jail. If I am not mistaken such a Board has not been set up by this very benign Government. How long will it take for this Government to really get down to the task of putting matters right in the jail. It is difficult for me to comprehend the quality of the food supplied to the inmates in the jail which I would not give to my dogs. It is absolutely inedible and the mean is quarter boilt if at all they get meat once a week. With regard to vegetables raw vegetable are supplied but raw vegetables are good vitamins Rice smells, it is rotten. I suppose the big rice dealers have the pleasure in disposing of their half -rotten rice to the jail and I doubt the sincerity of the Government. I would point out that these prisoners in the jail are divided into four categories of men and women. I earnestly plead that they should be removed. (Voice-only women). Only one two women but women can scream more than men. Secondly the young boys should be segregated from the criminals. Thirdly, the under-trial prisoners must be treated decently and fourthly, even there criminal who are there under conviction after all even the best of us may have landed there had it not been for the grace of God should be treated properly. I still remember the expression of Mr. Sherlock Holmes while referring to criminals that we all shall have to be there in the jail but for the grace of God So, I would like to remind the Government this expression of Mr. Sherlock Holmes but the grace of God there goes Sherlock Holmes and but for the grace of God some of us might be there permanently convicted (laughter). Therefore, let us treat these prisoners with certain amount of mercy and compassion, after all they are under-going imprisonment in itself basically is a terrible punishment. So, recommend my Cut Motion to the House that the intention of the Government is really to put matters right in the district jail.
Shri S. D. Khongwir :Mr. Speaker, Sir, I rise to say a few words to ventilate the grievances in so far as the inmates in the jails are concerned and by way of supporting the Cut Motion. Mr. Speaker, Sir, at the very outset, I would like to differ with the view if any, as already expressed from the side of any Minister that the purpose of the jail in only to punish.
Mr. Speaker : He said that it is a matter of opinion.
Shri S. D. Khongwir :I would like to express my opinion in so far as the jails are concerned. The jail must be correctional in character. Mr. Speaker, Sir, it is not only with the aim and purpose of punishing the prisoners who are in the jail, but we have also to think about the condition that we allow these prisoners to remain in the jails. We should see that those prisoners after they are released become useful members of the society. Mr. Speaker, Sir, in so far as the District jail on Shillong is concerned, I thing I will not be wrong in saying that practically, it is an institution of inhumanity among men. It is dirty filthy and over crowded and because of lack of classification, it has become a school for crime. It is a fact, Sir, that in this jail, there is no proper classification as already expressed by the hon. Member from Mawhati and that those people who have just committed an offence only once and also the under -trial prisoners are mixed up with the hardened criminals, and thereby, it becomes a school for crime. When they got out of the jail, they become more experienced in crime.
Mr. Speaker, Sir, the food that is served to the inmates of the jail is not upto the standard. I have seen, if I am not mistaken, in the budget there is provision for dietary charges of about Rs. 1,75,000. But Mr. Speaker, Sir, it is very disheartening to note that this amount will be handled by persons who are more interested to cut short the expenses rather than speaking more for the welfare of the inmates. I doubt very much Mr. Speaker, Sir, if this entire amount allocated for this financial year for the dietary charges of the inmates will be spent for supplying the required food to the inmates in the jail.
Another thing, Sir, there is no vocational training for the inmates of the jail so that they get themselves engaged in doing something in the jail and not to sit in idleness. I would, therefore, suggest to the Government to provide the inmates with this vocational training.
Mr. Speaker, Sir, now I come to medical care of the inmates in the jail. I do not know whether Medical Officers while treating the inmates there, look upon the inmates as prisoners or as human beings. Some times they see the inmates as prisoners and not as human being . As prisoners and human bring, they are susceptible to all the illness that we as human beings are susceptible.
Now I would like to press more on the food, that is being given to the inmates. I would suggest that immediately the Government should establish or from a Visitor's Board, if not already constituted. The Board should regularly visit the jail and educated the inmates about the items of food that the officers are supposed to give to them. They should go inside the jail once a month or once in two months and ask them whether they receive that what kind of food or what kind of food the officers in the jail have given them. In this way, Mr. Speaker, Sir, we can check the corruption that may be there in the administration of the jails in so far as supply of diet to the inmates is concerned.
One more important point, Mr. Speaker, Sir, from my personal experience not from inside but outside, I have always visited the jail to interview the inmates inside the jail. Of course, for us being the members of the Legislative, the inmates are being called into the room of the jailor, but not for other persons. I have seen that the interview between the inmates and their relatives is being done at a place which is not very good. The interview is being done through the bars and gates of the jail. In this connection, I would suggest to the Government to provide at least a small decent room where the relatives of the inmates can have the interview with the inmates in the jail. With these few words, Mr. Speaker, Sir, I support the Cut Motion.
Speaker : Any other Member ?
Shri P. R. Kyndiah : Mr. Speaker, Sir, I recollect some years back just before we launched the direction action of the A. P. H. L. C. in 1968, when I had the occasion to visit the jail in the inside that we came across some of our young boys who have been arrested on political charges and I do feel that the conditions of the jail were not conducive for human habitation. In fact, I was shocked to see that such condition can prevail in the jail in the capital of Assam then. But then the years have gone by and things are be inning to change and of late I do not claim that I have gone inside the jail to visit the prisoners even, but I have been to the jail compound and it is my knowledge that the inmates of the jail are not happy. This is a fact. I have had the occasion to help a certain inmate who passed on certain cigarettes and certain personal thing and I must say with frankness that those thing are intended for the inmates. That is a fact . And these things are still happening, but generally speaking, when these matters were brought to the Jailor, I must say with frankness that the Jailor has responded very well and he tried his best to improve things.
Now, in so far as putting all the various categories of the people in the jail. I think there is much room for improvement. It is a fact that some of the young prisoners who have been taken to the jail for minor offences of little stealing, if they were allowed to come in contact with the real criminals who have a lots of experience in criminal activities, this naturally influences their minds. And when they come out of the jail, instead of becoming reformed citizens' they turn into worse criminals. These things happened in my own locality. So there is a very strong case keeping separately the young prisoners who are taken to the jail for minor offences and keeping them separately or apart from the dens of other experienced criminals. There is a very strong case for this. In fact, I think I do not know how far these things is going on, but my suggestion is to have a separate wall or a separate building for the young prisoners.
Another suggestion, I would like to make is that the Government will be well-advised to introduce for the benefits of the prisoners reformation schools like those done in other parts of the country and also in other parts of the world. Of course, I feel, primarily, that it is the duty of the State to see that each and every citizens of the State becomes good and useful citizens. Therefore, the young prisoners and the other types of prisoners should be treated on a different footing altogether. Now as to the question whether the jail should be a place for punishment or a place as put correctly by the hon. Member from Mawlai, Mr. Khongwir, a corrective place, this is a really a matter of opinion. It is my considered it opinion, Mr. Speaker, Sir, that is case of hardened criminals, is extremely very difficult to reform them. So, there is a need for stronger deterrent action for reforming them. I think, the only way of persuasion. The only way of improving their living conditions is by giving them training by means of vocational ways. I think this will affect their lives. Cases of hardened criminals need to be tackled on a very strong measure , because we have certain categories of prisoners who need be tackled in a different way altogether. Therefore, I would suggest to the Government that it will be good to have a separate place for those types of criminals because some of them' I know, are people who suffer from psychosis and have still to be corrected and be corrected is they are treated properly because they are suffering with this mind rather than from motivation of the person. So it will be good also if doctors, specialized in Psychosis could be procured in order to change the persons to come to the normal way of life and become a useful citizen. Mr. Speaker, Sir, these things should be done if the State is to become an agent doing good to the people. The State had become more and more an instrument of development activity both of the minds and of the behavior of the people. Therefore, I think it is in the interest of the society itself that the State should take all necessary steps, to see that people whether inside or outside the jail should become useful citizens. Therefore, in that context, there is need for a certain measure which will change the minds of the people or of the inmates of the jail. There has been a thinking also that the people in the jail should be given an occasion for hearing spiritual exercises whether by means of having the 'Yoga' or some other exercises even a Church service or whatever we may call it, any occasion of spiritual need might affect their minds and become useful citizens. Therefore, if we consider all these aspects of improving the living conditions of the jails, I think this is necessary because there is need of having more allocation on this great rather than for a cut if a one hundred rupees and I think this would have been better. Therefore, Mr. Speaker, Sir, I oppose the Cut Motion and I would rather allocate for increased allocation under this grant. Thank you.
Shri D. N. Joshi : Mr. Speaker, Sir, while supporting the Cut Motion, I want to make certain observations. I had occasion to visit the jail some months back and I was surprised to find that although there is accommodation for not more than 150 prisoners including under trials, the total number of inmates at the time of accommodated my visit was 363. How on earth more than double the number were in that small jail of Shillong. This was something like the 'Black Hole of Calcutta, where it accommodated 143 persons, where actually, it could have accommodated about 4 or 5 persons only. So, we have to see that human beings are human beings and not animals or inanimate beings and that they should not be treated in this way and they cannot be packed up in a bundle and thrown out like that and left them to their own lot. They have to be treated justly as human beings. There are many under trials also who may be good citizens who on mere suspicions only might have been arrested. So, better conditions must be created there so that they pass their days decently there and even for those convicts, we must have a better treatment because they are also human beings. Just because they are convicts they are under going punishments by being imprisoned but only because they are convicts . I think should they be treated as animal? I think this is not so human . We as a civilized nation and civilized Government must see that those human beings are treated humanly because after all they are also children of the same heavenly father.
Mr. Speaker : I think Mr. Joshi, you should come with some new suggestions and thinking.
Shri D. N. Joshi : Yes, Sir, on enquiry, I found that during monsoon the roofs of the building of the jail were leaking on that matter . I had given a question also to the Government but the Government did not reply to my question last time, if these buildings which are in a very dilapidated condition will not repaired then during the time of monsoon, the prisoners will be required to spend the whole night sitting in the corner of the room because most of the portions of the rooms will be leaking and wet and I am very much constrained to find that no provision have been made for renovation and repair. I want that in no distance future, provision should be made here in our State to give proper training to these young delinquents so that they may be useful citizens in their later years.
Another thing, Sir, a person who was convicted after going through his period of imprisonment when he comes out in the society, he does not get any accommodation in it no job in the society. People have got some sort of suspicion in employing him.
Mr. Speaker : But the Government cannot be blamed.
Shri D. N. Joshi : Therefore, Mr. Speaker, Sir, I want that Government should have some sort of Institution where those people coming out from the jail can be given employment immediately. They should be accommodated and employed so that they will earn their livelihood with honor and dignity. But if they are left to their own luck, they will get no help from the society and they will again go astray uptil now they have got no sympathy and encouragement to had a good life from the Government itself because they are treated as convicts.
Mr. Speaker : In that case any unemployed youth will first of all like to visit the jail ?
Shri D. N. Joshi : In fact the number of inmates is not so much. Even if they are crowded and beyond the capacity of 300 at a time, these people do not get any accommodation in the society or in the Government. The Government should see that their services are properly utilised. In case of young delinquent, if they are deprived their share in the society, there is every livelihood that they will commit the same offences. Therefore, it is the duty of the Government to see that when he comes out of the jail, he should be a free citizens and he should be treated in the same way. This black spot of conviction should be condoned and chances should be created so that he may also live a decent life, thank you.
Mr. Speaker : So I think there are no more new points. May I ask the Chief Minister to reply.
