PROCEEDINGS OF THE MEGHALAYA LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY ASSEMBLED AT 9 A.M. ON TUESDAY, THE 1ST APRIL, 1975, IN THE ASSEMBLY CHAMBER, SHILLONG.
Prof. R.S. Lyngdoh, Speaker, in the Chair.
Mr. Speaker : Let us take up starred question No.14 - (Not put Member being absent).
Let us take up unstarred question No.132. Here there is a printing mistake. It is not to be replied by the Chief Minister but it is to be replied by Shri B.B. Lyngdoh, Minister in-charge of Planning.
(Replies to which were placed on the table)
Travelling Allowances of Members of District and State Planning Boards
Shri H. Enowell Pohshna asked :
132. Will the Chief Minister be pleased to state -
|(a)||The amount of travelling allowances paid to each of the member of (i) The District Planning Boards and (ii) the members of the State Planning for the years 1972-73, 1973-74 and 1974-75.|
|(b)||The amount drawn as sitting allowance by each member of (i) the District Planning Boards; and (ii) the State Planning Boards for the years 1972-73, 1973 and 1964-75?|
Shri B.B. Lyngdoh (Minister, in-charge of Planning) replied :
|132.||(a)- (i) The question of payment travelling allowances during 1972-73 does not arise as the District Planning Boards have been functioning from 1973-74 only. District-wise particular for 1973-74 and 1974-75 are furnished below :-|
|District||Member's name||Amount of T.A. Paid|
|(Upto 15th March, 1975)|
|Rs. P.||Rs. P.|
|Khasi Hills||...||Shri R. Dkhar||Nil||Nil|
|Shri L. Rynjah||Nil||Nil|
|Shri P.N. Choudhury||Nil||Nil|
|Jaintia Hills||...||Shri N. Ksih||625.39||Nil|
|Shri M. Suchiang||595.32||Nil|
|Shri O.L. Nongtdu||54.41||Nil|
|Garo Hills||...||Md. Akrammozaman||127.59||Nil|
|Shri E. Sangma||259.55||653.95|
|(ii) State Planning Board|
|Shri P.R. Kyndiah||1,224.70||1,943.00|
|Shri H. Hynniewta||1,500.00||Nil|
|Shri R. Momin||2,034.59||421.00|
|Prof. A. Warjri||Nil||Nil|
|Shri Maham Singh||Nil||Nil|
(b)- (i) District Planning Boards :- The question of payment of sitting fee during 1972-73 does not arise as the District Planning Boards have been functioning from 1973-74 only. The details for 1973-74 and 1974-75 are given below :-
|District||Member's name||Sitting fee paid during|
|(Upto 15th March, 1975|
|Khasi Hills||...||Shri R. Dkhar||40.00||520.00|
|Shri L. Rynjah||40.00||460.00|
|Shri P.N. Choudhury||40.00||240.00|
|Jaintia Hills||...||Shri N. Ksih||180.00||Nil|
|Shri M. Suchiang||220.00||Nil|
|Shri O.L. Nongtdu||100.00||Nil|
|Garo Hills||...||Md. Akrammozaman||60.00||Nil|
|Shri E. Sangma||80.00||80.00|
(ii) State Planning Board -
|Member's name||Sitting fee paid during|
|(Upto 15th March, 1975)|
|Shri P.R. Kyndiah||...||200.00||Nil||60.00|
|Shri H. Hynniewta||...||200.00||Nil||40.00|
|Shri R. Momin||...||Nil||Nil||40.00|
|Shri M. Singh||...||Nil||Nil||Nil|
|Prof. A. Warjri||...||Nil||Nil||Nil|
Scholarships for High School and Post-Graduate Students
Shri Humphrey Hadem asked :
133. Will the Minister-in-charge of Education be pleased to state -
|(a)||The Government policy in granting tribal scholarships to High school and post-graduate students respectively?|
|(b)||Whether any specific instruction imposing conditions have been issued by the Central Government?|
|(c)||If so, a copy of the instruction may please be furnished?|
Shri Sandford K. Marak (Minister, Education) replied :
133. (a) - Government of Meghalaya did not institute any specific scheme of tribal scholarships to High School and Post-Graduate Students.
However, there is a Government of India's scheme of Post-Matric Scholarship to the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes for studies in India. These scholarships are awarded by the Government of the State, following the regulations framed by the Government of India. Post-graduate students are also eligible for these scholarships provided they fulfill the conditions of eligibility.
There is also a scheme of special Pre-Matric Scholarships/stipends to students belonging to Scheduled Tribes (Hills and Plains), Scheduled Castes and Other Backward Classes. This scheme has been in operation since Assam's time.
(b) - (1) Instructions have been issued by Central Government in respect of Post-Matric Scholarships to the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes.
(2) - No instruction has been issued by Central Government regarding award of special scholarships to tribal students at high school stage.
(c) - A copy of regulations for the scheme of Post-Matric Scholarships to the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes is placed on the Table of the House.
Construction of new footpath bridges
Shri Onwardleys Well Nongtdu asked :
134. Will the Minister-in-charge of P.W.D. be pleased to state, the new footpath bridges the Government proposes to construct during 1975-76 in the State?
Shri P. Ripple Kyndiah (Minister-in-charge of P.W.D.) replied :
134. The list of new footpath bridges is placed on the Table of the House.
Shri Humphrey Hadem : In the paper relating to this question, the reply to (a) was that the suspension footpath bridge will be constructed at Ummulong on river Myntang (Sala). May we know the actual location of Sala near Ummulong in the river Myntang?
Shri E. Bareh (Minister, Agriculture) : Mr. Speaker, Sir, that is the suspension bridge between Kyndongtuber and Saphai on the way to Nongjngi.
Shri Humphrey Hadem : May we take that the reply is being corrected?
Mr. Speaker : It is a printing mistake.
Pay of Lower Primary School Teachers
Shri Dlosing Lyngdoh asked :
135. Will the Minister-in-charge of Education be pleased to state -
|(a)||Whether it is a fact that the Lower Primary School teachers with heavy responsibility get lower pay then the peons and other menials in Meghalaya now?|
|(b)||Whether Government propose to revise the pay scale of the Lower Primary Schools teachers in the State in line with other employees?|
|(c)||The reasons for not providing the Lower Primary School teachers with Government quarters or not granting house rent allowance?|
|(d)||When do Government propose to grant pensions and other facilities to the Government and Government-aided Lower Primary schools teachers in the State?|
|(e)||The actual number of students prescribed under the Education Rules for each class in the lower primary section?|
Shri Peter Garnett Marbaniang (Minister of State, in-charge of Education) replied :
135. (a) - No.
(b) - Does not arise.
(c) - The Lower Primary Schools are under the District Council (except those within the Shillong Municipal area). The question of providing them with quarters or giving them house-rent allowance by Government does not arise.
(d) - Government Lower Primary Schools teachers are entitled to pensionary benefits provided they are confirmed. Post of Lower Primary School teachers under the District Council are not pensionable.
(e) - The teacher pupil ratio as accepted on national basis for the primary stage is 1:40.
Shri Dlosing Lyngdoh : (a) What is the actual pay of those L.P. School teachers who are in Shillong Municipality.
Shri P.G. Marbaniang (Minister of State, Education) : The existing pay scale runs from Rs.85-135 for non-matriculate untrained for basic trained Rs.110-165 and for matriculate basic trained Rs.125-200.
Shri Dlosing Lyngdoh : If that is the case, then the peon gets more pay than the teachers.
Mr. Speaker : That is argumentative.
Shri Winstone Syiemiong : Mr. Speaker, Sir, may we know the ration between the pupils and teachers?
Shri P.G. Marbaniang (Minister of State, Education) : In Meghalaya it is below 1:40.
Shri Winstone Syiemiong : May we know specifically because round figure is very wrong figure and it is difficult to understand.
Shri P.G. Marbaniang (Minister of State, Education) : It is below 1:30.
Shri Humphrey Hadem : Whether it is a fact that it is 1:25?
Shri D.D. Pugh (Minister, Transport) : Mr. Speaker, Sir, attempts are being made to make the teacher pupil ratio 1:25.
Shri Winstone Syiemiong : My question has not been answered properly. I would like to know specifically the ratio - not below but it should be exact.
Mr. Speaker : The ratio accepted by the Government is 1: 25.
Shri Humphrey Hadem asked :
136 Will the Minister-in-charge of Agriculture be pleased to state -
(a) The total area of land (District-wise) reclaimed departmentally in 1974-75?
(b) The names of those land reclamation projects?
(c) The amount spent for each projects?
Shri Edwingson Bareh (Minister, Agriculture) replied :
136. (a) - The work on reclamation by the Soil Conservation Department is going on and unless it is completed it is not possible to give the exact area for 1974-75. However, the target sanctioned for the year are given below -
Garo Hills - 242 hectares.
Khasi Hills - 241.50 hectares.
Jaintia Hills - 242 hectares.
(b) - Garo Hills -
(1) Wagegitok, (2) Chigijangiri, (3) Galwanggiri, (4) Daranggre, (5) Karijhora, (6) Bonegre, (7) Narengiri and (8) Siju.
Khasi Hills -
(1) Nangumdang, (2) Nongdaju, (3) Nongrinju.
Jaintia Hills -
(1) Umkhen Area, (2) Myngkre area, (3) Saipung or Khlang area.
(c) - The work of reclamation for the year 1974 is still going on and unless the work is completed, the actual amount spent cannot be given as yet. However, the amount as per our sanctioned schemes are given below -
Garo Hills - Rs.1,95,000.
Khasi Hills - Rs.1,90,000.
Jaintia Hills - Rs.2,03,750.
Shri Humphrey Hadem : (c) Whether those areas are already reclaimed have been distributed to the individuals?
Shri E. Bareh (Minister, Agriculture) : After we reclaim the areas, if they do not belong to any others, we will ask the District Council to distribute them.
Shri Humphrey Hadem : Whether the reclaimed areas have been distributed to the individuals?
Shri E. Bareh (Minister, Agriculture) : The reclaimed areas are already under occupation of the individuals.
Shri Humphrey Hadem : May we know, Sir, whether those areas are now under irrigation or dry areas?
Shri E. Bareh (Minister, Agriculture) : Part of them are dry terrace and part of them wet terrace.
Mr. Speaker : I have received a notice from Prof. M.N. Majaw who desires to raise one important matter during zero hour on the intervention of the State Government to ensure adequate representation for tribal in appointments to Central Government offices in the State. But as he is absent, so let us pass on to the next item. Mr. Lapang.
Shri D.D. Lapang : Mr. Speaker, Sir, I beg to call the attention of the Minister, Transport under Rule 54 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly to the "Motor accident near Burnihat on 7th March, 1975 when Truck No.MLS-118 went off the road at 2 P.M. as a result of which as many as 11 persons died" reported in the Assam Tribune of 9th March, 1975. Mr. Speaker, Sir, on that day at about 1:45 P.M., that full-loaded truck came towards Shillong from Gauhati and on reaching Burnihat it has as many as 9 passengers in the front seat and 25 others on the top of the loaded body and it was reported that the driver was fully drunk.......
Mr. Speaker : Anyway do not mention anything that is written in the paper.
Shri D.D. Lapang : But these things have been reported in the paper. Mr. Speaker, Sir, my point is that the Police of Burnihat have not done anything to the truck driver. Another point is that though it is prohibited to carry passengers on the truck or any other vehicle, yet the drivers are compelled to carry the passengers because there is no other alternative as the Government has failed to arrange transport facilities. So Mr. Speaker, Sir, I would request the Hon'ble Minister before he makes a statement and it would be gratifying if the Minister can indicate any assurance from the Government for making transport facilities to the passengers going from place to place for marketing and doing their business.
Mr. Speaker : These are extra matters. But the calling attention relates only to the accident that took place on 7th March, 1975. It is specific. You cannot raise any other matter.
Shri D.D. Lapang : Mr. Speaker, Sir, the occurrence of this accident is interlinked with the lack of transport facilities. So I would request the Minister to make a statement and clarify the points.
