Proceeding of the Winter Session of the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly held on Monday, the 15th December, 1975 at 9:00 a.m. with the Speaker in the Chair.
Mr. Speaker :- Let us begin the business of the day by taking up Unstarred Question No.5.
(Replied to which were placed on the Table)
T.A. Bills of Fisheries Demonstrators in Garo Hills
Shri Samarenda Sangma asked :-
5. Will the Minister-in-charge of Fisheries be pleased to state -
(a) Whether it is a fact that the T.A. bills of almost all the Fisheries Demonstrators in Garo Hills are still pending for the last 1 (one) year and 6 months ?
(b) If so, when will the pending bills be paid to the Fisheries Demonstrator of Garo Hills ?
Shri Grohonsing Marak (Minister, Fisheries) replied :-
5. (a) - Yes.
(b) - Payment will be made as soon as amount to be re-appropriated is sanctioned,
Shri Maham Singh :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, why is it that timely provision has not been made for these bills.
Shri Grohonsing Marak (Minister, Fisheries) :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, some of the things were unforeseen during the year and that is why timely provisions have not been made.
Shri W. Syiemiong :- May I know the number of demonstrators involved?
Shri Grohonsing Marak (Minister, Fisheries) :- I want notice.
Establishment of a Medical College in the State.
Shri Humphrey Hadem asked :
Will the Minister-in-charge of Health be pleased to State-
(a) Whether a Medical Collage will be established soon within the State?
(b) If the answer is in the affirmative, its proposed location?
Shri. Sandford K. Marak (Minister-in-charge of Health) replied :
6. (a) - An offer to establish a Private Medical College in the State was received by the State Government from the Indian Council of Education, Health and Welfare of Backward Regions, a Private Social Welfare Organisation with Registered Office in Saraiya, Varanasi (U.P.) and Executive Officer in New Delhi.
(b) - The offer is under examination of Government.
Shri W. Syiemiong :- 6 (a) - When was the offer received ?
Shri Sanford K. Marak (Minister, Health) :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, we received the letter first from the C.E.M., Garo Hills. Most probably, there was correspondence with our M.P. at Delhi and later on they might have written to the C.E.M. on 28th May, 1974.
Compensation from the Central Government for the Border Areas
Shri Samarendra Sangma asked :-
7. Will the Chief Minister be pleased to state whether compensation is expected from the Centre for the Border Areas for damages brought as a result of the Bangladesh Liberation Movement ?
Shri Brington Buhai Lyngdoh (Minister, Revenue) replied :-
7. A note is placed on the Table of the House.
Recommendations of the Land Reforms Commission
Shri Samarendra Sangma asked :
8. Will the Minister-in-charge of Revenue be pleased to state how far the recommendations of the Land Reforms Commission have been implemented ?
Shri Brington Buhai Lyngdoh (Minister-in-charge of Revenue) replied :-
8. The recommendations of the Land Reforms Commission are under consideration of Government.
Land Ceiling in Meghalaya
Shri Samarendra Sangma asked :-
9. Will the Minister-in-charge of Revenue be pleased to state-
(a) Whether Government proposes to impose land ceiling in Meghalaya?
(b) If so, the proposed ceiling of cultivable land per household.
Shri Brington Buhai Lyngdoh (Minister-in-charge of Revenue) replied :-
9. (a) & (b)-The matter will be examined after implementation of Cadastral Survey.
Umiap Irrigation Project
Shri Rowell Lyngdoh asked :-
10. Will the Minister-in-charge of Agriculture be pleased to state-
(a) The total amount sanctioned or earmarked for the 'Umiap Irrigation Project'?
(b) The amount so far spent ?
(c) The anticipated date for completion ?
(d) The benefit or services that would be derived by the community?
Shri Edwingson Bareh (Minister, Agriculture ) replied :-
10. (a) - Amount already sanctioned is Rs.10,04,952 (Rupees ten lakhs, four thousand, nine hundred and fifty-two only.
(b) - Rs. 3,14,939 (Rupees three lakhs, fourteen thousands, nine hundred and thirty-nine) only
(c) - By the middle of 1976.
(d) -The people would be able to raise a 2nd crop besides assured irrigation for the main crop-paddy.
Shri W. Syiemiong :- 10.(a) What is the size of the area involved?
Shri E. Bareh (Minister, Agriculture) :- You mean the area to be benefited? The area is 1,500 acres or 600 hectares.
Shri Rowell Lyngdoh asked:-
11. Will the Minister-in-charge of Agriculture be pleased to State-
(a) Whether the Government proposed to take up irrigation project in (i) Balat-Mailam area, (ii) Mawramhah-Mawynrap area on the Kynshi river and (III) Umkrem area?
(b) Whether any survey had ever been conducted in the above areas?
Shri Edwingson Bareh (Minister, Agriculture) replied :
(a) -Balat-Mailam and Umkrem area already in the tentative list of proposed projects.
Mawrambah-Mawsynrap area is not yet in the list. However, the Department would like to examine this area also.
(b) Only some preliminary survey was done in Balat Area several years back, which, however, is not sufficient to take up a project.
Jhum and Terrace Cultivation in Garo Hills
Shri. Plansing Marak asked :
Will the Minister-in-charge of Soil Conservation be pleased to state -
(a) The year of Jhum cycle in Garo Hills ?
(b) Whether the Jhumming system has totally failed to Garo Hills ?
(c) The reason for failure of terrace cultivation at present, in certain areas ?
Shri. Edwingson Bareh (Minister, Soil Conservation) replied :
(a) - About 3 to 5 years.
(b) It is uneconomic and leads to soil erosion and decreasing productivity of soil.
(c) - There has been no failure of terrace cultivation.
VOTING ON SUPPLEMENTARY DEMANDS FOR GRANTS
Mr. Speaker :- Let us pass on to Item No.2. Since no hon. Member would like to have a general discussion, let us pass on to Item No.3. Minister-in-charge, Health, to move Demand No.1
Shri. Sandford K. Marak (Minister, Health) :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, on the recommendation of the Governor of Meghalaya, I beg to move that an additional amount of Rs.5,17,932 be granted to the Minister-in-charge for meeting certain excess expenditure during the year ending on the 31st March, 1971 for the administration of the head "30 - Public Health - II - Public Health Engineering".
Mr. Speaker :- Motion moved. But I have received as many as 5 cut motions against this Demand. Cut Motion No.1 stands in the name of Mr. Rowell Lyngdoh. He is absent. Then another cut motion stands in the name of Mr. Hopingstone Lyngdoh, Mr. Francis Mawlot and Mr. Winstone Syiemiong. Anyone of them may move.
Shri. F.K. Mawlot :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, I beg to move that the total provision of Rs.5,17,932 under Excess Demand No.1, Major Head "30 - Public Health - II - Public Health Engineering" at page 3 of the List of Excess Demands be reduced by Rs.100.00, i.e. the amount of the whole Excess Demand of Rs.5,17,932 do stand reduced by Rs.100.00
Mr. Speaker :- Motion moved. Now you can initiate a discussion on the failure of the Department for not properly administering the grants originally voted by the Assembly.
Shri. F.K. Mawlot :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, looking at this explanation, we find that the expenditure incurred in the two schemes, i.e. the water supply scheme of Tura and that of Nongbah in the Jaintia Hills, the excess was almost equal to the amount of the original estimate. I do not know, Mr. Speaker, Sir, whether the Public Health Engineering Department had thoroughly investigated the schemes before giving the necessary estimates and proposals. If they had efficiently done the investigation, I do not see why such a big amount was incurred and that the estimated amount does not cover the actual expenditure. In other Departments at least, if there are excesses, the amounts were negligible, i.e., there are only some technical difficulties here and there which they could not have foreseen and that would not have involved big amounts, as is the case with the Public Health Engineering Departments.
Mr. Speaker, Sir, another point, as give in the explanation, is that the amount of some Rs.35,417 was spent for purchase of a Station Wagon. I do not know Mr. Speaker, Sir, whether this is the practice in the P.H.E. whereas, as far as we know about other Departments, if the Department requires a car they send separate proposals and the Finance Department may or may not sanction according to the merits or demerits of the case. But here, it seems that the Finance Department did not agree and so, possible, the P.H.E. Department purchased the vehicle and incurred the expenditure from the head water supply scheme. This is, Mr. Speaker, Sir, according to me, a very irregular practice. I would also like to know from the Minister as to what is the extra output of water brought to Tura Town and also that of Nongbah on completion of the schemes. If the amount for increase of supply of water in these two towns was so much, we would like to know how far the Department was able to implement the scheme, i.e., to give us exactly the intake or supply of water which was given so far to the towns. Moreover, Mr. Speaker, Sir, the demand here is for Rs.5,17,932 and if we calculate the expenditure as given in the explanation we find that an amount of about Rs.1,19,000 is missing. So, Sir, I would request the Minister-in-charge to do some calculations and given us an explanation as to why this amount of Rs.1,19,000 has not been shown here in the Explanatory Notes. With these few words, Mr. Speaker, Sir, I move motion.
*Shri. Winstone Syiemiong :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, I rise to support the cut motion moved by my hon. friend from Nongstoin, and as a matter of fact, I do not really know what else I should add over and above what he had just said. But I feel that the demand for a sum of Rs.5 lakhs which has already been incurred should be discussed thoroughly and minutely in the House. Firstly, because this in the amount which has been recommended by the P.A.C. to be voted by this House. I think that is in consonance with Para 107 of the P.A.C. Report of 1970-71 where this demand was placed before the House. One thing even before we pass this demand after agreeing with what the P.A.C. recommended it is seen that in the final transaction in this particular Departments, there are still many lapses, as will be apparent from the performances of this Department. As my hon. friend from Nongstoin has just said, the amount of Rs.1.90 lakhs is not explained in the explanatory note as to how this amount was spent. So we could not make head or tail about it. Then there is a great variation between the report of the P.A.C. and the explanation given by the Department on this particular demand. Whereas in the P.A.C. Report nothing has been mentioned about Nongbah Water Supply Scheme but it has been mentioned in the explanatory note. I do not know whether this is an addition afterwards or the real original reason. This amount ought to have been given to the P.A.C. at the time. This is something to be explained by the Department.
Secondly, Sir, we do not understand that while in the P.A.C. Report the demand is for Rs.5,17,932 but as will be seen from the Report of the P.A.C. it appears that accounting is made for Rs.5,32,000 and there is a gap of Rs.14,000 besides there seems to be some mixing up in the allocation of Plan and Non-Plan expenditure as explained in the explanatory note. If you will look into it, you will find that this amount of Rs.0.86 lakhs is for purchase of the station wagon for the Additional Chief Engineer and this amount is included as part of the excess of Rs.2.62 lakhs. This is according to the report of the P.A.C. but then in the explanatory note it is not included at all. Therefore Mr. Speaker, Sir, we would request this Government to kindly explain to us how these amounts, which were not explained in these papers here, were utilised so that before the House passes them we could understand the actual position.
Mr. Speaker :- Mr. Hopingstone Lyngdoh.
Shri. H.S. Lyngdoh :- I am not moving my cut motion.
Shri. Rowell Lyngdoh :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, I also rise to support this cut-motion because we could not understand the reason for this excess grant and the explanation given in the explanatory note is rather confusing and not clear at all.
Mr. Speaker :- That was stated by Mr. Mawlot.
Shri Rowell Lyngdoh :- Well Sir, I hope, it has been pointed out that although the excess demand now asked for is Rs.5,17,93 whereas in the explanatory note it has been shown that only an amount of Rs.2.41 lakhs and Rs.0.86 lakhs has been included. Moreover, in the explanatory note for Tura Water Supply Scheme, an amount of Rs 80,000 was shown. So if we add up all these amounts, the total comes to Rs.4.07 lakhs.
Mr. Speaker :- That was what Mr. Mawlot stated.
Shri Rowell Lyngdoh :- In that case I went to submit that the principle of bringing this excess demand is really very confusing to us.
Mr. Speaker :- The principle is not confusing. The Government can come with a demand for excess grant.
Shri Rowell Lyngdoh :- Sir, my point is that if we allow this Government to go on spending money in excess of the budget grants which have been voted by the Assembly, then that will create a precedent for this Government in future also and in future this Government will go on spending without the sanction of the House and later it will come up with excess demands. So this principle is not at all sound......