Shri W. A. Sangma (Chief Minister) : Mr. Speaker, Sir, this particular matter has come up for discussion on the early occasion, and a number of times through questions and during budget discussions also. So it is a fact that at present there is congestion in the Shillong District jail. As against the capacity of 150, the average number comes to 350. The congestion is due mainly to the increase in the number of under trial prisoners. The Government is quite aware of this fact. In fact, this kind of congestion in jails is not only confined to our State, it is everywhere in the country. A Study Team of the Government of India have pinpointed this matter and their suggestion in this regard is being paid attention to by the Government. It is not only here in our State, as already pointed out by Study Team. The congestion is due mostly to the delay in disposing of cases relating to the under trial prisoners. Now, in order to expedite the disposal of all cases, this matters, has been examined in consultation with the Law Department. Observations have been made and different opinions have been whether the jail should be a place for punishment or it should be a place for corrective measures. I am not in position to give any correct opinion about it. But I agree there must be different treatment and also different accommodation for the under trial prisoners. As far as the convicts are concerned, it will depend upon the types of imprisonment that has been awarded but even there also, as pointed out by Mr. Joshi, after all they are human beings, while they are having the punishment on the award of the Court, we should see that they get the required minimum as human beings. There should be no dispute about it. About diet, mention has been made and this has been referred to general manuals which is more or less outdated. I do agree there is room for some improvement in this. While the Government is in difficulty in brining about improvement in the districts jail of the State, I would request the hon. Members to kindly realise the time factor available for us. The Shillong jail was taken over by us on the 21st January, 1972. It is more or less for a period of two years and some months. It cannot therefore, be expected that we can do something wonderful about the improvement of the jail in so short time. Depending on our limited sources, Government is all out to bring about improvements in the District jails. Mr. Majaw, the hon. Member from Mawhati made a reference to one Tangkhul Naga boy who died on the 20th January, 1974. He was seriously ill. When he was seriously ill, his relatives were informed telegraphically in the villages. The A.D. M. was requested to enlarge him on bail but there was nobody. He was given all the available treatment in the jail hospital but he did not respond. So he was referred to the Civil Hospital twice. He was also sent to the Chest Clinic for screening, but he died of abdominal T.B. with other complications. As soon as he breathed his last, his relatives were informed as well as the A. D. M. and his body was handed over to his friends in Shillong for burial. It will not be, therefore, correct to say there is negligence on the part of the jail authorities of Government. As far as the illness is concerned, adequate care has been taken in the first instance by the jail authorities and he was sent to the Civil Hospitals and ultimately to the Chest Clinic. As the hon. Member may be aware, there is an outdoor dispensary inside the jail for giving medical care to the prisoners and they can also get medicines. There are also a hospital for 5 persons for the various sick prisoners and the M. O. used to examine the sick prisoners and all complicated cases are referred to the Civil Hospital for proper treatment. Besides, the medical officer who is in charge, there is also a pharmacist working full time. The Civil Surgeon, K & J. Hills is the Medical officer in charge of the jail. Therefore, it will not be correct to say that there is no medical care for the prisoners.
Now, Mr. Khongwir, suggested that it should not be a place of punishment. We must take up measures by which we can give them corrective measures. For the information of the Members, films bearing educative values are being screened inside the jail with equipments borrowed from the State and Central Publicity Directorate. Text books for three hours are provided to the jail inmates who expressed the desire to learn. Introduction for spiritual upliftment for jail inmates were introduced but subsequently this practice was stopped, but this matter can be further re-examined. Since the taking over of the District jail in Shillong by the Meghalaya Government, there has been frequent visits by the Hindu Sabha Samity, various Christian organisation, Mulisms etc. There is no bar and there is no bad instruction as in the past. These people go there, visit there for spiritual instruction.
The scale of diet is as laid down in the Jail Manual which is dated as far back as 1894 and as such, I have to admit, there is need for revision. It is a fact I am stating. It is not adequate and needs modification and steps are being taken in this direction.
Now, with regard to the activities of the jail staff, Mr. Speaker, Sir, I am afraid we shall not not be in a position to correct the activities of the Jailor and his staff only by mere discussion on the floor of this House. I would make an earnest appeal to those friends both inside or outside the House who had the real experience, to bring out a specific case so that we can take corrective measures. It is really a piece of information to me if a prisoner wants a packet of cigarette then he will have to get two. One packet will go to the jail staff and the other will go to him. I do not know why the hon. Member should not have taken up the matter with the proper authorities at that particular time so that corrective measures can be taken.
Mr. Speaker : I think the hon. Member from Jaiaw is absent. He has the same experience. But when the matter was brought to the notice of the jailor, corrective measures are being taken and the practice was stopped.
Shri W. A. Sangma (Chief Minister) : Now regarding the planks mentioned by Mr. Majaw. I think if timely information was given to the Jail authorities in time then some steps could be taken. It is a fact that we do not have sufficient beds, so we use planks for accommodating the under trial prisoners. Of course now the work is being given to the P. W. D. for that purpose. It is a fact that under trial prisoners are being accommodated on planks and the hon. Member should have immediately brought it to the notice of the authorities concerned then and there. But I do not understand why the hon. Member always chooses to have a post mortem of any particular case here, as Mr. Speaker, Sir, I cannot differentiate between the Government and the various Governments agencies and the Deputy Commissioner. So in the same way the jail is part and parcel of the Government and in future if we want to bring corrective measures to the jail department, the Supply Department or any other Department, the Government should be informed in time.
Let him realise that the Government functions through its limbs, the Departments. Well, some very good suggestions have been made which will be taken up by the Government, for example, the suggestion from the hon. Member from Jaiaw that young under trial prisoners, who have been sent to jail either on suspicion or petty theft, should be, if possible, segregated and should not be allowed to mix up with other criminals, I entirely agree, but Mr. Speaker, Sir, it will take time to bring about all these arrangements. With regard to some sort of programme for rehabilitation, the matter has to be examined seriously. I know there are some people who have been given sufficient training in the past and they have become experts. One such person is a man from my own village of Baghmara. He is an expert in cane and bamboo works. He was involved in some case and imprisonment for about 2 years in the Tezpur jail and when he came out he had already become an expert in cane and bamboo works. He was able to produce beautiful furniture sets which could fetch a price of about Rs. 350 and , now-a-days, they may go up to even Rs. 1,500. So, there may be some scope which will be examined by the Government. Of course, we have first to think about accommodation. Well, attempts should be made to set apart one room or building for crafts training inside the jail. I agree that this is a very good rehabilitation programme and after the inmates come out of the jail I think this will encourage them. Of course, I do not mean that the unemployed youths should go to jail and then learn the trade.
Of course, it is essential. As pointed out by Mr. Joshi, if the prisoners are released and if they have no means of livelihood, they will again risk and commit the same crime. So, the training should be imparted while they are serving their terms of imprisonment. I find that the hon. Members speak on the same point again and again and so I would seek their co-operation to bring the lapses to the notice of the Government so that a scheme can be taken up. With these few words I will request the hon. Member to withdraw his Cut Motion.
Prof. M. N. Majaw : Mr. Speaker, Sir, in the first place, of the repeated excuse that "we have just taken over the State" or "we are only two years old and, therefore, it takes times" has been belabored, I think, too often by this Government. Sir, it takes only 9 months for the conception and birth of a child but this Government has taken two years to bring this State of ours to a better condition. But Mr. Speaker, Sir, with regard to the problems of corruption, especially this allegation of corruption in the jail, I myself had referred to it in 1972-73 and there were specific cases.
Mr. Speaker : Prof. Majaw, before you go further I would like to make my observation. As you have said correctly, even the prisoners are human beings. So are the Police Guards. And if there is any allegation against any of them please bring it up specially and not in a place where they cannot defend themselves, not here in this place were they have no rights or on chance at all to defend themselves. But I think once it comes to the allegations of corruption, it would be better for the hon. Member to take up the matter with appropriate authorities.
Prof. M. N. Majaw : Mr. Speaker, Sir, while respecting your observations, may I also observe that there has been a number of occasions in this House and in many other Houses where cases of corruption have been brought to the notice of the Government in order to revitalize and waken the Government. I know of one excellent case when the Minister, P. W. D., very correctly pointed out that if the hon. Member from Mawhati was referring to the same officer whom he had in mind, he accepted the allegations and had officer transferred. It did some good and there are such cases, without mentioning names, of persons as has been done in many Houses and Legislatures throughout the world. But here in this particular case of the jails, this corruption has been mentioning in 1972-73, we are repeating on what still continues with the hope that the Government will not merely take notes, which is just a long and laborious process, but instead, take prompt action.
Now, Mr. Speaker, Sir, with regard to the proposal of the hon. Member from Mawhati for a separate room for interviews of the inmates with their relations and friends we have not received any enlightenment on this their relations and friends we have not received any enlightenment on this.
Shri W. A. Sangma (Chief Minister) : As I have stated earlier the various suggestions will be taken up including the visiting room for the prisoners or inmates to meet their relatives and friends.
Prof. M. N. Majaw : And on this Board ?
Shri W. A. Sangma (Chief Minister) : It is being re-constituted . The delay was due to the refusal of one lady to serve in the Board. So, we have requested the D. C. to suggest another name.
Prof. M. N. Majaw : When was the first proposal made for constituting the Board ? I mean when was the Board constituted and when did it go out of existence ?
Mr. Speaker : This is not the question hour.
Prof. M. N. Majaw :But since it is reported that the Board was reconstituted and since the Chief Minister referred to the Board being reconstituted, may we know whether there was a Board also before because this Manual of 1894. It does not take about a hundred years. Was there a Board and how long does it takes to have this lady substituted ?
Shri W. A. Sangma (Chief Minister) : Mr. Speaker, Sir, the word "reconstitution" indicates that there was a Board.
Shri Maham Singh : By way of a proposal, will it not be possible to appoint Members of this House also to be Members of this Board for visitors ?
Mr. Speaker : I think the hon. Member has made a very wrong suggestions. You cannot ask the Government but if the House demands that the House itself should constitute a committee to visit the jail, that is a different question. Bu, the question that arose in this Cut motion is only about the constitution on the reconstitution of a Board of Visitors and the Chief Minister has already assured the House that as soon as a new person comes to substitute the lady who refused to join then it will start functioning I think I understand you correctly ?
Shri W. A. Sangma (Chief Minister) : Yes, Sir.
Prof. M. N. Majaw : Well, Mr. Speaker, Sir, since the intention is not to reduce the money but to raise a discussion on certain policy matters and in view of the fact that the hon. Member from Jaiaw is also supporting our contention, if not the cut motion itself, I beg leave of the House to withdraw my cut motion.
Mr. Speaker : Has the hon. Member leave of the House to withdraw his cut motion ?
(Voices-Yes, Yes) : The cut motion is with leave of the withdrawn.
Now I put the main question before the House. The question is that an amount of Rs. 10,83,000 be granted to the Minister-in-charge to defray certain charges which will come in the course of payment during the year ending the 31st March, 1975 for the administration of the head "256-Jails".
(After a pause). The motion is carried. The demand is passed.
Mr. Speaker : Grant No. 19. Finance Minister to move.
Shri B. B. Lyngdoh (Minister, Finance) : Sir, in the recommendation of the Governor I beg to move that an amount of Rs. 36,05,000 be granted to the Minister-in-charge to defray certain charges which will come in the course of payment during the year ending 31st March, 1975 for the administration of the "258-Stationery and Printing".
Mr. Speaker : Motion moved. I have received two cut motions against this grant. But on closer scrutiny I discovered that both the cut motions deal with the same subject. So, do I have the leave of the House that the two cut motions be clubbed together ?
(Voices- Yes, yes)
Mr. Speaker : Now Mr. P. N. Choudhury to move.
Shri P. N. Choudhury : Mr. Speaker, Sir, I beg to move that the total provision of Rs. 36,05,000 under grant No. 19, Major head "256-Stationery and Printing" Minor head -25-Stationery and Printing Sub-head-C-Government Press at page 115 of the budget be reduced by Rs. 100 i.e., the amount of the whole grant of Rs. 36,05,000 do stand reduced by Rs. 100.