Shri D.D. Pugh (Minister, Transport) : Mr. Speaker, Sir, on the 7th March, 1975, a little after 1400 Hours one truck, that is Truck No.MLS-1118 driven by one Shri Jhandi Ram Mech went off the road into a khud about 14-15 meters deep while proceeding towards Shillong on the Gauhati-Shillong road causing death to as many as 9 persons who died on the spot. 14 persons were injured of whom 9 were immediately removed to Gauhati Medical College Hospital and 5 others were taken to Nongpoh Dispensary for medical aid. Out of the 9 persons taken to Gauhati Medical College, 2 succumbed to their injuries soon after they were admitted and one more person died on 14th March, 1975 while undergoing medical treatment. Thus a total number of 12 persons died due to the accident.
The accident was reported to the Officer-in-charge of Burnihat Police Outpost by one P.W.D. truck driver on the same day at about 14.30 hours. On receipt of the report the O.C. with his available staff rushed to the site of the accident and rendered help to the injured Persons and caused enquiry into the accident. Another police party from Shillong rushed to the spot to assist the local police. According to the police enquiry report, the 7th March, 1975 was a Bazar day at Burnihat. The truck under reference which was carrying about 300 tins of molasses left Burnihat some time after 14.00 hours and on the way to Shillong picked up about 17 or 18 passengers. When the truck was passing the Burnihat Police Outpost the police on duty tried to stop the truck for carrying so many passengers, but it speeded towards Shillong without stopping. According to police report the accident was the result of rash and negligent driving. Accordingly, a police case has been registered and investigation is still going on. The accused driver was arrested. Therefore, Sir, it will not be correct to say that the documents of the truck, the vehicle in question was plying on the G.S. road as per permit granted by the S.T.A. to act as sub-carrier for AMSRTC on G.S. Road for the period beginning from 3rd March 1975 to 2nd June 1975.
The case has from the beginning been supervised by the Additional Superintendent of Police, Khasi Hills, Shillong. It is also not correct, Mr. Speaker, Sir, as contended by the hon. Member who has moved the calling attention that the Government has failed because, as the House very well knows, the road is at present under the control of the AMSRTC. As I had occasion to say in this very session of the House we are vigorously pursuing the matter of bifurcation of the Joint Corporation. Once that is done we will take all possible steps to ensure that sufficient number of vehicles are made to ply on this road.
Shri D.N. Joshi : Mr. Speaker, Sir, while bifurcation is on the process could not Government take up the case with the Assam-Meghalaya State Road Transport Corporation to provide more buses?
Mr. Speaker : That is outside the scope of the Call Attention.
Before we pass on to item No.3, I may inform the House that at least on two occasions, the House is in doubt about the constitutional implications of Paragraph 13 of the Sixth Schedule vis-a-vis the privileges of the House. Since some Members of the House expressed that doubt, I have already requested the Advocate General to come to the House today and to explain the constitutional implication of Paragraph 13 before the House. Now, the Advocate General will please explain those constitutional implications.
Legal Opinion by the Advocate General on the Constitutional Implication of Paragraph 13 of the Sixth Schedule
Shri N.N. Lahiri (Advocate General ) : Mr. Speaker, Sir, I am deeply obliged for giving me a chance to express my view on this important constitutional position raised by some Members of the House. I understand that the point that has been raised in the House is whether the provision that the estimated receipts and expenditure pertaining to an autonomous district which are to be credited to or to be made from the Consolidated Fund of the State should be placed before the District Council for discussion and thereafter are to be shown separately in the Annual Financial Statement of he State to be laid before the Legislature of the State as provided in Paragraph 13 of the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution amounts to a breach of privilege of the House inasmuch as the said statement is available to the Members of the House. That is the point that has been raised, I understand.
Now, the position no doubt is apparently anomalous but having regard to the scheme of the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution of India, granting autonomy in respect of matters enumerated therein to the District Councils, it would appear that in the fitness of things, this Paragraph 13 was incorporated in the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution so that the District Councils may place their points of view in this regard.
Now, the position would be clarified if I refer to the original Draft Constitution before the Constitution was adopted, that is, before the 26th January, 1950. Paragraph 13 as it is stood in the Draft Constitution reads thus :
"Estimated receipts and expenditure pertaining to autonomous districts to be shown separately in the Annual Financial Statement - The estimated receipts and expenditure pertaining to an autonomous district which are to be credited to, or is to be made from the revenues of the State of Assam shall be shown separately in the Annual Financial Statement of the State to be laid before the Legislature of the State under Article 177 (it is Article 202 now) of the Constitution". This was the original provision. No question of discussion or placing before the District Councils for their opinion was there. Thereafter, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, the Architect of the Constitution who piloted the - Constitution, thought it fit that in consonance with the scheme of the 6th Schedule to the Constitution granting autonomy to the District Councils should have voice in the matter and as such proposed the following amendment to Paragraph 13. I may read from the constituent Assembly debated regarding the amendment :
"That in Paragraph 13, after the words "the State of Assam shall" the words "be first placed before the District Council for discussion and then after such discussion" be inserted. So this was later on added to the proposed amendment to the Paragraph. Then Shri Rohini Kumar Choudhury, a Member from Assam raised another amendment in view of the proposed amendment by Dr. Ambedkar :
"That in amendment No.129, in paragraph 13, after the words "and then after such discussion" (proposed to be inserted) the words "and such separate statement pertaining to autonomous districts shall be subject to modifications and alterations as the State Legislature may make" be inserted. So, this amendment of Shri R.K. Choudhury suggests that he wanted to retain the legislative control of the State Legislature and, so he has suggested that amendment. Then, at this stage, the President of the Constituent Assembly asked Dr. Ambedkar about the proposed amendment as suggested by Shri Choudhury. Then Dr. Ambedkar said that "although the words - Section 177 occurred in the original draft, my friend Shri R.K. Choudhury has thought it fit to bring in No.113 as a financial statement within the meaning of Section 177 which means that it will be discussed by the Assam Legislature and voted upon and amendments may be moved and then the Appropriation Law would apply. the only thing is that, before the Assam Legislature deals with it, the desirability to allow the District Councils to have their say as to how their money should be allotted". But in view of the scheme of the Sixth Schedule the District Council should also have some voice in the sense that they may give some suggestions and whether those suggestions should be accepted by the State Legislature or not, it is for this House to decide. So, from the above, it would appear that para 13, as it stands now, was deliberately incorporated so that the District Council may have their say as to how the money should be allotted and discuss the same. The ultimate decision should be by the State Legislature. This is a constitutional requirement and, therefore, I humbly submit my view that it would not amount to a breach of privilege. This is my view.
Mr. Speaker : I think I will ask you a question. Nobody in this House has expressed any doubt about the right of the District Councils to discuss the estimated receipts and expenditure of those respective District Councils provided the Budget is placed first on the House. But whether the Government has any right to disclose that part of the Budget to the District Council before the Budget is formally placed before the House.
Advocate General : Mr. Speaker, Sir, my view would be that this is at a proposal stage; it has not yet taken a definite shape. They are just incorporated at this stage so that the District Councils may discuss about those estimated receipts and expenditure which will be spent and charged on the Consolidated Fund. That final stage has not yet come in view of the constitutional requirement under para 13 if this constitutional requirement is fulfilled I would submit that this may not amount to a breach of privilege of this House otherwise the charge may be that this constitutional requirement has not been fulfilled if it is not given to the District Councils for their views. At this point it may be said that the Constitution has been violated and in this connection I would also draw the attention of the House to the Rule 108 of the Constitution of District Council Rules, 1951 which reads : "The statement of the estimated receipts and expenditure pertaining to an autonomous district which are to be credited to or is to be made from, Consolidate Fund of the State of Assam in respect of every financial year (hereinafter referred to in this rule as "the District Budget") shall, as required under paragraph 13 of the Sixth Schedule, be placed before the District Council for discussion on such day in the preceding financial year as may be appointed by the Chairman or such other person authorised by the Governor in this behalf. Immediately after the District Council has discussed the District Budget, the Chairman or the person so authorised shall, notwithstanding the provisions of rule 121 report the result of the discussion to the Governor to enable him to finalise the District Budget and take steps to show it separately in the annual financial statement of the State to be laid before the Legislature of the State under Article 202 of the Constitution". So, this rule also suggests that it has not taken a final shape. Prior to that the District Council have a voice; it is a special feature to harmonise the provisions of the Sixth Schedule with the general provision of the Constitution. So I would suggest that this rule may be suitably amended so that the District Councils may discuss these proposals in camera so that, excepting the members of the District Councils, it may not be published to the outsiders. That is the only suggestion the District Council may consider amendment of these rules.
Mr. Speaker : I think there are certain points that this House wants to know. If the Government sends the statement of estimated receipts and expenditure to the District Councils at the proposal stage and not in the final stage, the District Councils will discuss on the estimated receipts and expenditure earmarked by the Government at the proposal stage, it is not a breach of privilege of the House, that is understood. Or, even the Budget has been presented on the floor of the House and then sent the relevant Budget to the District Councils, it is not a breach of privilege of the House. But, here, the question is : Whether the Government has any right to disclose a part of the Budget in its final confidential form for discussion in the District Councils. Nowhere in the Constitution there is any mention that the District Council is endowed with any privilege and even if we send to the District Councils they are still outsiders in so far as this House is concerned. The House would really like to have a clarification as to whether the Government should send at the proposal stage or as soon as the Budget has been placed before the House or even before it is presented. Article 194 endows the State Legislature some privileges as those enjoyed by the House of Commons and one of the privileges it that no part of the Budget can be disclosed outside the House before it is placed on the floor of the House. So I still maintain that there is no contradiction but it is only a question of procedure. At what stage it is practicable, from that point of view that you have been requested to explain the position on the floor of the House.
Advocate General : Mr. Speaker, Sir, I am obliged that you have pinpointed the issue. As I have already submitted and tried to show from the Constituents Assembly Debates.
Mr. Speaker : You have already explained that.
Advocate General : From the speech of Dr. Ambedkar and also the scheme of the Sixth Schedule that there is not doubt that the State Legislature has practically all the powers in respect of the items but those items which were carved out and been conferred on the District Councils the District Councils should have some say. So, apparently, it may look anomalous but there is no conflict and those parliamentary practices of the House of Commons which have been followed here also now would apply but subject to certain restrictions as has been provided in the Constitutions and the rules.
Unless at this stage these provisions of the Constitution or the provisions of the Sixth Schedule or the District Councils are suitably attended, then I would like to submit that this procedure will still remain and this would not amount to violation of the provision of the Constitution. It would not amount to breach of privilege. That is why I suggested that even if we allow the District Councils to discuss this matter in a secret Session and as has been correctly pointed out that even then it will not be published, since as I stated that these are at the proposal stage.
Mr. Speaker : Since this is not to be incorporated in the Budget in its final form. Form the speech of late Dr. Ambedker it appears that the intention of the framers of the Constitution is that the Autonomous District Council's Budget must be sent at the proposal stage.
Shri N.N. Lahiri (Advocate General) : As I said, this is only a proposal stage and as it stands now it is in conformity with the provision of the Constitution and I would simply submit that it does not amount to a breach of privilege.
Mr. Speaker : Thank you very much.
Shri H. Hadem : Mr. Speaker, Sir, I would like to have some more clarification in this connection. Sir, as far as Rule 108 of the Constitution of District Council Rules is concerned, it has been clearly stated that the District Councils Budget of the Autonomous Districts must be in draft form. But, Sir, I would like to say that it seems that there is something contradictory between para 13 or the Sixth Schedule and that of the Constitution of the District Council Rules. In the Sixth Schedule it has been stated that the expenditure pertaining to the Autonomous District Council which are to be credited to or are to be made from, the Consolidated Fund of the State shall be first placed before the District Council for discussion. That means, it must be in final stage. Then after, such discussion be shown separately in the annual financial statement of the State to be laid before the Legislature of the State under Article 202.
Mr. Speaker : That is exactly what the Advocate General said. There should be suitable amendments of the District Council Rules.