Mr. Speaker :- I think, the hon. Member is aware that the Constitution also provides for that. I don't think it is good for you to challenge the principle of coming with excess grant. But you have got every right to ask the Government to explain the reason for such expenditure since the explanatory note is not clear to you.
Shri Rowell Lyngdoh :- Of course the constitution provides for such expenditure and also if has been pointed out by the PAC. But what we wanted is that for in future, every expenditure detailed explanation should be given in the explanatory note. With these few words I support this cut motion.
Mr. Speaker :- Will the Minister in-charge reply?
Shri Sanford K. Marak (Minister, Health) :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, I will try to explain the position, as you have rightly pointed out that these are the things of mathematical calculation, I shall try to explain one by one the points raised by the hon. Member. Now this excess of Rs.517,932, I will try to explain. As you know from the explanatory note that Rs.0.86 lakh was spent for purchase of a vehicle at the time of the formative stage of our State during 1970-71. Then we had to start implementing various projects in the rural areas including Water Supply projects. As for instance, the Nongbah Water Supply Scheme which was started as far back as 1966 but the project could not be completed. So we had to spend a sum of Rs.46,000 for completion of the work. Another amount of 40,000 rupees was spent for various other petty items thus bringing the total to Rs.0.86 lakh. Now coming to the anomalies pointed out by the hon. Member, I would like to say that an amount of Rs.1.90 lakhs was spent in connection with the establishment, which must be for establishment charge in respect of Tura. But due to misclassification, it was incorporated in the explanatory note as Rs.1.75 lakhs, under establishment. In this connection, I would also like to point out that an amount of Rs.46,000 had to be spent for Nongbah Water Supply Scheme since that project was originally under PWD and then handed over to PHE. But there was no budget provision and we had to spend extra money for that. It has been clearly written here that out of Rs.2.41 lakhs, Rs.1.03 lakhs was incurred under PWD, Jowai Division and Rs.1.38 lakhs for Tura Water Supply Scheme. It is very unfortunate that when these projects were handed over to PHE, purchase of vehicles became unavoidable. Our Chief Engineer PHE, could not go to the interior places without a vehicle. Moreover, as you are aware, during 1970-71 there were lots of troubles viz. the influx of refugees etc. and it was very difficult for the Department to function properly. I do not know whether this explanation would satisfy the hon. Member or not.
Shri Winstone Syiemiong :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, just now the Hon. Minister has stated that due to transfer from PWD to PHE, an amount of Rs.138 lakhs had to be spent. But he has not stated anything about the expenditure of Rs.1.00 lakhs.
Shri Sandford K. Marak (Minister, Health) :- Probably, in those days it was handed over. But very recently the Health Department has taken over.
Shri Winstone Syiemiong :- That means you are not sure.
Mr. Speaker :- I would like to remind the Minister-in-charge that he should note that these are irregularities, wrong budgeting and lack of control over expenditure, as has been remarked by the Public Accounts Committee. Now, whether the Minister-in-charge can assure the House that in future there will be accurate budgeting and there will be effective control over expenditure?
Shri Sandford K. Marak (Minister, Health) :- Yes, Yes.
Shri Rowell Lyngdoh :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, I would like to seek more clarification. The Minister has stated that a sum of Rs.1.75 lakhs was spent due to misclassification. May I know what is the reason?
Mr. Speaker :- I think, it is better that the hon. Member should understand that while the matter was examined by the Public Accounts Committee which is composed of the elected Members of the House, it has advised the Government to exercise its mind on three points; firstly, that in future to avoid irregularities they must classify the heads of expenditure in proper manner, secondly, the Government must exercise full control over expenditure and thirdly, the Committee itself has recommended the Minister concerned to come before the Assembly for regularization of this particular head of expenditure.
Shri Winstone Syiemiong :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, the Minister has stated clearly that the balance amount of Rs.50,000 was spent for Nongbah Water Supply project. But in the report of the Committee, it has been written that the Department could not satisfactorily reply in their explanatory note how that Rs.50,000 was spent. But now they are saying that the amount was spent for Nongbah Water Supply Project. May we know whether this expenditure was originally there or it is only a second thought.
Shri Sandford K. Marak (Minister, Health) :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, after further study it was found that the amount was spent for Nongbah Water supply Scheme.
Shri F. K. Mawlot :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, I would request the Minister to tell us the volume of water, I mean the quantum of water supplied to Tura town and.........
Mr. Speaker :- You can discuss that in a short notice question.
Shri F. K. Mawlot :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, I had also mentioned during my discussion that we would like to have a clarification from the Minister as to how much water, extra water was supplied to Tura and Nongbah after the completion of the schemes.
Shri Sandford K. Marak (Minister, Health) :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, the volume of water does not remain the same throughout the year. During summer, when there is rain, it increases and during winter the volume naturally decreases. In Tura during the winter it is about 24,000 gallons per hour and about 70,000 gallons per hour during the peak seasons i.e., during monsoons. If you calculate from the population of Tura town this will come to about 70 gallons per person a day. I think that is more than sufficient, taking the all India average of 40 gallons, and I do not think a person could consume that much. Even a big elephant will consume only 50 gallons a day. So far as Nongbah is concerned, it is continuing. It was started in 1966 and it was not completed and so we feel that it should be completed soon. As regards the volume of water supplied to the people of Nongbah it is not possible for me to give the figures and I will require notice for that.
Mr. Speaker :- May I ask all the three hon. Members, Shri Francis Mawlot, Shri Hopingstone Lyngdoh and Shri Winstone Syiemiong whether they want a division on this or they are willing to withdraw?
Shri W. Syiemiong :- We are only five on this side, so we will drop it.
Mr. Speaker :- Have the hon. Members leave of the House to withdraw the cut motion?
(voices Yes, Yes)
The cut motion is with leave of the House withdrawn.
Now let me put the question before the House. The question is that an additional amount of Rs.5,17,932.00 be granted to the Minister-in-charge for meeting certain excess expenditure during the year ending on the 31st March 1971 for the administration of the Head "30- Public Health-II-Public Health Engineering".
(Motion was carried and demand was passed)
MEGHALAYA APPROPRIATION (No. III) BILL, 1975
Let me ask the Minister-in-charge of Revenue to move Grant No. 2.
Shri B. B. Lyngdoh (Minister, Revenue) :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, on the recommendation of the Governor of Meghalaya, I beg to move that an additional amount of Rs. 4,742.00 be granted to the Minister-in-charge for meeting certain excess expenditure during the year ending on the 31st March 1971 for the administration of the Head "109-Capital outlay on other works outside the Revenue Account".
Mr. Speaker :- Motion moved, but I have received a cut motion which stands in the name of Shri F. K. Mawlot, Shri H. S. Lyngdoh and Shri W. Syiemiong. Will anyone of the hon. Members move the cut motion?
Since none of the hon. Members would like to move the cut motion, the cut motion is deemed to have been withdrawn. Now let me put the question before the House. The question is that an additional amount of Rs.4,742.00 be granted to the Minister-in-charge for meeting certain excess expenditure during the year ending on the 31st March 1971 for the administration of the Head '109- Capital outlay on others works outside the Revenue Account".
(Motion was carried and demand was passed)
May I ask the Minister-in-charge of Finance to move Grant No.3.
Shri B. B. Lyngdoh (Minister, Finance) :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, on the recommendation of Governor of Meghalaya, I beg to move that an additional amount of Rs.1,371 be granted to the Minister-in-charge for meeting excess expenditure during the year ending on the 31st March for the administration of the Head "Q-Loans and advances etc.,- VII-Loans to Displaces Persons".
Mr. Speaker :- Motion moved. I have received a cut motion standing in the name of Shri H. S. Lyngdoh, Shri W. Syiemiong and Shri F. K. Mawlot. Will anyone of the hon. Members move the cut motion?
Since none of the hon. members would move the cut motion, the cut motion is deemed to have been withdrawn. Now I will put the question before the House. The question is that an additional amount of Rs.1,371.00 be granted to the Minister-in-charge for meeting certain excess expenditure during the year ending on the 31st March 1971 for the administration of the Head "Q-Loans and Advances etc., -VII-Loans to Displaced Persons".
(Motion was carried and demand was passed).
May I ask the Minister-in-charge of Finance to introduce the Meghalaya Appropriation (No. III) Bill, 1975.
THE MEGHALAYA APPROPRIATION (No. III) BILL, 1975
Shri B. B. Lyngdoh (Minister, Finance) :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, I beg leave to introduce the Meghalaya Appropriation (No. III) Bill, 1975.
Mr. Speaker :- Motion moved and I now put the question before the House that leave be granted to the Minister-in-charge of Finance to introduce the Meghalaya Appropriation (No. III) Bill, 1975.
(Motion was carried)
Mr. Speaker :- Before I ask the Minister to introduce the Bill, it will first of all be circulated to the hon. Members. Also I will read a message from the Governor.
|The 6th December, 1975|
In exercise of the powers conferred by Clause (1) of Article 207 of the Constitution of India, I, Lallan Prasad Singh, Governor of Meghalaya, hereby recommend to Meghalaya Legislative Assembly the introduction of the Meghalaya Appropriation (No. III) Bill, 1975.
|Sd/- Lallan Prasad Singh,|
Now, I call upon the Minister, Finance.
Shri B. B. Lyngdoh (Minister, Finance) :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, I beg to introduce the Meghalaya Appropriation (No. III) Bill, 1975.
Mr. Speaker :- Motion moved and now I put the question before the House. The question is that the Meghalaya Appropriation (No. III) Bill, 1975 be introduced.
(Motion was carried and Bill introduced)
(Secretary read out the title of the Bill)
Mr. Speaker :- Before I ask the Minister-in-charge of Finance to move that the Bill be taken for consideration, I will read out a message from the Governor.
|The 6th December, 1975|
In exercise of the powers conferred by Clause (3) of Article 207 of the Constitution of India, I Lallan Prasad Singh, Governor of Meghalaya, hereby recommended to the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly the consideration of the Meghalaya Appropriation (No. III) Bill, 1975.
|Sd/- Lallan Prasad Singh,|
May I now ask the Minister-in-charge of Finance to move that the Bill be taken into consideration.
Shri B. B. Lyngdoh (Minister, Finance) :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, I beg to move that the Bill be taken into consideration.
Mr. Speaker :- Motion moved and now I put the question before the House. The question is that the Meghalaya Appropriation (No. III) Bill, 1975 be taken into consideration.
(The Motion was carried)
Since there are no amendments, I ask the Finance Minister to move the motion for passing.
Shri B. B. Lyngdoh (Minister, Finance) :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, I beg to move that the Meghalaya Appropriation (No. III) Bill, 1975 be passed.
Mr. Speaker :- Motion moved. I put the question before the House. The question is that the Meghalaya Appropriation (No. III) Bill, 1975 be passed.
(Motion was carried and Bill passed)
Let us pass on to item No.5. May I ask Mr. K. M. Roy, Marbaniang to continue. I think, Mr. K. M. Roy Marbaniang has not completed last time and I will give him a chance afterwards. Will any other hon. Members take part in the discussion?
*Shri D. D. Lapang :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, at the outset, I would like to appreciate the stand taken by the hon. member who has brought this motion for discussion. I have tried to follow carefully about the workings of the Government and the implementation made by the different departments of the Government relating to the 20-Point Economic Programme declared by our beloved Prime Minister, Mrs. Indira Gandhi. I followed up the action and I did it on three points. No.1 - As a responsible citizen of the State. No.2, as a Member of this House and No.3, as a journalist, who is supposed to be the link between the activities of the Government and the general public. While going through the 20 Point Economic Programme, as declared by the Prime Minister, it is really very much encouraging indeed.
(At this stage, the Speaker left the Chamber and the Deputy Speaker took the chair).
Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, our Government has done a lot, in following up the programmes, or even they have done that, before the declaration of the 20 Point Economic Programme. Now, Sir, I will deal with No.1. Under the able leadership of our Hon'ble Minister-in-charge of Civil Supplies, prices of essential commodities were brought down to a considerable level all over the State. Government has taken a very strong action to do away with the profiteers and hoarders who have tried to raise the prices of essential commodities to meet their selfish end. But it is a fact to be noted here that our Minister-in-charge of Civil Supplies himself, has convened meetings after meetings of the dealers and traders, with the help of private agencies like the North East Frontier Chamber of Commerce to bring down prices of essentials commodities inspite of the fact of prevailing transport bottleneck in bringing in the commodities from outside the State of ours. It is also achievement to see that even their Price Stop dealers have been thoroughly checked. Many bogus dealers have been brought to book and penalised and many licenses have been cancelled and false quota cut down by the Government. This is being done, even before the declaration of the 20 Point Economic Programme, which is relevant either directly or indirectly to the aim and objectives of the Central Government.
For instance, Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, the old ration cards have been done away with because it has been detected that various families possessed false cards which are greater in number than the population of Shillong. The Government has done its best to issue new ration cards in order to restrict the use of unauthorized and false cards in villages, in rural areas as well as in towns. It is really a commendable thing that our Government is very much aware of the need to bring down prices of essential commodities which is a must.
Now, Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I come to procurement of essential commodities. In this respect, Government has done nothing last year. However, the FCI very keen initiative to procure the essential commodities but have failed completely as the price fixed by the FCI is much below the local market price and this cannot be accepted by the public. The Government took the initiative to see that this does not hamper the interest of the general public. No.3 - Housing Scheme. Recently, the Minister of Co-operation has declared that Housing Schemes be taken up for the landless and houseless people of the State. It is very much encouraging Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, that recently, at Umsning in Bhoi area, they have organised one Housing Co-operative Society to give housing facilities to the people in that region. Only a few months back also, another organisation has been organised in Byrnihat and also in Khanapara in which construction of one model house has already been started by the Soil Conservation Department to give housing facilities to the people. These are what our Government had done and they are really very much appreciating. I had a hope that Prime Minister will be very much happy to see that our Government has gone forward to achieve a long cherished goal though still more is yet to be done. We have done a lot for our State. It is also notified by the Government that land somewhere near Polo Ground, has been acquired to allot to the people who do not have houses and to give them plots to go and stay there. These are the facilities extended by our Government. No.5 - Rural Indebtedness. Our Minister in-charge of Co-operation has already brought a Bill to be passed by this House to facilitate the people in the rural areas. It is very much encouraging, no doubt, that banks under the influence of our Government, have come forward to grant financial help to the people in the interior areas. In the month of October at Nongpoh, Government have opened one branch of the State Bank of India to extend financial facilities to the poor people and agriculturists and traders of that area. I may bring to your notice Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, that another branch at Umsning-Nayabangalow, has been opened by the State Bank of India with the influence of the Government to give loan and financial facilities to those people. This Rural Indebtedness Bill is to give relief to the people through private agencies under the guidance and influence and inspiration of our State Government. No. 6-Minimum agricultural wages. It is a great pleasure indeed, to see that our Government has done it before the declaration of the 20 Point Economic Programme. No.7-Land to be brought under irrigation. The reclamation scheme of our Government is very much there. For years together, we have been always talking of land reclamation or to bring Government land under cultivation and to do away with jhum cultivation. It is really a matter of pride, Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, if other parts of the world and outside States will know, that our Government has done it very much in line with what the Prime Minister and other parts of the country are thinking today. No.9-Development of Handloom Sector. On 27th of last month, our Hon'ble Chief Minister has had the occasion to declare at Pynursla that yarn, at subsidised rate, will be given to the local weavers. That is really a matter of encouragement that our local weavers have been listed in the country's handloom development schemes. Here, I would like to suggest that beside giving subsidised rate for yarn, it will be very much acceptable and encouraging if some financial helps can be given to the people for setting up their Co-operative Societies so that production of handloom materials could be produced on a commercial scale. So far they have done now, is only domestic use, without any investment on a commercial scale. If development of handloom would be for economic improvement, I feel that Government should extend financial facilities, through Co-operative Societies or the private banks. No.14-Liberalisation of Investment Procedure. Our Government is encouraging the private units to invest their money and that is why we have seen many industries and industrial units, private enterprises are coming to our State and the Government has gone to the extent of acquiring land in Byrnihat so that people can come and establish their respective industries there. Our Government is very much there to see that these things are going on everywhere within our State. No.15-Workers' Association to be introduced here in this State. Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I have already see that so far there is no worker's Union in the entire State of Meghalaya. I would request the Government to look into this matter. So far my knowledge goes, only one industrial unit like North Eastern Industrial Co-operative Society has got its own Worker's Union which has been involved in the management. I feel that our industries will have their share in the management so that they will not be victimised by the management. In anyway, they must feel that the industries are their own and the benefit will go to the general public. No.18-Essential commodities to the students and hostellers. This Government has already done something in this regard.
Some time ago, I had the occasion to meet the Commissioner to get the special permit for hostellers in Shillong and outside Shillong and in my own area. I have found that the Government has done something which is really very gratifying to note, and it goes to show that the Government has taken up a good step in this regard. And then coming to No.19 on Books and Stationeries the Government has declared long time ago, that books and stationeries be supplied at special rates to the students and we have seen this year also that exercise books were sold to students at controlled rate. It is really appreciable to see that the students have got great help from the Government. Then on page 20, Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, on this apprenticeship scheme, the Government has done something to encourage some students to undergo training through the MIDC so that they may join in different trades and enterprises like the Cooperative Societies and other industrial management. We have seen some of them have gone to Calcutta and Delhi and some of them have come back after training and we are serving in the renown hostels in Shillong and in many other enterprises. Besides that, the Government has recently initiated many schemes at the State Level, is the is the District level and in Sub-divisional level to see that this 20-Point programme is well implemented in our State in the true sense of the term, and which will be very helpful and besides that also we have seen there are other items which are not relevant to our State. There are some items which are connected with the Central Government. Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, besides all these activities, I would like to appeal to the Government to follow up all development schemes and see that they are properly implemented and try to remove red-tapism and other loopholes in the Government I believe, this will make the programme a great success and besides that I would request the Government to see that all the schemes are implemented in the real sense of the term so that the economic condition of the people is improved.
Shri Kisto Mohon Roy Marbaniang :- Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, as I have said the other day that, the Mover of this motion himself has appreciated the work done in our State and the schemes implemented by our Government towards fulfillment of this 20-Point programme initiated by our Prime Ministers. But I would like to deal only with some subjects which are really relevant to our State. Now, regarding the land ceiling, I would like to say that actually all the 20-Point Economic Programme is not at all applicable to the whole of our State, since most of us in the State have not got so much land as other people in the other parts of the country are having. So regarding this particular subject, I think it is not necessary that the State Government should implement because, as I said, none of us or most of our people has not got much land as in other parts of the country. But some economic programme, like agriculture, the Government has already started implementing this programme by giving many agricultural facilities to our agriculturists like lift irrigation, animal husbandry and soil-Conservation by terracing and trying to stop the Jhum cultivation etc. In this regard, the amount earmarked for the actual implementation of the schemes under the annual plan of the year 1976-77 was to the tune of Rs.5.59 crores. So Sir, here our Government is not lagging behind, rather they have tried their to best implement in time this particular programme for the improvement of the whole State. Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, the Government has earmarked also certain crores of rupees for power generation and for that project about 6 crores of rupees were earmarked for rural electrification. Then on road communication also, which is a very vital part of economic development, the Government has earmarked an amount to the tune of Rs.4.82 crores. These are the two most important subjects-Agriculture and Road transport which play very very vital role in developing our State. So, these two subjects are connected with agriculture and road transport development, because unless we have got good agriculture and road transport development, because unless we have got good agriculture in our State and if people do not produce more food, they cannot improve their economic condition and so also we have to improve our road communication to carry these agricultural produces from one part of the State to the other. Unless we can improve both agriculture and road communication we cannot expect any fruitful results for the benefit of our people. So these two subjects are aimed at the betterment of our people. They are connected with each other in improving the economic condition of our people. Other subjects are not so much connected with our State.
Then regarding prices of essential commodities, as admitted by the mover of the motion the other day, Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, our State Government has done something in this regard. I think we should be proud that prices of essential commodities in our State are very much reasonable compared to others parts of our country. Then in educational field also our Government is very much concerned about it by constituting Book Banks etc. for the poor students. And regarding water supply also they have done something and they have earmarked an amount of Rs.4.25 crores for the coming year. So Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, our Government has at least achieved good results in all the development schemes and has made a considerable improvement. Last but not the least Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I come to Rural Indebtedness initiated by the Minister, Cooperation the other day. This has gone a long way in helping our people, especially those in the rural areas. But I would like to suggest to the Government to make a serious attempt to make the Cooperative Housing Scheme a success, not only in the urban areas, but in the rural areas also so that the people in the rural areas also may have a chance to live in better dwelling houses than what they are living now. I would also request the Government that in implementing all these schemes they should take proper care, as some hon. Members have just now stated that there might be many loopholes and mishandling of funds during the implementation period. All these things should be carefully taken care of and also not to allow any slackness to stand in the way towards improvement of the economic condition of the whole State. With these few words, I resume my seat.
Shri S. P. Swer :- Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I would also like to associate myself in the discussion of this motion. Sir, the 20-Point Economic Programme, as initiated by the Prime Minister, let me say, that it is like an old wine in a new attractive bottle and to fill the bottle to the brim, some new wine has been added. Sir, the 20-Point Economic Programme aims at the betterment of the common man, the betterment of the man at the grass root level. The hon. Mover himself has expressed his satisfaction that the prices of many essential commodities show a downward trend and it is really a good sign to the consumers. Here I would like to discuss about the other aspect at the point of discharge where the supply of essential commodities comes to the consumers point. We all know that until and unless there is a source where the discharge is constant, it may come to a point where supply of these essential commodities will be exhausted. I mean whether the flow in the pipeline is constant or not from the source to the consumers point. It is a happy news that the prices of rice, potato and other consumer's commodities are going down. But I think we have experienced and the representatives of this august House also have had occasions to express unhappiness about the prices of potato going down, some time in the months of July and August whereas the price of rice is going up. Potato is also one of the essential commodities. When the price at that time went down to Rs.65 per quintal, there was a great reaction amongst the potato growers because of the wide gap of difference of the prices between the two commodities in the open market. Then they said that they will not be able to continue potato cultivation in the next season, because the price does not pay them. But at the consumer's point, the consumers were very happy as the price has gone down. In this respect, it is the duty of the Government to see, to find out ways and means as to how to control or stream-line the sources of supply of essential commodities in such a way that the supply remains constant and it continues Here again the implementation of the 20-Point Economic Programme calls upon the Government as a whole. It calls upon the proper coordination of different departments concerned. Otherwise, it is very very difficult to achieve the success while implementing any scheme of the programme. We know that until and unless our growers, our agriculturists, our cultivators can produce more and more, a time may come, when there will be no growers and no commodities will be available in the market itself. But the problem is how to stream-line and achieve the production targets. Here again, it calls upon the department concerned, the Agriculture Department, to offer or provide high yielding seeds to the cultivators, to the growers and to the agriculturists. But here again there is another difficulty which our poor farmers do have to face as they used to, that is the financial difficulties, and in this respect also, it calls upon the department of co-operation to extend its help to these poor farmers and cultivators otherwise these people will not be able to produces more even, though the Agriculture Department do offer them the best high yielding seeds. But as you know that the financial institutions, like Banks, are still fighting shy of going to the rural areas, specially in those areas which are far away from the District headquarters. But in this regard also, though some of the banks or financial institution have gone to certain places in the rural areas, the procedure followed by them for providing credit facilities to the poor farmers or poor traders is still very very difficult for the poor people to get credit facilities, I was told that some banks in the rural areas are giving loan to the people on a collateral security of gold and silver. There are, of course, some banks in the rural areas where they accommodate credit facilities to the poor people only on personal security. There are also some banks which help the people, in the rural areas, in giving loans or credit facilities against collateral security of their fixed assets like land and houses. But one difficulty in this District of Khasi Hills is because of the land tenure system which does help at all - the land owners to get loan from banks because they do not have the documents showing the right of ownership. Here, we may recall that the Government already tried its best to enquire into the various existing land tenure systems prevailing in our district of Khasi Hills. I hope the Government is now going ahead to do something on the report of the Land Reforms Commission, and I think when the cadastral survey will be made and the records of rights introduced n the near future, it will help the people in the rural areas, who own land or whatever they own, in getting credit facilities from financial institution. I also hope that Government will take more vigorous steps in pursuing financial institutions to go to the rural areas to help the poor cultivators in the rural areas with the credit facilities. I would like to mention the steps taken by the Co-operation Department in respect of strengthening the cooperative societies in the rural areas by supplying trained secretaries so that these societies can be run properly. Again, we find that in the field of industries also, credit facilities do contribute success of any scheme, but what is more needed is that along with the credit facilities, the technical know-how, should be there so that a poor farmer or poor artisan who avails of such credit facilities can be sure of success. Therefore, the success of the scheme can be decidedly assured. We cannot also deny the fact that the Government has done a lot in introducing and encouraging various traders like village, cottage as well as small scale industries in our State. Here again, we find that mere introduction of certain schemes like the village or small scale and cottage industries does not help the artisans or the entrepreneurs until and unless the marketing part of any productive scheme is also vigorously pursued by the Government. This marketing aspect is necessary it is a must for the Government to help not only the poor cultivators, farmers, agriculturists or growers, but also the entrepreneurs and artisans, in marketing their products from these industries in the villages. I think if I am not wring, something was done by the Government in the cooperative sector by constituting one Marketing Federation. This will help the poor farmers in the rural areas through cooperative societies in marketing their produces. But in respect of produces and products of industries of various village and small scale and cottage industries, I think the marketing part of it should be vigorously pursued by the Government so that our artisans in the rural areas may increase their economic condition in times to come. Sir, many of the points already touched by other hon. Members in the previous day and to day also, I think, I need not repeat them today. As regards the point mentioned by the hon. Member from Nongpoh, regarding the participation of workers in any industry, we know that we have one major industry in the State and that this is, the Mawmluh-Cherra Cements Ltd. There also, the employees were given an opportunity to participate in the management of the Company. That is also a good step taken by a Government undertaking under the guidance of the Government to implement vigorously, and with strong determination, the 20-Point Economic Programme as enunciated by the Prime Minister. With these few words, I resume my seat.