Mr. Speaker : Motion moved. You may initiate a discussion on the functioning of the Government Press, Shillong.
Shri P. N. Choudhury : Mr. Speaker, Sir, the Government Press at Shillong is an industrial unit of the Government and it should have been running as such. But in practice, we find this Government Press is not functioning as it should have. In 1972, the Government if Assam handed over this press to our Government and since then the management of this Press has been taken over by the Government. There are about 450 employees in this Government Press. But Sir, these staff do not know what is their actual position in regard to their service condition. According to our Government they are on deputation but it seems the Government of Assam do not accept that position. Why I say so, Sit, because I have come to know that the Government of Assam has promoted the junior staff working at Gauhati Press in utter disregard to the seniority of the workers working in Shillong Press. Had they been on deputation, such supersession would not have been done. Sir, according to the North East Areas Reorganization Act, Services of the employees should not have been varied to their disadvantage. But in fact these are happenings. So, sir, these has been a sense of uncertainty and worriness among the staff about the future of their service condition and as a sad result there has been a fast deterioration in the efficiency and the output of the Government Press. Sir, not only that; there is another very interesting point. There is one post of Deputy Superintendent in the Shillong Government Press which is a very important post. But the incumbent of this vital post has been working at Gauhati Press since 1972 but he draws his salary from Shillong Press. Sir, he works 29 days in a month at Gauhati and he comes to Shilling only for one day to draw his salary from Shillong Press. I do not understand why our Government is paying this particular officer from the State exchequer when he is not rendering any service to this State. This is simply a wasteful expenditure . We talk about dearth of money, we talk about economy but this Department seems to be very apt in spending public money as they like. Sir, this anomaly should be removed and the Government should come forward with a statement as to what is the position of the employees working in Shillong Press. I do not think the present volume of works justifies retaining such a big staff numbering 450. With the shifting of the capital of Assam to Gauhati, the volume of work in the Government Press has reduced to a great extent. Sir, this Press is catering only the requirement of three Districts of Meghalaya. Moreover unlike the voluminous gazette of the Assam Government, they are printing a very small gazette. Then again, Sir, we find although two years have already passed, the proceedings of the Assembly Sessions have not yet been printed. Why this could not be possible, Sir ?
(At this stage the Speaker left the Chamber and the Deputy Speaker took the Chair)
Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, considering the present volume of works these 450 staff should not be required at present in the Government Press ; there are excess staff in compassion to the volume of work. But why the Department could not release these excess staff ? Why the excess staff are being retained for so many months wasting public money ? I understand there are many among the staff who have applied for reverting to the Government of Assam, but nothing has so far been done to release those who are willing to go back to Assam. By retaining them the Governments is unnecessarily incurring heavy expenditure every month. Sir, moreover, the machinery and the buildings both are outdated. The buildings are in a very bad state of repairs. These are dark and congested and naturally the workers do not find it congenial for work inside these buildings and as such efficiency is fact deteriorating. Sir, Government should take immediate steps for remedying these defects.
Sir, the need for modernization of those machineries is a must if the Government intend to improve the quality of printing. So, I have a suggestion to make through you, Sir, to the Government to set up a Small Expert Committee to go into the details of the functioning of this Press to assess the work load and find out the number of staff required. The Government should release the excess staff immediately in order to curtail wasteful expenditure. Besides that, the Committee should also suggest a scheme for modernization of this printing Press and devise ways and means as to how efficiency of this vital institution could be improved. With these few words, Sir, I resume my seat.
Shri D. N. Joshi : Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, while supporting this cut motion moved by my friend from Laban. I have certain observation to make regarding the Government Press. The Government Press here in Shillong as my friend has already stated, is overcrowded compared to the volume of work they are to execute. The number does not at all justify the amount of work that they are supposed to turn out. When the State of Assam was there, the volume of work was such that many private Presses also were used to execute Government works. But with the creation of Meghalaya the Government Press of Assam has gone down to Gauhati. Surprisingly enough Sir, although many of the present staff in the Government Press wanted to go down to Gauhati, I do not know why this Government still retained them, the staff who wanted to go down to Gauhati to their parent State. But unfortunately, Sir, just to drain out the money that could have been diverted elsewhere for development of this State, this Government is retaining and paying them. The staff there or the Industrial workers as they are called have to attend their office at 9 a.m. and work till 5 p.m. as if it is a factory. I fail to understand, Sir, if it is a factory office then there should be preparation of balance sheet as it is done in all factories. As such, I demand from the Government the preparation of balance sheet if it is treated as a Commercial Organisation or an Industrial Organisation ; they should prepare the balance sheet and place them on the Table of this House for proper scrutiny so that all the Members of this august House could know the amount of profit and loss made thereon. But I wonder this is not practice. If it is not a Commercial or Industrial organisation, the staff should not be made to come and attend office at 9 and go home at 5. They should be treated on equal footing as the other staff of the Government, they should be made to attend office at 10 and go home at 4. 30 as it is the practice under the Government. I also fail to understand if it is a commercial or industrial organisation. As regards the amenities and facilities for the workers. I am at one with my friends, the mover of the Cut Motion, that the house, the building where this Government Press is housed, is very old and in a dilapidated condition. It requires not only repair but it also requires expansion so that the workers working there must not be subjected to hazards of nature's cruelty.
There is one canteen but it is not worth the name. There are certain Chawallis as they were called coming with their kettle and cups in their hands to supply tea. But no regular canteen, modern canteen should be there so that this 450 workers of Government Press could get their tiffin and tea in time and in modern way and healthy manner. Although, ours is a small State the volume of work is quite large and in a small way we could have earned a lot from this Government Press had the work of the Central offices here in Shillong been requisitioned. We have the P. & T. Department and many Central offices functioning here in Shillong and a lot of works could have been taken from them. They are printing their necessary papers elsewhere even outside the State also. Why no this Government Press requisition and accepts the printing of those Central offices in Shillong so that this Press could earn some thing for the State itself. Therefore, Sir, effective steps in this direction must be taken to acquire the work from the Central offices. Most of the machines that are here are out dated. They require modernization, I am at one with him in this respect. There are also good machines, modern machines and there are also Mono machines which can print and compose matters in different languages. So the books from private persons and other periodicals the private sources also can be printed there. If the Government really wants business then it should come out with advertisements and quotations asking for printing of materials from the public also and if they can ensure of good printing. I do not know why public will not respond and come to the Government Press for printing their books and periodicals or other things that are necessary for them. There are many printing presses who refuse work, these works also can come to the Government Press thereby making the Government Press a profiteering concern of the Government. With these few observations, Sir, I resume my seat.
Shri Winstone Syiemiong : Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I have only one point to make because my friends from Shillong Cantonment and Laban Constituencies have already stated and my point is like this. It has been alleged by my friends from Shillong Cantonment and Laban that in order to make this enterprise, this Government Press of ours a more profitable one, it should take some more jobs from other departments as well as from private agencies. I fully agree with them because with that, I understand that some money can be earned by this Enterprise. But I understand the volume of work at present is more of the Government of Assam than of the Government of Meghalaya . Whether the Government of Meghalaya is getting any money from the Government of Assam for this. I have heard that uptil this year 1974 " a collection of all the Acts of the Assam Assembly that were there since 1972" was printed in this Press in 1974. Yes, up to this year, 1974 all papers and Acts of the Government of Assam have been printed in the Government Press of ours here in Shillong. I also want to know whether any arrangement between the Government and the Government of Assam to get some amount of money for all these works has been made or not. Otherwise, Sir, the amount of employees as mentioned by my friend numbering 450 will be too much for a small exchequer of Meghalaya Government. I think only 100 employees in number will be sufficient to meet the printing work.
Then another point I would like to say is this- that I have been told that certain number of tribal employees that are working there in the Press are not getting their leave even during important festival days-like Shad-suk Mynsiem and Behdienkhlam. There is an excuse that there is so much work for them to do and they cannot therefore, avail of such leave. But I understand , Sir, that in other times the authority in that old Governments Press used to allow those staff to go for training in theatrical dramas which benefits certain other community and drawing overtime allowances for that. I want to know from the Government therefore, whether such facilities will be extended to other communities also. With these few words of observation I fully support the Cut Motion.
*Prof. Martin Narayan Majaw : Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I rise to support the Cut Motion which has been merged into one Cut Motion with the one standing in my name. While supporting the views expressed by my friend from Laban, I would like also to add some of my own. One is with regard to the publication in the Gazette of Meghalaya. I have here with me one latest copy of the Gazette dated the 15th June and this was posted to me here in the same town of Shillong a few days back. I received it on the 19th June. That is four days later. When I enquired from some of my friends in Garo Hills, they told me they got the Gazette 10 days later after the date of publication. Now, one portion of the Gazette is full of advertisements, tender notices notices for employment or employment advertisements and while going through them, first I was inclined to blame the department for sending the advertisements late to the Members and to me. I have come across a more remarkable remark of advertisements on page 353 of the latest issue of the Gazette of Meghalaya date 15th June that was brought out by the Joint Director of Sericulture and Weaving which was sent on 17th May, 1974 and was being published on 15th June, 1974. I reached me on the 19 June, 1974 and it is yet to reach my friend in Garo Hills at their own homes . But Sir, the last date of receiving application form is 20th June, 1974. 20th June was the last date of receiving applications from those persons who are to be admitted in the post graduate diploma courses in Sericulture and Weaving and Central Sericulture Research and Training Institute, Mysore. This was sent on 17th May, 1974 almost a month or more than a month ago and it took one month for those members to decide about it. This is a very important department which I have had occasion to press because a great work is being done by it. This department is short of trained persons and advertisement of this nature should have been immediately brought and so that we also representatives of the people have to look and find out suitable candidates who can apply for this diploma course.
Then another point is the issue of tender notices by the Executive Engineer, P. W. D. (R & B), Shillong South Division. In the Gazette which I received on 19th June for which the last date was on 17th June, two days earlier, and in the same Gazette there are so many advertisements the last dates of which were made on 21st or 24th June and there was advertisement for suppliers where lakhs of rupees are involved, the last date being 21st June, how can the suppliers compete in this particular item, 75 items if they received the advertisement too late. They have to contact the manufacturers in Ludhiana, Bombay and Calcutta for supply of those good worth lakhs of rupees. Of course, in this particular case, I am grateful to the Senior Police Officer for having subsequently extended the last date on the representation made by me in order to help the local suppliers.
But here I am dealing with the slackness, the inordinate tardiness of this printing press in bringing out advertisements, tender notice in time. The date of issue of this Gazette was 17th June while a copy goes to the persons of Shillong on the 19th June and of Garo Hills it took another 5 to 6 days later.
As regard those persons who are receiving salaries while actually working in places in Assam. I have heard from the hon. Member from Laban that 69 persons are still working under the Assam Government whose salaries are paid by our Government. They spend 99 percent of their salaries in Assam and come here in Shillong only one day to collect their salaries. I feel that the Government of Meghalaya should think about these persons who have to come from Assam for their salaries here in Shillong. With these few observations, I support the Cut Motion.
Prof. Alexander Warjri : Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I rise to oppose the Cut Motion. On what has been stated by the previous speakers it appears that we all need a new modern press. The Government printing press, as it is today, is an old and ancient one and it has to be thrown down into the Brahmaputra river. If possible I would recommend to the Government that there should be no division at all in matters of assets and liabilities as far as the press is concerned. I do not know whether our Government, at the beginning, when it took up the question of dividing the assets and liabilities of the press, whether proper checks have been made or not. As I understand, many things, have been carried away openly and surreptitiously to Gauhati; and whether this is true or not it is up to the Government to enquire. But we are anxious to know what are those assets that the Government of Meghalaya are supposed to get.