Shri H. Hadem : But Sir, according to paragraph 13 this discussion of the District Councils should be made available to the Legislature by printing separately so that the Legislature also would see what are the views of the District Councils.
Mr. Speaker : That is a separate issue. Because this House is very much concerned only about its own privilege. The Advocate General has clearly stated about the stage and also about the fact that no provision of the Constitution if followed honestly and sincerely does amount to a breach of privilege.
Shri H. Hadem : Mr. Speaker, Sir, I would like to say that this matter arose out of the provision of paragraph 13 of the Sixth Schedule which envisages firstly the discussion of the District Council Budget by the individual District Councils and secondly that discussion to be made available to the Members of the House.
Mr. Speaker : It envisages the Budget for the Autonomous District council and not of the Civil Districts.
Shri H. Hadem : Sir, that of course we understand and we are having three Autonomous Districts. But according to Rule 108 of the constitution of District Council Rules it seems that the Budget will be discussed only at the draft stage but here according to paragraph 13 it will be in final stage and that discussion will have to be made available to the House. These are the two points which have not been clarified by the Advocate General.
Shri N.N. Lahiri (Advocate General) : Mr. Speaker, Sir, the points raised by the hon. Member have been already replied by me, I think. Sir, according to the speech of Dr. Ambedkar in reply to Mr. R.K. Choudhuri it has been stated that "although the words "section 177" (now Article 202) occur in the original draft, the effect of regarding it as a financial statement within the meaning of 177 (now Article 202) means that it will be discussed by the Assam Legislature and voted upon. Amendments may be moved and the appropriation law would apply. The only thing is that before the Assam Legislature deals with it, it is desirable to allow the District Assam Legislature deals with it, it is desirable to allow the District Council to have their say as to how the money should be allocated.
Shri H. Hadem : Still not clear, Sir. Whether it is mandatory that the discussion of the District Council should be made availably to the House according to paragraph 13 of the Sixth Schedule or not?
Mr. Speaker : According to paragraph 13, it is clearly stated that the estimated receipts and expenditure be made available to the District Council and they have the right to discuss. But Paragraph 13 is not clear, it is not stated any where whether those discussions in the District Councils be made available to the Legislature or not, that is not the question. But their discussions must be made available to the Government so that they will prepare their budget in its final form. In this respect, it deals primarily only with the relationship between the District Councils and the Government. I think we must understand that the provisions of the Constitution are mandatory. But so far as the rules are concerned, they may be observed by the Government and the Government is to interpret those rules which are made by them and not by this House. I think, so far as your point is concerned it is better to raise it with the Government at some appropriate levels and not at this stage here in the House. I think we must be thankful to the Advocate General who has explained the constitutional complication arising out of Para 13 of the Sixth Schedule vis-a-vis the privileges of the House. I hope the House has understood that though it may look anomalous but in reality there is no conflict. Definitely, the question is to how to formulate the procedure and at what stage the budget must be sent to the District Councils, but according to the views of Dr. V.R. Ambedkar, in its final form.
Let us pass on to the next item, Motions. Mr. R. Lyngdoh or Mr. U. Kharbuli or Mr. W. Syiemiong to move Motion No.1.
Shri Rowell Lyngdoh : Mr. Speaker, Sir, I beg to move that this House do now discuss the necessity for immediate bifurcation of the A.M.S.R.T.C. and the demonopolisation of goods traffic on the Shillong-Gauhati Route.
Mr. Speaker : Motion moved. Now, you can initiate the discussion.
Shri Rowell Lyngdoh : Mr. Speaker, Sir, the question of demonopolisation of the Shillong-Gauhati route as well as the bifurcation of the Assam-Meghalaya State Road Transport Corporation has been discussed in this and previous Sessions and it was demanded by members from all the sections of this House to demonopolise the same immediately. Sir, as we know, this route is the only life-line of the State of Meghalaya especially for the two districts of the Khasi Hills and Jaintia Hills.
(At this stage, the Speaker left the Chamber and the Deputy Speaker took the Chair).
Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, even though much had been discussed about this question, till now, nothing has been done though we have attained a separate State since the last three years. Till today, nothing has been done either to separate this A.M.S.R.T.C. or to provide transport facilities adequately for the carriage of goods and services from and to Shillong. Sir, as we know, we depend entirely on this route but the monopoly is being retained by this A.M.S.R.T.C. since the then Government of Assam when it was only the State Transport undertaking of Assam. At that time also, it gave no satisfactory service to the people. Now when we have attained a separate State of Meghalaya it has become a most important route where a lot of goods have to be carried from other parts of India to this State of ours as well as those goods to be sent from this State to the other parts of the State in India. But the same thing is continuing till, now, even when it has become a Corporation no tangible results could be seen and no adequate transport facilities were provided by this Corporation for carrying of goods and services. Of course, we have got a good number of transport like bazar buses and private trucks which could ply on this route to carry the goods and to help the people of Meghalaya in the transportation of goods and services. But then, because of the monopoly prevailing over there, the right of plying over this route denied to those private trucks from carrying the goods and services to the people.
Therefore, Sir, it is a long-felt necessity that this Government should do something on this to bifurcate this undertaking immediately or to start a State Road Transport Corporation of its own. Sir, here were occasions in the previous years that we are demanding that the Government should grant permits to the local truck owner, or local operators for the carriage of these goods and to transport various produces of the States to the markets of other States like Assam and West Bengal. But then Sir, no permits were issued or granted to them. Of course, only few trucks were granted much permit as sub-career of the A.M.S.R.T.C. for the carriage of potato and some other produces. But no permit was granted whatsoever for various other produces of this State. Therefore, Sir, the economy of this State had been deteriorating rapidly and it has been affected very badly. People found no alternative to transport and sell their produces like tezpatta, broom and other agricultural produces to market them in other States in India. We have also seen the shortage of materials for construction and the like in out State due to absence of transport facilities to carry them from Gauhati to Shillong and the prices jumped up and could not be controlled for this reason. Why? because, we have to depend upon this corporation. So is the case with the building materials of the Public Works Department or the P.H.E. They cannot bring them from Gauhati and as a result they are lying here. The State itself to depend only on this Corporation and this Corporation could not provide transport at all with the result that bridges could not be completed, buildings of the Government could not be completed in time. Then we have to re-estimate the works every year because the cost of materials are going and the cost of transportation, the costs of items also start increasing every year and this resulted in having to re-estimate every time. Throughout the country they understand that this is a very important communication line and people everywhere are concerned that goods should reach Meghalaya in time and even the railway authorities also are very much concerned that goods should be lifted so as to reach their destination in time. But then they find that this Corporation could not clear these goods from the railway shed at Gauhati where these items were booked from other places to the State of Meghalaya. Sir, there was a notification from the North-Eastern Frontier Railway which appeared in the Assam Tribune on the 23rd March, 1975 to the effect that they also felt the pinch that Meghalaya suffers very much because this Corporation could not hit the goods completely from the railway shed. So I do not know whether certain charges have to be paid by the Government of Meghalaya for those good in the railway shed at Gauhati and in other railway stations. Sir, as a matter of facts, goods carried by the railway, if they are not cleared within 24 hours of their arrival, are subjected to demurrage charge So I do not know whether the Government has to pay these demurrages charge If we have to pay demurrage then we again have to suffer from both late arrival and loss of money to the State. I do not know why Government should allow such things to happen instead of bringing transport to collect them and at the same time avoid demurrages charged on them and also facilitate their early arrival in Meghalaya. Sir, this kind of problem crops up due to the inability of the Assam-Meghalaya State Road Transport Corporation to clear the goods within a reasonable time; goods like sugar, chemicals, fertilisers, etc., from New Gauhati station Shillong. Therefore, the N.E. Railway has been compelled to restrict booking to Shillong Out Agency. So, Sir we see that even the railways are concerned very much and wanted that the goods should reach the State in time. But then it seems our Government never bother to collect these items in time and we have to depend only on the Corporation which cannot do any service to the State at all. I do not know why after three years of our existence we fail to understand clearly the difficulties and the impact on the economic condition of the people in the State as a whole; but yet we have not tried to bifurcate this Corporation till date. We now understood that due to the cleverness of the then Assam State Transport which immediately before we attained our full Statehood have converted in into a Corporation where the Meghalaya Government is one of the members; and therefore there is a hitch. Being a State Government they could have invited the intervention of the Central Government and start our own transport on the G.S. Road, to help solve the transport problems of the villages, in the State, but the authorities find it difficult because of certain provision or clause in the constitution of this Corporation. I would, therefore suggest that Government procure trucks either by purchasing them or hiring them from the public and collect the goods as a Government concern from Gauhati so that they may be cleared promptly and at the same time transport the goods from the State to other parts of the country. I would also suggest that Government should bifurcate this Corporation immediately and de-monopolise the G.S. route as well; and if they find any difficulty in extracting itself from the Corporation then it could start by purchasing its own trucks or by hiring public carriers and utilise then for lifting the goods from Gauhati. And by doing that, we could also help the people by providing means of carrying the marketable goods like forest and agricultural produces to other parts of the country. With these few words, Sir, I mover this motion.
Shri W.S. Syiemiong : Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, we have been discussing the subject, I think, more than once in this House and the question itself, Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I think is as old as the State itself. So I wonder at the present juncture whether I can add anything more on what my hon. friend from Mawkyrwat has said and to what we have already said in the past and what the Government already knows also. It is not a new question at all. But then it is a very important question, a very very important question Mr. Deputy Speaker, sir, because this concerns the life-line of half of the State of Meghalaya. It concerns the economic life-line of half of the State of Meghalaya and we very well know, Sir, that no State in the world can live or look after itself economically if it has no line of communication or routes to trade with the outside world. This wisdom has been learnt even five or six centuries by the great rulers. We very well know, Sir, that Peter the Great of Russia realised this very well and that is why he wanted to open a window in the west so that he could modernise Russia. It is a fact also, Sir, that a landlocked country like Switzerland tried its best even to have a shipping line of their own, fleets of their own to trade in the seas in spite of the fact that it is landlocked, but for us here, Sir, though we are a part of the great country, India, we still do not have certain lines of communication which can help us and our economy is in the hands of others. It is a pity that this Government after three years of full statehood had completely failed to solve this problem. I know from the Government side there are lots of answers, technical problems, personnel problems, relationship problems, etc. Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, the layman on the street is not concerned with these problems. But he wants that the problems arising out of this road should be solved because everybody understands that Meghalaya has a hand in this A.R.T.C. Monopolisation of this road has posed a lot of problems to the people. It is a simple problem on the other hand and if anyone would like to ask what is the reality of the situation, the reply would be that politically and geographically this road is a lifeline within Meghalaya itself and therefore, they see no reason why after three or four years they cannot bifurcate this Corporation. Why can they not bifurcate it up till now? Why cannot this Government have any administrative control or authority over this road because up till now they have not been able to bifurcate it. As my hon. friend from Mawkyrwat has said that the people especially the trading community are facing a lot of difficulties because of monopolisation of this road, I also agree with him entirely because even if they want to export broom-stick which has got a very good market in the whole of India, they will find it difficult because of transport bottleneck. They cannot take advantage of transporting their goods outside the State because of transport bottleneck in our State. They cannot export potato, tezpatta or broom-sticks outside even though these goods get a good market in other parts of the country. I have here with me a letter sent by the Honorary General Secretary of the Frontier Chambers of Commerce and I believe the Government is also aware of it because each and every hon. Member has been supplied with a copy of this letter. I do not want to dwell on the whole content of this particular piece of press-note. But I only hope that this Government should take note of it and also of the other information given by the hon. Member from Mawkyrwat about the Railway authorities. I am quite sure that if Government views this matter seriously, no problem would have been there at all. I have said earlier that Government have got many reasons to say on this and one of the reasons may be that Assam Government is adamant on this question. But I feel that Government has failed in this matter and perhaps they do not know how to tackle this problem diplomatically or logically because I do not think that this friendly, brotherly or sisterly Government would be so adamant or do not have any interest in this problem. Even Bangladesh Government the other day had given free passage from Gauhati to Calcutta for their ships to go. Now we know ships go easily from Gauhati to Calcutta and so I don't think that Assam Government is adamant about bifurcation of this A.M.S.R.T.C. But I believe it is the stupidity of this Government to solve the problem, otherwise, I don't think as I said earlier that Assam Government would not take any interest in it.