Mr. Deputy Speaker :- Mr. Kharbuli, you try to make it short.
Shri Upstar Kharbuli :- Thank you Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir. First of all, Sir, I would like to thank the hon. member who has moved this Motion and by virtue of which we have an opportunity of making few observations on this issue. Sir, the 20 Point Economic Programme as enunciated by our Prime Minister who is also the Supreme leader of our Party has been accepted by our Chief Minister, that is, the Government of Meghalaya. This Programme, we feel, is meant to ameliorate the economic condition of the people. One thing, I would like to point out here, first of all, is in respect of the sitting up of the Co-ordination Committees by this Government, with a view to implementing this Programme. Here we found that our Government has exercised extreme discretion in taking any one, rather than consulting the respective political parties that are here, who expressed their willingness or their acceptance of this Programme. We feel that by doing so we must get the overall involvement of the people had the parties concerned been given the change to suggest names or persons to be taken in such Committees because that should bring in more or greater involvement of the parties concerned. Again, it is also observed Sir, that form the proceedings of the first meeting of this State Co-ordination Committee and from what it appears there from that the Government has kept everything for the future with the operative words, we may say are "shall" and "will". For instance, the apprenticeship facilities-there is an apprenticeship Act, which is already mandatory by itself more so by virtue of the importance attached to it by the 20-Point Economic Programme. We find that such a dire need has been kept in cold storage by this Government. However, it appears from that document that the implementation has been made more concerned for the civil services, as mainly the Development Commissioner's views were recorded repeatedly in the proceedings. So, I am afraid that this shows that our Ministers are least bothered by the 20 Point Economic Programme because they only emphasise this for the consumption of the Union Government that they accept the programme. This, I feel, is more a strategy rather than a sincere step to realise the aims for which the 20 Point Economic Programme has been farmed. From what most of the Members have expressed earlier, it seems no real urgency has been attached by the Government in respect of Agriculture and in respect of Transport National Permits, no clear policy was spelt out by this Government so also in respect of book banks. We can say that there is a show-piece in the State Central Library-which is neither a book bank nor a good library. I urged upon this Government to realise the urgency of this programme so that we can expect these facilities in practice in the State. So, with these few words only, I would urge upon the Government that as the Prime Minister had said, "let us get on with these things".
Mr. Deputy Speaker :- I think enough discussion has been made on this Motion.
Shri P. N. Choudhury :- I would like to make some observations.
Mr. Speaker, Sir, we have attained 27 years of freedom. That was political freedom and economic freedom is yet to be attained. Even after 27 years millions of people live in object poverty. It is time that we work with firm determination for ending poverty and in equality of our suffering masses and welfare of the weaker sections of the people. The development that has been made during this period was not enough to remove the economic backwardness of our rural masses. Many of the States are still in backward position, agriculture in many places I still out-dated. This is not to say that no development has been made at all. The pace of progress was rather slow; and at times erratic. The 20 Point Economic Programme of our Prime Minister has given a new impetus to our journey towards attaining our ultimate goal of an egalitarian society. Sir, this is a measure to ensure basic minimum needs to large section of the people and this shall have to be taken up with all vigour. But although a considerable time has passed since the announcement of the implementation of this 20 Point Economic Programme the pace of progress of actual implementation has been rather slow. Steps should be take for more speedy implementation of this economic programme in our State which is very backward of course, economically. In our State, agriculture is also out-dated and step should be taken for modernisation of our agriculture. Our Prime Minister has given a new sense of urgency to the work of development of the backward areas. Meghalaya is economically a backward State having a long border area which needs most urgent implementation of the 20 Point-Programme. For successful implementation of this programme, involvement of our rural people is necessary and for this mass education is necessary, so that the people will be able to understand what they have to do and what benefit they can get from the scheme. Sir, regard to the price of essential commodities there is no doubt that there has been a downward trend but we must not be complacent. In this connection Sir, I would like to suggest that the distribution of essential commodities should be made through co-operative societies as per as practicable and middle men in food grain trade should be abolished and the co-operative should be strengthened. Both consumers and the service co-operative should be organised in a massive scale. Secondly, Sir, most of our agriculturists are indebted to the unscrupulous money lenders and steps should be taken to free them from the exploitation of those money lenders. The financial institutions should provide timely credit facilities to the agriculturists and artisans on easy terms to eliminate the money lenders. Terms and condition benefits. Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, about opening of the Book bank for the students of course the Government has taken steps; but so far these have not been opened. These should be opened in all educational institutions before commencement of the academic session. Sir, with regard to housing problem, which is acute both in rural and urban areas and many rural people have no house also living in rented house and they are no means to have a house of their own within their limited means. I would request the Government, through you, Sir, to take up a scheme for both rural and urban housing and this should be done through co-operative housing scheme to provided houses to the weaker section of our people. With these few words Sir, I resume my seat.
Mr. Deputy Speaker :- I feel that enough time has been given for discussion of this Motion and now I will close the discussion and call upon the Minister Finance to give his reply.
Shri B. B. Lyngdoh (Minister, Finance) :- Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, first of all I would like to convey, through you, my special thank and appreciation to the mover of the Motion, the hon. Member from Nongtalang, on two counts-one is that he has taken the initiative in the House to bring in this Motion for discussion on this very important national programme for the country as a whole and for our State in particular, and on second count on the spirit and the approach that the mover had moved and spoken on this subject. It is really a very refreshing new experience from our long association with him in the District Council as well as in this House. I believe, the other hon. Members will take a cue from him on the way to approach and contribute to the activities and programmes of administration and development of the State. I would also convey my appreciation to all participants on the subject, as meant as 14, from all sections of the House, for their spirit and the manner that they contribute on the subject. Of course, there was an exception, namely the hon. member from Mendipathar who has continued to be discordant and negative on the approach, even on the subject of national programme.
Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, sometimes in our life we have to leave the routine matter of daily activities, either as an individual or group to lift ourselves up to higher and wider spheres like this occasion to discuss the national programme for the vast masses of our people now running nearly into 6 millions. Sir, as rightly remarked by some hon. Members, we had achieved political freedom since the last 27 years but there is still another important freedom, perhaps much more important than the political freedom, and that is the economic freedom which is still yet to be achieved.
While discussing on this programme, we may be reminded of the movement of the twenties for political independence. It started with an elitic, intellectual approach of people in the towns and cities and had remained like that for many years. Then came a change with the advent of Mahatma Gandhi, who turned it into a mass movement. For the last 25 years, our economic programme seemed to have similar course, beginning with an elitist, commercialist approach, with little attention being paid to the masses of the country, the people who constitute the nation. Now a change is coming. We have noticed the beginning of it in 1969 when the Banks, which were traditionally the friends and allies of industries and commerce in the urban cities and towns were nationalized and directed to serve the masses of the country, i.e., to serve the agriculturists in the rural areas. Last Saturday when we had a meeting on the Silver Jubilee of the United Bank, I was struck with the remark of the Chief Minister of "Banks and the social change in India".
If we study this 20-Point programme, we will notice clearly the new economic direction. They are the real programme for the real people, so to say, of the country, the people who constitute the bulk of the nation-the common people in the towns and villages. Comparing these to movement-the movement for political freedom and the movement for economic freedom, I hope, I may not be accused of exaggeration that the roles of the two great national leaders have been strikingly similar, Mahatma Gandhi had turned the political movement to a mass movement and our present Prime Minister, Mrs. Indira Gandhi, is turning the economic movement into a mass movement.
The 20-point programme embodies the spirit of the mass movement for economic emancipation of the people of the country. God willing, I believe, the real economic freedom in the country is near at sight. It depends upon the character of our nation, whether we will take up this programme seriously or not. It depends also upon the character of public leadership, like ourselves., in this House, to take up this programme and lead the people to participate fully for the achievement of our economic goal. Nature is bountiful and we have 5 million pairs of hands to take up and explicit this bountiful nature for our economic needs. We need the spirit and I hope that the spirit, which is now being aroused through this emergency would sustain us in the years to come and survey we will achieve our ultimate goal of national economic freedom.
Now, Sir, coming to our State, I thank the mover and members who have frankly given the Government the credit for the prompt response to this call of economic freedom for our people. Immediately, after the 1st July, within a week, the Government had taken up in hand to move in right direction and called the Planning Board consisting of the top leaders of the State as well as experts from outside to discuss this programme and when the nation took steps also in forming the co-ordination committees, they were also formed here on the State level, in the District level and in the Sub divisional levels. These committees had met, discussed and offered suggestions and, as the mover of the motion had indicated, these committees might also even take a tour to meet the public and take the public into confidence in these programmes. Sir, the hon. Members had drawn the attention of the House to the fact that out of the 20-Point Programme, there are programmes of the Central Government and also of our own Government. And, again there are certain programmes, State programmes, which may not as yet be relevant at present to our State These matters have been discussed in the Planning Board as well as in the Co-ordination Committees and we have now taken them in hand. Sir, let us also be clear that these programmes do not need involve overnight implementation. These are meant for the direction towards certain ends which may be achieved after a few months or perhaps after a few years even. Sir, this is a matter of action taken in the right direction and I can assure the hon. Members that the Government have been very very keen and serious in these programmes. In fact, the administration is being geared up for the implementation of these programmes. I may not go into the details but the hon. Members had complained that they have not been informed on the programmes taken by the Government. But if the hon. Members would read the newspapers, I am sure, they would see that from time to time the programmes taken up are being published in the newspapers. However, I may try, within a short space of time, to give certain information or brief notes on these points one by one. The first point is about the prices of essential commodities. Sir, this has been the first point because at that time - July of this year - we had a very acute problem. The prices of essential commodities were so high that they were beyond the reach of the common people. Therefore, this was rightly taken as the first point which the Central Government as well as the State Government have taken very seriously to tackle. As the hon. Members have appointed out with regard to the prices of food-stuff, I think we have achieved in a long way to bring down the prices. Now, as a consequence of this, we also in the Government in the Agriculture Department as well as other Departments, are conscious of certain problems arising like the growers of food may lose the incentive of growing more food. We have to take up with the Government of India and also other authorities to bring down the prices of other goods as well so that there will not be an imbalance in the various sections.
