Proceedings of the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly assembled at 9.00 A.M. on Monday, the 24th March 1975, in the Assembly Chamber, Shillong.
Present - The Deputy Speaker in the Chair.
--------Minister------Ministers of State and --------Members.
Mr. Deputy Speaker :- Now let us begin the business of the day by taking up Starred questions.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
( To which oral replies were given )
Fertilizer Case against M/S Shillong Co-operative Marketing Society Ltd.
Shri S.P. Swer asked :-
* 6. Will the Minister in-charge of Agriculture be pleased to state-
(a) Whether it is a fact that the fertilizer case against M/S Shillong Co-operative Marketing Society Limited has been disposed of?
(b) If so, when was the judgement/ order passed and in whose favour?
Shri Williamson A. Sangma ( Chief Minister) replied:
6. (a) - Yes.
(b)- On 10th March, 1975. No charges have been framed. Hence the case has been dropped by the court.
Industrial training facilities to Meghalayans
Shri S.P. Swer asked :
*. 7. Will the Minister in-charge of Industries be pleased to state -
(a) Whether it is a fact that no trained Meghalayan personnel are readily available for various industrial projects set up in State?
(b) If so, what steps are being taken or proposed to be taken for extending training facilities to Meghalayans?
Shri Stanley D.D. Nichols- Roy (Minister of Industries) replied :
7. (a)- Yes.
(b)- For training at the operative level there are schemes for training of such personnel in factories inside and outside the State under this Department.
There is provision for giving scholarship to eligible Meghalayan young men for studying in business Management, Accountancy, etc. Further steps are taken to train Meghalayan youths in a different Industries.
Shri S.P. Swer :- May we know from the Minister in-charge whether there is good response from the Meghalayan youths to undergo the training?
Shri S.D.D. Nichols Roy (Minister, Industries) :- Not very good response, Sir.
Shri F.K. Mawlot :- May we know how many have come forward till now?
Shri S.D.D. Nichols Roy (Minister, Industries) :- I require notice, Sir.
Industrial Unit in the Border Areas
Shri S.P. SWER asked :
* 8. Will the Minister in-charge of Industries be pleased to state-
(a) The industrial unit set up in the Border Areas of the State.
|(b) Whether any step has been taken for setting up industrial units in the Border Areas with the object of uplifting the economic condition of the people?|
(c) Whether there is any attempt for finding industrial use of pan leaves?
(d) If so, the scheme or schemes taken up or proposed to be taken up?
Shri Stanley D.D. Nichols Roy (Minister, Industries) replied :
8. (a)- Komorrah Lime Stone Mining Company Ltd. and Meghalaya Essential Oils and Chemicals Company Ltd.
(d)- Regional Research Laboratory at Jorhat has been commissioned to investigate into the possibility of utilising pan leaf for commercial purpose.
Mr. Deputy Speaker :- Let us one come to Unstarred Questions.
( To which written replies were laid on Table)
Frequent blackouts and failure of power in Shillong
Prof. Alexander Warjri asked:
102. Will the Minister in-charge of Power be pleased to state -
|(a) Whether Government is aware of the frequent blackouts and failure of power in Shillong?|
|(b) Whether Government is satisfied with the role of the Shillong Hydro- Electric Company in the matter of supply of electric power in the town?|
|(c) If not, what action Government has taken for the failure of the Company to cater to the needs of the town ?|
Stanley D.D. Nichols Roy (Minister, in-charge of Power) replied :
102. (a)- Government is aware of the occasional blackouts or power failure in Shillong.
(b)- Mostly satisfactory.
(c) - Does not arise.
Shri S.D. Khongwir :- May we have further clarification from the Minister? What does it mean by "Mostly satisfactory"?
Shri S.D.D. Nichols Roy (Minister, Power) :- Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, it cannot be said that the role of the Shillong Hydro- Electric Company in the matter of supply of power in the town is 100 per cent satisfactory; but it is largely satisfactory.
Shri S.D. Khongwir :- May we know, Sir, by the word 'Mostly', whether it means 50 per cent?
Shri S.D.D. Nichols Roy (Minister, Power) :- I was saying that it was not 100 per cent satisfactory but there may be instances where it is not satisfactory.
Shri W. Syiemiong :- May we know the reasons for the power failure and black- outs?
Shri S.D.D. Nichols Roy (Minister, Power) :- In the Shillong Town power is being distributed by the Shillong Hydro Electric Co. after generating power from its own small Hydro- electric station but most of it is being received from the State Electricity Board in bulk. At times, power failure has affected the supply or electricity in the Company's area. Sporadic interruptions of power supply also did take place due to dashing of electric poles by vehicles, high winds and other reasons beyond control. However, the duration of such interruptions is for short period only.
Shri S.P. Swer :- May we know from the Minister concerned whether it is a fact that electric power supplied by the S.H.E. Co. is the cheapest in the State?
Shri S.D.D. Nichols Roy (Minister, Power) :- It is a fact, Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, that the tariff rate of the Shillong Hydro- Electric Co. is lower than the tariff being offered by the State Electricity Board.
Shri Plansing K. Marak asked :
103. Will the Chief Minister be pleased to state -
(a) The number of Bangladesh refugees who entered Garo Hills during recent months?
(b) Whether it is a fact that these refugees are staying in the houses of local Bengalees?
(c) Whether it is a fact that Government has taken no action in this matter?
Shri WILLIAMSON A. SANGMA (Chief Minister) replied:
103. (a)- Nil.
(b) & (c) - Do not arise.
Soling and black- topping of Phulbari- Medhipara Road
Shri MANINDRA RAVA asked :
104. Will the Minister in-charge of Public Works Department be pleased to state -
(a) Whether the soling and black- topping of Phulbari- Medhipara Road has been completed?
(b) If not, why?
(c) The amount sanctioned for the work with date of sanction?
Shri P. RIPPLE KYNDIAH [Minister in-charge of Public Works Department (Roads and Buildings)] replied:
104. (a).- The major portion of the work is completed. Work on the remaining portion is in progress.
(b) - Mainly because of shortage of Road Rollers.
(c) - Two Estimates are running.
(i) Metalling and surfacing of Medhipara- Phulpara- Tura Road for 81.60 K.M. to 83.70 K.M. and 104.60 K.M. to 124.50 K.M. = 22.00 K.M. for Rs.11,67,600. Administrative approval and technical sanction accorded vide letter dated, 26th August, 1970 and 30th August 1972 respectively.
(ii) Metalling and Black- topping certain portion of Medhipara- Phulbara- Tura Road ( Road 52 M.P. to 64 M.P.) for Rs.4,26,000. Administrative approval and technical sanction accorded vide letter, dated 18th March, 1971 and 3rd April, 1971 respectively.
Construction of Pucca Buildings in Williamnagar
Shri Plansing K. Marak asked :
105. Will the Minister in-charge of P.W.D. be pleased to state when does Government propose to start construction of pucca buildings in Williamnagar to house the various Government Offices?
Shri P. RIPPLE KYNDIAH [( Minister in-charge of P.W.D. ( R. and B)] replied.
105. Land has recently been allotted to the various Departments. The construction of pucca buildings will be taken up after the estimates are sanctioned and subject to availability of fund.
Construction of bridge over Myntdu River
Shri H. ENOWELL POHSHNA asked :
106. Will the Minister in-charge of P.W.D. be pleased to state-
|(a) The reasons for which the construction of bridge over the Myntdu near Jowai Town has been stopped?|
(b) Whether it is a fact that the bridge has been abandoned?
(c) If so, why?
(c) If so, why?
(d) The amount spent for the construction of the uncompleted bridge?
Shri P. RIPPLE KYNDIAH (Minister in-charge of P.W.D.) replied.
106. (a) - The construction works for the main bridge have been completed.
(b) - No.
(c) - Does not arise.
(d) - The information is not available at present as the work was done by the erstwhile Assam Government and the relevant records have not been transferred to this Department.
Shri S.D. Khongwir :- 106 (a), Sir. May we know whether the completed bridge has since been commissioned?
Shri P.R. Kyndiah (Minister P.W.D.) :- No, Sir.
Shri S.D. Khongwir :- May we know when was the bridge completed- approximately, at least?
Shri P.R. Kyndiah (Minister P.W.D.) :- In 1970 it was completed.
Shri S.D. Khongwir :- May we know the reason why, after the bridge has been completed since 1970, it has not been used up till now?
Shri P.R. Kyndiah (Minister P.W.D.) :- The bridge could not be used because of not having the approaches.
Shri H.E. POHSHNA :- Whether the bridge has been connected with the road?
( A voice : No approach road )
Mr. Deputy Speaker :- It has already been replied.
Shri F.K. MAWLOT :- What are the reasons for not connecting the bridge with the road?