Humphrey Hadem : Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, may I raise a point of clarification whether the word Stupid by used by the hon. Member is parliamentary or not.
Shri Winstone Syiemiong : Mr. Deputy Speaker, sir, if it is not parliamentary I withdraw and if it is parliamentary I retain it.
Shri H.E. Pohshna : Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I strongly support the views of the Mover of the Motion. Sir, monopolisation of this road has affected the fundamental rights of the people of Meghalaya. The Corporation which is running this road is under the name of Assam and Meghalaya State Road Transport Corporation. But the head of this Corporation is the General Manager of Assam and even the officers of this Corporation are from Assam and this State has got no hand at all in these appointments. On the other hand, the length of this road say about 9/10 or almost the entire road falls within Meghalaya and so Sir, naturally everybody understands that this road should be completely controlled or managed by the Government of Meghalaya. The Minister in-charge of Transport in his reply may say that much has been done and that much time has been taken to bifurcate it but it is a fact that in spite of what has been done nothing so far has come out of it. The monopoly of this road is against the interest and against the economy of the tribal people of Meghalaya. People who are truck owners or vehicle owners are being taxed for their vehicles but they cannot run on this road. For instance every truck owner whose truck carries 9½ tonnes of load, has to pay 564 rupees as tax. He has to pay it whether his truck is running on this particular G.S. road or not. Again according to the Goods and Passengers Tax Act truck owners of Meghalaya have to pay it whether they are allowed to pay on this road or not and no permit will be issued without paying this tax. It is strange that same rate of tax is being paid by all the vehicle owners both the road tax and passengers and goods tax whereas in respect of permits some vehicle owners are allowed to ply on this road and some are not. It has resulted in great discrimination at tax payers when this monopoly is still there. I had a chance to meet the Tax Enquiry Commission of which the Minister, Finance was the Chairman. I have mentioned that people from outside the State, whether they are from Tripura, or from Assam or from any other parts of the country, are allowed to ply on this road and the Government of Meghalaya does not seen even to know whether these people are paying tax or not, but the bare fact is that the truck owners in Assam are not paying goods tax but still they are allowed to ply on the road whereas the Meghalaya truck owners who are pay8ng tax, are not allowed to ply on the road over and above the fact that this road is ours, the jurisdiction is ours, the area is ours and the State is ours. Why we are not allowed? I am afraid, the hon. member who used to raise a point of order may raise a point of order on this (Laughter) but I may say that this continuance of monopoly is anti-Meghalaya. For example, even in the issue of permit some vehicles are allowed to carry potatoes, building materials, vegetable, cement, bricks, etc., whereas some other truck-owners to carry potatoes, etc. but are allowed to carry only timber, cowdung, chicken-dung and so on and so forth. What is this? It is an act of discrimination, partiality and favouritism. Under the Half-a-million Jobs Programme the Government of Meghalaya have allotted some vehicles to some unemployed youths of the State, but if they want to ply on this road, the Government of Meghalaya have go not authority to issue them permits; they have to go to the General Manager who is stationed at Gauhati. In the present policy of monopoly it appears that this Government want to see that these goods trucks which are to ply at a long distance, will ply only on small narrow roads, inside the District and these trucks will not last long. Therefore, I would not like to speak much as I know that the Government is fully aware of it. They will say that a bifurcation is coming soon, that may be done by miracle, if the new Transport Minister is more powerful than the previous one (Laughter) but from the fact that things have been continued for the last 3 years I am afraid things may become worse than before. Farther, I would like to mention that during the Government of Assam, people can carry oranges from Dawki to Gauhati, from Mawsynram to Gauhati, from Jowai to Gauhati and border produces, and other agricultural produces were not restricted and now with the coming of Meghalaya State, our State, why were are not allowed to do the same? The grow more food campaign of the Agr9culture Department what will become of it? You will wonder, Sir, that I am not going to point this out to the Transport Minister but that I point it out to the Minister of Planning, because up till now nobody can carry fertilizers except the privileged truck owners and now it is a Beak season for agriculture. If a man wants to carry fertilizers from Gauhati to Jowai, he will not be given the permit to carry from Gauhati to Jowai, but he will have to do that through some favourite permit holders of the A.M.S.R.T.C. from Gauhati to Shillong, this is an indirect discouragement of growing food crops in the State. Therefore, before I take my seat, I would request the Transport Minister to see that the bifurcation is done at the earliest for the interest of our people, Moreover, Sir, this State of ours has got so many things to transport outside the State; I am afraid that with the present attitude of the Corporation and with the present restriction that is going on this road, all will go against the Planning Department for the upliftment of economy of the State. With these few words, Sir, I request again the Transport Minister to see that bifurcation is completed early and also that the question of monopoly be discontinued because what I am afraid is that even if bifurcation is there the same monopoly will continue and the same difficulties will be faced again by the people of the State.
Prof. M.N. Majaw : Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I am happy to support this motion moved by the hon. Member from Mawkyrwat. Although as the hon. Member from Nongspung has stated, it is really a case which is as old as the State itself, where we have almost exhausted our lungs and throats by continuing on this very important subject year in and year out, session in and session out, but since the subject is important, it demands repetition. Although we hope that with the new Minister, the years of the Government will be cleaned, obscurantist policy will be forgotten. Now Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, all of us agree that communications this area, in the North East, are very very poor, we have just a slim bottleneck connecting us with the rest of India and then we have no railway or steamer services from the rest of India coming to Meghalaya, nothing very formal and even an Airport that we have, also is still under construction. So we have to depend for almost everything upon this great road coming up from Gauhati to Shillong. Yet with the exception of the road of Jammu and Kashmir, this is the only road not only where there is a monopoly over the carriage of goods along the National Highway whereas all the other National Highways in India are opened for the carriage of goods. There is is the monopoly in the carriage of passengers, but for the carriage of goods, we are suffering from this exception. Naturally, Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, it has an adverse effect upon our economy. The rates charged by the Assam Meghalaya State Road Transport Corporation are higher than any of the rates quoted by the private companies or corporations engaged in the carriage of goods. There have been times in the past under the government of Assam when quotations were made or offers were made by the private companies and their rates were far lower than the lower than the rates charged by the Assam Meghalaya State Road Transport Corporation. However, Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, because of this high rate, the cost of living in this State, particularly in Shillong has gone up. We are at the mercy of this Corporation as the hon. Members had pointed out and only after a great deal of pleading, a great deal of begging, you succeed in getting your truck accepted by the A.M.S.R.T.C., but it is given the status of a sub-carrier, because of the inadequate representation of this Government on this Corporation this corporation which plays a very junior and minor role in the Corporation. The people who represn6ted the State in the Corporation for the interest of the people also feel frustrated because of this debatable question. I thing they feel themselves hopeless, tied down, they are the slaves of the Government and they just place two protagonists to pleased the case for the Government which is after all a hopeless case. We would be happy if this Government were to apologise to us Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, in this House, to take us into confidence saying that we are very sorry we could not do anything in these last 4/5 years but we assure you that something drastic would be done as we are having a new, young and dynamic Minister. Let us with all their works and courage of convictions break away today itself or tomorrow from this Corporation. We hope that they will do so. Why can't we have a full-fledged State in every subject? Why should this particular subject still be a Sub-State and why should out truck owners be sub carriers of the AMSTRC? May I remind this Government that there is a curious anomaly from the point of view of tax? When a truck is accepted as a sub-carrier what happens - take for example the case of potatoes or the carriage of goods, the Corporation charges Rs.3.85 p. per quintal of which 0.35 p. is the goods tax. Now, I would like to point this out that the goods tax has already been collected at sources from the consigner, the person who booked the goods, say potatoes, he is already paying goods tax and yet as the hon. Member from Nongtalang said well, he is a truck owner - will be Department of the Government of Meghalaya issues any receipt to the sub-carriers to pay this goods tax? So the poor fellow is being charged double the rates. At least the goods tax - the corporation has collected this tax at source. When the goods are being booked say in the case of potatoes the goods tax is 0.35 p. and yet in addition to that the licence, permits and the no-objection certificate are not being issued to that concern people unless the poor sub-carriers again pay the goods tax. So this is a double collection. Now, if you refuse to give the goods tax, you will not get a permit. The Corporation will say, "no you cannot get a licence or a permit". But a licence or permit may be issued after begging them. The Corporation will charge Rs.3,85 p. of which they will give Rs.2.50 p. only to carriers. The balance of Rs.1.35p. is collected by the Corporation, besides 0.35 p. which is a goods tax which is being collected by the Corporation per quintal of potatoes and other general goods. Now, Sir, we know from the truck owners that approximately the lowest average is 30 trucks per day which are carrying general goods, and these are both ways - these are the sub-carriers. Sir, I am not taking of other trucks but of these sub-carriers that have been privileged to receive this order or honour of being sub-carriers. Under the Corporation there are 30 of them carrying general goods and that is the lowest average and they carry 80 quintals each per day, which makes two trips per day and the amount of Rs.4,800 per day is involved and for 365 days it comes to Rs.17,52,000 and this being collected by the Corporation from the sub-carriers of Meghalaya truck-owners on general goods. If you come to tezpatta and broom grass, there the Corporation charges Rs.6,85 p. per quintal from the consigner of which again, they only give Rs.2.50 p. to the sub-carriers and the balance of Rs.4.30 p. is quietly pocketed by the Corporation. Of course, this is included goods tax which is 0.50 p. and as such, Rs.3.17 p. per quintal is being collected by the Corporation per quintal from the carriage of tezpatta and the broom grass and that 15 trucks are running for the period of tezpata and broom grass per day and both way coming to 30 trucks and the amount collected from the sub-carriers of Meghalaya truck owners by this Corporation comes to a grand total of Rs.6,66,000 which is the lowest average on tezpatta and broom grass. And then, Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, if you take the case of potatoes for the 6 months' period of this commodity when a lowest average of 20 trucks per day are plying, the total figures come to Rs.5,75,000 and the grant total collected by this Corporation annually from the sub-carrier trucks of Meghalaya comes to about Rs.29,94,000. In addition to this, we must remember that because of the numerous rules and conditions laid down by them - by then benign Transport Department and also by the Corporation, so many trick owners are compelled to go down to Gauhati in Assam to get their trucks registered there by paying fees and dues there. I know this because myself being the Secretary of the Truck owners Association and today, we have 120 trucks,. They have given up their registration here in Meghalaya an they have gone down to Gauhati and because of the most ignoble and harassing condition laid down upon them here, by the Corporation, they are compelled to go down to Gauhati to get their trucks registered and they quickly get licences or permits from the Corporation. Whereas, if they approach the Corporation from here in Meghalaya they will have to spend months and months together begging the Managing Director of the Corporation who is also the Joint Secretary for Appointment in the Government of Assam. He is a very powerful man. Nobody dares go against him, because he being in the Appointment Deptt. he could get any offices transferred. He is a very very powerful person and he maintains his position as Managing Director of the Corporation because, we know from the revenue receipt of this Corporation last year that he gave to the Government of Assam a revenue of Rs.68 lakhs from the G.S. route. And he owns his position as Managing Director, of the Corporation because he can provide lakhs of rupees for the Government of Assam and we expect this to be higher this year. With these 120 trucks going down to Assam, during the last 4 years, the average loss in the form of taxes to the State of Meghalaya is about Rs.8 lakhs because at the beginning 20 trucks went down to Gauhati thereby bringing the total to about 120 trucks now. The owners of these 120 trucks have given up their registration here and went down to Gauhati for registration. And the Corporation has been collecting annually from the sub-carriers of Meghalaya approximately Rs.30 lakhs. Now, Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, such is the condition - what can this Government do - unfortunately it can do very little. As I said, they feel helpless and this is a foregone conclusion I have seen with my own eyes, how the Managing Director who is only a Government servant behaved to the former Minister of Transport. The former Minister of Transport admitted in 1971 that it was a fact that the Government of Meghalaya was not consulted when the previous Managing Director was suspended and when the new Managing Director was appointed. Then, we know that the new Managing Director is from Assam and 95 per cent of the officers are from Assam and our role there is only the role - as described by the hon. Member, of a no-objection stage. We cannot issue a permit. All we have to do from our side to issue certificates no-objection to these truck owners. Our truck owners will have to go down to Gauhati to get the permit and again paying Rs.7.50 as permit fee and as such they will have to pay Rs.15 and even after paying the necessary fee, they will have to wait for several days. It is just like "apply apply, no reply. He will have to wait for two or three days in Gauhati and here also, after waiting for three or four days, they will have to hear that the Joint Secretary has gone to Delhi or to Dibrugarh or some other places. This is the fate of our truck owners. Added to this is the rising cost of petrol, spare parts and other essential articles. Even then our Transport Department will not issue the permit. They say that unless you pay your passenger and goods tax we will not issue any permit or renew your license. Our Transport Department does not make it mandatory that the passenger and goods taxes are paid up date. But in Assam Sir, it is not so. They issue permits to these truck owners even if they have not paid their taxes. They issue permits but in the mean time they sent them reminders after reminders for the payment of their taxes in the Transport Department. But in Meghalaya Sir, unless and until these truck owners pay or rather clear their passenger and goods tax they do not get their permits. So these poor truck owners have to go down to Gauhati and they also have to pay the arrear taxes which the previous owners have not paid so far and in this way the burden of the tax will be heavier to these poor truck owners and for this there is a other alternative but to go down to Gauhati to settle all these matters other alternative but to go down to Gauhati to settle all these matter. And this is the wisdom of our Government. The situation is such Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, that the owner of trucks heave got fed up. Not only we as the representative of the public say this but also as the truck owners we feel that how these poor truck owners pay their monthly arrears to the bank and meet other expenditures with such kind of harassment. Moreover the Government say that we will give truck to the unemployed educated youths and they will have to pay this and that tax but they do not issue licences to pay on the G.S. route, Even to carry fertilizer and cement at this time, the Government will have to depend completely on the A.M.S.R.T.C. and Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, there are case of pilferages when the goods are being brought to Shillong to Gauhati. The total quantity of cement in the bags will be reduced and so also other essential commodities. The truck driver halt the trucks to fill upto the petrol in the trucks and they halt also to fill up their own petrol. And after that which a bamboo pipe rice and sugar are drawn out from the bags and are collected separately. In this connection the police have made some raids but his practice is still continuing and that is why our poor Supply Department is helpless to know that when X quantity of leaves are sent to Gauhati then X minus Y quantity of leaves are arrived at Gauhati. Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, it is well known to the Government and this Government knows very well what is wrong and what is right. We are at the mercy of another Government and it has been rightly pointed by the hon. Member from Nongtalang that 99 per cent is controlled by the another Government.