Now, Sir, the second very important programme, in view of the country's food position is production. In our State, for this year, we have as a target 1,35,000 tonnes of food and we are seriously trying to reach that target. We have, therefore, taken immediate steps to provide additional irrigation for 1000 hectares of land in our State for the Rabi crop; and, again, because of the proposed moratorium on rural indebtedness, we may attempt to provide an alternative to the existing traditional money-lenders by providing takabi loan for short-term agricultural operations. Another point on this subject is the supply of essential commodities and we have tried as far as practicable in the rural areas through the Co-operatives. On point number two, on the question of agricultural land ceilings, we have examined this matter very seriously and thoroughly. But we know that the administration of land in the State is with the District Councils. Then again, we have not as yet had, except for a very small and tiny portion, cadastral survey of land and land records. Then, there is a very special problem of the State - the prevalence of jhum cultivation. Therefore, so far as this problem is concerned we are now going ahead, first of all, with the basic necessity or the priority need of cadastral survey and the preparation of land records. Now, so far as the other point, i.e., provision of house sites to the landless and weaker sections of the people, is concerned, I would say that we, in our State, do not have the same degree of the problem as in the Plain areas. This is because, as far as the House sites are concerned, in the plain areas the density of population is about 200 per square kilometer while in this Hill State here we are around 45 only per square kilometer. So the question of getting the land for building houses is not very difficult compared to the need for found for building houses. Therefore, Sir, we are really looking into the question and trying to formulate ways and means for getting financial aid for construction of buildings. We are taking up the matter with the Government of India. Regarding bonded labour, I should say there is practically no such thing in our State. Then so far as the problem of rural indebtedness is concerned, this is not a problem of ours only but it is a problem of the whole country. We have, as the hon. Members are aware, introduced a Bill for relief in this matter. At the same time we have also provided Rs.25 lakhs as takabi loans and then again being conscious of the problem and in keeping with the spirit of the new change in social and economic order in the country. The Government of India had also decided to established rural banks. As stated earlier, from 1969, commercial banks have been directed to serve the cause of the people yet the Government of India has realised and felt that the Commercial Banks have been inadequate. Therefore, a few months ago they have decided to set up rural banks to serve exclusively the rural people. In this connection, the Government of Meghalaya had pressed that this area needs at least one such bank.
Regarding point No.6, I would like to inform that the Government has already fixed an amount of minimum wage.
On irrigation, the House has had the occasion to hear from the Minister for Agriculture that we are having a very big programme, because in our State the basic problem for production is the problem of irrigation. In irrigation, electricity has got a very big role to play.
Question No.7, i.e., the use of under-ground water. The Public Health Engineering Department is preparing a scheme for sanitation and use of under-ground water. However, this cannot be done over-night; it will take sometime. But I would like to assure the House that we are moving in the right direction and we have taken up with the Central Water Board.
Then point No.8, that is about Power Programme. Just now I have pointed out that Power Programme in the State is very very important and fortunately for us, we have got the potentials of both hydel and thermal power. We had taken up the matter very seriously and would like to remind you that from 1st January of this year we have been able to bifurcate the composite State Electricity Board into Assam and Meghalaya State Electricity Boards. We are concentrating very seriously on this subject. We had some problem for a few months on the question of fund for Kyrdemkulai but a few days ago one officer of the L.I.C has come to Shillong and presented a cheque to the Chief Minister for one crore for financing the Kyrdemkulai Project. Another few crores, about 5 crores also would be forthcoming for this project. I hope in a year or two we are going to commission this project and it will contribute to the irrigation needs of the State.
Point No.9, i.e., development of hand-loom sector in the State. In certain parts of the State, in Garo Hills and Bhoi areas in Khasi Hills, there is scope for hand-loom industry. We are also going to provide them with yarns. Of course for every programme we do need funds and during our next plan we will see that funds are made available for this programme.
Point No.10. We are maintaining and also trying to improve and increase the supply of people's cloth in various parts of the State.
Point No.11 i.e., utilisation and urbanization of land. On this question I would like to point out that the condition in Meghalaya is such that practically we have no urban land. We are still very rural people and even this Shillong have not come up as a city. So the problem is not very much acute here at present. However, we have to think for the future and we are examining and trying to take up a master plan for the three district Headquarters.
Now this point No.12, i.e., tax evasion. They are of current problems both for Centre and the States.
Point No.13 smugglers. It is under the Central jurisdiction and the State Government is giving full co-operation. Then about import licensing, I would point out that this is also a matter of the Central Government.
Regarding Workers' Organisation in Industries, it may be said that our Industries are very new in the State and it may not be relevant just at present. But we have to keep in view that industries are coming up and we will have to take up and I hope all will agree that ultimately when our State will be in the industrial picture we would like that there would be a sense of participation among the workers.
Point No.16 concerns the National Permit Scheme for transport. For this also, the State has decided to implement and it will be taken up very soon. This is relevant to us especially when the bifurcation of the Transport Corporation will be completed, which I hope it will be done very soon. Point No.17 is about Income Tax Relief which is a Central subject and does not concern us. Point No.18 is about the accommodation for students to be provided in the hostels. The Government will continue with this and maintain the programme of giving aid to the students in the hostels. Point No.19 is about books and stationeries which again concerns the students by selling them at controlled price. Other steps are also being taken by establishing book banks, which we hope to cover all over the State. The last point is the Apprenticeship Scheme for helping in the employment of the weaker section of the society. This is especially relevant to us because we have complaints that when industries, banks and various other institutions are set up, we do not have our own people who are employed in these institutions. So the Government is seriously concerned about this and are taking steps to have this apprenticeship scheme implemented in various institutions. Sir, it is a very good thing that we have left the routine discussion, the daily routine of day to day life, the daily affairs of administration work and activities in the fields when we lift ourselves and think on a higher plane without any selfishness in serving and in developing our personalities and in dedicated service to our people. With these few words I resume my seat.
Mr. Deputy Speaker :- I think the mover of the motion has been enlightened about the steps which are being taken by our Government in implementing, as mentioned in this House, the 20-Point Programme as enunciated by the Prime Minister. Now let us come to Motion No.7 to be moved by Shri H. E .Pohshna.
Shri H. E. Pohshna :- Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I beg to move that this Assembly do now discuss about the steps to be taken for early adoption of the twelve measures of prohibition in the State of Meghalaya.
Mr. Deputy Speaker :- Motion moved. Now you can raise a discussion.
Shri H. E. Pohshna :- Sir, while moving this motion about the twelve steps or measures to be taken by the State of Meghalaya, I take this opportunity of reminding the House that on the 2nd October of this year, the Government of India have issued a Press Note in New Delhi on the measures to be taken on prohibition in the country. Sir, this step is really very very important and is it in memory of the father of the nation under whose leadership the first proclamation on prohibition was issued to enjoin the people of the country to give up the habit of drinking and abolish liquor shops. Its importance is seen from the fact that it he has been mentioned and incorporated in Article 47 of the Constitution of India. It is the national policy that the people of India should be made to realise the evils of drinking, and that is why prohibition is to be implemented in Meghalaya also. The relevant position of Article 47 of the Constitution reads as follows-"the States shall endeavour to bring about prohibition of the consumption except for medicinal purposes of intoxicating drinks and drugs which are injurious to health". Sir, I found that all of us are very much serious about the 20-point programme and how will it be implemented. I congratulate our Chief Minister for having been in the forefront of this big battle and I do hope and expect Sir, that our State will not be lagging behind in implementing the measures which will help the future of our State by saving our young generations, our young people from ruins through the evils for drinking. At this time, Sir, I hope some sort of statement will be issued by the Government. Also I have seen from some reports and some news from the newspapers on this matter, but they are contradictory news. We expect that a clear press note or a statement from the Government will be made so that our people will be able to know on what line action will follow, in implementing these 12 measures of prohibition programme. I will not take long in this discussion, Sir, but only to impress upon Government that this is a very important step. I see that whenever we discuss prohibition in the State of Meghalaya, everybody - I may say the majority think it is impossible to implement prohibition in the State. Some have' even gone to the extent of saying that drinking is part and parcel of tribal life. Whatever it may be, Sir, in my opinion, the implementation of these 12 measures will greatly help the State of Meghalaya to solve the evil problem of drinking. The measures does not speak on total prohibition, but it speaks about measures to control drinking. It is a fact that it is much different from the 20-Point Economic Programme as all the 12 measures can be made applicable to our State while some of the points of the 20 Point Economic Programme are not relevant and not applicable to our State. If we read the 12 measures, we find that the ban would cover hotels, restaurants, clubs and public receptions. To enforce the ban, the 12 measures are: (1) Discontinuance of advertisements and public inducements relating to drink. (2) Stoppage of drinking in public places like hotels, hostels, restaurants and clubs at public receptions. (3) Banning of liquor shops near industrial, irrigation and other development projects to keep away the workers from drinking. (4) No liquor shops to be allowed along the highways and residential areas in towns and villages, nor anywhere near educational institutions, religious places and colonies of labourers. (5) Pay days in different areas to be uniformly "dry" days. (6) Strict restrictions to be enforced on motor vehicle drivers and pilots; any infringement of rules to be punished with the cancellation of their licences for a sufficiently long period. Government servants of all categories, including employees of public undertakings, to abstain from drinking in public; drunkenness while on duty to be severely punished. No new liquor shops to be opened in any part of the a country merely to earn more excise revenue. No licence for creation of additional capacity or expansion of existing capacity for distillation or brewing of alcoholic drinks to be granted save in 100 per cent export oriented cases. The existing legislation to be tightened up with a view to punishing the guilty more effectively. Special mobile police squads to be organised for the purpose where necessary. Widespread and concerted propaganda by official as well as non-official agencies against the evil of drinking. Leaders of public opinion to set up the tone by their personal example. So far as our State is concerned, I see there is nothing that is not applicable to our State, rather it has relieved this State Government to a great extent, from the public blame, that they have simply harassed us this way or that way, they are going to Sohiong, Ummulong, and Barabazar to raid their houses. We have got a very good shelter from these 12 measures initiated by the Central Government. Therefore, Sir, I have a hope that our Government should take very very serious steps in this great war against the evil of drinking which have ruined our people. Some one may say that implementation of the schemes will affect our customs and adopting the measures is going against our customs. Sir, this is not justified and we are not going to root out our customs by these measures. The 12 measures did not prohibit anybody to observe his customs. For example, the Tuber or Jowai people can drink as usual in their religious ceremony and during the Behdeinkhlam Dance, according to their customs and religion. It does not touch anything or has nothing to do with customs and religion. Therefore, Sir, I do not see that it affects anything on the social life of the tribal people of Meghalaya. If we agree with the Father of Nation, and if we take the Constitution very seriously and its basic principles, we find that is the duty of the State Government to see that prohibition must be enforced in the country. I think it is the duty of this State Government to implement the 12 measures. Of course, the Finance Minister may think that Government exchequer will be affected. Yes, to some extent. I would like to quote from the speech of the Father of the Nation "I would rather have India reduced to a state of pauperness than have thousands of drunkers in our midst" Yes, revenue will be affected but if we go through a comparative statement on this subject of "12 measures" we can cannot deny that if we total the entire ruin or loss of families and the poverty caused to families for time to time by drinking I believe crores of rupees have been spent and had been lost by the people though without any account for example if the Government of Meghalaya or the Minister of Transport purchase a truck and if it has been handed over to a drunkard driver, who knows in a moment, that Rs.50,000/- will go to the drain and the truck will be lost due to few drops of liquor. We have seen also that so many police men are patrolling the streets because of the crime various crimes committees, during the drinking hour, by some of our people. Is this not a loss? We have talked about improvement of food-stuff position in the State of Meghalaya. I say Sir, it is only a fact, that it is because of the earnest attempt of the Minister-in-charge of Civil Supplies, that we have got a good rush of rice and atta to this State. But it is also due to the fear of the people to prepare liquor from rice. Therefore, Sir, if we could implement these measures in our State, I could say that instead of losing revenue it would rather be compensated in other way and in the long run we will gain in all spheres of activities of our daily life as a nation. Therefore, Sir, as I have said, I am not going to take a long time. I know it is the duty of this Government to implement these 12 measures. We have seen from the statement of the Minister that he is ready to go even to any extent to implement the 12 measures and it is our duty to save our families from ruin. I think everybody will agree with me that every responsible parents will be worried if theirs sons come home late at night. Whether they drink or not the parent do not feel secured or fear that their children may be involved in drink especially in the towns of Jowai and Shillong where drinking is common. The future of our young people is at state if drinking is not stopped . We are now on the eve of Christmas and New Year and we know of the things that are being done or committed on the Christmas and New Year's nights. This I our common experience and it requires a special and serious attention on the part of the State Government. These sad incidents are occurring every year as a result of drinks. Therefore, my appeal and my request to the Government is that they must come forward, as they have done with the 20-Point Economic Programme to come forward with the 12 measures and to take steps to see that they are implemented soon in this State of ours. If the measures are adopted by the Government with the cooperation of the people, I think a hope that many people who use to come to Shillong and found that our people who used to drink openly will wonder to find such things will never be seen again in the streets of Shillong. Let us pray that after the implementations of these 12 measures, our Meghalaya will be a new State, new Meghalaya in this eastern region and the first State to set an example of implementing the 12 measures of prohibition for the betterment of the future generation of the people of Meghalaya, people of the whole country.