Shri P.R. Kyndiah (Minister P.W.D.) :- The reason is that the bridge had become defunct at the time of the Government of Assam. As this is the National Highway, we have to get sanction from the Government of India and our Department has already taken up the matter very vigorously.
Improvement of Baghmara- Mahadeo- Maheskhola Road
Shri Brojendra Sangma asked :
107. Will the Minister in-charge of P.W.D. be pleased to state -
|(a) Whether there is any scheme for improvement and black- topping of the Baghmara- Mahadeo and Mahadeo- Maheshkhola Road during the 5th Five- Year Plan?|
(b) If so, when will it be started?
Shri P. Ripple Kyndiah (Minister in-charge of P.W.D.) replied:
107. (a)- There is no proposal of black- topping of Baghmara- Mahadeo Road but there is a proposal of black- topping of a portion of Mahdeo- Maheshkhola Road in the draft 5th Plan.
The improvement of geometrics of Baghmara- Mahadeo and Mahadeo Maheshkhola will however be taken up in the next financial year before any metalling and surfacing work is taken up.
(b) - Does not arise in view of above.
Shri Brojendra Sangma :- 107 (a) Sir, may we know the total amount provided for the Mahadeo- Maheskhola Road for the next financial year?
Shri P.R. Kyndiah (Minister, P.W.D.) :- I require notice, Sir.
Construction of Sibbari- Chokpot Road
Shri Brojendra Sangma asked :
108. Will the Chief Minister in-charge of P.W.D. be pleased to state-
(a) The progress of road construction from Sibbari to Chokpot ?
(b) The reason for which the work could not be executed during the last financial year 1974-75?
P. Ripple Kyndiah (Minister in-charge of P.W.D., etc.) replied :
108. (a)- Section- 1. (0-7 Km)- 75 per cent works done.
Section- II (8-28 Km work not yet started.
(b)- The estimate for Section II has to be prepared after conducting detailed survey which took some time. Administrative approval to the estimate has since been accorded and the work is expected to be started soon.
Shri Jackman Marak :- Sir, in the reply it is stated that "75 per cent works done". Why 100 per cent cannot be done?
Shri P.R. Kyndiah (Minister P.W.D.) :- It is being done.
Shri G. Mylliemngap :- What is the total length of this road?
Shri P.R. Kyndiah (Minister P.W.D.) :- I require notice.
Construction of new roads in Jaintia Hills District during 1975-76
Shri Onward Leyswell Nongtdu asked :
109. Will the Minister in-charge of Public Works Department be pleased to state-
(a) The new roads the Government proposes to construct in Jaintia Hills during 1975-76?
|(b) Whether the Government takes into consideration the recommendation of the District Planning Board in preparing the schemes?|
Shri P. Ripple Kyndiah (Minister, P.W.D.) replied :
109. (a) - A list of new roads proposed to be taken up during 1975-76 is placed on the Table of the House.
(b) - Yes.
Mr. Deputy Speaker :- Question are over. The other day, in course of reply to unstarred question No.100, the Minister in-charge of Industries said that there was a printing mistake with regard to the date of the meeting. Will the Minister, Industries give the correct date?
Shri S.D.D. Nichols Roy (Minister, Industries) :- Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, the reply to unstarred question 100 (c) was pointed out by one of the Members as incorrect. I said that I would give the correct date. Instead of 25th August, 1975 which was wrongly printed, the correct date is 25th August, 1973.
VOTING ON DEMANDS FOR GRANTS
Mr. Deputy Speaker :- Let us come to the next item. Before we start taking up voting demands for grants, I would like to inform the House that on Saturday last, the House could not conclude the discussion on Grant No.17 and the last speaker was Mr. Mylliemngap. Would any of the hon. Members like to participate. Now, the Chief Minister will reply.
Shri W.A. Sangma (Chief Minister) :- Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I am very grateful to the hon. Members who have moved the cut motion as well as to those who have participated in the discussion of the cut motion because it gives me an opportunity to inform the House, through you, Sir the exact position regarding this matter.
Sir, as you know, before Meghalaya attains full State-hood on 21st January, 1972, i.e. during the time of the Autonomous State we had to depend entirely on the police belonging to Assam. When the Autonomous State was raised to full Statehood on the 21st January, 1972, we have the responsibility to maintain our own police force. It will however, be appreciated that it is not possible for any new State to raise its own force immediately. As we had to function as a full- fledged State, the maintenance of law and order has come to us. So we have to make some alternative arrangements, and we have, therefore to depend on the police force available in the three districts, etc., Garo Hills, Khasi Hills and Jaintia Hills, which was there as part and parcel of the composite State of Assam. It will, therefore, be clear to the hon. Members that there are practical difficulties for recruitment of our own police personnel to meet the requirements of our newly created State of Meghalaya as soon as we began. As I said, on the 21st January, 1972, all the police establishments available in the three districts at various levels have automatically come over to us and also certain percentage of staff at the State level in the capital. For Meghalaya Police Battalion we have also brought one battalion from Assam which has been known as the 1st Meghalaya Police Battalion. It will, therefore be realised that only when there are vacancies or limited additional requirements of police personnel that we will have opportunity to recruit new personnel. Whatever it is, in this connection, I would make it very clear that the Department of Police has been observing very strictly the policy of the Government regarding recruitment to the rank of Constables, Assistant Sub- Inspectors and Sub- Inspectors of Police. In fact, even in respect of 15 percent quota available for general candidates for district and State level officers they have to seek the specific approval of the Inspector General of Police before actually recruiting them. Therefore it will not be correct to say that we have not been looking to the interests of the tribal people of the State of Meghalaya.
Now, with regard to promotion, as the hon. Members are aware except for the Indian Police Service officers all other officers, men and ministerial staff of the Police are technically on deputation from the Assam Police. As I stated earlier, we have to take all the police force available in the three districts which were there as part and parcel of the composite State of Assam. But as already stated these personnel, as in the case of other staff working in the Directorates, are technically on deputation from the Government of Assam. Steps are being taken to separate the various cadres after signing an agreement under section 64 (I) of the North- Eastern Areas (Re-organisation) Act, 1971 which is likely to be completed soon. But before that they were all on deputation. Since the officers of the ranks of Deputy Superintendent of Police, Inspectors, Sub-Inspectors and Assistant Sub-Inspectors are at present borne on the Assam Police Cadre their promotions also would depend on the promotion orders being passed in Assam as and when the officers at present serving on deputation from the Government of Assam are due for promotion in Assam. As far as possible they are being absorbed against the existing vacancies in the Meghalaya Police. Every care has been taken to see that Meghalayan Officers on promotion are not reverted to the Government of Assam. Even today, some of the Police Officers serving in Meghalaya who are due for promotion are being promoted on adhoc basis.