I, therefore strongly recommended to this Government that they should have strong conviction and courage in their hands and determine irrespective of complaints and objections which our sister State may determine a break-through. If we do not have any time to read every word in the budget speech or the Governor's address, even then the situation is that we are still considering, we are still under negotiation and it all means that they are cowards. A new dynamic and able person has come to the Ministry of Transport and we hope that he will do this matter.
Shri Humphrey Hadem : Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, while associating myself in the discussion of this motion I hope that our hon. Mover would not mind even if I will neither support nor oppose the motion because, according to me, it is only just for discussion. So I will now take the discussion with the intention in view I hope everybody is not in favour of the full control of the Shillong-Gauhati route, both for bifurcation of the A.M.S.R.T.C. as well as for demonopolisation. The same intention has been initiated also in the Governor's address in page 11, Paragraph 13. And for this the Governor, in the concluding speech, said "I hope my government will receive full support and co-operation for all of you towards achievements of this objective". But I am sorry, Sir, to remind this House that during this request made by the Government which was expressed by the Governor, the hon. Member from the other side expressed that he does not like to give co-operation and that what they want is only are empty. I hope that he will at least withdraw his motion as the Government have already expressed as stated above, that it will do its best. I do hope that the objectives as expressed in the motion will be achieved in a very short time. I also fully appreciate the opinion expressed by the hon. Member from Nongtalang and I would like to say, Mr. Deputy speaker, Sir, that I happened to be once in one of the A.S.T. Office and I learnt that the permits will be granted to the applicants on the recommendation of a particular member, i.e. the hon. Member from Nongtalang. So, if the House would co-operate with the Government I hope that requirements in the motion will be carried out successfully and, hence forwarded there will be no need for discussion any more on this Shillong-Gauhati route's subject. With these few words and with a hope that the Government make every efforts in making the attempt a success within a few months, I take my seat.
Shri H.E. Pohshna : Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I think the House should not be mislead because the recommendation is only for the sub-carrier.
Shri Humphrey Hadem : Whether it is for the sub-carrier or anything, the recommendation should not be given to the outsiders but the people of Meghalaya which I think, will hold good.
Shri H.E. Pohshna : Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, the sub-carrier is not a permit carrier.
Shri S.P. Swer : Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I would also like to take part in the discussion of this motion and I must express my gratitude to the hon. Mover of this motion. This matter is long pending before the two Governments - I am referring to the bifurcation of the AMSRTC. We know for a fact that the Government is very keen to get the AMSRTC bifurcated. But we know for a fact that it does not solely depend on our Government alone but it depends on both the Governments, that is Assam and Meghalaya. We all feel that bifurcation is a must and we know also that if we have our own State Transport or Transport Corporation, it is for the benefit of our State and our people. It is also expected that if we have our own Transport Corporation, it will add more revenue to our State Exchequer. Of course we may blame the Government for the delay in the bifurcation of this Corporation. But we must also realise the various difficulties to arrive at the finalisation of bifurcation of this corporation. But I do not agree with the proposal for demonopolisation of this road. We know that the outlet especially for our district of Khasi Hills and also for Jaintia Hills to connect our State with the outside world, I mean with the outside States in the country. If this road is going to be demonopolisation, it will invite big businessmen and big transport operators and if this is the case, competition will be so much and it may come to the extent that small transport operators cannot survive. This question is, therefore, to be examined thoroughly whether demonopolisation of this road will be to the benefit of our small private transport operators or not. We have experienced how our private transport operators carry on their transport operation in the routes within the State. We generally find that they enter into the field competition and I may term it as cut throat competition.
Therefore, many transport operators, the small ones, do not survive and they ultimately go out of the field. In this road Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I can also say with confidence that if once the monopoly is gone from this road then that monopoly will go to the big private transport operators. So long it is with the Government, we can have many chances on how to ply our trucks and our vehicles along with the Government vehicles. There is nothing that cannot be adjusted for the interest of all concerned; but if once the monopoly goes to a big private monopoly house then all other private transport operators, however loud we talk on the floor of the House, will go out of the field and that is worse than Government monopolisation of the road. Sir, we may argue : Let us experiment. But, in my opinion, I can say with confidence that it is not going to help our private transport operators and it is not going to help the economy of the State also. I may join hands with the hon. Members from the opposite side that bifurcation of the AMSRTC should be taken up expeditiously and that our won transport be started on ;this very important road. I also want to express my dissatisfaction on the performance of the AMSRTC in respect of transport of our goods, especially the essential commodities. We always find that we are short of stock of essential commodities or materials just because of the failure of the AMSRTC to carry the goods in time. In this connection, I would also like to impress upon the Government the need to take all possible steps to see that the transport of essential commodities are not affected in any way because if the transport of essential commodities is not done in time scarcity will affect us and once such scarcity prevails in the State it will greatly affect the economic development of the State. So, Mr. Deputy speaker, Sir, I would again and again stress this very important point that the Government should take all possible steps in case any difficulty arises in future; and as I have stated earlier on the question of monopoly, my humble submission, Sir, is that the Government should take all precautions to see that monopolisation of the road is not going to private hands. So long it remains with the Government, it is for the benefit of the State as a whole. With these few words, I resume my seat.
Shri Hopingstone Lyngdoh : Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, so far as this motion is concerned it seems that there is no debatable point on the subject. The Governor himself has enunciated the policy according to which the Government is trying its best to bifurcate the Corporation and also to do away with monopoly. But it seems that there is still some doubt in the Government or the ruling party. They are very doubtful because of the fact if at all monopoly is done away with other monopolies will come up. Sir, I would not like to take the time of the House on this subject because the Government itself is committee to do their best. But we have got our won State and this must have been taken over by our Government, moreover the road is within our State. But our Government till now seems to think that they have still some obligations to the Assam Government and that is why they do not take over this road which is fully in the jurisdiction of this Government. So how the power and authority still lie with the Assam Government? If at all there is such a difficulty, it is only because a part of the road, say 1/10th, is within the jurisdiction of Assam. If that is the criterion and if the Government cannot immediately bifurcate this transport monopoly on the G.S. Road, I do not see any other reason to discuss over the matter but our government can readily tell the Government of Assam that in other National Highways in India there is no monopoly at all on transport of goods so also this road. Now we want to know whether our Government is willing or not. If yes why not tell me I will face that difficulty and solve it. So I do not see any difficulty if the Government is willing. In fact, if the Government is willing they should tell this House that they cannot do it. They should come forward with the information that they cannot do it. In that case our people who are in great difficulties and miseries would come forward and do it. With these few words I want a reply from the Government.