Shri E. Bareh (Minister, Supply, Excise etc) :- Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, from our side, we are one with the hon. Mover of this Motion. But I am sorry to inform him that we have received any instruction or any directive from the Government of India nor any communication officially from the Government of India. But considering the damage and loss which drink can do, we would like to tell the hon. Mover even before his motion comes, that we have already taken strong steps. May I inform him clearly that we have already issued a Press Note on this. It might have slipped his eyes or mine but it was already there. It was issued on 28th of November and the statement reads like this-"Subject:- 12 measures programme on the prohibition, consumption and distribution of liquor..."
The Government of Meghalaya has given careful consideration to the above Programme and taken the following decisions for immediate implementation.
The Government will persuade all concerned for immediate discontinuance of advertisements and public inducement relating to drinks. In case persuasion fails, Government will not hesitate to make suitable legislation in this regard.
No new bars will be opened in the State. No new liquor shops will be opened near industrial, irrigation and other development projects. No new shops will also be allowed along highways and residential areas, towns and villages etc. It is under examination if 'pay days in different areas can be uniformly 'Dry Days'.
Transport Department will take immediate steps to amend rules to provide severe punishments to drivers of motor vehicles found under influence of drinks. Instructions are being issued to all Government servants including employees of public undertakings to abstain from drinking in public places. Those found drunk while on duty will also be severely punished.
No new liquor shops will be opened just to earn more excise revenue. It is proposed to tighten up the existing legislation to deal effectively with those violating excise laws. Wherever necessary, mobile police squads will also be organised.
Non- official agencies will be approached to do propaganda against the evils of drinking.
The above measures may result in some loss of revenue to the State Government and it is proposed to move the Central Government to make up for the fall in revenue. As regards measures to be taken in regard to the existing bars, liquor shops etc., these would have to be carefully examined and the decisions of the Government thereon will be intimated in due course. Government is also awaiting detailed communications from the Centre of the programme.
So I think, we have already taken all steps in whatever way the hon. Mover of the motion has expected. We have also issued a strict instruction to all the shops and bars that if they are found selling liquor to boys or girls below 18 years, their licenses will be forthwith cancelled and boys and girls be prosecuted. Instructions were issued to all existing shops and bars. With these few words, I don't have much to say because the press note issued on the 28th November, 1975 has clearly indicated the action taken by the Government on this front. Thank you Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir.
Shri S. N. Koch :- On a point of clarification whether the first day of the month is declared as 'dry day'?
Shri E. Bareh (Minister, Excise) :- I have already mentioned that we are considering it. It would be difficult as somebody gets his pay on the first day of the month and somebody on the 5th and some on the 10th of the month. So it is very difficult to declare any day as 'dry day'.
Shri H.E. Pohshna :- Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, for the information of the Minister, I would like say that there is already a press note no doubt, but some people especially those who are suppose to implement the programme did not do so. A small sigh board is there on the Jowai bazar but liquor is being sold freely on the roadside every day even near the D.C.'s court itself and near the Excise Branch. So I just want to give this information to the House.
Mr. Deputy Speaker :- Now we will discuss Motion No.8 and as the hon. Member is absent, we may pass on to Motion No.9. Mr. H.S. Lyngdoh to move.
Shri H.S. Lyngdoh :- Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I beg to move that this Assembly do now discuss on the function and administration of the Information and Public Relation Department.
Mr. Deputy Speaker :- Motion moved. Now you can raise a discussion.
Shri H.S. Lyngdoh :- Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I have to move this motion before the House in order to discuss something about certain activities of this particular Department. In fact, Sir, I do no want to discuss on the whole administration and function of this Department but I cannot but discuss in some of its activities. Sir, it is expected that this Department should render its service for the benefit of the people. This department should serve the people in a better perspective and there are many thinks which should be done by this Department as per policies adopted and programmes drawn up by the Government for guiding the people of the State. We also expect that this department should help and guide them properly in giving important propaganda as to how the people will live better, how to behave themselves, how to think to improve their lot in their day life. This Department has to educate the people in many wants to develop their way of life and living to improve their standard. The Government has got some schemes and programmes as to how guide and educate the people in every field of national development. It is through this Department that the people should know how to work better in their business, how to maintain their family and how to raise their standard of living in their own huts and homes in the villages and in the whole State as well. But Sir, I am sorry to say that we have seen for the last two or three years, since the inception of the State itself, this Public Relations Department has not yet tried to function to the desired extent. Sir, the people of this State of ours are living far away from the Central Head-Quarters at Delhi and so they cannot come in touch with the rest of the people of India. Though we here are living in peace and there was no untoward incident or any bad occurrence in the whole State, during this emergency period, and where nothing happens of a serious nature, as it happens in other parts of the country, yet we are still to know more from the Centre to how to carry on our day to day life.
Because of the fact that the Government of India has declared the emergency and we the people of the State should be well acquainted with the programmes sponsored on this State during this emergency period. Our people, because of lack of information, do not understand anything about this emergency. Even the word emergency itself is a foreign language to them they called it Germany' and most of the people around Shillong say that this present State of emergency is like that of Germany at the time when Germany tried to invade the whole world. But again they think that our State is not in a war !
Shri W. A. Sangma (Chief Minister) :- Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, during the last Assembly Session a booklet with the title, "Why Emergency" was distributed to all the M.L.As and I expect that this booklet will explain to them about the present emergency.
Shri Hopingstone Lyngdoh :- Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I would like to congratulate the Hon'ble Ministers for what they have done in this regard. But what I am talking now is about the Public Relations Department, and this particular department has got a very very important role to play during this present state of emergency. We have just discussed the other day the 20-Point Economic Programme. Though the Government is very much enthusiastic in implementing this programme, very few people can understand the meaning of this 20-Point Economic Programme, leaving aside the talk on how much we have achieved in this respect. Our Chief Minister has, in fact, deliberately replied regarding the achievement that has been made on this 20-Point Economic Programme. But Sir due to lack of information from this particular department, we are still in the dark about what the Government has been doing or is going to do on this 20 - Point Economic Programme and because of this lack of information and public relation, people now have been suffering very much. They do not understand the state of emergency at all. Since the proclamation of this emergency the people cannot hold any meeting and even if they want to hold a meeting, they need permission from the Deputy Commissioner whose office is 100 miles from their village. In fact, we understand that this permission is necessary only when a political meting is to be held where the security of the State is at stake. But Sir, because of this present state of emergency, even the Durbar of the Dolois of Elakas the Syiem of the Syiemship and the Sirdars of Sirdarship could not be held as they need permission, in fact such meetings need no permission at all, also for meetings to discuss about the development programme of their area, but people do not know that because of lack of information and public relation. It has been brought to our notice that even to have their Durbar Shnong they need permission from the Government, as this present State of emergency does not allow them to have meetings, where they mainly discuss about their day to day administration of their village; in fact there is nothing to prevent such a meeting. This is due to lack of information. Of course, the Chief Minister has said that the Government has brought out a booklet on this present state of emergency and from the Public Relations Department I have received a bundle of them, four or five copies of them (in Khasi) "Balei Emergency". This, in fact, has been circulated to the Members but only four or five of them are not sufficient.
Shri W. A. Sangma (Chief Minister) :- You are supposed to execute it.
Shri Hopingstone Lyngdoh :- Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, when some of the members try to have meetings to enlighten people in connection with administrative matters in certain areas, then the police have come and enquired why you have called this meeting and what made you to hold this meeting, etc. and they said that this was an emergency period. But Sir, I do not blame the police. It is the duty of the police, if the have been sent by the Government to do so. And Sir, it is also due to lack of information and public relation that our people in the village, once they will see the police, they will think that they have come harass them and they never think that they are also the Government servants. Of course, Sir, the police are the friends of the people and they are there to help them. But Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, this Public Relations Department should take now the leading part for supplying information and making propaganda to change the whole out look of our ignorant citizens. Another thing, Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, this Public Relations Department, has got some sets of cinema projectors and films and this is also one of the means through which the Government is trying to provide information and publicity for the interior areas. But Sir, I may bring to the notice of the House that so far these cinema shows have been shown only in certain areas of the State for certain people, and it has become the property of the Ministers; that wherever a Minister goes or sometimes when 2 or 3 Ministers go Ministers to one place, then the Public Relations Department will follow the Ministers with the cinema shows. So Sir, if the Minister are fond of visiting only certain areas in the State and they go to such places for 4, 5 or 6 times in a year, only such place will have the privilege of these educative film shows. I have not come across any instance when a Minister visiting any place is not accompanied by the Public Relation Department. So I think it is not necessary to maintain these machineries and film sets for educative programme which are meant to impart knowledge to the people as they were taken away to the personal establishment of the Ministers. Of course, I do not deny the fact that in certain localities of Shillong, where the people take interest in these educative films on certain occasions, on their own application, they used to get these educative films screened. But such things are never shown in the interior places. So Sir, the purpose of this motion of mine, which I move today, is that, if at all, we are to maintain this Public Relations Department, with all these machineries and cinema sets, the Government should see that people of the State as a whole are given advantage of these films. We have seen that provision has been made in the budget for these cinema shows. But even then, if the Minister is to take these sets to the interior even for carrying charges, from the road heads to the villages, the expenditure is borne by the people themselves. So Sir, I think it is good specially during this time of emergency that the Government should implement this programme more effectively so that the people will be aware of the functioning of this particular department and more-over the state of emergency and the Economic programme Sir, as some other hon. Members will take part in the discussion of this Motion, I will not raise any more questions and with these few words, I move my motion.
Shri Rowell Lyngdoh :- Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, as the scope for the discussion of this motion is wider, compared to the motion standing in my name, that is motion No.15, I propose not to move my motion, but will take part in this particular motion before the House.
Sir, while taking part in this motion, I would like to make the following points in respect of the functioning of the Public Relations Department. In regard to distribution of advertisements to local newspapers, we have seen that this department has really adopted a discriminatory policy. Sir, we have seen that local newspapers are facing financial difficulties that they become unstable and cannot maintain themselves to be effective unless they are supplemented by advertisement from the Government, and often time, we have been assured that advertisements will be distributed to the local small newspapers uniformly. But till now, we have seen that certain newspapers get a lot of advertisement whereas some other newspapers do not get at all or even if they get sometimes in a year, they get only 2 or 3 advertisements. Whereas some other papers with the same size or whose circulation is more or less the same, are getting 2 or 3 advertisements in one issue, but some other papers do not get at all except, when the editor or representative of that paper requests the Department, then only they may give, otherwise the department will completely ignore the existence of such papers. Here in Shillong itself, we have seen that there are many local newspapers-in local languages that is Khasi languages. We have seen some of the papers like 'Ka Pyrta U Riewlum', or 'U Peitngor' are getting large number of advertisements and if we calculate for the whole year, the amount earned by these papers will run into several thousands of rupees, whereas some other newspapers like 'Lyngwiar Dphei' and 'Kyrwoh' do not get any advertisements even for the whole year, and the amount they earned is very small. So, this practice is very discriminatory and we except that Government will distribute the advertisements uniformly.