As regards promotion in the Armed Branch of the rank of Havildars, Naiks and Lance Naiks, which are borne in the 1st Meghalaya Police Battalion, is based on seniority and depending upon their performances in the cadet course. Promotions are generally accorded to the next higher ranks. It will, therefore, be appreciated that every care is being taken by the Departments or for that matter by the Government that no person who is due for promotion is deprived of that opportunity. I would like to make a few observations regarding points raised by the hon. Members. As I said earlier, Mr. Speaker, Sir, while we have to depend upon the force already available in our three Districts prior to our attaining full- fledged Statehood, action has also been taken to bring the Meghalayans who were serving in Assam Police to our own set up, as we have been doing in case of Office Assistants serving in the Assam Secretariat as well as in the Directorates as far as practicable. But it depends upon the release order from the Government of Assam and attempts have been made to get them released whenever there is any vacancy in order to get trained personnel from Assam. Mention has been made by Mr. H.S. Lyngdoh with regard to relaxation of qualification and requisites of physical norms. Reference has been made to the height required for recruitment of Constables. I think I had the occasion earlier to inform the House that the height has been reduced from 5-4" to 5-2 ". The Inspector General of Police is competent to condone this minimum requirement by 1". It was also alleged that while recruitment of police personnel was made there was no publicity. The hon. Member from Nongspung went to the extent of saying that in spite of the statement made by me, there was no publicity whatsoever. Well, Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, the Police Department have been instructed to make publicity right up to the Block level. Attempts have also been made to go to the rural areas to recruit rural people as Constables. There was an occasion to conduct recruitment at Byrnihat and 7 (seven) boys have been recruited. So it will not be correct to say that we are not trying to encourage the people to join the Force. But as I said, as the vacancies are very limited, there is no scope for large scale recruitment from entire rural areas of the State. Now with regard to the post of Deputy Superintendent of Police, I would like to inform the House that the post will have to be filled up through Public Service Commission and it is already under process. Well, Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, the scope of this particular cut motion is only confined to the policy of recruitment and promotion. But the hon. Members have had the occasion to refer to the functioning of the Department of Criminal Investigations and also Special Branch. But since there is another cut motion regarding that separately, I will have the occasion to reply to that. But for the time being I will confine only to two points, i.e. the policy of recruitment and promotion. It was also suggested by the hon. Member from Nongstoin that there is a desirability of having an Institute for training Police personnel. Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, we realise the need for such an Institute and we have approached the Sixth Finance Commission, but unfortunately it could not accommodate our requirements in this regard. However, we realise the importance of such Institution being established in our State and we shall pursue this mother and see as to how this can be implemented in future depending upon various factors. It was suggested that there should be proper recruitment in the Special Branch and that only qualified personnel should be taken to that particular Branch. In this regard I may inform the House that the recruitment to the Special Branch is done more strictly than that to other Branches of Police and they require more specialised type of training. Now the hon. Member from Mynso- Raliang has welcomed the recruitment of women to the Police Force and he has suggested that we should have Women Police Squad in three Districts of our State. I would like to inform the House that this matter will be taken into consideration. Mr. G. Mylliemngap has mentioned about the need for proper scrutiny of candidates before they are enrolled as Constables in our Police Force, specially with regard to the Special Branch. This is being done. It was also alleged that while the police personnel are given proper training for physical fitness, there is no endeavour to improve the character of the Police personnel. Well, Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, as I said these Police personnel were taken from Assam and only a few have been recruited locally. Whatever it is, they belong to our own society; they belong to the same society and to improve the character of a particular individual will depend as to how we improve the character of the society as a whole. However, instructions are being given to the Police personnel to behave properly with the people. I admit the fact that there are cases where the police personnel might have misbehaved with the public. But whenever information of such misbehaviour and bad conduct is available in the Department, we do not hesitate to take necessary action as deemed fit and proper. In our attempt to make the police personnel behave well with the public the co-operation of the hon. Member is also required. The Leader of Opposition has suggested that the matter of recruitment as it existed in the past, should not be followed. He also suggested that in order to get good people and to get qualified people to man the Police Department in Meghalaya, we must raise the standard of educational qualifications and also the pay scale. I would request the hon. Member for the moment to examine his proposal very carefully. Now, what is going to happen to the existing police personnel, how can we discriminate them? If today we raise the pay scale of the new entrants, and continue to pay the old scale to the existing ones, what will happen then? Whether it would be possible at the same time, to disband the existing ones and to give new pay scale to new entrants only. Well, Sir, it is an impossible proposition. However, I am inclined to examine this proposal and see what can be done to improve our police organisation. But for the moment, I think it is impossible. We cannot have discrimination in the Police Force. Well, it may be possible, I am just thinking about if for certain higher category we can accept the proposal so that there will be some improvement for the guidance of others. But if it is right from the bottom, I say it is impossible. I cannot think for the moment to disband the present force and to go for a new set up. I would therefore, request the hon. members to appreciate the practical difficulties involved. I am unable to indicate whether to accept or reject this proposal. We have to examine it in all its aspects so that we can bring about an all round improvement in the entire police set up. With these few words, Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I would request the hon. Mover of this cut motion to kindly withdraw his cut motion.
Shri Hopingstone Lyngdoh :- Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I want some clarification. The Chief Minister has stated that the existing police personnel which had been there in the State is on deputation from Assam. Therefore, Sir, I cannot understand because this has affected the recruitment and promotion. The Government will not be able to do anything because they are on deputation from Assam. Whether this deputation will end or whether it will continue permanently, we do not know. If at all we are going to continue it on a permanent basis, this will very much affect the promotion and recruitment and also the discipline of the police force which we are having in our State because the State is finding difficulties in this regard. What I want to know is whether this deputation is going to end or it will continue for years together.
Shri W.A. Sangma (Chief Minister) :- I have made it very clear to the hon. Member but still he could not understand There are technical difficulties also in that. As in the case of other officers and staff who were brought from Assam on deputation we cannot absorb them permanently so also in the case of the police personnel pending finalisation of the agreement under Section 64(1) of the North Eastern Areas Re-organisation Act between the Government of Assam and the Government of Meghalaya. This is a two way traffic. We are in the process of finalisation at present. But unless we get the approval of the Government of Assam, it is entirely impossible to act unilaterally. But it is not a fact that this will continue for years together. We are trying our best to finalise the same. At the same time, because of the present arrangement of deputation of the police personnel to the Meghalaya Police, it is not a fact that those personnel are being deprived of promotion. That is not only in the case of the police Department, it is the case with each and very department. In fact, some of the personnel on deputation from Assam, have already been given promotion on an adhoc basis. There may be such occasions in Assam also. Supposing there are tribal officers who are due for promotion in Assam because of their seniority and cannot yet come to our Government for promotion because their services are indispensable, they would be promoted in Assam, as a matter of procedure. It is not a fact that because of deputation the police personnel and other officers are being deprived of promotion. I can assure the hon. Member through you Sir, that we shall make every effort to complete the agreement under Section 64(1) of the North Eastern Areas Re-organisation Act as early as possible.
Shri H. S. Lyngdoh :- Few more clarifications Sir. I have categorically stated and I have mentioned for example, that there are about ten posts of Deputy Superintendent of Police lying vacant in the Police Department.
Shri W.A. Sangma (Chief Minister) :- We have already advertised through the Meghalaya Public Service Commission. I do not know exactly how many are the vacant posts. After completing every formality, these posts will be duly filled up.
Shri H.S. Lyngdoh :- Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, my cut motion is for the interest of Police set up of the State as a whole. There is nothing otherwise. The Chief Minister has tried his very best to explain, and it seems that it is really very difficult to say when this deputation of police personnel will come to an end so that we will have our own police force and that discipline and good behaviour can be enforced according to the needs of the State. With the best of intentions, I believe our Chief Minister has tried to see to these difficulties and complications. Considering all the difficulties involved I withdraw my cut motion.
Mr. Deputy Speaker :- Has the hon. Member leave of the House to withdraw his cut motion?
( Voices : yes, yes ).
The cut motion is with leave of the House withdrawn.
Let us pass on to cut motion No.2. to be moved by Shri L. Bareh.
Shri Lewis Bareh :- I will not move.
Shri W. Syiemiong :- Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, in that case I think the Chief Minister has said that he will reply to this particular point i.e., the C.I.D. As far as the C.I.D. is concerned he made a reference that he will reply on the second cut motion. He said like that and naturally we are waiting for that particular reply. His rely will satisfy both the queries......
Shri Williamson A. Sangma (Chief Minister) :- Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, the hon. Members have just made an observation that in this particular Branch there should be better qualified and more intelligent personnel and we should be more strict in recruiting personnel to this particular Department. The persons must have requisite qualification and special training. Sir, this is being done. I may also inform the hon. Members, through you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, that at present investigation of cases is done at the Thana level, but it is only when special investigation is required then it is done by the C.I.D. At present, as I said, the investigation of cases is done at Thana level which is also looking after law and order matters. But the Government is thinking to separate the Crime Investigation Police from law and order and general duties of Police in order to expedite investigation of cases.
Mr. Deputy Speaker :- Cut motion No.3 to be moved by Mr. S.D. Khongwir.
Shri. S.D. Khongwir :- Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I beg to move that the total provision of Rs.2,72,62,400, under Grant No.17, Major head "255 - Police and 260 - Fire Protection and Control" at page87 of the Budget be reduced to Rs.1.00, i.e. the amount of the whole grant of Rs.2,72,62,400 do stand reduced to Rs.1.00.
Mr. Deputy Speaker :- Motion moved. Now you can initiate a discussion.