Shri D.D. Pugh (Transport Minister) : Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, reference has been made quite often to the alleged lack lack of interest in this very important question which is being discussed at the present moment, on the part of the Government and the Members of the Ruling Party. As I have heard the Statement being made repeatedly with emphasis again and again, I have been reminded of the saying that the coal calling the kettle black. I am saying this Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, because I personally have no doubt whatsoever that today as a matter of routine. If our friends had been so interested in discussing this very important question and if they had attached that much of importance which is deserves, they would not have been absent on the day on which this motion was listed for discussion. There fore, I am amazed that the coal is calling kettle the black. Coming to the motion proper, Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I would like to point out at the very outset the fact that the motion raised is to deal with two points - the question of bifurcation and the question of demonopolisation of the goods traffic on the G.S. Road. My, contention Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, is that the question of bifurcation is different very very different from the question of demonopolisation. I may point out in this context Rule 131(3)(i) of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business which says about this motion "it shall raise substantially one definite issue" One definite issue - 'but as I have stated this motion has sought and in fact has raised a discussion on two issues' - (a) the question of the bifurcation and (b) the question of demonopolisation and because of this fact, Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, this morning as I was preparing my notes for participation in this discussion, I was half tempted to point out to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, this fact even before the motion had been moved. But Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I have regained from resorting to that possibility because I do not wish to giver the Members of the Opposition the slightest and the smallest opportunity of getting an impression wrongly that I have wanted either to obstruct or to prevent the discussion on this important issue. Since the motion has already been moved and discussed, I would like to proceed with the reply. By way of reply I would like also to take this opportunity, Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, of remaining the House of the fact that while making a statement on Calling Attention motion that had been brought to this House by the hon. Member from Nongpoh I had had the occasion to give a fairly complete picture of the interesting state of affairs as far as AMSTRC is concerned. Briefly stated, in I had said, that the rectification of all the ills that have been mentioned was very closely and inseparably linked with the question of bifurcation. You may recall, Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, that I had had the occasion to state that it is true, as has been pointed by some hon. Members, that the movement of goods from Gauhati to Shillong has been greatly hampered due to the difficulties in getting trucks from the AMSRTC. In fact I had also stated that we as a people, as a State have experienced great difficulties in the movement of goods from Shillong to Gauhati still. This inability of the Assam Meghalaya State Road Transport corporation to provide trucks for a quick, smooth and efficient movement of goods has indeed adversely affected the interest of our people. It is also unfortunately very true that there had been times when the clearance of wagons from the railway yard was not undertaken expeditiously, thereby, causing congestion in the yard and delay in the delivery of goods for the State of Meghalaya. Whenever such a situation had cropped up in the past, we have very promptly taken up the matter with the A.M.S.R.T.C. and on our intervention, matters have been rectified in this regard also. I would like to assure the House, Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, that the Government is equally concerned of about the state of affairs and because of this fact, the Government is very keen to get the Corporation bifurcated as expeditiously as possible. Therefore, as required under the provisions of the North Eastern Areas Reorganisation Act, 1971, we, as a Government, have prepared and forwarded to the Government of India a scheme for the bifurcation of the State Corporation and as I have stated earlier, in this very Session, the reaction of the Government of Assam, in this respect, has not been received by us. Now, once the Joint Corporation is bifurcated, and when I talk of bifurcation of the A.M.S.R.T.C., I may do it with the intention to inform the House that this exercise is being undertaken so as to enable the Government of Meghalaya to exercise a full and complete control over that portion of the G.S. Road, which is really ours. Now, once the bifurcation is achieved, we as a Government, shall evolve and implement also a scheme to ensure, as I said earlier, a quick and smooth and efficient movement not only of goods buy passengers as well. In doing so, I have purposely, deliberately and advisedly avoided any commitment on the question of de-nationalisation or demonopolisation of the G.S. Road as far as the goods traffic is concerned. I have done so because, this is Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, not an opportune moment either to take a decision or if a decision had been taken, to announce that decision. It is all very good, it is all very easy to keep on harping on the need to de-nationalise or demonopolise the routes as far as the goods traffic goes. But I hope that my friends on the other side of the House while doing so, have not forgotten the fact that there are many difficulties before the Government and therefore, many difficulties before the State as a whole in this regard. For example, we can either go in for a complete denationalisation or allow the private party to ply his vehicle in this particular route Secondly, we can perhaps, go in for a partial demonopolisation of this, I mean, whether we retain monopolisation in respect of goods traffic, whether we retain monopolisation in respect of passengers traffic, whether we go in for demonopolisation of the goods traffic or there is yet any possibility for going in for retention of monopoly as far as passengers go. But going in for partial monopoly as far as foods traffic goes, then we will have before us the difficulties for providing transport private firms to undertake the responsibility of providing transport facilities either through the agency of the Corporation or to undertake the same departmentally, or as I have stated earlier, to allow private firms to undertake the responsibility of providing transport facilities to our people on this particular route. I know, Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, and I would also like to assure my fiends on the other side of the House that I also believe that the motion has been brought forward because of genuine concern to rectify the various defects existing on account of the monopolisation by the A.M.S.R.T.C. on this route. I also believe that the desire to improve matters is genuine on both sides of the House. But I hope that a s I have said earlier my friends on the other side will concede that we are as concerned, that we are also as worried and anxious about the state of affairs and the need to rectify all the defects as they are on this side. Because of this great concern, the matter has been taken up at all levels of Government including that of the the Chief Ministers of the two States of Assam and Meghalaya. While talking, while speaking of denationalisation and demonopolisation, I hope that those who have stressed on the need to denationalise or to demonopolise the goods traffic on this particular route, have also considered the possibility that I have mentioned earlier of the difficulties and also the dangers involved. The dangers one of which has been very correctly pointed out by my fiend from Cherrapunjee. That danger concerns the future of our transport, it concerns the future of our transport, it concerns the future of our own small and medium transport operators because if, without taking into consideration this particular danger we just take the lead and decide on denationalisation and demonopolisation, I am afraid, that a time will come that the self same operators on whose behalf the hon. Members claim to speak come round and curse not only the Government but the entire Assembly. Finally, Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I would like to restate with all the emphasis at my command, that Government will vigorously pursue the matter in connection with the bifurcation and also that we shall spare no pains to evolve a system for smooth, quick and efficient movement of goods and passengers. Before I resume may seat, Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I would like to state that I am absolutely confident that the desired bifurcation will be achieved very shortly and I say this for the simple reason that I believe, success is assured because the matter is being handled by us on this side of the Houses and not by those sitting on the other side of the House. I am saying this because in the past the fact has been proved to the hilt that they do not even posses that little foresight that is absolutely essential for anyone who claims to serve the people. I am now referring Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, to that period of time in the history of Hill State movement when the Congress Party out of lack of faith, out of luck of foresight believed that the Hills State was unattainable and left us in the lurch. I am also, Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, referring to that period of time when some leaders sitting in this House had occasion to create, to establish, to start a new party known as the Hills State People Democratic Party. Because they could not foresee that the Autonomous Statehood which we were prepared to accept, and (interruption).
Shri H. Hadem : Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I would like to raise a point of order and that point of order is the same point which was already raised by the Hon'ble Minister. This issue has gone from one side to another side (interruption).
(Voices : That is not a point of order)
Shri D.D. Pugh (Minister, Transport) : Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, that is not a point of order. I am trying to prove because we are sitting on this side of the House, we shall achieve bifurcation, and so (interruption) Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I have the floor. They call us stupid and yet they are not prepared to listen to the truth. Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, they have the privilege to say that bifurcation has been delayed because of the stupidity of the government, but now they have no moral courage to listen to the truth. (interruption).
(Commotion inside the House)
Shri H.S. Lyngdoh : Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, the Minister has mentioned the word "nonsense". What does he mean by that and (interruption).
(Voices : He did not say "nonsense")
Prof. M.N. Majaw : Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, the Hon'ble Minister did say "nonsense". The word was definitely use. We will examine the tape recorder and also from the Reports. He has used the word "nonsense".
(Commotion inside the House)
Shri B.B. Lyngdoh (Minister, Finance) : Even if the word "nonsense" was used I do not think it is unparliamentary.
Prof. M.N. Majaw : That is beside the point. The Minister denies that he has said it. And moreover we have withdrawn the word "stupid".
Shri H.S. Lyngdoh : He also refers to the HSPDP and (interruption).
(Commotion inside the House)
Mr. Deputy Speaker : Order, Order. We will refer to the tape recorder (interruption) I have given my ruling that we will refer to the tape recorder. Let ;us come to item No.2 to moved by Shri Hadem.
Shri H. Hadem : Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, with your permission I beg to move that this Assembly do now discuss the necessity of immediate transfer of those areas inhabited by the Pnars in Blocks I and II of the Mikir Hills District of Assam to Jaintia Hills District of Meghalaya.
Mr. Deputy Speaker : Motion moved.
Shri H. Hadem : Sir, while discussing this Motion, I beg to remind the House that this is not a new subject. This case is an old one as the Independence of India itself and also, Sir, I would like to say that is is not like other cases of border disputes, like that of our Garo friends living in the Goalpara district nor like other cases of border disputes in Khasi Hills District. Sir, I would like to remind the House the unfortunate history of our Jaintia Hills District. Sir, I think we all remember that before the British sovereignty, Jaintia Hills district was by itself a small kingdom, if I may call it a petty one with its king or raja whatever we may term it. He was known at that time locally as "Syiem Sutnga" or Jaintia Raja as termed by the Britishers during those day. His kingdom (at this juncture the Speaker occupied the chair) extended from North Cachar Hills in the east to Khyrim Syiemship in the west and at the same time that included the portions of Nowgong District in the North and also vast portion of Sylhet District which was called Jaintia Parganas which is now in Bangladesh in the west. But unluckily the British conquest of Jaintia Hills had resulted in a loss of not only those Syiemships but also those areas in Sylhet and Nowgong Districts. After the British Conquest of Jaintia Hills District then it was annexed as part and parcel of the British Empire and since then the inhabitants of Jaintia Hills District became the subjects if not slaves of the British regime.
Mr. Speaker : You are referring to the present Jaintia Hills District or to the erstwhile Sutnga Kingdom.
Shri Shri Humphrey Hadem : I am referring to the erstwhile Sutnga Kingdom, Sir, Since that time up till 1950 this area was more or less about 4391.36 sq, kilometres and during that period till 1950 it included also those areas known as Mynriang Sirdarship, Nongphyllut Doloiship and those areas of Nongjngi Shilliang Myntang Doloiship. But it was now tagged to Mikir Hills District which we know as Block I and Block Ii. Those areas were slashed from the erstwhile Jaintia Hills Sub-division measuring more or less about 2095.29 sq. kilometres. But Sir, after the annexation of the areas of the erstwhile Hima Sutnga Jaintia Kingdom, the areas increased to about 5391.36 sq. kilometers as stated earlier. These were then formed into a new administrative unit by the Britishers and it was knows as a Sub-division. But Sir, as ill luck would have it, the then Assam Government during he composite State of Assam, just after Independence of India, on the recommendation of the Commission which was termed as the Bordoloi Commission, if I remember aright, slashed away the are in spite of the opposition from the people and against the wishes of the peoples and against the opposition of the then representative of the Jaintia Hills Sub-division in the Assam Assembly. The area was slashed away from the then Jowai Sub-division which was about 2095.29 sq. kilometres to from part of the newly created autonomous District of Mikir Hills in 1950. Thus the present area of Jaintia Hills was left only about 3295.05 sq. kilometres. So we cannot understand why nearly half of the then Jowai Sub-division was slashed and tagged to the newly created autonomous District of Mikir Hills in 1950 which is now known as Block I and Block II of that District. Sir, why I brought this Motion is that most of the inhabitants of these Blocks I and II were Pnars and most of these areas were inhabited by Pnars. So can you imagine, Sir, what will be their feelings since that time up till now? I will not describe nor emphasise their feelings, but I would like to make one think clear that the annexation was done as I said earlier, against the wish of the people of these areas and also against the wish of the people of the then Jowai Sub-division and because of that annexation, Sir, the people living in Block I and Block II of Mikir Hills District are up till now subjected to unrest and are discontented since 1950. Sir, fight after fight by those inhabitants for returning those areas to Jaintia Hills were made either through the representative of Jaintia Hills or through the Governor of the then composite State of Assam and through the representatives of the then District of U.K. and J. Hills District. The other day, Sir, I happened to be present along with some leaders from that side to meet the Chief Minister for this particular purpose. It is very sad to learn that because of this constitutional move initiated by the people who are our kith and kin, the Pnars living in Blocks 1 & 2, where some of these leaders were arrested, threatened and even jailed and it was very sad to learn that there are even some of them who even died in Jail. Even then, up till now, they are crying for our help from this House as well as from the Government of Assam. Since the inception of the District Council in 1952, resolutions after resolutions were passed by the then United Khasi and Jaintia Hills Distr5ict Council to request the then Government of Assam to retransfer those areas which previously belonged to the Jowai Sub-division. But Sir, it seems that no sincere, no active steps had been taken by the then Government of Assam. Of course, Sir, if I remember aright there were times when the Government of Assam had withdrawn at least the specification of the demarcation of the boundaries between Jaintia Hills and the Mikir Hills Districts. That means that the Government even at that time, were leaving the matter pending as far as the boundary demarcation is concerned. When this matter was brought to the notice of the Governor under the provision of sub-part 3 (d) and (e) of paragraph (1) of the Sixth Schedule, with the request to increase the area of the then Jowai Sub-division by diminishing the area of the Mikir Hills autonomous District, so far as Blocks 1 & 2 are concerned, the then Governor referred the matter to the two District Councils, that is the Mikir Hills District Council to meet among themselves and come to an amicable settlement. Sometime in 1959, if I remember correctly, the officials of both the two Districts had gone to those areas for having legal verification ;in order to satisfy themselves as to the genuine demand of those people for the retransfer of the areas to Jaintia Hills. It was learnt that the officials have agreed that the major potion of those areas be retransferred to Jaintia Hills, I mean to the then United Khasi and Jaintia Hills Autonomous District. But the Executive Committee of the Mikir Hills District Council did not come to an agreement. Now Sir, since then, the matter has been kept pending, keeping in abeyance by the other side and the situation has now gone from bad to worse. Our people living in those areas Sir, were first to read Assamese script and not only script, event he language also. And because they did not come down or they did not agree to the persuasion, no school, even a primary school, was given to them by the Government and also no grant was given to the private schools which were established by private bodies like the Missions and others. This we come to know because they have come and approached this side for financial help to maintain their primary schools in those areas. This Sir, it seems according to me, is against the provision of Article 13, I mean sub-clause (2) or clause 2 of Article 13 of the Constitution itself. So it seems that they just oppressed our kith and kin living in that particular areas. Even the provisions of the Constitution also were being ignored. Over and above, Sir, even the landed properties were by force settled by the Mikir Hills District Council to other people against their possession. So Sir, to make matters worse, the reports I think have come to the Government and the Government is fully aware of it that they even encroached towards this die leveling their posts. Time and again from one place to another there as encroaching towards the areas of this State itself. For instance they have fixed also boundary pillars somewhere towards Khanduli side, towards Lapangap side and towards Mukroh side which are lying inside the areas of our State. And as such, Sir, it seems that no constitutional means will prove fruitful and no better efforts will be fruitful if the matter is left at the mercy of the Assam Government. Sir, according to me, I take it that there is no more time for delay. In the Governor's Address at page 16, paragraph 20 first and second line, if I may be permitted to quote, Sir, it says like this, "In my last address to this august House I have referred to the controversy in respect of certain sectors of border between Assam and Meghalaya such as relating to Blocks I and II of Mikir Hills District that in spite of my Government's sincere efforts, not much progress had been achieved". Therefore, Sir, it seems that the more the delay the better the opportunity will be from the other side - why? Because as already stated, Sir, the other side is encroaching towards this side. Sir, I think it is high time for the Government to move the Central Government to intervene into this matter before it is too late. Because as I have said, the delay will be a disadvantage to our people and an advantage to that side. So, I do not want to take much time of the House but for these very reasons, I move this Motion for the discussion of this House.