Sir, if we look at this Department again, as the mover has pointed out, the projector has been kept under this Department since the beginning of the State. Nearly 4 years have passed and I have sometimes contacted the Department personally to get this projector in order to exhibit educative films in the interior areas, for example, in areas under my constituency, but I have never been able to get the projector even once. But it is a fact that when Ministers visit any place, and it has happened so in one area in Mawkyrwat this Department followed the Ministers and arranged the film shows, and this has been done many times in one place, whereas, when I requested the Department to give me the projector only once or twice so that I can take it to some interior places to arrange film shows in order to educate the people about everything which goes on in India and about the people in the country but I never get, Sir. Instead, only once I have got from another Department and that is Agriculture Department where we can see about agriculture and about its many educative programmes. I thank the Department, though it does not concern here, but whereas from the concerned Department that is the Information and Public Relations, Sir, we do not get the services as expected. So, Sir, it is really unfortunate that the function of the Department is questionable. So, Sir, we except that the Government will look into this matter which we have pointed out. With these few words, I take my seat.
*Shri W. Syiemiong :- Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I would also like to add a few words in this very important Motion. Sir, considering the financial implication of this Department, of its budget, though it is really a very small Department but then only a fool, I would say, Sir, would deny or ill-afford to underestimate its importance in this 20th Century-Social and Political development. We all very well know, Sir, that it is through this Department only that we can help educate and enthuse new ideas and knowledge to our people especially in the remotest part of our State. It is this Department which has been solely given the responsibility for doing this particular jobs. But then, Sir, as we have seen, and as my friend just now expressed, it appears that this Department has become on the other hand just a tool in the hands of the Ministers. Whenever the Minister goes, you will find that the Public Relations Officials will be there and whatever they do not go, you will never find such officials. So, the vast areas where the Ministers never undertook any tour remained untouched by these officials. It is quite good that the Ministers should go and should try to take the message to the people but as it is, it appears that the Minister act no more as Ministers, but have become mere Public Information Officers, they have taken that job of the Department themselves. And as my friend from Mawkyrwat just now said, that whenever any elected representatives-the M.L.As. M.D.Cs. want to take these officers to their constituencies they find it very difficult that at times we have to resort to getting the help from the Agriculture or Community Development or Forests Department for showing slides or cinema shows or anything of the sort. Another view, Sir, is that, we have been expecting that through this Department regular news future will be distributed to the entire State I understand there are also at least 2/3 weeklies or monthlies where some bulletins were issued from this Department but, Sir, these are very very irregular and I believe in one issue, the very news itself also sometimes, if not obnoxious, is very bad. In the Khasi bulletin it was reported about the tour undertaken by the Chief Minister-they wanted to say that the Chief Minister is at Byrnihat but in Khasi they wrote it in such a way that is in Byrni, which means Capt. Sangma is in the bag (Capt. Sangma laughter). And in such a way they use to issue the Press Release. It would have very much appreciated, if they can issue this Press Release side by side with the English, Khasi as well as Garo languages, because the Press information Bureau of the Central Government even can issue the Press Release and Bulletins in English, Khasi and Garo languages of this very State. Why can we not follow suit and issue Press Release in this way ? But the worst feature is, as the hon. Member has just now said, about the distribution of advertisements. This is the worst. We are all aware Sir, that quite a number of times rather quite often, it has been stated on this very floor of the Assembly that this Government always stand for justice; it is for justice that it stands and any injustice will never be tolerated by this Government. I do not know whether the Minister concerned is aware of that, I think if he is aware of that, I think he is not aware of that - I think if he is aware, then he must be a party to it, because as the hon. Member just said the distribution of advertisements is so discriminatory that I need not elaborate on it. If we can recollect last year or in the last Budget Session during March, we would remember, that there was one question wherein it was stated that advertisement for a certain paper which belongs to the Ruling Party comes to Rs.80,000.00 and that too within the space of three or four years, but advertisement to papers which belong to the parties other than the Ruling Party amounted to only Rs.2,000.00 or Rs.3,000.00. We thought that, after having got that information and fatter the Minister was aware of that information at least some justice would be there, but it appears Sir, that this thing remains the same and it is getting worse and I have proof of it, and if the Minister or the House really wishes, I could produce the proof by tomorrow and I would show here each and every issue of various publication and to what extent it is deteriorating. I feel that the Minister is not a party to it. I do hope and I wish that these things will not be repeated.
*Shri D.D. Pugh (Minister, Information and Public Relation) :- Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, at the very outset I would like to say that what the hon. mover of the motion has expressed the desire to know the aims and objects of the Department of Information and Public Relations should be and that is what precisely it is aiming at. What I have in mind is this that the functions of the Department within the State are to disseminate opinion regarding Government policies, programmes and achievements, within the State-the objective of the Department is to keep the Government informed regarding the trend of public opinion, as expressed in various newspapers and other media of information. Besides the said objective of the Department its duty is to project the image of State. This, Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir is to be done through the Press Notes and Press Releases, feature articles, sponsoring supplements to the newspapers, through the All India Radio, through publication and the Weekly journals. For example we are publishing the following publication :-
U Nongkit in Khasi language,
Wyrta in Jaintia language and
Doamek in Garo Language
We are also trying to achieve the objects of the Department through press conferences and inter-State exchange of publications and distribution of calendars and other newspapers. The project will be in undertaken by the State Department of Information and Public Relation in collaboration with the Government of India. Now the hon. Mover has very strongly contended that, during this emergency, the department should take special care to keep the people informed regarding emergency. Now on this point, as was correctly stated by the Leader of the House, that pamphlets have been issued and distributed. Then I would like to remind the House of the fact that during this Session itself the hon. Mover had occasion to mention that since the promulgation of the emergency, Ministers, a group of Ministers and to use his language, a herd of Ministers, is seen touring his areas particularly and he then had also admitted that Ministers undertook these tours to explain to the people about the emergency and the 20 Point Economic Programme of the Prime Minister. Now he has also stated that Ministers and M.L.As should not be expected to educate and inform the people regarding emergency. On this point Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I submit and I beg to differ........(interruption).
Shri Hopingstone Lyngdoh :- Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I do not say that experienced M.L.As and MDCs should not directly have the responsibility. I deny that charge and instead I would like to say that they are responsible for educating the people.
Shri D. D. Pugh (Minister, Information and Public Relation) :- Well, Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, the hon. Mover should not expect, in any way, that the point I very well known to all of us. We have a joint responsibility and though today it just transpires or just happens that the Department of Information and Public Relations, is under my charge and my care, nevertheless, the success of the Department is a joint responsibility of the entire Council of Ministers. Therefore, it is only right and proper to expect the Ministers should undertake tours and educate the people about the emergency and the 20 Point Economic Programme enunciated by the Prime Minister. In like manner, Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I would like to take this opportunity to urge upon my colleagues, M.L.As. to also shoulder this great responsibility by educating the people. Now it seems to me that the hon. Mover of the Motion seems to be opposed to the idea of having to apply for a permission from the Deputy Commissioner to hold public meetings where the emergency and the 20 Point Economic Programme can be explained. I realise, Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, the people are finding difficulty in holding public meetings because of the instructions given in the emergency provision, I would like to clarify the point that applying for permission from the Deputy Commissioner to hold or organise a public meeting wherein it is expected to explain to the people about the emergency and the 20 Point Economic Programme, is in fact a very simple process and also in fact very easy to obtain permission. Now three hon. Members and two other hon. Members including the Mover of the motion mention about the use of projectors and films. Now I would like categorically to make a statement and to say that, it is not a fact that projectors and films shows are made available only to Ministers. For example just before this Session of the Assembly started, I received an application, a request from the Headmaster of the Presbyterian High School of Cherrapunjee requesting for a projector and two films to be sent to Cherrapunjee on the night of 11th and 12th. Now on both these nights of 11th and 12th, as the House knows, all the Ministers are present here in Shillong attending this Session. But the projectors and the films were sent and were shown to the school children in this particular school both on the night of 11th, 12th. I am giving this information, just by way of illustration of the fact that subject to availability, the projectors are placed at their disposal.
(At this stage the Deputy Speaker vacated and the Speaker occupied the Chair).
Shri Winstone Syiemiong :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, on this point, I would like to know who received the application.
Shri D. D. Pugh (Minister, Information and Public Relations) :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, I received the application.
Shri Winstone Syiemiong :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, it is obvious.
Shri D. D. Pugh (Minister, Information of Public) :- Well Mr. Speaker, Sir, I request the hon. Member to kindly bear with me and I will reply to his point.
Mr. Speaker :- It is obvious if you talk only to him. (laughter)
Shri D. D. Pugh (Minister, Information and Public Relation) :- Now Mr. Speaker, Sir, the point I am going to make is that I am not aware of the fact that any application for a project or and films has continuously been rejected. Now Mr. Speaker, Sir, if there were any such cases, I would like to request the hon. Member from Mawkyrwat to kindly bring it to my attention. It is a small thing and very easy to do it. So if this was the complaint of the hon. Member from Mawkyrwat, I would expect him just to inform me of the situation and I shall take care to rectify the mistake. But at the same time, I would like categorically to state that either the projector or the films or even the PA system will be made available on condition that they are readily available and they have not already been booked for some other meeting or some other village. Now the hon. Member from Mawkyrwat has also raised the question of discrimination in the distribution of advertisements to the local newspapers and this point was also supported by the hon. Member from Nongspung. In this connection, Mr. Speaker, Sir, I would like to read out a letter that was issued on the 19th November, 1970. It is addressed to all Heads of Departments, Government of Meghalaya and all Executive Engineers, PWD., Government of Meghalaya.
Procedure for issue of Government advertisements and notifications in newspapers etc.
It has been brought to the notice of this department that quite a number of Government departments are sending their advertisements and notifications direct to newspapers and Meghalaya Gazette for publication. The Directorate of Information and Public Relations being the central unit through which Governmental activities should be published and official advertisements and notifications issued to newspapers, it is essential that other departments assist this Directorate to enable it to function as an effective apparatus of publicity. With a view to ensure uniformity, it is requested that all official advertisements intended for publication in the Meghalaya Gazette or Newspapers should be sent to this Directorate indicating in their forwarding memos the number of insertions and category of newspapers, namely, daily or bi-weekly, where they want their advertisements to be published, etc. The Directorate of Information and Public Relations will select the names of newspapers from the approved list of newspapers. The practice of either sending advertisements directly to newspaper or of stating the names of papers by the departments to which advertisements are to be sent for publication may be discontinued. This department will make a judicious selection of newspapers and periodicals keeping in view the (a) influence (b) tone and (c) circulations of papers while sending advertisements. All bills regarding advertisements will be received by this Directorate and will be sent to the departments concerned for payment after scrutiny".
Now, Mr. Speaker, Sir, it will be apparent from the reading of this circular that there are certain basic principles on the basis of which advertisements are issued to the local newspapers and also non-local newspapers. The first and foremost is the circulations, secondly, the tone and thirdly, the influence of the paper. Now if certain advertisements is of special interest, say to the people of Nongstoin area - the west - it would stand to reason that the paper 'Ka Mei Ri Lum' which is published on Iew Umni day would have the greatest circulation in that area. It would have the greatest circulation than 'Ka Pyrta U Riewlum' Which is published on Iewduh or the fourth day after that. So, these are the bases on which the advertisements are distributed and I would like to remind the House once again of the figures I had given, in one of the sessions of this august House, wherein I had made an attempt to show that whereas in the case of 'Ka Pyrta U Riewlum,' the amount of advertisements given was on a descending scale but in the case of 'Ka Lyngwiar Dpei' it was definitely on an ascending scale. In the year 1972-73, 'Ka Lyngwiar Dpei' draw a blank and it did not drew a single rupee by way of cost of advertisements. But the following year 1973-74, it drew bills worth Rs.323.40p and in the year 1974 - 75, it drew bills worth Rs.10,019.40. Mr. Speaker, Sir, I am using the words 'drew bills'. Even in 1972-73, despite the fact that the editor or the management of Lyngwiar Dpei drew blank, it does not necessarily mean that no advertisements was given. I am not in a position to state whether advertisements was given or not, but it was possible that some advertisements was given and the bill for that advertisement was drawn the following year. Some special mention has also been made on 'U Kyrwoh U Rilum' 1972-73 blank, 1973 - 74 blank and 1974-75 Rs.3,722. In this connection, Mr. Speaker, Sir, I would like to emphasise the most important factor taken into consideration, how well-established a paper is, and secondly, its circulation. Now, the figures I have here are not those collected by the Government or by the department. They are the figures volunteered by the managements of the various papers and I personally know that specially during the years 1960 to 1970, the newspapers which claimed to have a circulation of 2,000 was actually selling 200. So these figures are generally inflated. But despite the fact that we try to go into the circulation of the newspapers and on the basis of that, we try to give the advertisements to those papers, which are well-established, it is true, as contended by the hon. Members both from Nongspung and Mawkyrwat, that most of these local newspapers are depending for their continued existence on the advertisements that they receive from the Government. But that should not be the case. It is our contention, Mr. Speaker, Sir, that while we shall supplement their revenues, they should make efforts to be able to stand on their own legs. Now, the hon. Member from Nongspung has made some mention about the quality of the Press Notes and the Press Releases that have been released by the Department. He has also made certain suggestions. e.g., he has stated that the English version, with Khasi and Garo translations should be issued simultaneously. I would like to assure the hon. Member that attempts will be made by the Department to ensure that in future, translations both in Khasi and Garo will be released simultaneously with the English version of the Press Notes or the Press Releases. I must even admit, in connection with the quality of the Press Releases and Press Notes, that have been released that they might have not been perfect. In fact, I must even admit that they have not been up to the mark. But, for the hon. Member from Nongspung to have cited a particular example of that caption that was given in the Khasi language "U Capt. Sangma ha Byrni" and when translated into English it means that: Capt, Sangma in a gunny bag or in a sack; despite the fact that I do not claim to know very much about the Khasi language, I beg to differ. If the intention had been to give a caption-Capt. Sangma inside a gunny bag or sack it should have been written-"U Capt. Sangma hapoh ka byrni".