Shri S.D. Khongwir :- Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, this will be the first time that I will have the occasion to speak against the Police personnel. So at the very outset Mr. Speaker, Sir, I would like to say that the Chief Minister would realise the weight of this cut motion. I have to move this cut motion with a deep sense of responsibility. This is a token cut and there in the cut motion I have indicated my intention to ventilate the grievances pertaining to the corrupt practices perpetrated by the Police personnel in connection with teer in Shillong. Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, we know for a fact that there is a law prohibiting it and we also know for a fact that both intensive and extensive gambling in the name of this teer is going on here in Shillong, in the capital city of our State. Sir, we also know for a fact that it is the Police personnel who are to enforce the provisions of the law and we know for a fact that these police personnel are responsible in not doing their duties properly. There are many hundreds of bookies here in Shillong Town, in Polo ground, in Barabazar and in other areas also. We are expecting that these Police personnel and the Police Department as a whole, as one of the bureaucratic elements in a democratic Government should perform their duties in a proper manner. But I would hasten here to remind the Government that because of the corrupt practices of one or let us say ten police personnel, the entire Department is being blamed and because ours is a representative Government, the Government as a whole is being blamed. So Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, in regard to this cut motion I should say that I would not have moved it at all unless there is some basic knowledge of these corrupt practices or sad incidents which I have come to know. Several persons came to me and I have also seen with my own eyes that the Police personnel in uniforms and I can differentiate them because they were in uniforms and think that they are police men, and I intend to say that he may be Mr. Das or Mr. Lyngdoh or Mr. Purkayastha or anybody else, but for that matter I simply know that they are police personnel and just because of one or two persons, the entire Department gets the blame. About one or two weeks ago, I had the occasion to write a letter to the Minister-in-charge of P.W.D. with regard to one road and I have mentioned specifically that because of the bad workmanship of the supervision of one person in your department you are getting the blame. So also in this case, Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, for the corrupt practices perpetrated by certain Police personnel the entire Department gets the blame. I know in advance Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, that the Government in reply to this cut motion will say that we have arrested several bookies. But in this regard I know for a fact that Police personnel have arrested quite a number of bookies. But let us examine who are those bookies. I may inform the House through you, that those are small petty bookies and the Police will never arrest the big bookies and they will rather close their eyes with regard to big bookies. Why did they do so? It is because those big business men can afford to purchase those police personnel who are engaged in doing their works in those areas. So Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, my main intention in this regard is to request the Government to see that such things will not recur in future. There have been proposals and I do not know whether these proposals have been made by the Government or not. But there has been a talk that why can not this Government legalise this teer instead they are allowing our Police personnel to act arbitrarily and giving them a chance to corrupt themselves? So why did not the Government legalise this matter. So with these few words, I would, right deep down my heart, request the Government to realise and look into this matter because not only it will corrupt the Police personnel but also the Government as a whole and the minds of the people as well.
*Shri Upstar Kharbuli :- Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I rise to support the cut motion. I also experienced the same thing which the hon. Member from Mawlai has narrated just now. Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I would like to inform the Government through you, Sir, that in the Thana Road itself, just very close to the main Thana itself there are teer shops or rather bookie shops where I have seen several times that the people who frequent those shops are none but some of the police personnel in uniform. Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I feel this is really a very very serious vice which our Government should think of finding out ways and means how to do away with this evil. I would therefore endorse the situation given by the hon. member from Mawlai and I think the best course to reduce the extent of this evil would by by the Government trying to devise ways and means how to legalise teer in such a way that the bookies may not just spring up everywhere all over the town. Because I think, if it is legalised, the Government may be able to curb the activities of these people, specially those bad characters to enter into this profession and no doubt this will also be a source of revenue to the Government. With these few words, I strongly support the views expressed by the hon. Member from Mawlai.
Shri W.A. Sangma (Chief Minister) :- I am indeed grateful to the hon. Member from Mawlai who has expressed his great concern about this matter. I may inform him that I am also greatly concerned about this evil. It is a human nature to gamble, though the Meghalaya (Prevention of Gambling) Act was enacted to prevent such gambling which causes ruination. It was done with good intention. Naturally, the enforcement of the provisions of this Act, was entrusted with the Police. Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, as in other agencies set up by the Government for the enforcement of certain provisions of the Act or Law, it is possible that there have been omissions and commissions on the part of the enforcement agency but I feel encouraged by the statement made by the hon. Member from Mawlai that because of one or two persons, we should not rush to condemn the entire organisation. That is a very correct approach, that is a constructive and realistic approach to the problem. It think these approaches should not be confined to this particular matter only, it should be our attitude in our approach to any other particular problem. Well, though what was alleged to have happened may be a discredit to the Department in general it would be good for the information of the House if I mention the number of cases detected. During 1973, police detected 297 cases of gambling of teer. In 1974, there were 533 cases and during the current year, 123 cases have already been detected. These are being prosecuted in different courts. I admit, Sir, as correctly pointed out by the mover, there may be few bad elements in the Police, who, probably, for personal gains, adopted corrupt practices in few cases. Wherever there are suspicious against certain police officers we have taken suitable administrative action against them. We are anxious that such persons are brought to book and in this connection I would seek the co-operation of all the hon. Members and the public to report instances of corrupt practices which they may notice to the concerned authority. It is the police themselves which maintain vigilance and they will deal with them under the departmental rules. Well, I may even inform the House through you, Sir, that last year, because of these corrupt practices, two Government high officials have been taken to task and they have been reverted to Assam. This shows that the Government and the Department are very much concerned about this question of corrupt practice. I hope with more active co-operation from the public in future, bad elements can be sorted out and dealt with properly. Once again, I am grateful to the mover of the cut motion for expressing his grave concerned regarding such elements in the Police Department. The question now is whether, because of these elements it will be desirable to come to a conclusion that it is no use trying to enforce this Act, and it is better to legalise this practice of teer. Well, I do not know whether that will be a correct approach. As far as the second alternative is concerned, I welcome it, but whether it will be good for us to rush into that conclusion. Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I am not in a position to indicate as to how Government will act on this proposal. However, since the proposal is there from the mover and from Mr. Upstar Kharbuli, the hon. Member from Malki it is being noted and we shall see what best can be done. But it will not be possible for me to make a categorical statement in this way or that way. So with these few observations on my part by way of reply to the points raised, and with my assurance that the Government will continue to sort out those bad elements and once we are in a position to sort them out, they will be dealt with according to departmental procedure. I request the hon. member to kindly withdraw his cut motion.
Shri S.D. Khongwir :- Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I quite appreciate the concern reciprocated by the Hon'ble Chief Minister. But Sir, there is one point that the Chief Minister has requested the Members and may be the leading persons in the society to assist the Government. In this regard, well it may be very difficult Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, for me or for other persons to catch hold of any policemen or any person who happened to do these acts. For example, there is a place down there in the Polo Ground where it is not , I feel, advisable for me to go inside because we know, Sir, that is a place where gambling is being carried on. I will mention the occasion and that is, I was passing through the road which is on the other side of Polo Ground, the football ground and I saw the policemen in uniform doing these acts- they purchased tickets from the bookies. How can I confront the policemen, I being a Member of the Assembly, to go to him and to catch hold of him and to enquire what is his name or his number, instead I may be arrested I am afraid and that I do not know how- from the society side or from the leaders, say the headmen, the MLAs, the MDCs and others- how can they assist Government in giving information to the Government about the persons who are concerned with this corrupt practice. But nevertheless, Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, since the Hon'ble Chief Minister has already assured and by now Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I know that the Police right from the day that I tabled this cut motion, they have already been very active. I hope, they would become more active now that the Chief Minister has given his assurance, and as I said already the other day to the Hon'ble Minister, Revenue let this be the last time from my side to move this kind of cut motion against the Police personnel it has been my first and let it be the last time. So I would request that at least let us have a closer co-operation between the leaders and whenever we bring any matter to the notice of the Police personnel, let them attend to it expeditiously. So, with these few words and with the assurance given by the Chief Minister, I withdraw my cut motion.
Mr. Deputy Speaker :- Has the hon. member leave of the House to withdraw his cut motion?
The cut motion is with leave of the House withdrawn.
Then, cut motion No.4 to be moved by Shri H.E. Pohshna.
Shri H.E. Pohshna :- Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, beg I to move the total provision of Rs.2,72,62,400 under Grant No.17 Major head "255 - Police and 260 - Fire Protection and Control", at page 87 of the Budget be reduced by Rs.100.00, i.e., the amount of the whole grant of Rs.2,72,62.400, do stand reduced by Rs.100.00.
Mr. Deputy Speaker :- Motion moved. Now you can raise a discussion on the activities of Police Officers at Ummulong Police Beat House.
Shri H.E. Pohshna :- Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, since there have been so many cut motions on this grant, I would like to be very very brief in my speech on my cut motion. On the other hand, I would inform the Government and the Chief Minister that this cut-motion is not to criticise the Police Department but to find out ways and means how to improve the activities of the Police Officers. Sir, Ummulong Police Beat House is situated on the National Highway where trucks and vehicles from various places of the eastern region are passing, day and night. Hundreds of trucks and other vehicles are passing and the performance of the Police Officers on this strategic and very very important road deserves watch and study. The road leads from Gauhati to Shillong, and then to Agartala via Silchar and so also Shillong- Ummulong- Nartiang to Mikir Hills. It is the duty of the Government to see that the performance of the Police Officers on this Beat House should bring no bad name to the activities of the Police Department in the State. Why I move this cut motion, Sir? The reason is this, that it has been very very unfortunate that one truck coming from Gauhati on its way to Silchar at a place about 4 miles near Ummulong that the said truck has been taken to an approach road to the jungle leading to the Sung Valley and it was told that at that place, the goods and valuable materials carried by the truck have been taken by some people. Hon. Members would be surprised that among the persons who are involved in the robbery, in the taking away of the truck outside from the main road to the jungle - it was told that one of them was a Police Officer in-charge of the Ummulong Police Beat House himself. In the same manner, Sir, as it was said that we should not generalise the action of the Police Officers, but as this has occurred in a very very important station through which trucks, lorries and vehicles of other States are passing and if such action of the Police continues, it will bring a very very bad name to the Police. Therefore, with these few words, I request Government, Sir, that a Police officer in such a very important Police Beat House should be placed in charge who is bearing a good character, with previous good service who is not connected with any bad name in the Department. With these few words, Sir, I move the cut motion.