Shri H.E. Pohshna : Mr. Speaker, Sir, in taking part in the discussion of this Motion, I would like to express may thanks to the mover of the Motion for having moved this Motion in a very very clear and detailed manner. Sir, as a result of the recommendation of the Chairman of Mikir Hills Boundary Committee in 1948 a portion of Jaintia Hills having an area of 603 sq. miles was tagged to the Mikir Hills Sub-division. It was, then, an inter-district question. It is a fact, as was stated by the mover of the Motion that the transfer had been caused against a strong protest of the people of Jaintia Hills as well as the people who are affected, i.e., Block I and Block II. Representations after representations have been made to the then State Government and there was no doubt also that the then United Khasi and Jaintia Hills District Council had taken serious steps to approach the Government of Assam for the re-transfer of these areas. But there has been no solution even after lapse of many years, the and the then inter-district question has become now a State question, inter-State question as a result of the formation of Meghalaya under the Assam Re-organisation Act. Sir, according to the report of the Commission, I mean the Mikir Hills Boundary Committee, even then it was admitted in the report by the Chairman of the Committee when he said that the "inclusion of these non-Mikirs in the new Sub-division is likely to lead to some complications. Nongphylluts and Mynriangs may stay in the Jowai Sub-division if they can be excluded without sacrificing natural boundaries". This is a very very unreasonable recommendation. But event hen, he said, "In that case they should be allowed to form their own Regional Council or a separate Doloiship under their own accredited leader directly responsible to the Sub-division and in this report it was stated that this will allay their apprehension that they will not have fair play front the Mikir Hills people. From this statement, the picture is clear that these people have been taken against their will and in spite of the fact that this committee knows that the complication will be there if Nongphyllut and Mynriang areas are transferred to Mikir Hills area. Still the recommendation for the transfer had been made and they have used the word allay for the promise of a Regional Council. But, Sir, from what has been stated by the hon. mover of the Motion : what is going on inside these areas? Nobody knows! We are having reports and stories that the religious forests have been destroyed even the religious lands and places have been destroyed and cultivated by other people there against the protests of the Pnar people. It may also be mentioned here for the information of the House that uptil now these people do not pay revenue to the District of Mikir Hills. If we go to Khanduli - I had the occasion of going there - when we went there last week, the people of both sides claim the bazar of Khanduli. The Mikir claim it to be in their area and the Pnar people claim it to be in Jaintia Hill and the Pnar people of Nongphullut will not submitted to the administration of Mikir Hills. And if there is any instance of crime committed, it is very very difficult to the who are Pnars to submit to the administration of the District in Mikir Hills. They will not go there because apprehension is already there. The Minister, Agriculture, belongs to a place adjoining those areas and he might have had the experience about the coming or the influx of these Pnar people - when they were harassed by the people of the other side, the come to the border of Jaintia Hills District and even up to Jowai.
Therefore Sir, it is high time that we should not allow our people to remain like this without law and without administration. There is no school, there is no water supply and these people cannot march along with the other people of the country and even the have no share in the Independence of India. We have been trying to convince the Government of Assam that they will be brought back to Jaintia Hills from Mikir Hills but of no avail. They have got their difficulties Mr. Speaker, Sir. Their dialogue is different, their religion is different and social custom is also different from those people; because they are originally Pnars or Jaintia people. Further, Sir, they have full confidence that after the attainment of the State of Meghalaya, their problem will be solved. Last year and the year before last they came there in Shillong to request Government of Meghalaya to solve their problem and sent their representations after representations and to study this problem Government of Meghalaya has formed a One Man Commission but uptil now we have not got any report on this matter. There fore Sir, I request the Government that this matter should be examined thoroughly and a Consultative Committee should be formed to study, examine and make a thorough enquiry to solve this problem by getting a decision of the Government of India for the re-transfer of this area to the Jaintia Hills District.
Mr. Speaker : On a number of occasions this problem has been discussed and there is a resolution which is connected with this motion. So I won't allow any other hon. Members to speak on this particular subject so that they will have more chances when the resolution will be taken up.
Shri B.B. Lyngdoh (Minister-in-charge of Revenue, etc.) : Mr. Speaker, Sir, the hon. Mover who moved this Motion has expressed that this is an old subject. Yes, in the history of this eastern part of the country right from 1951 and also it is an old subject even as far as this august House is concerned. Because right from 1970 in the Autonomous State Legislative Assembly as well in this Legislative Assembly this subject comes off and on in various forms. Therefore, I also may add that in whatever from this question was brought up in this august House, Mr. Speaker, Sir, there had never been any two opinions on the need to settle this question as quickly a possible. Because a part from the genuine merit of the case, it is not good to create tension for the people concerned nor good for the relationship between our two sisters States. Therefore, hon. Members may be aware, that this Government right from the very initial stage and right from the year of the formation of the Autonomous State in 1970 had seriously, taken, this question had even suggested to the Government of Assam for an impartial Commission to study and settle this question. Then in 1971 this Government again moved the Government concerned and the then Minister of Revenue, Government of Meghalaya had a meeting with the Chief Minister of Assam in March 1971 and discussed the need to have this matter settled as quickly as possible to the satisfaction of the people concerned. Again in that very year, six months after there was a meeting between the then Chief Minister of Assam and our Chief Minister and certain line of approach was suggested and agreed upon and it was agreed that jointly the officials of the two Governments will collect figures and datas and submit to the Government. After that, as already indicated in the Government's Address, efforts after efforts were made by this Government of this joint study by the officials of the Government. I regret to say Mr. Speaker, Sir, that some-how or other this joint enquiry or study that had been agreed upon had not been acted upon by the officials of the Government of Assam and very frankly in the Government's Address we have raised this word that in spite of all efforts made by this Government, some-how or other, the response from the Government concerned, i.e., Assam Government, had been not encouraging. I will pursue this matter to have it settled with all our ability that we can. In fact even during he session, on the 8th of March, knowing that the matter will be discussed, here we have tried to have a talk with the Chief Minister and the Revenue Minister of Assam. But unfortunately the Chief Minister of Assam had been away to Delhi and we could not meet. Therefore, Mr. Speaker, Sir, I may assure the hon. Members that we are deeply concerned with the necessity of immediate settlement of these two Blocks, Block I and Block II in Mikir Hills. As suggested by hon. Members, we may try to approach the good offices of the Central Government to intervene for the expeditious settlement of this matter. I would wish and hope very much that the Government of Assam would not wait for such an even of third party's intervention and that we would settle the matter by ourselves. So on this subject, Mr. Speaker, Sir, as you have already made a correct remark that it is not a subject that needs much to be discussed because it is an old well-known subject of agreement from both sides of the House. I would simply state that sincere efforts will be made by the Government in this mattes to settle the question of settlement of Block I and Block II in Mikir Hills. That is all I think which needs to be said at the moment.
Prof. M.N. Majaw : On a point of clarification.
Mr. Speaker : The discussion is closed. Mr. Hopingstone Lyngdoh to move his motion. He is absent. Mr. N.K. Mawlot to move motion No.4.
Shri F.K. Mawlot : Mr. Speaker, Sir, I do not feel like moving this motion.
Shri Winstone Syiemiong : Mr. Speaker, Sir, I beg to move this House do now discuss the need for setting up of a State Dispensary with beds in Nongspung village.
Mr. Speaker : Motion moved.
Shri Winstone Syiemiong : Mr. Speaker, Sir, this will be perhaps the first time on my part that I have ever brought any topic concerning my constituency in particular. The reason that makes me bring to the notice of this august House this particular motion is that in this particular area the condition of health is very very poor. We all very well remember perhaps that the Chief Minister had once said in reply to the Governor's Address in 1972 itself or 1973 that there are three enemies of he people in the State and one of which is disease. So, Sir, I am not going to say much on this because the Government is quite aware of the problem of the people. But I would only like to point out to the Government through you, Sir, that this is an area of approximately, after a layman's calculation, round about 200 square miles where there is not a single dispensary round about it. There is one small dispensary no doubt in the village of Tyrsad on the way from Shillong to Mawsynram. Another dispensary belonging to the Presbyterian Church at Laitmawsiang. But these could not cater to the needs of the people of the constituency itself because they are lying at the outskirts of the constituency : they are miles away from the centre of the constituency of Nongspung itself. It will take at least 8 miles to trek on foot to reach Tyrsad and another 5 or 6 miles to reach Laitmawasiang and then the medical facilities provided in these two dispensaries and not at all adequate in so far as the doctors come only once or twice a week. Most of the time especially the one at Tyrsad, from what the people have told me and I have also come to know personally the medicines also are not available, and even a doctor has not been posted there for quite a long time. Only once a week most probably the doctor goes done from Shillong to Laimawsiang from the Shillong Presbyterian Hospital. So the people in the interior where there are more than 30 villages, are without any medical care and facilities. I believe if the records of he Raid Chest Hospital are being looked into, one will find that cases of tuberculosis and consumption and very much on the increase from these areas. There was a time that because of lack of medical faculties in the year 1973 when a very unfortunate young lady died of child birth and the doctor who was sent there from Mawkyrwat took 2 days to reach the place and by the time he reached, he only found the dead body of he young lady. So Mr. Speaker, Sir, I hope the Government is quite ware of this problem not only in my constituency but round about it that the condition of health in the whole State is very poor and particularly as this area had got no road link, the condition of health of the people is worst. Mr. Speaker, Sir, I would only request the Government kindly to look into the case and see that at least one State dispensary with beds be opened for the area at Nongspung village itself where there is not medical facility for a population of about 8000.
Prof. M.N. Majaw : Mr. Speaker, Sir, the motion is self-explanatory and I would add only one sentence in support of it that although there are difficulties from the point of view of the Finance Commission and the Planning Commission in the allotment of funds, it may be possible for the Government to devise ways by which extra fund or additional funds would be made available for these dispensaries. Perhaps I may propose a dispensary at least one in each constituency. I may state here that in the constituency of our Health Minister, although he is the Minister of Health, there is no dispensary. I think it is advisable that there should be one dispensary in each constituency and I whole-heartedly support the motion moved by the hon. Member from Nongspung.
Mr. Speaker : Now the Minister-in-charge.