Mr. Speaker :- Actually, if the spelling of the word "Byrni' 'B' is small, it means "in a gunny bag" but if 'B' is a capital, it mean Byrnihat (Laughter).
Shri W. Syiemiong :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, I did not say that he was in a gunny bag but I did say that it might also mean like that.
Shri D. D. Pugh (Minister, Information and Public Relations) :- In any case, Mr. Speaker, Sir, the point of giving the captions or titles is something of a prerogative of the Editor and the Editorial Board. They have to make it short or as to short as possible. Mr. Speaker, Sir, you might recall that in this august House, we have had the occasion to debate as to whether referring to you as R.S.L. would constitute a breach of privilege or not. By using the abbreviations R. S. L. , the Editors had no intention of committing a breach of privilege or showing any disrespect to you or the Chair or office that you occupy. So, here also the word 'Byrni' was used, I am sure, not with the intention to show disrespect or to mislead the people but that it is something that is normally done by editors and editorial birds. That is why......
Mr. Speaker :- I think we should not came an issue out of it. Anybody who knows the Khasi language, the caption-"U Capt. Sangma ha Byrni"- Means-Capt.. Sangma in Byrnihat.
Shri D. D. Pugh (Minister, Information and Public Relations) :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, that is all that I have to say on this motion.
Shri W. Syiemiong :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, may we get some more clarification? I think there are some more points. According to the Minister's reply, the first is the tone, then the language and then the circulation. May I know whether he is aware that there are other papers, with less circulation. There is another paper which does not belong to the ruling party or not affiliated to it and the advertisement given to it is also so less. The proof of that can be given even tomorrow, if it is awaited. But there is no basis about the letter of 1970 and with regard to the question of money it might be double, say, Rs.80,000 or Rs.90,000- and then how do we know that you have collected the figures from only two papers.
Shri D. D. Pugh (Minister, Information and Public Relations) :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, this is neither the cut motion nor the unstarred question, much less a starred question. I do not think. I have any obligation to give the information sought for by the hon. Member.
Shri W. Syiemiong :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, I think the Minister has the obligation to reply. We do not expect him to come and tell us that he does not know the function of his Department.
Mr. Speaker :- I think the question of Mr. Syiemiong is relevant but it is also too much for the Minister to reply to all the details. But suffice it to say that the people who are running any newspaper and who know how to approach the people concerned, get more advertisement. But then there are some lazy people who may not get at all. I think that also depends on the smartness of the people who run the paper and to say that a paper should depend on Government advertisement I think that is wrong.
Shri Hopingstone Lyngdoh :- I want just one clarification from the Minister. It may seem that I am against taking any permission for holding meetings. In fact, I am not against it. The thing is that the people do not know what kind of meetings are permitted during the Emergency and then what other kinds are not permitted or what other meetings need not have to seek for permission. So we need publication or propaganda to inform the people about these things.
Mr. Speaker :- I think Mr. Lyngdoh, that is irrelevant, so far as public meetings are concerned. These are generally organised by the leaders who are expected to understand the law of the country and I do not know of any occasions where a public meetings had to be arranged by the people who do not know the actual implication of the emergency. But I understand your plea to the Government, that the Government should, through its agencies, explain to the people about what type of meetings could be held and what type of meeting could be held during the emergency, which I hope, the Government will examine. Any-way, this is not within the purview of this motion. Now the discussion is closed. Let us pass on to Motion No.11 to be moved by Shri Rowell Lyngdoh.
Shri Rowell Lyngdoh :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, I beg to move that this House do now discuss the need for better administration and maintenance of High and Middle English Schools in the State.
Mr. Speaker :- Motion moved. Now you may raise a discussion.
Shri Rowell Lyngdoh :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, I think, I have got only a few points to focus in relation to this motion. Sir, the administration and maintenance of the schools especially in the rural areas is really very deplorable. Sir, the administration of Middle and High Schools in the rural areas is being in a very haphazard manner.
Mr. Speaker :- Are you referring to Government Schools or Government aided Schools?
Shri Rowell Lyngdoh :- I am referring both to Government and Government aided Middle and High Schools. Sir, there is a total lack of supervision and administration in these aided schools in the interior. There are schools which are either Government Schools or getting grants from the Government. But in giving such grants and recognition, some-times, the Government or the authority concerned do not examine the condition of those schools properly. Sometimes, recognition is given to the schools which have less students or enrolment is very poor, whereas those schools which have got more students, regular attendance and sound or smooth function are not getting recognition. Sometimes recognition or permission is delayed from the Department to those promising schools and sometimes selection of schools for recognition or permission is done haphazardly. Sir, moreover, in the matter of maintenance, especially of the aided Middle Schools the funds are very very inadequate. The Government Schools have got every facility, besides pay scale, which is given by the Government. But these aided schools get so meagre amount for maintenance that it becomes difficult for the Schools management to run the institutions smoothly. Further, there is discrimination also in allotting this maintenance grant to the Middle schools. There are some schools (having only three classes i.e., IV, V and VI) which received grant to the tune of Rs.700/800 per month but there are other schools having same number of classes which are getting only 250 rupees per month.
Mr. Speaker :- I think it is for Middle English Schools.
Shri Rowell Lyngdoh :- Yes, Sir, I am referring to Middle English Schools. Sir, this is very inadequate and we would like to suggest that this maintenance grant which is being given to the aided schools annually should be at least equal to the total amount of pay made to the Government schools teachers of the same type of Schools. This should be more or less equal. Otherwise the performance of the schools in the interior will be very poor, as it is seen at present. Because we have seen the teachers in those schools cannot do justice in imparting knowledge to their students unless this discrimination is removed and their pay raised. There should not be difference in giving Adhoc grant, if others are getting Rs.700 all should get 700, and if the Government sanction Rs.1000 then other must also get Rs.1000. The condition of these aided schools in the interior is quite different from that of towns. In towns the management can raise fund by organising fete etc. thereby they can extract money from the public. But in the villages it is not possible. It can be raised only through individual contribution. But it has rather taxed the poor income of the villagers. With this, I submit that there should not be any discrimination, in the maintenance of private and Government schools or from one private school to another.
Shri Francis K. Mawlot :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, I would like to participate in this Motion. Education is the key to development of the community and the nation. Being such an important subject, it needs better attention. Mr. Speaker, Sir, I fall in line with the mover of the Motion; who has made a particular mention regarding granting of permissions and recognition to the different private schools. Well, there are very very good schools with very good number of students with very good financial position and also with adequate staff which were not given permission, they were denied recognition completely. I do not say completely, there is delay in giving permission or recognition.
There are two other points which the mover of the motion has pointed out. I may be allowed to differ with him with regard to the allotment of grants. The mover of the motion has urged that all schools should have the same amount of grants as they run the same classes of say IV, V and VI, even though they may have one or two boys in Class IV or three boys in Class V and four or five boys in Class VI. Such school, Sir, in any opinion, do not at all deserve to get a single naye paise. If I am in the Education Department, I will see that no grants will be allotted to such schools. We have seen that sometimes five teachers are appointed for five boys. So there is a discrimination on the part of the Department giving grants to such schools. Allotment of grants should always be based on the strength of enrolment, number of staff and on the effective administration of the school.
Mr. Speaker, Sir, there are examples; living examples of Government schools having only five or six students. If I am not mistaken and if I remember correctly, Langrin M.E. School is one of such schools. When this schools was at Wahkaji, there were quite a number of students. Now there was a move that the school should be shifted to Phlangdilon, against the will of the local people, as well as of those surrounding villages who are sending their children to this schools. Now the Department has agreed to the proposals, without taking into consideration the findings of the field officers whose report is against this shifting. I myself met the Headmaster of this school in Shillong about three days back. I asked him "When are you going to hold your Examinations, you are always here"? He replied "What examination? I have not taught in the school for a single day for almost six months, and I feel, I am guilty for drawing my pay for no work". He also told me the condition thereof.
Shri P. G. Marbaniang (Minister of State for Education) :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, if I may intervene. He mentioned that when the hon. Member met the headmaster the headmaster told him that he drew his pay without going to school for the last six months.
Shri Francis K. Mawlot :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, I also enquired from that particular headmaster as to whether the Department is not objecting to his not going to school. He said "How can they when I was posted against my will. I objected to post me in a school where there are no students! Whom to teach"?
Mr. Speaker, Sir, the fact is that what he has told me true, and I thinks even the Department will agree with it. So Mr. Speaker, Sir, my only intention in participating in this motion is one, that grants should be equitably distributed to schools having efficient administration, adequate staff and a good number of students attending the school. Secondly. schools which are ill administered had where nobody attends and when the Managing Committee does not function properly even if they are recognised, their recognition should henceforth be cancelled. Lastly, it may not please the Minister, Education to some extent but the Government should see that Government schools prevailing in different districts of the State should be run effectively and if they do not bear good fruits in a particular village, they should be shifted to another village, which of course should be based on the facts as reported by the field Officers. I want to emphasise on this point, as it is seen that the report of the field Officers with regard to the shifting of a particular school from Wahkaji to Phlangdiloin is not heeded to, and this should not be allowed to happen again. The report was against the shifting but the high-ups have ruled out the report and the recommendations of the field Officers with the result that it is a complete failure.
Shri S. N. Koch :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, I would like to participate in the discussion on the need for better administration and maintenance of High and Middle English Schools. I believe it will not be too much to say that most of the schools of the State are run in a very bad condition because of lack of completed buildings. Most of the school buildings take five to eight years to be completed. Why is this so; it is because when grants are given, the are given piecemeal. One year they are given Rs.2,000 then one or two years gap again next year Rs.5,000 and again the next year they have to come again for grants and in the meantime the prices of buildings materials have gone up many times. In this way, the Managing Committee is put to difficulty and they could not complete the building, as originally planned or wanted to do. Our economic condition is well known to the Government. Anyway, we hope to solve the problem, as to our eminent educationists are in the cockpit, and since they ate in education Department and since it was their profession for sometime past, they know the difficulties of the Education Department. So I hope, that in granting buildings, they will at least look that grants are given sufficiently so that the buildings could be completed and not left lying uncompleted for years. If the grants are given sufficiently the Managing Committee will be able to complete the buildings when they start according to estimate, as with each passing year, the prices of buildings materials go up by one hundred to three hundred times. I also happened to be a Secretary of one school of which construction was started sometime in 1966. Since then the school building construction is going on but could not be completed as grants are not only insufficient but there were no grants at all in same subsequent years. But by this time the cost of construction and building materials have gone up by three hundred times which has made the committee to complete as per plan and estimate without further grants.
Mr. Speaker :- You may continue tomorrow M. Koch. The House stands adjourned till 9 a.m. on Tuesday, the 16th December, 1975.
R. T. RYMBAI
|The 15th December, 1975.||
Meghalaya Legislative Assembly.