Shri H. Hadem :- Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I stand to oppose this cut motion. Since the motion has been admitted by the Speaker and put before the House, and it has become the property of the House and as such the question of supporting it does not arise. So, I stand here to oppose the cut motion moved by the hon. Member from the other side. First of all, I want to show one instance. That here, he had used the words "Police Officers". That means in plural, which according to his argument has specifically stated regarding one particular Police Officer only. And, moreover, Sir, I would like to say that through the fact is that one black sheep is there at Ummulong, yet the Police Department and also the Police Officers did not fail to act and to do their duties. And, Sir, though I am not supposed to say that I know the fact, but as far as I can collect, the culprit has already been arrested by the Police Officers themselves. They did not care even if he is their own man, whether he is a Police Officer or not and whether he is any other person, but the matter has been taken up by the Police and I hope that the activities as shown by the Police in this matter are very good. According to me the Police Department deserves praise worthy rather than condemnation. With these words, Sir, I oppose the cut motion.
Shri W.A. Sangma (Chief Minister) :- Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I am grateful to the hon. Member who moved the cut motion as it will give me a chance to explain the exact situation. It is a fact, as stated by the mover of the cut motion, that in that incident some Police officers were involved. On receiving the complaint of robbery of cash, cloth and documents from the truck near mile post 28 at Shillong- Jowai Road on 22nd January 1975 certain facts were revealed of existence of the conspiracy to steal goods from vehicles passing through the Jowai Silchar Road in which a Sub- Inspector of Police attached to Ummulong Beat House under the Jowai Police Station and two Constables of the same Out- Post were involved. In all 3 criminal offences have been taken up, 2 by the Jowai Police and 1 (one) by the Shillong Police. A sub-Inspector of Police with 2 Constables along with other accused in these cases have been arrested and kept under custody. The 3 Police Officers involved criminals offences have been placed under suspension. These cases have been supervised by the Superintendent of Police, Jowai and the Deputy Inspector General of Police, CID., Meghalaya. Most of the stolen properties in one of the cases have been covered. The Government will take serious action against all defaulting officers. Since the cases are under investigation, all the details of the cases cannot be given at this stage. I hope the hon. mover of the cut motion will appreciate that Government have taken prompt action against defaulting officers. In view of this, I request the mover to kindly withdraw the cut motion.
Shri H.E. Pohshna :- Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I am grateful to the Members who have opposed the cut motion and as our Chief Minister has stated that serious action will be taken, I withdraw my cut my motion.
Mr. Deputy Speaker :- Has the hon. Member leave of the House to withdraw his cut motion?
( Voices - Yes, Yes).
The cut motion is with leave of the House withdrawn. Now, I put the question before the House. The question is that an amount of Rs.2,72,62,400 be granted to the Minister in-charge to defray certain charges which will come in the course of payment during the year ending the 31st March, 1976 for the administration of the head - " 255- Police and 260- Fire Protection and Control".
(The motion was carried and the demand was passed)
Now, Grant No.18. Will the Chief Minister move the grant.
Shri W.A. Sangma (Chief Minister) :- Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, on the recommendation of the Governor, I beg to move that an amount of Rs.13,30,000 be granted to the Minister in-charge to defray certain charges which will come in the course of payment during the year ending the 31st March, 1976 for the administration of the head - "256- Jails".
Mr. Deputy Speaker :- Motion moved. I have received one cut motion in the name of Shri S.N. Koch. But he is absent. So, the cut motion is deemed to have been withdrawn.
Now, I put the question. The question is that an amount of Rs.13,30,000 be granted to the Minister in-charge to defray certain charges which will come in the course of payment during the year ending the 31st March, 1976 for the administration of the head - "256- Jails".
( The motion was carried and the demand was passed )
Now, Grant No.19. Will the Minister in-charge move the Grant?
Shri Grohon Singh A. Marak (Minister of State, Printing and Stationery) :- Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, on the recommendation of the Governor, I beg to move that an amount of Rs.36,18,600.00 be granted to the Minister in-charge to defray certain charges which will come in the course of payment during the year ending the 31st March, 1976 for the administration of the head - "258- Stationery and Printing".
Mr. Deputy Speaker :- Motion moved. Since there is no cut motion, I put the question. The question is that an amount of Rs.36,18,600.00 be granted to the Minister in-charge to defray certain charges which will come in the course of payment during the year ending the 31st March, 1976 for the administration of the head - "258- Stationery and Printing".
( The motion was carried and the demand was passed )
Now Grant No.20. Will the Minister in-charge of Public Works Department move the Grant.
Shri P.R. Kyndiah (Minister in-charge of Public Works Department) :- Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, on the recommendation of the Governor, I beg to move that an amount of Rs.1,76,50,300.00 be granted to the Minister in-charge to defray certain charges which will come in the course of payment during the year ending the 31st March, 1976 for the administration of the head - "259- Public Works".
Mr. Deputy Speaker :- Motion moved. I have received as many as four cut motions in the name of Shri R. Lyngdoh, Shri L. Bareh, Shri E. Kurbah, Shri H.E. Pohshna. Now, Mr. R. Lyngdoh to move the cut motion.
Shri R. Lyngdoh :- Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I beg to move that the total provision of Rs.1,76,50,300.00 under Grant No.20, Major head- "259- Public Works", at page 121 of the Budget be reduced to Re.1.00, i.e., the amount of the whole grant of Rs.1,76,50,300.00, do stand reduced to Re.1.00.
Mr. Deputy Speaker :- Cut motion moved.
Shri R. Lyngdoh :- Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, when I looked at the budget I find under this head "Public Works" the amount is mainly for administration and direction. The expenditure to be incurred for administration comes to about Rs.60 lakhs, and of course on construction, it comes to only about Rs.3,50,000.00 and for maintenance it is very high, it is upto Rs.20 lakhs and for workshop and machinery and equipment, it comes to about Rs.50 lakhs. So in this respect Sir, I have seen that the amount be spent for the administration is very very big enough. But then it may be because of the new heads of account, which have been divided, the works are shown separately but then it is still provided for construction and maintenance, etc., under this head. Here also I do not understand clearly whether it has been properly placed under the proper head of account. Whatever it is Sir, since we are discussing the performances of the department, we find that the amount which this department incurred every year is the biggest amount allotted to any department. Every year the expenditure is going up and it is more or less a money consuming department. In every budget session, this department will come up with supplementary demands and we have to vote for more and more demands on Public Works Department than any other subject. But looking at the performance of this department and compared to the big amount which is to be expended, we have seen during the recent years, that the performance is unsatisfactory. Of course it is no doubt encouraging because with the presence of some big officials of the Public Works Department who are really sincere in implementing the schemes, it gives us hope and encouragement that we are apt to give more money to that department. But then in respect of maintenance of roads, we see here in the town itself, for example, black- topping an surfacing of the roads is really nice where the tar and gravels and sands are mixed together and boiled. But if you go a little away from the town say, if you go at least upto Mawlai, you will find a big difference. There was no tar and nothing of the sort and no question of boiling tar along with other ingredients for surfacing the road. So I fail to understand the reason for this difference in maintenance of this road which we call the National Highway. So is the case with other parts of the road. I do not know what specification is being followed by the Public Works Department or whether officers like supervisors and engineers who are directly in-charge of these works do something else and not as per specification given by the department. That I do not know and I hope the Minister in-charge will reply to that.