Shri Sandford K. Marak (Minister, Health etc.) : Mr. Speaker, Sir, I am grateful to the hon. Member who has brought this motion. I understand the difficulties which the people of Nongspung area are facing. Unfortunately, in the coming 5 years, we will be getting only 10 dispensaries and the hon. Members are aware that in the past it was the policy of the Government not to construct any new dispensary unless and until all the dispensaries are manned properly with doctors and compounders. Now, the Nongspung village falls within the Mawsynram Block and I know that this particular pocket is inaccessible. There are a few sub-centres - One at Tyrsad and another situated about 5 miles away from Tyrsad; then there is one at Pariong and regarding the one at Sohiong we are proposing to set up a P.H.C. to serve the areas which are more or less isolated and where no medical care has been extended so far. As stated earlier, we will be getting only 10 dispensaries during the 5th Plan period and for the whole State these 10 dispensaries will not be able to give much coverage especially to the entire rural areas. Now I do not know whether it will be possible to find resources as has been suggested by the hon. Member from Mawhati, for opening of such dispensaries in each constituency. In each Block we have a P.H.C. and we have completed 5 or 6 P.H.Cs which are going to be opened very soon. Now, in this particular area in the Mawsynram Block, we have 2 more sub-centres already selected and another 2 more sub-centres at Balat and another at Tynger -bringing the total to 4 sub-centres. At this moment, it would be difficult for me to commit anything by definitely the areas deserves consideration and we will try to establish sub-centres and I am sure the hon. Member will not be satisfied with a sub-centre only.
Shri W. Syiemiong : I may be satisfied.
(Voices : To start with)
Shri Sandford K. Marak (Minister, Health etc.) : But then the hon. Member has demanded a dispensary with a certain number of beds. It may not be possible at this stage for a P.H.C. but in the next year or this year, we will study it first and I will try to get the report from the Civil Surgeon and under his advice and guidance it may be located. We have got about 47 sub-centres to be opened during the coming 5 coming 5 years but these are small sub-centres and may not be of much help, we cannot post doctors and nurses or compounders in sub-centres.
Well, Mr. Speaker, Sir, another information I would like to give to the hon. Members is that we have tried a mobile dispensary also but it did not work with limited resources. Besides, the cost of fuel has gone up and once we take the vehicle to inaccessible parts of may not come back due to lack of petrol. These are the practical difficulties our Health Department is facing today. Anyway I hope in the future, the total number of 47 sub-centres will give some coverage even to Nongpung. The matter will receive due consideration and I think it will get priority also. With that information, Sir, I resume my seat.
Mr. Speaker : The discussion is closed. Let us pass on to the next item. Resolution No.1 to be moved by Shri H.E. Pohshna - He is absent. Prof. M.N. Majaw or Mr. L. Bareh to move Resolution No.2.
Prof. M.N. Majaw : Mr. Speaker, Sir, I beg to mover that this House calls upon the Government to take early steps to expedite the re-transfer of Blocks I and II of the Mikir Hills District in Assam to the State of Meghalaya, as also to settle all other outstanding border issues between the two states.
Mr. Speaker : Motion moved. Now you can initiate a discussion.
Prof. M.N. Majaw : May I humbly submit Mr. Speaker, Sir, that only a few minutes ago we were dealing with the same subject but the reason why I felt it more important to have a resolution in this House was because of the importance of the subject. If we could have a unanimous resolution from this House it will certainly add strength to the arguments and to the demands of our Government. When asking for the return of these two Blocks now in the Mikir Hills District, which formerly were within the United Khasi and Jaintia Hills District, for their return to the State of Meghalaya, I thought necessary to mover a formal resolution. I would appeal to all sections of the House not to look upon this as a partisan matter as though it might have been moved from one section of the House. But I would commend it for the unanimous acceptance of the House in view of the importance of this subject concerning the territorial jurisdiction and boundaries of our State. As we all know, one of the reasons for which we struggled for a separate Hills State was in order to maintain, to retain and preserve the identity of our Hills people and one of the ways that could be done was by preserving the territorial identity also of those areas.
Shri H. Hadem : May I raise a point of order? I am referring to Rule 275 which says : "The Minister concerned, when the matter relating to his portfolio is under discussion in the House, shall not leave the House without the previous permission of the Speaker".
Mr. Speaker : Under Rule 315 I rule it out of order since one or two Ministers are inside the House for they perform the functions collectively.
Prof. M.N. Majaw : Thank you, Mr. Speaker, Sir, I am relieved because it is not a serious matter. To continue my trend of thought, one of the reasons for our struggle for a separate Hills State to preserve the identity of the Hills people and the integrity of our areas. Now these areas as have been very clearly elucidated by the hon. Member from Mynso Raliang belong formerly to the United Khasi Jaintia Hills District, more especially to the Jaintia Hills Sub-division. They were taken away together with other areas from the District of Assam to form a new District called the United Mikir and North Cachar Hills District. Now when we achieved a separate State, option was given to the people of the Mikir Hills District to join this new State of Meghalaya.
Mr. Speaker : I think some areas from Jaintia Hills and also some areas of Mawhati constituency have been tagged with Assam.
Prof. M.N. Majaw : I yield to your greater wisdom. May I point out here Sir, that since the people of Mikir Hills District did not exercise their option as to whether they would joining us making a larger Hill State, I think it would be in the fitness of things that we demand back the areas that were formerly taken away to form a new United Mikir and North Cachar Hills District. Recently I visited Umpang and other places where the Lalungs have expressed their willingness and they are insisting upon their demand to come back to Meghalaya. So as I said, on the basis of this resolution we will urge upon the Central Government and also the adjoining sister State to realise the greater importance of this subject. Particularly because of some recent events whereby an attempt has been made by the neighbouring State to bring outsiders into that area in order to push away some Pnar people from that area. Even a few thousands of foreign national have been given settlement in that area. Not only that, before the demarcation of the boundary, the Deputy Commissioner of Mikir Hills along with an M.L.A. from Mikir Hills, at one dead of night removed the boundary pillars and put them several miles deep inside Khanduli Bazar. Because of an attempt to change the established legal boundary of the State and because of the non-co-operative response from the other side, I sincerely request this House to accept this resolution. With these few words I mover this resolution.
Shri Lewis Bareh : Mr. Speaker, Sir, I support this resolution and in supporting this I would like to and a few observations. Sir, we have seen, during the Government of Assam in the year 1961, a notice and already been issued to the District Council for immediate settlement of boundary dispute between Jaintia Hills and Mikir Hills. After that there had been two joint meetings of the District Councils and in that meeting a resolution was adopted in favour of retransfer of a few villages under Block I and Block II to Jaintia Hills. But due to the peculiar circumstances prevailing at that time we did not know the fate of that resolution. Now I sincerely feel that in the interest of the people this resolution may be accepted by this House.
Shri Rowell Lyngdoh : Mr. Speaker, Sir, I would like to support this resolution moved by the hon. Member from Mawhati. Sir, this is an important resolution and I would like only to say that this subject has been discussed for the last so many years for retransfer of these two Blocks to Jaintia Hills. At that time it was transferred because of administrative convenience just because we were a part of Assam. But at that time also the people did not want to merge with the United Mikir and North Cachar Hills District.
Mr. Speaker : This House had listened a very good historical account narrated by the hon. Member from Mynso-Raliang. It was expected that you will add some more new pointes but it appears that these are only repetitions.
Shri Rowell Lyngdoh : In that case I would only support the resolution and request the Government to take up speedy implementation of the resolution for retransfer of these two Blocks and also to settle all outstanding border issues between the two States.
Mr. Speaker : Will the Minister reply? I hope there will be no repetition.
Shri B.B. Lyngdoh (Minister, Revenue) : Mr. Speaker, Sir, this matter had just been discussed a few minutes ago, through a motion moved by the hon. Member from Mynso-Raliang Constituency. This resolution in substance, is the same that is, the need for an expeditions settlement or retransfer of the areas under Blocks I and II to the parent district of Jaintia Hills. Therefore, Sir, there is no need to bring forward this resolution as the Mover of the resolution himself, has stated that he has brought forward resolution by way of adding a sense of urgency to the matter. Therefore, in view of the fact that we have stated earlier and because of the urgency in which this Government, had taken up the matter and the continued efforts that the Government had been making right through in this matter, I would request the hon. Mover not to press this resolution because it has become unnecessary in view of the fact that we have all agreed upon the importance of this matter and also in view of the fact that we have taken all possible steps and also because we have got the same feeling of urgency as the hon. Mover had felt. Therefore, in view of the facts stated earlier, this resolution is not necessary and I would say that this august House would not repeat the same thing which is unnecessary. Mr. Speaker, Sir, I would not say much at this juncture on this matter because the subject matter is well known to all hon. Members. Therefore, I would request the hon. Member from Mawhati that on the basis of this understanding of the facts and on the basis of the assurance that we have just given, he would not press that this resolution be passed and I hope, he would very kindly withdraw it.
Prof. M.N. Majaw : Mr. Speaker, Sir, in reply to the request from the Minister in-charge, I would like to know what is the fear in passing this resolution by this House. This resolution, perhaps, was a resolution passed by the All Party Hill Leaders' Conference. They have passed this resolution and I not seed any reason why it could not be passed by this House.
Mr. Speaker : Prof. Majaw, I think, you should not bring that issue. The resolution of the party has no bearing on the resolution like this. The difficulty is that perhaps, the Minister has accepted it if it ends only there. But the resolution adds something.
Prof. M.N. Majaw : Mr. Speaker, Sir, he never referred to the second part of the resolution. He only referred to the first part. If the whole House has accepted it, why cannot we go further a little bit. Unfortunately, it comes from the Opposition. But when a motion was discussed as moved by the hon. Member from the Ruling Party, even though there was no mention of this, I do not see any reason why we should have such acrimony on this.
Shri B.B. Lyngdoh (Revenue, Minister) : Of course, the resolution would mean that we have not taken any step or earlier step on this. But the fact remains as the hon. Mover of the motions from Mynso-Raliang has stated that this Government has taken steps, continued efforts and therefore, I say that even the first part of the resolution is unnecessary in view of the facts that I have stated earlier. That is why I have requested him not to move because it is totally unnecessary rather it would be ridiculous.
Shri Francis K. Mawlot : I think it is clear to each and every Member of this House that this matter is very important since it concerns all of us and as it is very urgent. I think, if the Government hesitates, it shows that the Government is not sincere on this.
Mr. Speaker : That is a matter of opinion. It is a question of whether the Government is sincere or not and that is your opinion. But whether the opposition is sincere or not, that is their opinion. But here the matter is clear because the Minister has explained that the Government has taken all the steps and efforts. And on the floor of this House he has explained that the matter is or urgency and that the Government are in line with the hon. Member. If you press for voting, of course, I have to put this resolution before the House.
Prof. M.N. Majaw : I want to make a last appeal Mr. Speaker, Sir. We were not mentioning that this Government has not taken steps. But we have asked this Government for earlier steps in this matter........
Mr. Speaker : But the Government contended that they had already taken earlier steps.
Prof. M.N. Majaw : But Mr. Speaker, Sir, in order to make things move faster, still more urgent, we thought it fit to bring a formal resolution for the purpose of facilitating Government of India's decision to finally demarcate those boundaries. For the purpose of immediate settlement they, have therefore, called for full support and co-operation in Governor's Address. Full co-operation here, is precisely because the motion was moved by the hon. Member from the same party and that it had received a universal support from that side.
Mr. Speaker : So, let me put the resolution before the House. The question is that this House calls upon the Government to take early steps to expedite the re-transfer of Blocks I and II of the Mikir District in Assam to the State of Meghalaya, as also to settle all other outstanding border issues between the two States.
Prof. M.N. Majaw : Mr. Speaker, Sir, may we press for a division under the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in this Assembly?
Mr. Speaker : Now, the "Ayes" to the "Ayes" Lobby and the "Noes" to the "Noes" lobby.
"Ayes" - 9
"Noes" - 16
(The motion was lost)
Prof. M.N. Majaw has got another resolution. But he cannot move it on the same day.
Now the House stands adjourned till 9 a.m. tomorrow, the 2nd April, 1975.
|Dated, Shillong:||R.T. RYMBAI|
|The 1st April, 1975.||Secretary,|
|Meghalaya Legislative Assembly.|