It is most desirable that the Government of Assam should remove the whole thing to Dispur, and let us set up a new press, a modernized press altogether. With this money, and perhaps with a little more, I think the Members will not object to having a new modernized press, manned by our own people. As I understand, there are about 150 local people, Garos, Khasis, and Jaintias and Nepalies, who belong to the State. As I understand, there is only one Garo being employed there. The majority belongs to non-tribals. Therefore, Government should adopt a policy by which tribals should be employed, some of our tribals people should be employed, and the rest who actually belong to Assam should be taken over by Assam. And then also, I would remind the Government that the Government Press, as it is at present, seems to be everybody's property which people can walk through. I would like that Government should check properly over these things. Specially I would like to suggest that the Government Press should be properly fenced and there should be only one or two entrances in which guards should be properly stationed to check people, who, perhaps, in their pockets, would carry away types which may feed the local presses. I do not know how far it is true, but such allegations are made by some people, that people from the Government Press have been feeding the local press with types. I wish that the Government should thoroughly enquire into this. Some machines also, I understand, have been bought by the Assam Government. But those machines were not utilised up till now although two years have passed. I do not know how those machines were brought, whether it was brought or ordered for the sake of the money which has been allotted and therefore it has to be brought or whether it was bought because some people got the commission out of it. I think those machines that are lying there should be properly investigated by the Government to find out the reasons why they are not being put to work.
Another thing that is very serious, Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, is the scrutinizing of the work-load allotted to each worker. It seems those who are working in the Government Press, are given more or less work worth 2 annas each, because most of them are loitering outside, only a few of them are really working. There is no proper supervision of the work in the Press. One question recently came up, I think the Government is fully aware of it, regarding the extension of the service of the Foreman of the Press. This man had been working for a long time in the Press. Of course, it is time for his retirement, but the Foreman has applied for extension. When so many extensions of services have been made for many others, why this particular person cannot be given extension. I understand that Government has sent somebody to be trained and to man the Press, but till his return from training, I would request the Government that extension be given to this Foreman. I am very much pained at the expression of the hon. Member from Shillong Cantonment regarding the Canteen wherein he used the world "Shawali", for most of them belong to our community.
Shri D. N. Joshi : There are others also.
Prof. A. Warjri : The others are 'shawalas' and 'shawalis'. Therefore, I regret very much this statement made by the Member from Shillong Cantonment and I am against the setting up of any canteen in any Government offices. We have seen the canteen that has been run by the Government there in the main Secretariat itself, and we find that the service had been so bad that there are a few people who frequented that canteen which was so dirty. Those so-called 'shawallas' have rendered better service and have done better than the canteen that has been established by the Government of Assam there in the main Secretariat. Well this example alone will be sufficient show the undesirability of having a canteen. As for this Grant, there I need to have a new modernized press-a Meghalaya Press that is to be a new one altogether. Therefore, there is justification for the Government to come forward with this Grant. Therefore, with these observations, I oppose the cut motion.
(Voices from the Opposition-Thank you)
Shri H. Enowell Pohshna : Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I rise to support the cut motion, especially as I have heard the hon. Member who have just spoken that he liked the sign-board of the building of the Meghalaya Press but he has condemned everything inside the building. The very fact that the Member has suggested that everything should be new, proves the fact of the necessity for over-hauling of the Government Press. Not to say about things that have been mentioned by other members but the very fact that even the proceedings of this House have not been considered for printing by the Government Press will testify the fact that they will not care for the advertisements of this and that date and the future date of calling of applications and calling for tender notice. I remember one remark made by one hon. Member from the Treasury Bench that so long we used to call the Government of Assam as "lahe" "lahe" Government but now our Government of Meghalaya appears to be "piche" "piche" Government. As has been read out by the hon. Member from Mawhati, even the advertisements are made "piche" by our Press. Therefore, Sir, this is a very important and very serious matter for our discussion here, and I would like that the Government should take a very serious note to see that something is done, at least the printing of the proceedings of the first Session of this House . The hon. Member who had just spoken before me, said that the staff of the Press are found loitering outside and some of our friends have criticized the works of the canteen, and that the staff that work there ate always in the canteen and not in the office room. If this be the case, Government money is being wasted. I would urge upon the Government especially our Finance Minister that at least since our memory very very short, we would like to recollect what we had spoken inside the House to see that the proceedings are printed by the Meghalaya Government Press. Regarding the suggestion that everything should be new that also is very good suggestion for the people in general and also for most of us, as most of the Members of this House are interested to see the in the matter of time the quality and in the way that the proceedings of the House are pointed. Thank you.
*Shri Blooming B. Shallam : Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I would like to oppose the cut motion on one ground, and that is, after the assessment of the discussions we had on this cut motion. In this discussion, there are a few points which are important enough for discussion, I feel that we are wasting our time on trifle matters such as delaying in printing of the Gazette and matters of routine nature as raised by the hon. Member, Shri Joshi. Not only that, there are certain things which I feel are very serious and should not be disclosed here. One of the movers of the cut motion stated that there is a Deputy Superintendent who is working at Gauhati but draws his pay in Shillong. Such things, I feel, should not be disclosed openly but should be brought to the notice of the Government, so that the Government can catch him red-handed and such people who did such mischief should be punishment. There is another point which was raised by the hon. Member which I cannot reconcile myself, while on one hand, he is blowing hot and on the other, he is blowing cold. On the one hand, he expressed sympathy for the 450 employees of the Government Press by saying that these poor people do not even know their position. They are simply on deputation. As a matter of fact, all the Government employees, as they are now, are still on deputation till the agreement is signed between the two Governments. On the other hand, he directly charged the inefficiency of these staff. I do not know what does he mean. He even expressed sympathy with them that they have no canteen for taking tea. They are taking tea from the chawali. We the M.L. As. here also take tea from the 'chawali' and we hope we enjoy the tea from the 'chawali'. But is it proper to raise such questions in this august House? Therefore, I feel that we are wasting our time and energy. We should discuss certain things which are important for the growth of our State.
Another things, Sir, is about getting letters after 10 days. It is true and I am also of the same opinion that such things should not happen. But do you think that we should bring these petty matters to this august House which we can simply write to the Government. These are the things which we can inform the Government and the Government will certainly take steps. There are lapses here and there. But the Government promptly takes action. Why bring it here when it can be done by Government if it is brought to its notice. The hon. Member from Mawhati with his good English and good hand writing can write to the Government for these things and the Government will certainly take steps.
Prof. M.N. Majaw : The clock cannot be put back.
Shri B.B. Shallam : So, Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, if we bring these things to the notice of the Government, and if the Government fails to solve the problem, then I feel it is right time for us to bring it to the notice of this House.
Shri H.E. Pohshna : On a point of information Sir, may we know whether the hon. Member likes back-dated advertisements also. (Voices-It is not a point of order). I rise on a point of information.
Shri B.B. Shallam : Of course back-dated advertisement is a problem. But do you think that such a problem is worth bringing here in this House? My point is that we can write straightway to the Chief Minister or the Government and let them examine and see if really something is back-dated. That is not a serious matter. But if they fail to rectify the defect, then only we can raise it in this House. We should see the right time otherwise we are wasting our time and energy. What we discussed the other day in this House, cannot be found in a day-to-day paper. Should we bring it to this House?
Prof. M.N. Majaw : So that you will find your name in the paper?
Shri B.B. Shallam : Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I feel as, I have said before, that there are a few things, which are really worth discussing here. But generally speaking, I oppose the cut motion. For example, some sort of suggestions are worth bringing to this House such as questions of retention of these 450 employees. Of course these are very good suggestions and I hope Government will certainly take steps in this matter, that we should not waste public money in this way. Whatever it is, I oppose the cut motion. As rightly said by the hon. Member from Mawhati the intension of cut motion is not to reduce the money. But the intention is only to raise a discussion. So, I would request every one of us that whenever we raise anything for discussion, let us see that the discussion on such points is of value and held for constructive purpose and in right time. With these few words, I take my seat.
Shri D.N. Joshi : Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I found that in course of his observation my friend has taken exception to the word 'Chawali' and that is has offended his community. But I had no intension to offend any community by using the word 'Chawali'. It is just a Hindi word for tea-girls. There are 'Chawalas' and 'Chawalis'. Those tea-girls who supply tea called "Chawali" in Hindi, and that is not intended to offend any community.
Mr. Speaker : May I request the Minister-in-charge of Finance to reply?
*Shri B.B. Lyngdoh (Minister, Finance) : Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I do welcome the Cut Motion to this grant to discuss this one very important Department of the Government. And I do appreciate the interest shown by the hon. Members the working of the Government printing press. Right away, we concede the fact that the machines in this Press are not up-to-date they are of types, almost absolute. Therefore, with the financial limitations that we are having, we are going gradually to improve and to renew the machines and replace them with modern up-to-date machines. Now, Sir, as far as the services relationship of the officers and staff of the Government Press is concerned, we are having now a joint service with Assam, but we are in the process of sorting out the separation, including the separation of the services of the officers and staff. It might appear that the staff of 450 in number may be too big, and in fact, it was reduced now to 343, whom we gradually sent down to Assam, to Dispur.
Regarding the case of the Deputy Superintendent, it happens that he was working in this Press as a Joint Superintendent because he got the promotion in Assam as Joint Superintendent but then he willingly did not join there and did not accept the promotion but instead, he constituted to work here for some time. Then afterwards, he changed his mind and he accepted the promotion. But, before he accepted the promotion, because of very emergent requirement to fill up the post after the retirement of one incumbent, the Government of Meghalaya requested the Government of Assam to allow him to work partly in Gauhati and partly in Shillong. This is purely temporary and this is going to be discontinued as soon as an official agreement is made about him. So, this matter is in the process of transition, it is in the process of being sorted out, where the officers and staff will be permanently allotted to work here and at Gauhati. In fact, there are some difference of opinion with Assam in so far as the officers and staff of this Government Press are concerned. Assam still maintains that they belong to Assam. We maintain that they should belong to us and this is going to be sorted out. This process of sorting out of officers and staff is still going on.
Now, Sir, regarding the question of the Canteen. Well, it may be a matter of opinion whether the system of just having the persons as at present whether the system of just having the persons as at present to go round with their kettles and serve tea to the employees in their rooms is a better one is better one or whether the service in a regular canteen is better. But then I think this is largely a matter not of the system whether tea is served here or there, but it is a matter of the degree of efficiency of the people who are with tea whether served here or there. So, I think that does not matter, it may be this way or that way, but much depends upon the 'human factor'. So there may be people who would say that the present system of supplying tea would have been or there who would say that the canteen system would have been better or there who would say that the canteen system would have been better or still a combination of both. When the Government of Assam Offices are being shifted, we had the opportunity to have a look in this matter of supply of tea and we had sometimes felt that there is much room for improvement in regard to the supply of tea to the employees and there may be some places also in which the canteen system can be introduced. In fact, in the Main Secretariat, we have decided to have a Canteen jointly with the system of the tea girls.
Now, this Press is doing also the work of the Government of Assam partially, not only the work of the Government of the Meghalaya. It also serves the Central offices. So, in any case, inspite of all that, we do appreciate that with better equipments, modernisation of machines and also, as Prof. Warjri has stated, with better supervision of the working of officers and staff, we may not need the present number of staff, we will gradually reduce it in proportion to the improvement of machines. So this question, as Prof. Majaw has remarked, i.e., the delay of printing of advertisement, will be looked into. Well about the feeling that there might may be some wrong movement of machines from here to Gauhati, it is really a matter of division of assets and liabilities; whatever may be the existing stores in any departments, they will have to be divided according to the procedure laid down in the Re-organisation Act. When ever machines are taken there, the value of which will be given to this Government. So whatever it might be, this matter will be looked into. Now Sir, so far as employment in the Press is concerned, since the hon. Member has referred to the vast majority of people who are not tribal, I would just inform him that at present, we have a total of 343 employees of whom 83 are Assamese, 81 Bengalis, 18 Biharis, one Garo, 104 Khasis-Jaintias, 9 Manipuris and 47 Nepalis. So this is the position of staff that we found there just at the time when we took over.