Then again, on the question of maintenance of roads, certain roads are given priority and certain other roads are not looked after at 11. Sir, there is some sort of discrimination in this determination of priorities in the matter of construction of roads. I would cite the example of the road from Umpung to Mawpud. This road was taken up under the Fourth Five Year Plan. It was started with only 2 kms, but upto this day, no tender was called for further portions of the road. Then again another road, the Rangthong- Ngunraw road. This road also has been started under the Fourth- Five Year Plan itself with only a few kilometers. But this road also has now been stopped. I do not know what is wrong with this road that it has to be stopped there. While certain other roads taken up under the same Plan are progressing very satisfactory. But of course there are other roads like Sohiong- Pariong road via Nongspung which is still not completed which would have been completed since the time of the Third and Fourth Five Year Plans. Sir, what I want to say is that there should not be discrimination in the matter of implementation of the road schemes. No doubt the department has got high ranking officers who are sincere and who want to see that road development is done as early as possible. But what we find is that the subordinate officers do not pay much attention to supervision and mostly they do not care to supervise the roads which are under their charge. For example, Sir, in the rainy season, the SDOs and Overseers are most of the time sitting in office or in the headquarters and they generally do not go to the site. As such, the roads are blocked affecting the public at large because they cannot carry their products like potato and other things which are to be sold in Shillong and other towns of the State. Therefore, I would submit that the Government should see that all the subordinate officers attend to supervision works properly. Moreover in the matter of appointment and transfer of officers, Sir, we have seen that every time we come forward with cut motions to discuss the policy of the Government, every time we would get the reply from Government that due to shortage of engineers, the work of construction, supervision and maintenance of the roads could not be carried on satisfactorily. I had the occasion last year to point out the need of having a training centre for training the sectional assistants and sectional officers in our State. Sir, for the last few years, we have been sending our people to Gauhati for training. At present, I do not know whether the Government is still continuing the same policy of sending our sectional assistants to be trained at Gauhati or whether they have started their own training centre. We have suggested that the training centre should be opened here in Meghalaya, either in Shillong, Tura or Jowai so that after training, the subordinate engineers can be upgraded. But till now, nothing has been done in this regard. But as it is Sir, there is no scope for those officers, who are in the Department, to go ahead or to be sincere in their work because they have no scope of promotion. Therefore, I would suggest that the training centre, within our State, should be established for training of sectional assistants. Moreover, Sir, in the matter of transfer we have seen that the Government has no definite policy. We are sorry to point out here that certain officers who have got personal interest stay in the same post for a long period but, in the public interest, they should have been in some other place. But they could not go there because there is no definite policy of the Government in the matter of transfer. Sir, I will point out another example. There is one officer in the Mawphlang Public Works Department Subdivision. This officer has come to the same place thrice because of some interests of the big contractors and not for the public interest. Sir, in respect of this officer, some other contractors have been complaining and the members of the public also have complained against this officer to be transferred somewhere else. But he has come twice or thrice in the same place. That is why I say that there is no definite policy of the Government. We have seen last year or the year before last- I don't remember exactly- the notifications regarding the transfer of officers from one place to another, but then we have seen that those officers are still in the same place as before. I do not know whether the Government has just issued that notification with some motive or for some other public interest I do not know. But there should be a specific policy by which officers should be in one place for some years and then in some other place in some other year. So there should be a fixed term so that there will not be any interference either politically or otherwise and the staff can also perform there duties without obstruction. So, I would suggest to the Government that it should have, as a matter of policy, a specific term in cases where the posts are transferable.
Sir, in respect of registration of contractors, there was clear instruction during the days of the Government of Assam that contractors and persons who are related to the stuff in the Public Works Department cannot register as contractors but now we find that mostly the contractors, who are prosperous contractors, are either relatives or friends of those who are big officers or members of the staff in the Public Works Department. Sir, in this respect, I would request the Government to have a clear policy on this but then, of course, if the Government feels that it should not bar such persons also, then it should make it clear so that we may also understand. But then also, in the matter of registration of contractors, as I said, there is no proper checking from the Department. The prosperous contractors used to have 10 ore even 15 contractors on their behalf and what they did was that they register the names of relatives or friends or school- going children who become the satellites of these big contractors so that whenever works is allotted to these it means that the work is allotted to the prosperous contractors. Of course, it looks odd if every work is allotted to only one man but that is the practice in the Public Works Department. So, I would request the Government that it should be a little more vigilant in this so that there will be equitable distribution of works which should be offered to every bonafide contractor and not to any particular contractor only. Moreover, Sir, in this distribution of works, as I have stated stated earlier, only the influential contractors get the works whereas those persons in search of work or employment do not get them as they do not have the bargaining power or that they cannot influence those big officers who are responsible for the distribution of works. Sir, I wish that preference should be given to the local contractors for works which can be performed locally. But, as it is now, Sir, it is not so. Therefore, I would request the Government that though it is not possible to have a thorough checking, the Government should have certain checks or some restrictions should be imposed so that the people should not be encouraged to accumulate wealth at the cost of others. Sir, as there are so many cut motions from some other hon. members, I will now resume my seat.
Shri H.E. Pohshana :- Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, since I am not going to move my cut motion because this is already included in the motion I have very little to say. Since the Consultative Committee has been constituted by the Government, I would request the Government to entrust the Committee with examining the various grievances and criticisms that have been made and also the observations on the floor of the House with regard to many things which are occurring in the P.W.D. With these few words, Sir, I support the cut motion.
Shri Francis K. Mawlot :- Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, in supporting the cut motion I would like to ventilate a few grievances which the Government could not fulfill or could not carry out successfully in the execution of the works under the Public Works Department. Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, as the mover of the cut motion had himself stated, we find that the Public Works Department have not been able to serve the masses but actually it has served the interest of a few persons. Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, the hon. member, the mover of the cut motion stated that one contractor has 24/15 satellites around him and he gets hold of the whole Division. Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, the performance or the works are not progressing mainly due to lack of interest taken by the officers of the Department. For example, the Budget is passed in the month of March but we normally find that the survey for the works, new construction works is done at the very fag end of the year, i.e. in the month of January or February and hardly they have got one month's time to start execution. I would like to suggest Sir, when the budget is passed, that allocation of funds should also be made early so that it will enable the Department and the Division to start survey works as well as to prepare the estimates in due course. If it is done so, we need not grumble afterwards.
Another thing, Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, we find that the Divisions are located only in the towns. For example, Mawsynram Division whose jurisdiction extends right up to the border of Garo Hills - all along the border of Bangladesh on the other side. Sir, you can well imagine the volume of work this Division has to undertake. But if the headquarters or the officer in-charge of that particular Division is stationed here at Shillong, we can well understand that he will not be able to supervise the work satisfactorily. That is why, Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, at this juncture I would like to request the Government that the Divisional Headquarters should go closer to the work site so that execution of works can be supervised efficiently by the officers concerned. We are glad to hear that the Government had also proposed to set up three more new Divisions. Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, these new Divisions should not be concentrated only here in Shillong else, I am afraid, there will be no proper execution of work, though more Divisions have been created, unless those are shifted to the work site. Even if at present it is not possible to accommodate the Divisions in the sites proposed, I would like to suggest that within a certain period say one year they should be shifted to the sites. Within this period all the constructions for housing that Department in the site should be completed so that the new Divisions can reach the proposed sites as early as possible. This will enable the officers to supervise the works efficiently. With these few words, I resume my seat.
Prof. A. Warjri :- Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I stand to oppose the cut motion. The hon. Mover of the cut motion has raised a discussion on the performances of the Department and has expressed his disappointment on that score. But I for one find that of all the Departments perhaps this is the only Department that has really done something worth- while, something visible and something progressive. Wherever we go we see that the terrains of the hills have been cut and new roads have been opened and practically after we have attained our Statehood mileage after mileage of roads have been opened. The existing road taken over from the Assam Government, kutcha as they were have now been taken up for soling and metalling and many of them were have now been taken up for soling and metaling and many of them have been blacktopped. I am glad to note the satisfaction expressed by the hon. mover himself and he has expressed the same view that I have expressed just now. But if we go on enumerating the number of roads which have not been progressing satisfactorily, I think everyone of us has got so many grievances to bring forward. Let us look not only on the dark side of things. After all we are human beings; we cannot build up everything within this short period of time. However, I hope within one or two years most of the roads will be all weather roads where cars can ply to most of the remotest corners in the interior. One more point that I would like to bring to the notice of the Government through you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, is regarding acceptance of tenders by the Public Works Department. I find that there is a kind of contradiction in some of the statement or in some of the explanations given by the Executive Engineers. Engineers of the PWD call for tenders through advertisement, and many tenders were submitted by the intending contractors but finally, when selection is made and when we ask why certain contractor had been accepted, they say because he was given the lowest tender. The funniest thing is that the PWD has got what is called the scheduled rate. This scheduled rate is prepared by the Department in such a way that if a contractor works on that scheduled rate, he is expected to get 10 percent profit out of that scheduled rate. Sir, I do not understand how a contractor who gives a tender lower than the scheduled rate even 23 per cent below can execute the works as per estimate. If he really works according to this rate, he is bound to lose, yet we find that some of the tenders upto 20 per cent below the scheduled rate are being accepted because the contractor happens to be the lowest bidder. If these contract works are accepted by the Government, I wonder how he can execute the works with such a low percentage. We met the Executive Engineer to explain as to why he does not accept higher rates? He said that if we accept higher tenders, the A.G. will jump at him. I would, therefore, advise the Government through you, Sir, that something must be done in this regard so that offers of Tom, Dick and Harry should not be accepted and there should be improvement of the works at whatever rate the contractor is taking his works. If a man takes his work at 13%, 15% or 23% below, it means that there is something either between him and the officer or in between the SDOs and himself. It indicates that he is taking something that we cannot discuss here. Another thing I would like to suggest to the Government is that any officer may be an Executive Engineer, and especially, the S.D.O. and even Muharirs should not remain in the same Division or Sub- Division for more than three years. Very often, we have found that one Sub- Division had been put under the charge of one officer for years together till he becomes a monarch of all he surveys. We found after his posting at Shillong, he does not care to look after the affairs of the State or the affairs of the Department, but he is nicely constructing a three- storeyed building in Gauhati or in some place from where he comes.