Another remark from Prof. Warjri is regarding the livelihood or the suspicion that some of the machines and types are being removed secretly from the Government Press. I do not know whether by workers or by outsiders.
Prof. A. Warjri : By workers.
Shri B.B. Lyngdoh (Minister, P and S) : This question really relates to the general sense of value, the general idea of right and wrong of the society. There might have been a wrong motion. Even a person who thinks he is a Babu., if he wants to touch any property of the Government, there may be that kind of feeling which is very wrong and we cannot simply do anything by having whatever supervision we can on dealing with this sense of value in the society. If he takes anything which does not belong to him, whether it belongs to Government or private persons, that is a theft. The other day, a Joint Parliamentary Select Committee of about 40 M.Ps. came here and discussed about having certain kind of deterrent, a very strict censure move on theft of public property than on private property in order to counter balance the wrong and loose feeling that it is not so much of a crime to take away public property. However, it is up to us to help the society to bring about a sense of strong condemnation and disapproval of this sense of looseness that anything taken from public property is not so very wrong.
Prof. A. Warjri : But prevention is better than cure.
Shri B.B. Lyngdoh (Minister, P and S) : However, we will look into this matter for better supervision and education, as far as practicable, to remove or prevent such occurrence. About the complaint that workers are not properly attending their duty but loitering here and there, this also need better supervision. Now regarding one particular case of extension of the services of one officer, this is a matter of a very rare case and it is difficult for me to say anything off hand. In this matter, I would like to invite the Members to discuss and look into, It is very difficult to explain why a person is not given extension of his services. However, Sir, since we all here are almost of the same view on the need, even to the extent, as many members suggested, of overhauling the machineries of the Press, and that we on our side will go as all out so remove the defects of the working of this Press, I would request the hon. Member to kindly withdraw his Cut Motion.
Over and above these 343 employees who are the industrial workers, I may inform the hon. Members that there are also 50 ministerial staff.
Shri P.N. Choudhury :Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I am not very much convinced with the replies given by the Hon'ble Minister-particularly in respect of the two points raised by me.
Firstly, Sir, the Minister has stated that the Assam Government claims then Press as its own while the claim of our Government is that the Press is ours and that negotiation is in the process. I do agree that there should be negotiation. My point is this, the Government of Assam, in the meantime, has given promotion to the junior staff working at Gauhati supersession of the claim of senior staff working here. I want to know what will be the position of those staff, specially if some of the staff working here are released and sent to Gauhati and they find that they have been superseded by the junior staff. What will be the position then? How do the Government proposed to safeguard their interest? Therefore, I feel that status quo should be maintained till an agreement is arrived at. The Government should enter into an agreement with the Government of Assam soon and should see that the service conditions of the employees are not altered to their disadvantage. The employees are very much worried about this.
Secondly, the Hon'ble Minister said that a particular Deputy Superintendent is partly working here and partly in Assam, that is in the Government Press of Assam. Sir, I have already stated that according to my knowledge and information this particular officer is posted in Gauhati, and I can categorically say that for 29 days of a month he is in Gauhati and only for one day in a month he comes here to draw his salary. How can he work partly for our Government and partly for the Government of Assam, I fail to understand.
Sir, I like to mention another point which the Hon'ble Minister has perhaps missed this in regard to the payment of bill for printing work done by the Press for the Government of Assam. I want to know whether bills have already been made or whether the bills are being submitted to the Government of Assam for payment? The Government of Assam is having some printing work done here in the Shillong Government Press. Whether any bill has been submitted to the Government of Assam for payment? And if so, whether any payment has been secured? I suggested that there should be an expert Committee of the Government to go into the entire affairs of this Press so that we can know the exact position and also in what manner it could be modernized and improved.
Shri B.B. Lyngdoh (Minister, P and S) : Sir, this matter is very difficult to say off hand and without looking into the papers it is difficult to give a definite reply. But we are taking note of all these points and they are in the process of negotiation. As I said the Government Press and the workers are not with Assam or Meghalaya but the matter is still being negotiated and is in the process of finalization. So the question of one officer or this bill or that bill does not arise. But it difficult to reply just now, and I would like to have some notice.
Shri P.N. Choudhury : What about supersession?
Shri B.B. Lyngdoh (Minister, P and S) : As I have said again and again, the service relationship between Assam and Meghalaya is in the process of negotiation.
Shri W.A. Sangma (Chief Minister) : Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, these are matters which concern our assets and liabilities and which have to be gone through. I do not know whether the suggestion put forward by Shri Choudhury for having a special Committee to go into this matter will at all be necessary. With regard to supersession of officers, at present all the officers and staff are on deputation. Now, when we give promotion to any officer, we first of all ascertain whether there is an officer in Assam Government who is senior to him. Unless we are clear about it we do not proceed. Suppose the Government of Assam is not in a position to release an officer to man a particular post, then the person next to him in seniority is appointed on adhoc basis.
Shri P. N. Choudhury : I think the Chief Minister has missed my point. What I mean is that the Government of Assam is giving promotion to the junior staff working at Gauhati superseding the claim of the senior staff working here in the Shillong Press.
Shri W. A. Sangma : When a senior man could not be released from Assam then the next senior man will have to fill up the post.
*Shri D. N. Joshi : So when you fill up the post, you thereby ignore, when the right man comes, he will take up that post.
*Shri B. B. Lyngdoh (Minister P. & S) : The legitimate claim is there, when the right man comes, he will take up that post.
*Shri W. Syiemiong : Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I want clarification on the point I raised. Whether our Government is going to get some money as payment for printing works done for the Government of Assam ? I want to know categorically from the Hon'ble Minister whether the payment will be made on printing or not ?
*Shri B. B. Lyngdoh (Minister, P. & S) : I presume so. Since our Press is doing the work ; payment must be made. As I said, I would like to have more time to look into the matter.
*Shri. W. A. Sangma (Chief Minister) : Subject to correction, as I said before, the division of assets and liabilities is yet to be completed. Suppose, the Press in Shillong has been doing some printing work for the Government of Assam, the question of payment and all relevant matters will come upon when this particular matter regarding the Government Press will be finalised. Supposed, during this period a number of works have been taken up, that should not be a question that should perturb us. It is only a question of assets and liabilities and whether it belongs to the Assam Government or to us.
Shri D. N. Joshi : I had demanded from the Government reduction of working hours for the people working in the Government Press who are working from 9-00 a.m. to 5-00p.m. where as those people working in office work from 10-00 a.m. to 5p.m.
Shri B. B. Lyngdoh (Minister, Printing and Stationery) : Mr. Speaker, Sir, firstly, it depends on the nature of work. One cannot simply ask why in the hospitals and in the police Stations and another way in the Secretariat because the nature of work differs. Secondly, Sir, a consideration for that has been done by arrangement of payment for overtime . So, it is only the nature of work.
Shri D. N. Joshi : Sir, in view of the assurances and clarifications made by the Chief Ministers and the Finance Minister to look into the points raised and to see that justice is meted out to all, I withdraw my Cut Motion .
Mr. Deputy Speaker : Has the hon. Member leave of the House to withdraw his Cut Motion ?
The Cut Motion was withdrawn.
Now I put the main question before the House. The question is that an amount of Rs. 36,05,000 be granted to the Minister-in-charge to defray certain charges which will come in the course of payment during the year ending the 31st March, 1975, for the administration of the "258-Stationery and Printing".
The motion is carried. The Demand is passed.
Now, may I request the Chief Minister to move Grant No.20.
*Shri. W. A. Sangma (Chief Minister) : Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, on the recommendation of the Governor, I beg to move that an amount of Rs. 1,77,19,700 be granted to the Minister-in-charge to defray certain charges which will come in the course of payment during the year ending 31st March, 1975 for the administration of the "259-Public Works'.
Mr. Deputy Speaker :Motion moved. But I have received Cut Motions which stand in the names of 7 hon. Members, namely :-
Shri Lewis Bareh;
Prof. M. N. Majaw ;
Shri Hopingstone Lyngdoh;
Shri Winstone Syiemiong ;
Shri Rowell Lyngdoh;
Shri E. Kurbah; and
Shri Upstar Karbuli;
Shri Lewis Bareh : Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I beg to move that the total provision of Rs. 1,77,19,700,under Grant No. 20. Major head "259-Public Works" sub-head -II-Public Works Department, at page 121 of the budget be reduced by Rs. 100.i.e., the amount of the whole grant of Rs. 1,77,19,700 do stand reduced by Rs. 100.
Mr. Deputy Speaker : Motion moved. Now you can initiate the discussion.
Shri Lewis Bareh : Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I have one specific point in moving my cut motion and I want to bring to the notice of the House regarding the proposal for the Border Area roads and programme, also the general schemes in connection with the roads development programme, i.e., one Borkhat to Sonapur. With regard to this road I would like to bring to the notice of the House that for the Border Road Scheme Borkhat to Sonapur-of course, this has already been brought to the notice of the Government since some years back - some survey officers have been deputed to see the condition of the scheme and also the necessity of the project. So, a lot of find had been spent for which a proposal was submitted some years ago. But now, Sir, we regret to see that this scheme, which is a vital scheme for the interest of the public in the border areas between India and Bangladesh, has not been included in the list of road scheme. There are about 9 villages to be benefited if these roads is opened. At the same time, in connection with the border road scheme, we have come across the list proposed by the P. W. D. in connection with this scheme. We found that there are many complications and confusion and many of the roads which are not at all falling within the border areas were included in the list. Now Sir, I will come to the second item Makhimler and Jarain. This is of course not falling within the border areas but in the upland areas. But here there are so many villages where the people will get the benefit if this road is opened, The necessity of this project under the Jowai Development Block during some years they have admitted its necessity and a very important scheme and we have been spent also a lot of money for the opening of this road because by way of opening of this road it will serve about 7 or 8 villages with a population of about 3,000. These are the villages Makhimler, Jakhlu, pynthrosyllieh, Myrthong, Lynshyrmit and others. The main occupation of these villages is paddy cultivation and it is very difficult to them especially during the time of bone meal supply it is very difficult to bring the bone meal upto the actual place because there is no transport and the bone meal distributed in the rainy season. It is difficult for the people even to bring back their required bone meal to their respective villages. So, Sir, I would like that the Government will be kind enough to take up these two projects. With these few words, I will resume my seat.
Shri H. Enowell Pohshna : Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, in supporting the cut motion, I would like to state that Borkhat Sonapur road has been only in name since the Second Five Year Plan and the importance of this road will be for the benefit of both the areas as well as the non-border areas. Right along the border from borkhat to Sonapur there will be a link connecting the rail head at Kalain-cherra. It will benefit the people who have been affected by the partition of the country. Moreover, Sir, in case the exploitation of the reserved forests is taken up this road will serve a very good purpose. Moreover this area is full of lime stones, coal mines and the seven miles long fishery of the District Council is also situated along the proposed road. This road will really benefit the people of this area because during the rainy season this area becomes an island and the people cannot carry their essential commodities right from Jowai to Borkhat nor can they market their produces in other parts of the State. Therefore, I would request the Government to examine properly this long pending scheme which has been there since the Second Five Year Plan .
Now, with regard to Borkhat, I would like to mention here the this place is one of the most legendary places in our State. The temple where our Jaintia Raja used to perform the sacrifices is situated at Borkhat, and this place can be converted into a tourists attraction. Moreover, right along the border the old kingdom of Jaintia Raja was located which we call Jaintia Parganas. This is a historical place and I think it should be linked with all communications. Why I emphasise the need that this placed should be linked by communication because I feel it will enable us to see the beautiful place which our Forefathers used to see . Also I would like to mention before the House that there was a Tea Estate at Mulakur which was within Jaintia Hills 50 years ago but now it is unknown to us. Sir, I also hope due consideration would be given to link up Borkhat with the road which is under construction between Rymbai and Lakadong. Where there are large deposits of coal and lime stone. As regards the second road, it is a new project altogether but this is no lees important because the people of that area are very very backward. I would like to mention here also that there is a vast area between Khliehriat and Jarain where there is not a single jeepable road and to other means of communication exists. With these few words I support this cut motion.
*Shri D. D. Pugh (Minister of State, P. W. D.) : Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, if we go through the budget proposal we will find that the grant under consideration seeks to make budgetary provision for the pay and allowances of the Chief Engineer's general and technical staff stationed and posted here in the headquarters. Secondly, the Superintendent Engineer's office and their establishments. Thirdly, it provides for pay and allowances of the officers and staff of the divisional and the subordinate officers. (b) the Grant seeks to make a provision for procurement of machineries, vehicles tools and plants and also to meet the cost of repairs of the existing tools, plants, vehicles and machineries. Fourthly, the grant seeks to make a budgetary provision to furnish the M. L. As Hostel here at Shillong and the Inspection Bungalows located all over the State. Fifthly, the Grant seeks to provide for purchase of stock materials. Sixthly, the Grant seeks to make budgetary provision for construction of official non-residential buildings i.e., office buildings and it also seek to make provision for the maintenance of non-residential buildings.
(At this stage the Deputy Speaker left the Chamber and Prof. P. G. Marbaniang took the Chair )
Mr. Chairman, Sir, you will just see this Grant under consideration has nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with construction of roads and yet I would like to draw the attention of the House to the fact that the cut motion is very specific. In and through the cut motion now being debated, the hon. Mover has sought to express his opposition to the passage of the Grant on account of inclusion or non-inclusion of two roads. I say non-inclusion, Mr. Chairman, Sir, because I am not too sure as to what the hon. Member really means. I am now referring to the cut motion as it is published in the paper. It says that the intention of this cut motion is to raise a discussion on the public grievances for non-inclusion of the Grant in undertaking the following schemes. The way the cut motion is defined. Mr. Chairman, Sir, shows very clearly that the hon. Mover is very conscious and very aware of the fact that the minus into minus is equal to plus or two negatives make a positive. I am saying this because in submitting his cut motion he was partially correct in his implied knowledge about the inclusion or non-inclusion of the two roads under reference. The point I am trying to make, Mr. Chairman, Sir, that the second road i.e., Mukha-Jalong road has not been included in the Fifth Five Year Plan but a very good part of the first road namely Borkhat to Sonapur road has been included in the Fifth Five Year Plan and the Government tends to ultimately connect Borkhat to Sonapur by road. Now the hon. Member from Nongtalang while supporting the cut motion has had the occasion to state that the first road has been included as long as the Second Five Year Plan.
Shri S. D. Khongwir : On a point of order Sir, the Hon'ble Minister had pointed out that this particular cut motion does not come under this particular Grant so there is no need for a reply. But he continues to reply to this cut motion.
Shri D. D. Pugh (Minister of State P. W. D.) : Mr. Chairman, Sir, I will request the hon. Member from Mawlai not to waste this by intervention that are uncalled for. Mr. Chairman, Sir, I was saying that the hon. Member from Nongtalang while supporting this cut motion has the occasion to say that this Borkhat to Sonapur road has been included as long ago as the Second Five Year Plan lay the blame for non-completion of the road at the door of this Government. Mr. Chairman, Sir, when I say listening to the hon. Member from Nongtalang, I was reminded of a story of the wolf and the lamb. You may recall, Mr. Chairman, Sir, that a wolf was drinking water from a stream and there was a lamb who was also drinking water from the same stream. The wolf said, "Why are you polluting my water" ?. In fact and very unfortunately, the situation was such that the wolf was standing upstream and the lamb down stream and so when the lamb said to the wolf that he is not dirtying his waters, the wolf, in reply, said-"If you are not dirtying my water then it must be your father". I would like also to state on this particular issue and on this particular point that the fixation of priorities in selecting roads on the basis of importance is a matter of opinion where as the question that the hon. Member from Nongtalang has had the occasion to contend that this road is very very important and we should therefore give high priority. We, on this side of the House, thought otherwise. From what I have already stated, I hope the hon. mover of the cut motion would had realised that the cut motion is irrelevant and out of the order, and I would therefore, request him to withdraw his cut motion. Furthermore, I would like to add that besides the fact that the cut motion is irrelevant and out of order, I have also volunteered an information that a large part of the first road has already been included in the Fourth Five Year Plan. Therefore, I hope that the hon. mover of the cut motion will very graciously withdraw his cut motion.
Prof. P. G. Marbaniang (Chairman) : Anything from the mover ?
Shri Lewis Bareh : Mr. Chairman, Sir, with this clarification from the minister, I beg leave to withdraw my Cut motion.
Mr. Chairman : Has the hon. Member leave of the House to withdraw his Cut Motion ? (Voices-Yes, Yes)
The Cut motion is with leave of the House withdrawn.
Mr. Chairman : I now ask Prof. M. N. Majaw to move this Cut motion.
Prof. M. N. Majaw : Mr. Chairman, Sir, I beg to move that the total provision of Rs. 1,77,19,700 under Grant No. 20, Major Head "259-Public Works", at page 121 of the budget be reduced by Rs. 100, i.e., the amount of the whole grant of Rs. 1,17,19,700 do stand, reduced by Rs. 100.
Mr. Chairman : Motion moved. You can now initiate the discussion .
Prof. M. N. Majaw : Mr. Chairman, Sir, I would confine my self in this cut motion to a specific matter pertaining to the behaviour of certain officers in the P. W. D. and as such , I hope my cut motion is in order since it refers to the officers and not to roads and bridges. I had the occasion in the month of December, in the earlier session, to refer the some irregularities on the part of a particular personage here in Shillong. I must congratulate the Minister -in-charge of P. W. D. for explaining to this House when he said that they are now happy as that particular officer had been transferred. We are all grateful to him for that act. But the result of that act was to interchange two officers viz., to take the gentleman from Shillong to Tura and to bring the gentleman from Tura and in Shillong. Now, it transpired from friend in Tura and in Shillong that the substitution of the worse for the worse because on this matter for which I have sent a list of certain irregularities to the Chief Minister about 2 months ago., I do not know what action the department has taken. I would now refer to the former Mechanical S. D. O. for the P. W. D. at Tura who has now been brought to Shillong. For example, in purchasing the bulldozer parts and road roller parts in which the S. D. O. was authorised to spend only Rs. 500 per vehicle, he incurred an expenditure of more than Rs. 1,00,000. I have the number of the Bull dozer and Road roller with me and without the permission and formal sanction of the Executive Engineer the S. D. O. had incurred such a terrible expenditure. There is another complaint form some other people at Tura that the local suppliers were not being allowed to make a supplies to this Sub-division where as certain Firms by the name of M/s Harakchand Sarawgi and M/S Mercantile goodwill corporation of Tura were being orders to make supplies of necessary materials and indents for the Sub-division. They were issued such orders even though they were not registered suppliers and sale tax was collected when the bill was paid and on that account also the Government lost much revenue. I shall now give those papers to the Minister of State with a hope that the department would do something about it. But this generation who has now been brought to Shillong to December last under the assurance of the Chief Minister has brought a plot of land in Nongrim Hill in January and had started construction of a large house. It is really amazing for me that in such a short span of time he could manage to have such a house which involves lakhs and lakh of rupees, being only a mere S. D. O. Now he has completed the House and immediately he has stated to this new house which is of concrete and which cost lakhs of rupees. Inspite of the fact that this S. D. O. has got very large concrete house in Gauhati, he had been able to construct another within this very short period. I fell Mr. Chairman, Sir, there might be something behind the scene and therefore, I would request the Government to look into the matter carefully. If possible, let us send this great gentleman who has a great deal of money to the parent department of the Government of Assam. Let us try to get another person in his place.
Now, Mr. Chairman, Sir, on other matters, I would like to refer to a notification issued by the Finance Department to all the Heads of Department including P. W. D. The letter is under Memo No. ERT(T) 80/72/53, dated 24th October, 1972. This memo was a modification of the earlier letter of the Finance Department No. ERT(T) 80/72/33, dated 24th July, 1972. In the earlier letter the Finance Department asked all Departments including P. W. D. to collect income tax at source from the bills of contractors. But on October 24, 1972 Finance Department issued another order No. ERT (T) 80/72/58, instructing all Department including P. W. D. not to collect income tax from the tribal contractors or sub-contractors who are exempted from payment of income tax under the relevant provision of Income Tax Act but unfortunately the Executive Engineer's Department recommended collection of income-tax at source. Not only that, in spite of this notification from the Finance Department there is also a tender notice which says that income tax clearance certificates should be enclosed along with the tenders. Otherwise, no tender would be considered by the Department.
Now, Mr. Chairman, Sir, may I point out that is un-constitutional and there is also a provision of the law which say that tribals shall not pay income-tax. Then how can the executive Engineeers of the division of the State them and first of all income-tax clearance certificates from all the contractors including the tribal contractors particular smaller contractors who have to go from one office to another to get these clearance certificates.
Further, Mr. Chairman, Sir, may I also point out that tender notices have been sold by the Department because it says here that tenderers should purchase them at Rs. 10 only for each group otherwise no tender should be considered. It is very unfortunate that, as compared to the days of Assam no tenders were sold and there was no provision of this clause for tender notices to be sold. But our Government are demanding that in addition to income-tax from our tribal contractors, they are insisting that tender papers worth ½ N. P. should be bought at 10 rupees. Now, Mr. Chairman, Sir, may I also point out that with regard to contractors in Garo Hills, there have been numerous complaints from the local contractors in Garo Hills that most of them are non-tribal contractors. The local tribal contractors are simply not getting any contract. The question was raised by the hon. Members from Garo Hills asking the Government failed to reply to that question. I now have to prove further question to remind the Government to reply to this question because it is fact that local people do not really get the contract. There is only one contractors in Garo Hills who is a local one, but most of the contractors are outsiders, they are from Gauhati , Goalpara, or Dhubri of Assam, who are getting contracts in Garo Hills. So there are matters that I want to raise with regard to allotment of contracts to non-tribal contractors, with regard to purchase of tender papers particularly including the S. D. O. Mechanical Sub-division in Shillong.
Shri W. A. Sangma (Chief Minister) : On a point of information, Mr. Chairman, Sir, with regard to point No. 1, it was my experience in the past, that the same Hon. Member sent a complaint against one officer. There was a lot of talk going on inside this House. But later on, I received a letter from the same hon. Member regretting for the complaint which was wrong. I would, therefore, request the hon. Member to be very very definite, lest after verification and investigation started, he may say that he does not know and that the complaint made by him is not correct.
Prof. Martin Narayan Majaw :Mr. Chairman, Sir, may I point out that the first complaint made was the first audited report on the Public Health Engineering and my letter does not say that the complaint was wrong. It says that the compliant is based on the first audited report. We know, very well of the first audited report which normally brings out the expenditure that is used by the Department. After receiving such report the Chief Minister has to see that obviously the Department has to give a correct reply to the audited irregularities here and there. But we are referring to another different thing. This matter we discussed with the Hon'ble Minister himself in December last that the person was to move to Tura. Now we have his own counter part here in Shillong and the Hon'ble Minister rose to say in December that the person shall have to be transferred taking for granted the corruption charges against him, and because, no reply was made against the charges, the Minister said that the officer will be transferred to Tura.