I would like to say that I agree with Mr. F.K. Mawlot, the hon. Member from Nongstoin, when he says that the headquarters of some Divisions should be shifted to places where the Divisions are located. For example, the Mawsynram Division should not be located here, it should be located in Mawsynram itself and so also with other Sub- Divisions. And the last point which I have in my mind for a long time and which I intended to request this Government is about the Shillong Division. This Shillong Division actually, is a misnomer. It should not be any longer called the Shillong Division. Its jurisdiction covers the area from Gauhati to Silchar and Badarpur and to Dawki and by calling it the Shillong Division is really a misnomer. The real Shillong Division should be the one called now the Building Division because its work is concentrated in the heart of Shillong itself. This Shillong Division should be called the National Road Division or something like that. These are the few observations I would like to make and with these few observations I oppose the cut motion. Thank you.
Shri W. Syiemiong :- Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I do not want to give this august House a repetition of what the Speaker before me has stated. I would like to add something else, and the first point is that I fully agree with the contention of the hon. Member from Mawkhar in so far as to how contractors often quoted the rates below the estimated rates. This is a very pertinent question. And then Sir, the consequence is that those contractors still get more than what they require, even if the estimated rate is Rs.1,000 and they quoted only Rs.900. I must agree to what he said that the officers, the staff and others should not remain in one particular place for years together. Because, if they do, in the long run, they construct many buildings either here or somewhere else. Now, considering their meagre pay and allowances, especially in hard days like these, it is impossible to think whether an officer constructed his house by himself or whether the Government has come forward to help him or with the loan from the Government. I know for a fact, especially in the Mawsynram Division, that there are some bill clerks there who have constructed their own buildings and those people do treat the contractors in a most pathetic way. Unless their palms are greased, they say their bills will never be passed. I believe this will not be an isolated case of Mawsynram Division alone, but if the Government is keen, sincere and serious and if it would investigate into any other PWD Divisions also, it will find the same practice is prevalent.
Then coming to the performance of works, we understand that the muharirs and sectional assistants who are supposed to be in the work site always, are not found to be there most of the time. I think at least one muharir or sectional assistant must be there at the working site. But what we have seen is the opposite of that. I am not going to charge the Government in this regard because I believe the Minister in-charge has taken some action in this regard, but I would alike to cite one example here. Sir, last time, say two weeks back when I was returning From Mawsynram I saw that even during the day time itself, without any technical personnel, of the Department in the site, the road was dynamited and consequent to that, at about 4.30 p.m. I along with some 200 passengers were stranded in the road up to 10.30 at night due to the blockade on the road. I forgot the exact date on which it happened. But Sir, some persons have gone to the S.D.O's residence near Mawphlang at least to call the muharir or the S.D.O. himself or whoever might be there to come and see, but nobody was found there and ultimately I myself went round about 8 p.m. and nobody was there and so the blockade was cleared till the next day. Sir, is this the way that this Department is functioning? Unless this Government takes a little more interest in this particular Department, I am afraid, Sir, that instead of doing more good to the people it will bring more harm to them. Again Sir, I have come to know that very often the Division concerned used to include quite a number of muster roll labourers in the bills submitted by them particularly at Balat Sub-division under Mawsynram Division, when the amount is more than Rs.13.000/- or Rs.14,000/- every month. Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, if you go there in the Executive Engineer's office you will find that the muster roll bills for thousands of rupees have been submitted every month, but actually there are only three or four persons working in a week in the site. I am afraid that if this is the condition, the money that is earmarked for this particular Department which we are supposed to pass now, will simply go to enrich some body's pocket because as a matter of fact only few persons are working in a week. But Sir, the bill will come to Rs.10,000 above. Can you imagine, Sir, that this thing is going on there? But since the Minister in -charge is new, I would request the Government to have a new look into this matter and bring something good and see that these grievances, these problems, these mistakes should not be committed again in the near future. So Sir, with these few words, as I said that I would not burden this House so much because through there are so many things like land compensation not being paid and non-execution of works which I want to speak. We have seen that the road- side is full of working materials which have been collected for months together or years together but no execution of work is seen to be under taken. I therefore, request that this Government hence forward will be quick in execution of works without further delay. With these few words, I support the cut motion.
Shri H.S. Lyngdoh :- Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, in taking part in the discussion on this cut motion, I would like to refer only to the performance of the P.W.D. as the hon. member from stated Nongspung has just now referred. Sir, the hon. Member has very clearly about the slow performance of this Department in respect of some roads. But today there is this provision in the budget for further maintenance of these roads by means of muster rolls. Now Sir, it has always been found that muster roll provisions are there for the construction of these roads. But in actual practice we have seen at certain places, for certain distance, some roads are not maintained properly according to the required standard of maintenance. Even there is no muster roll through-out the year in respect of some portions of these roads. And there are only about 10 to 15 muster roll labourers who have been engaged in respect of some roads through-out the year. In most of these roads there is no muster roll at all and sometimes labourers just come for one or two days and then disappear for months together without any work whereas muster roll bills are submitted and paid every month for these roads. Some Officers or some muharrirs on mutual understanding with the S.D.Os. have prepared these muster roll bills every month without actual execution of the works or without engaging the labourers for the whole month. Otherwise how can these muster roll bills be submitted every month when no muster roll labourers were engaged at all. For instance Sir, there was no muster roll for the year 1974 maintained for Mawngap-Mairang Road. The road was so bad especially a portion of the road that goes to Nongstoin has been damaged very badly that it is very difficult for the Meghalaya Transport buses to ply during the above period. Last time, in the month of May, 1974 when I went to the Constituency of Mr. Edward Kurbah by a brand new jeep on that road, the portion of the road from Sohiong to Weilyngkut is so bad that I got struck up at Umsaw, a distance of only 2½ miles from Sohiong. I was stranded and had to leave the jeep there and then I went by one truck from Umsaw to Weilyngkut. Then on our return to Shillong again the truck got struck up about half way in between Umsaw and Weilyngkut. I had to walk and went to the Additional Chief Engineer and reported the matter. Any way Sir, I found that muster roll bills are submitted every month for the road. But there were no muster roll labourers working on the road. I took this matter up with the Additional Chief Engineer and he ordered an enquiry by the Executive Engineer and only after 2 weeks these muster rolls were working on that road. But the performance of the Department at the Sub-divisional level is very poor. I will not blame the whole department, the Chief Engineer or the Additional Chief Engineer as we cannot expect them to be aware of that but we expect that these top officers should visit these roads because right from the S.D.O. to overseers - these people never walk on foot as they have got vehicles or jeeps to supervise the works. I would like to suggest to the Minister who is here and I hope that this provision which has been demanded here in this budget should not be wasted and not to keep muster rolls like that.
Now, I come to another point, Sir. I wonder what is the Technical Department of the P.W.D.? I have seen one advertisement for an over bridge at Barabazar at Mawkhar. The tender notice was issued some times back and the rate of the tender will be about rupees three lakhs or more. But I learnt that the Department has instead asked the tenderer to submit plans and estimates for the bridge which ought to be done by the Department. The drawings and plans will be submitted by the tenderers. (Voices - That is cooperation.)