Mr. Chairman : Any body to speak on this cut motion ?
Shri Francis K. Mawlot : Mr. Chairman, Sir, I rise to support this cut motion, First of all, I fall in line with the views expressed by the mover of this cut motion has obtaining the clearance certificate, I mean, the income-tax clearance certificate for the tribal contractors is a mere nuisance. Mr. Chairman, Sir, we understand that our tribal people are exempted from payment of income-tax, but why should our Government insist upon the local tribal contractors to obtain these income-tax clearance certificates ? This is only a harassment to them, especially to those contractors who come from the interior places.
Mr. Chairman : But they have to pay professional taxes.
Shri Francis K. Mawlot : I am speaking only of income-tax . I said it will harass especially those persons who come from the interior places. Most of them are innocent they do not know to which office they should go for obtaining this income-tax clearance certificate. They take three to four days to come from their villages to Shillong and even when they come here they have to spend another day to find out that office. Then next day they have to procure one form for that purpose and another day to meet the officer and so on and so forth. Even to get their application form recommended they have to wait for another day in order to get these certificates. Therefore, Mr. Chairman, Sir, I move that the Government of Meghalaya should have instructions to the Executive Engineers in different divisions to take note to all contractors who are tribal people so that they do not have to spend or waste their valuable time by coming to Shillong. They do not have to spend their money also lavishly.
( At this stage the Speaker occupied the Chair )
Mr. Speaker : Are they spending money also lavishly. ?
Shri Francis K. Mawlot : Of course, Mr. Speaker, compared to the rates prevailing in the market.
Mr. Speaker : But you said they are spending money lavishly.
Shri Francis K. Mawlot : Of course, Mr. Speaker, Sir, my contention was in the villages, for them it is enough if they have Rs. 4 to pull on for a day, but when they come to Shillong, Rs. 8 is not sufficient, compared to their standard of living. So, Mr. Speaker, Sir, I do not want to go to further on this account- but I press on my suggestion to the Government to instruct the Executive Engineers concerned to keep list of the local contractors and those local contractors should be exempted from procuring the income-tax certificates. With this few words, Sir, I support the Cut Motion.
Mr. Speaker : No other hon. Member ?
I call upon the Minister of State, P. W. D. to reply.
Shri D. D. Pugh (Minister of State, P. W. D) : Mr. Speaker, Sir, at the outset, I would like to say that the entire Cut Motion and the discussion raised on the Cut Motion are indeed relevant and they have also been very helpful to the Government. I am very grateful to the hon. Member from Mawhati who has tabled the Cut Motion now under the discussion, because I has afforded to us an opportunity of discussing the conduct and behavior of a few officers. I am also grateful to the Mover of the Cut Motion for the various information's that the he has offered during the speech, offered to hand over certain papers, he has already done it and I can assure him that on the basis of what has been said in this House and on the basis of the document handed over to me by the hon. Member from Mawhati ......
Mr. Speaker : Where from did you get the document ?
Shri D. D. Pugh (Minister of State, P. W. D.) : He just sent it to me.
Mr. Speaker : Then you should not quote anything which is not the property of the House.
Shri D. D. Pugh (Minister of State, P. W. D.) : But I have all the same.
Prof. M. N. Majaw : Mr. Speaker, Sir, I beg to move of the House to place it before the house.
Mr. Speaker : The procedure is that you may beg leave to place it on the table of the House, but you have reversed your......................
Prof. M. N. Majaw : You see, Mr. Speaker, Sir, as we have been told that we should approach the Minister in time, I think it is better to send it to the Minister first to see what he could do.
Mr. Speaker : Private exchange of letters or private exchange of words is never allowed inside the House.
Shri D. D. Pugh (Minister of State, P. W. D) : So, Mr. Speaker, Sir, I was saying that on the basis of the information we now have, we shall have the matter enquired into. Now on the matter connected with the bull-dozer, I would lie only to inform the hon. Member, through you, Sir, that this is something I am hearing of for the first time. The hon. Member, the Mover of the cut motion had already made certain allegations against the officer, and perhaps, with the intention to strengthen his arguments, he has had occasion to state that this officer within a month's time, after his arrival in Shillong , had started construction of a house..............
Mr. Speaker : What is the harm on constructing a new house ?
Shri D. D. Pugh (Minister of State, P. W. D.) : Now, we are not aware of the sources and resources our of which this house is being constructed . It is just possible that the officer concerned should have inherited something from his father or his great grand father and so on and so forth. But as you have correctly stated, Mr. Speaker, Sir, construction of a house is no crime.
Mr. Speaker : It is a blessing.
Shri D. D. Pugh (Minister of State P. W. D.) : Now in any case, I would like to pass on the next point that was raised by the Mover of the Cut Motion. He had occasion to say that in the Garo Hills, the greatest complaint is that the local tribal contractors are not being allotted works. To the best of my knowledge, information and belief, this is not correct. Very recently, Government had occasion to issues a circular instructing all field officers to ensure that preference should be given to the local people, and not only have we instructed the field officers to ensure that this policy of the Government is implemented, but we had also subsequently circulated another circular, instructing the officers to submit periodically reports so that Government will be in the know as to whether the policy decision of the Government is being implemented or not. The hon. Member has also had occasion to state that the Government of Meghalaya ahs been in the past selling tenders in Meghalaya. That is the allegations . He had also had occasion to say that these tender forms were never sold by a fact that even the Government of Assam has had occasion and had resorted to the same practice.
Mr. Speaker : I think it is not within the competence of this House to discuss anything done by Assam Government. I would rather suggest to the Hon'ble Minister to confine only to the activities of our own State and the hon. Member should at least ask the Minister to explain the justification of tender forms being sold.
Shri D. D. Pugh (Minister of State, P. W. D.) : I think it goes without saying. Mr. Speaker, Sir, that every time Government has occasion to sell each forms, it improves the resources of the State which are none too good.
Shri Upstar Kharbuli : Just for one point, Mr. Speaker, Sir, is it a tender form or papers ?
Shri D. D. Pugh (Minister of State, P. W. D.) : Any way, tenders are tendered on paper, whether it is a paper or a form, and every time they are sold, they only help to improve the resources to the State. Now during the first part of the discussion raised by the Mover of the cut motion, he had occasion to use word 'transfer' several times and if I have got him correctly, thereby implying that on this particular occasion also he would suggest a re-transfer of this particular officer. Though in last Winter Session, I was in a position to make that statement very categorically I regret that on this particular Session I am not in a position to give any assurance to the hon. Member as to whether Government will transfer the office concerned. These are several reasons for my inability to give that categorical commitment, but I would only add that there is more to is then meets the eye and until and unless Government is, after, examining the entire case, satisfied that the transfer will be justified, we just cannot arrive at that decision. We on this side of the House and especially the Government have taken note of all the allegations that have been made against certain officers and we have also taken note of the suggestion made to rectify the alleged misconduct and mis-behaviour on the part of the officers. I can only assure the House in general and the hon. Member, the mover of the cut motion, in particular, that the allegations made will be looked into. With these words, I would request the hon. mover of the cut motion to withdraw his cut motion.
Prof. M. N. Majaw : But nothing has been said on the income-tax.
Mr. Speaker : Let us be clear on this point. Is it a fact that the officer of the Executive Engineers under State are deducting 2% of the amount at sources and whether the P. W. D. has become the agent of the Income-tax Department of the Government of India and if so, where is the money being deposited. ?
Shri D. D. Pugh (Minister of State, P. W. D.) : I am not aware of that, Mr. Speaker, Sir, I will require of whether or not the income-tax is being deducted at source.
Prof. M. N. Majaw : Mr. Speaker, Sir, it is a known fact. Even the member of the ruling party know these facts that every P. W. D. Division is deducting at source 2% from all contractors including the tribal contractors despite the order from the Finance Department not to do so. I read out the memo numbers and date of the Finance Department's letters to the Departments. This is the complaint of all the tribal contractors, Mr. Speaker, Sir.
Mr. Speaker : You are wrong also in your allegation. But the hon. Members from Mawhati and Nongstoin used the word 'tribal' instead of scheduled tribe because the tribal in Madhya Pradesh cannot be considered as members of the scheduled tribe in Meghalaya.
Prof. M. N. Majaw : You are perfectly right Mr. Speaker, Sir. These contractors under the Constitution are not to pay any income-tax under the Income-Tax Act. But it is being deduce at the rate of 2 % at source.
Shri D. D. Pugh (Minister of State, P. W. D.) : Mr. Speaker, Sir, as the hon. mover of the cut motion has himself said that the Finance Department has already instructed them not to collect any income tax, I am saying that we shall have this matter looked into. If it is wrongfully being deducted, we shall see that it is reduced.
Mr. Speaker : The main contention of the mover is that the Executive Engineers or the whole P. W. D. should not insist on income-tax clearance certificates. That is what he has pleaded right from the beginning.
Prof. M. N. Majaw : There are two cases if I beg your protection Mr. Speaker, Sir, in this matter. Firstly, the Minister rightly agreed that the letter was issued by the Finance Department. That was on the 24th October, 1972- 1 ½ years ago and despite this order, it is our firm knowledge that this income-tax is being deducted at source from the bills of the contractors belonging to the scheduled tribe. Secondly, Mr. Speaker, Sir, you have also asked where this money of being deposited and how the State Government has become the agent of the Government of India and of the Income-tax Department, and under what head it is being deposited ?
Mr. Speaker : This is really a very complicated legal and constitutional matter and know the Minister will find it difficult to answer off hand. Let me hope that the Government will look into this matter and get things regularized and see that the interest of the people of the State is safeguarded.
Shri D. D. Pugh (Minister of State, P. W. D.) : Mr. Speaker, Sir, just before I resume my seat, I had already said that if it is wrongly deducted, we shall see that it is rectified.
Mr. Speaker : Yes, Mr. Majaw, what do you have to say ?
Prof. M. N. Majaw : With the very fine assurance from the Minister I beg to leave of the House to withdraw my cut motion.
Mr. Speaker : Has the hon. Member leave of the House to withdraw his cut motion ? (Voices-Yes, yes). The cut motion with leave of the House withdrawn. Let us come to cut motion. No. 3. Mr. H. S. Lyngdoh.
Shri H. S. Lyngdoh : Mr. Speaker, Sir, I am not moving my cut motion because my colleague. Mr. Winstone Syiemiong, the hon. Member from Nongspung, will move his cut motion No. 4.
Mr. Speaker : Let us come to cut motion No. 4. Mr. Syiemiong.
Shri Winstone Syiemiong : Mr. Speaker, Sir, I beg to move that the total provision of Rs. 1,77,19,700 under Grant No. 20 Major head "259-Public Works Department 'at page 121 of the Budget be reduced by Rs. 100 i.e., the amount of the whole grant of Rs. 1,77,19,700 do stand reduced by Rs. 100.
Mr. Speaker :Motion moved. You can raise a discussion in the matter of implementing and executing various works Department.
Shri Winstone Syiemiong : Mr. Speaker, Sir, apart from perhaps two or three Departments like Police, Education and Agriculture, I think this is the most important department most important in the sense that our very future and present prosperity depends on the proper implementation of the various schemes by this department. As a matter of fact, Sir, I feel that more allotment of fund should be made for this department so that proper implementation and execution of the works will be done . I feel that more allotment should be made to raise the pay and allowances of the officers because this is a very important matter. Sir, the past experience have compelled me to conclude otherwise. In the budget speech, the Finance Minister himself has given us a very clear picture as I have had the occasion to point out here in my observation. During the last five years of the Fourth Five Year Plan, the total mileage that was constructed by this department is only 535 kms of road our of which for one year, it stands at 107 kms only. I understand that there are 12 P.W.D. divisions in the whole State. These 12 divisions are functioning for construction of road and buildings. That means, we have only 10 Divisions apart from the 2 Mechanical Divisions of the Building Division. Taking the average we shall see that the 10 Divisions that are meant to construct roads, constructed and only 10 kms, of road per year.
Mr. Speaker : Building is also entrusted with the task of road construction.
Shri Winstone Syiemiong : Part of it, Sir. In one year, they construct 10 Kms. of road approximately, Mr. Speaker, Sir, we understand that a lot of money is being spent on roads in our State, and this Department, we understand is manned by competent officers who have passed from various Engineering Universities of India. So they are competent. In certain roads and bridges which they have undertaken like the road from Mawlonghat to Police Bazar, just at the Sweepers 'lane- that road has been giving too much trouble to the people before, but now it has become nice till last year they undertook some black topping and so it is now good, Sir, in Shillong, they do it properly, but the picture in other areas is quite different. In various parts of this District, you will find that the roads and other constructions like bridges that are being executed by our officers are so hapazard that hardly one year passed, cracks and pot holes are found everywhere. In my own constituency, Sir, there is a certain road that has been over flooded with rain water every year. But then, the Executive Engineer of the P. W. D. Division of that particular area did not mind at all to see to the conditions of the road till many complaints were made by the people themselves. This is one thing. It only reflects on the Department undertaking certain works, only where it feels that there is some better interest which I could not understand. There are certain roads, undertaken by this Department which I understand do not require large, amount of money. There is one particularly road in my area which is hardly 3 kms, in length and I understand that this road will serve only about 100 persons or so but to my wonder, lakhs and lakhs of rupees are being spent on this particular road. This road has been built since 1970 and the construction is still going on. There are certain other roads in the District which would have served a larger population but this Department seems to turn a blind eye to these roads. In my constituency, if 3 or 4 kms. of road would have been taken up per construction, I believe that the entire constituency would have been served by that road because there is no other road. 3 kms of road is left pending in the high hillock and none can use it till this date . I want, therefore, Mr. Speaker, Sir, to any, why this Department, which had some saving of money last year, should not spend this money on this left-over road. The excuse always is that there is no money, but there are certain roads which deserve due considerations, where as other roads are being undertaken and lakhs and lakhs and crores and crores of rupees are being spent on them. Now the workmanship, as I have said earlier, is of very poor standard. The other day I understand the Additional Chief Engineer has gone to visit some roads in my constituency where he had told my people also that the recent alignment made by the previous engineers is wrong and therefore, now re-alignments should be made. It only reflects one thing, Sir. It seems that our engineers are not competent enough and are not careful. Sir, there is a complaint about the allocation of work which the hon. Member from Mawhati had just said. We have a specific case. A good number of contractors have written to the Chief Engineer with a copy to us where they complaint that most of the contractors of Mawsynram Division are not getting work except a few favorites perhaps who are getting all kinds of works and most of the works are given to them and no tenders were also called. Works are given without tenders. When we questioned why it was like that, they will say that it is "Emergency". The road from Weiloi to Mawsynram this road has been allocated to certain contractors only and no tenders were called. So, there was a complaint. Therefore, Sir, if this is the condition, in the administration of the P.W.D. then where could we get good roads in the State ?
Another point I would like to make Sir. In the calling for tenders and in the allotment of works also, there is a lot delay . Sometimes it goes on for years, sometimes tenders are called again. I wonder why do they take so much time? This year work allotment has not been made to those people there. Another point, Sir, is about this particular Department giving permit or license to the Shramik-Bahinis. Mr. Speaker, Sir, these are I understand, Co-operatives Organisation where the local people can get some priority to undertake some work in the localities and we know that these Shramik Bahinis are registered organisation in a small villages like Mawsynram proper in which there are hardly two thousand people. I think there are as many as 7 or 8 Shramik Bahinis. I wish the Government should do some thing to investigate into these, because in many cases we have seen that Shramik Bahinis belong to certain localities.
Mr. Speaker : Are these Shramik Bahinis manned by Scheduled Tribes ?
Shri W. Syiemiong : Yes, Sir, most of them by Scheduled Tribes. But the snag is that though, the benefit of the Shramik Bahinis is supposed to go to the people, I wonder how some people are manipulating things. So, Mr. Speaker, Sir, I wish the Government to take note of this and see that the Shramik Bahinis are not encouraged for anymore registration. Another point, Sir, is a particular case in which one of our hon. Members here happened to be subjected to undue harassment. He is the hon. Member from Mawthengkut. He had a bill yet to be paid. security deposit to be paid to him because previously he was a contractor, but to our surprise, Sir, this security deposit has not been paid to him. We know that the relevant papers are under the custody of a certain Executive Engineer who took over during that time when the case of Shri Mawsor was in the High Court. Recently, Sir, the present Executives Engineer, by the name of Shri Talukdar, had also written many letters to the S. E. and the C. E. but no reply was given and the matter is pending.
Mr. Speaker : But Mr. Syiemiong, as I said this House should always avoid mentioning names of the officers. You may offer them bouquet or brick-bat them but names should be avoided.
Shri W. Syiemiong : I withdraw the name, but the officer is mentioned by his designation without mentioning his name so that the Government will know and under stand. So I would request the Government through you, Mr. Speaker, Sir, to direct the Executive Engineer to return the papers without which the security deposit will remain unpaid. With these few words, I move the Cut Motion.
Shri Upstar Kharbuli : Mr. Speaker, Sir, I would like to support the Cut Motion and one thing I have seen while going through the Budget Speech that huge amount of money has been ear-marked for construction of roads in the Fifth Five Year Plan is meant for development of roads. So this shows that if our Government is not very thrifty in using this money, through Public Works Department alone, 1/3 of the funds meant for the development of our State is wasted. As the hon. Member who moved this Cut Motion had earlier stated, I also would like to point out that it is a glaring fact, a glaring experience that the standard of work executed by the Public Work Department every where is really very very unsatisfactory and poor. The main reason, here, I find is the slackness on the part of the Departmental officers who did not supervise the construct of the lower rank officers like Overseas and Muharirs and I learnt from them on the workers and contractors to carry out the work strictly, because they say that if they do so those contractors will surely go bankrupt. The fact about this is that the contractors have taken the work at very low costs in spite of four or five years back. It may be mentioned here that while the Public Works Department is preparing the estimates on such work, they base their estimates on the price of materials, services and such other factors, prevailing in the year 1968 i.e., four or five or six years ago while at present everything has gone up and therefore, the estimates of Public Works Department are very very low.
Mr. Speaker : But if that rate is low, why do they quote below the scheduled rate ?
Shri Upstar Kharbuli : In spite of the fact that the estimates are already low, the contractors themselves tendered even below the scheduled rates and below the scheduled estimates prepared by the Public Work Department. Here I find that Government did not do something to check such tendency . It amounts, in my opinion, to indirectly permitting corruption when the Government or any responsible officer knows very well that contractors cannot carry out the work at this fantastic rate. I cannot see any reason why the contractor was allotted the work because, if I am not mistaken, in each and every tender invariably issued by the Department, there is a clause which provides that the Department can reject any tender without assigning any reason thereby. So under this clause, I feel that the Government, if they are really sincere to stop corruption can reject such tenders which are quoted much below the scheduled rate prepared by the Public Works Department otherwise, as I have just said, earlier, even the officers of the Public Works Department will find it very difficult to be strict in supervising the work because they feel that if they insist on being strict, those contractors will become bankrupt. So here I that while there is competition on the side of the contractors , it is also the duty of the Government to see that estimates are realistic nature and that the work should be carried out according to specification and to instruct their officers to be very very strict. If the work is carried on according to the specification, we get good quality work. For instance, if a road of path or drain is constructed according to specification, it will last long and if it is constructed not according to specification, it will last only for a few months, thereby fresh work has to be carried out after a lapse of three or six months. That is how we are spending public money. If a road or a piece of work can be constructed strictly according to the given specification then it will last, may be, for generations altogether and in that way, we can check waste of public money. So, here I would like to press upon the Government to be very strict, to issue strict instruction to the executive officers of the Public Works Department that they should be strict in supervising the work and also to see that an unrealistic quotation which sometimes falls far below the scheduled rate, is not encouraged to entertained by the Department, so that Government will be able to revise the scheduled rates according to the prevailing prices which will be realistic. With these few words, I support the Cut Motion.
Shri H. S. Lyngdoh : Mr. Speaker, Sir, I rise to support the Cut Motion moved by the Hon. Member from Nongspung. In this connection, Sir, implementation and execution of various schemes by the Department cannot be categorically differentiated. So, I would like to discuss only certain aspects of the matter as they existed in the Public Works Department. Mr. Speaker, Sir, the demand for road and communication is very great in our State and also the allocation of fund that has been provided by the Government in comparison with other Department is greater for the Public Works Department. Thus it is shown that the Public Works Department is the most important subject among the subjects which are within the budget and within the purview of the Government. The demand Mr. Speaker, Sir, is also very great. That the extension of road and communication in our State is necessary, and at the same time, the demand for maintenance of the existing roads which have been constructed is essential. But, Mr. Speaker, Sir, so far as execution of schemes is concerned, we have found that because of certain policy adopted by the Government or by the Department, as the hon. Member from Malki has expressed with regard to the rate that has been maintained by the Government now. This scheduled rate which has been maintained by the Government has affected very much the progress of the Public Works Department. Mr. Speaker, Sir, the scheduled rate for the carpenters, is Rs. 9 for a first class carpenter Rs. 7 for a second class carpenter and Rs. 6 for ordinary carpenter. Again Rs. 9 for a first class mason, Rs. 7 for second class and so on and Rs. 5 for whitewashing and Rs. 7.50 for painter and so on. While the rates actually demanded by the labourers and carpenters now-a-days are three times the rate prescribed by Government. Sir, you have just expressed that the estimates offered by the Government to contractors while allotting tenders are always based on the rate of materials of 1970-71. We have got the rate of materials of then and now everything has gone up three or four time but the contractors are still quoting 5 per cent or 10 percent below or even 15 percent below the estimates in their tender. So, if the majority of the contractors quote 5 percent or 10 percent below the estimates the Executive Engineer has to distribute the work on that basis or when the majority of them quote 10 percent then also the Executive Engineer will like wise do so. We find that while the Department distributing work like this, it has come to certain deadlock which has hindered the progress of the work of the Department, because, Sir, the contractors who have quoted the rates, say 10 percent or 15 percent below are reluctant to do the work because of the rates. For bridges also, Sir, many of the contractors have quoted 5 percent or 10 percent below the estimates . Some ask for 10 percent below while some quoted at par on even above the schedule rate. So the Executive Engineer has to distribute the works according to the rates quoted by the contractors. So, Sir, mainly bridges, since the Fourth Plan period cannot be constructed as the contractors could not do the work because of the rate. The other day I accompanied Additional Chief Engineer to visit 7 or 8 roads. I found some of road constructed 10 or 15 years ago and some constructed 3 or 4 years ago without any bridges. No bridges were built. When we asked the Executive Engineer about this, he said that work was distributed and redistributed many times but the contractors failed to do the work. This is a fact and the tendency on the part of the contractors is to quote their rates below schedule, and now it has become a problem. Sir, I want to discuss this problem.
Mr. Speaker : Mr. Lyngdoh, you may continue tomorrow.
The House stands adjourn till 9 A. M. on Tuesday the 25th June, 1974.
R. T. RYMBAI,
The 24th June 1974.
Meghalaya Legislative Assembly.