It is too much, if you say that this is cooperation. To ask for cooperation Sir, is too much because it is technical. Of course if you ask for cooperation from technical persons that is a different thing. But what is implied there Sir? I learnt that the tenderer has submitted tender above 43% as the hon. Member who has spoken just now said that the performance of the Department nowadays is always to give work to the tenderer who offered the lowest rate. In spite of the fact that we know that the rate of things has gone up and that no one can expect to gain anything after completion of the work if at all he will work according to the plans and estimates specified for that work. But Sir, the implication of this tender is that they have come forward mainly with the understanding and have offered 43% above so that they can prepare the plans and estimates for that work on the basis of the rate quoted by the tenderer. Before the work is allotted to them, they are concealing in some of the items, say to the extent of 15 percent of the work in order that they may be able to come forward with the claim for additional payment. Such cases have been taking place in the Assam Government and I do not know whether here also such things are taking place. So by this process of concealing some items of works, lakhs and lakhs of rupees are involved, and that is the reason why the company quoted 43 per cent above scheduled rates much lower than the other contractors. I am afraid, the Government after negotiation with this company, would give the contract at the rate quoted by them, that is 43 per cent above the schedule of rate. How can you expect the company with its experience offer a lesser rate in a place like Barabazar which is so congested and because of the inconvenience of the place and also of the risk of the materials being stolen. So it would be a great loss to the contractors. In places like Barabazar, I wonder how this company could offer to work at 43 per cent above the schedule of rates while other tenderer offers 70 to 90 percent above and the Department has asked the company to submit plans and estimates. If this is the policy of the Government, I am afraid all the amount that has been provided will be wasted and no useful purpose will be served. With these few words Sir, I support the cut motion.
(Shri W. Syiemiong, Chairman, in the Chair)
Shri Jormanick Syiem :- Mr. Chairman, Sir, I would also like to participate in this cut motion. In the first place, I believe that tenders are accepted according to the scheduled rates which are prescribed for tribals and non-tribals alike. So the Government and the Department are doing according to the schedule and, of course, we cannot deny that the P.W.D. are always trying to execute the work in the fair standard of precision but, on top of that of course, there are some difficulties. There are a number of complaints from tribal contractors who are being harassed by the field officers because they do not know or they could satisfy these officers. I would cite one instance in the case of one contractor who was given a contract for the dispensary at Pariong. He himself was the donor of the land on which this dispensary was to be erected and he was given a contract. But because the Section Officer demanded certain things and when he could not comply with that, he was not supplied with materials which the Department was supposed to supply and on account of that he had to suffer as a result to which he could not complete the work. The work remained in complete for the last ten years or so in spite of the fact that he had made representations to the Department and even to the Government. But nothing was done and his bill had been curtailed by not less than Rs.10,000 and, on top of that, a fine of Rs.975 was imposed on him. These are such cases which have come to our ears. Of course there are a number of other complaints which we would not like to multiply but only to draw the attention of the Government, the Minister in charge of P.W.D. who as has been said, is new to the job. We expect great things from a new hand and I hope even these old cases also could be rectified and in future, we will see that when there are genuine complaints, enquires should be instituted and if found that particular officers concerned are really at fault, they should be dealt with according to law. And then there had been also delay in compensation to some people because a small part of their land has been touched for widening the road here and there. They have been told to go to the DC and the DC said that this is in the Public Works Department; they went back of the P.W. Department and the P.W. Department told them that they had informed the DC but without quoting the number of the letter or the date of the letter, and the people had to go and to run from pillar to post for a small sum or compensation. These are the things to which I would like to draw the attention of the Government through you, Mr. Chairman, Sir. These things, I feel, should not be allowed to go on like this because this means a harassment to the people, whether they be contractors or any other persons-but their acquisition proceedings should not be allowed to remain for such a long time. So, I hope the Government will now realise that they cannot just leave everything to the field officers and when there is complaint or representation, then enquiry should be instituted by senior or superior officers to see as to how far these complaints or representation are correct. Otherwise, I hope that the Public Works Department is doing its work with a view to making the execution of the work with certain amount of precision which we expect that it will be for the good of the State. With these few words, I oppose the cut motion.
Shri K.M. Roy Marbaniang :- Mr. Chairman Sir, I would like to oppose the cut motion moved by the member from Mawkyrwat. But at the first instance, I entirely agree with him and with the other movers of the cut motion that there are lapses here and there but the over-all performances of the Department are good. Mr. Chairman, Sir, some allegations have been brought forward in this House regarding the allotment of works to certain contractors who have not been named and their satellites. But I think this is a very very difficult question and complaints used to come from all sides and from all the contractors, at one time, complaints are coming from at the other side saying that we have got to contract works and again at the other time, complaints will come form another side saying that we do not have contract works. This actually does not mean that a contractor work was allotted to certain contractors only and their satellites. I do not know the word satellites. Well, Mr. Chairman, Sir, I do not know if it means the satellites of certain persons only or the satellites of others but we should not forget that as it has been said just not that I agree entirely with the mover of the cut motion that though there are some lapses, the performances of this Department are in general, satisfactory, the most satisfactory among many other Departments of the State as we could see and also as admitted by many hon. members who have participated in this discussion. And regarding the allotment of works probably this has come out to this House not only this time but on several occasions. The P.W. Department is a well organised Department as said by Mr. Jormanick Syiem. They want to give a first standard specification and in allotment of works also when certain tenders were called they have to see and find out the capacity , the efficiency of the contractors to whom the work should be allotted. But Mr. Chairman, Sir, I think I would agree with all the other members who have been participating in this discussion that it should not be encouraged to give the work to the lowest tenderers because by giving the work to the lowest tenderers, I may say that the performance or the workmanship will really be very very bad and this power of allotting work to the lowest tenderer should also be restricted. I think the Public Works Department should also come out with a bold statement that is should restrict allotment of works to the lowest tenderers. Some specific low tender should not be below 10 per cent. I think that should be the best procedure because the amount of profit which has been adjusted to the scheduled rate is 10 percent only. So, I do not agree, Mr. Chairman, Sir, that the work should be allotted only to the lowest tenders.
Regarding the transfer of the officers, I think we should not try to keep officers for a long time in the same place. And, what has been done regarding this in the past during the British regime - I think, is the best policy to be adopted that no officers should be kept in a certain place for a period of more than 3 years.
Regarding the training, some complaints also have been brought to the notice of this House. I do not know, Sir, because some said Section Assistants and some said Section Officers. I think the correct expression should be Section Assistants because the Section Assistants of our State have been sent for training to Assam but uptil now, I think our State has not been able to constitute a Training Centre of its own for our Section Assistants. For this purpose, I also agree, Sir, that this Institute should also be instituted in Meghalaya as quickly as possible so that all our Section Assistants will get a chance of training.
Regarding the training of Sectional Officers I think we will have to constitute an agreement an engineering college so that we would probably impart training to the Sectional Officers. I think this is the only process. But about the allegations regarding non-implementation of certain roads in State, I for one. Mr. Chairman, Sir, found that it is not possible and practicable that all the roads should be implemented at the same time. That is why we are having these spill-over works from year to year. And certain specific instances were brought forward by my hon. friends regarding the curtailment of bills in certain areas. I do not know if it is quite correct to say that the bill has been curtailed indiscriminately. But I think the Public Works Department officers with their supervisory officers know that the bills should not be curtailed unless it is found that the work has not been done according to the specification. Of course, if it is found that the work has not been done according to the specification. Of course, if it is found that the work has not been done according to specification, then certain amount has to be deducted from the bills. I am only trying to bring these things in this discussion, as I have said from the very beginning, in order to clarify the point raised by the hon. Member from Mawkyrwat. Mr. Chairman, Sir, he is satisfied that the superior officers of the Public Works Department are generally good and so he wants that the junior officials also should be good. And if my ears do not deceive me he said very definitely that the progress of the Progress of the Public Works Department is satisfactory. That is why I oppose this motion. Mr. Chairman, Sir, last of all I humbly submit that all these Divisions should not be located only in Shillong, so as to bring the administration nearer to the people. I hope the Department will consider all these aspects properly. With these few words, I oppose the cut motion and resume my seat.
Shri S.P. Swer :- Mr. Chairman, Sir, I would also like to participate in this cut motion. We know that within a very short time the Government has been trying to develop our State in all spheres of development and road development in our State has been given due weight by the Government right from the very beginning. But as we have started from scratch and as our Chief Minister used to express even in this august House, that it is too much to expect much progress from this Department because in this Department we require skilled technical personnel. But I think that even with its limitations I feel that I should appreciate the achievement of the Public Works Department in respect of construction of roads and bridges in the State. Many of the hon. Members have both forward various lapses on the part of the Department before the House and the serious charge brought forward was in respect of muster-roll workers. If I remember aright there was a motion brought by one of the hon. Members from the opposite side of this House to discuss the question of raising the wages of these muster roll workers. But from the discussion it appears that these muster- roll workers are not really working as they should and in some cases, it is alleged, there was no worker but a list of muster- roll workers only. What I mean to say is that it appears that these muster-roll workers are not necessary at all for maintenance of the road. But as a matter of fact, it is not so although we may find some lapses here and there. There is also another charge, I should say, that the officers in the Public Works Department are lacking interest to start works. We know that before starting work on the road there are many formalities or office procedures that have to gone through. I think these formalities sometimes are the hindrances and obstacles that stand on the way to start any new road construction. It is also alleged that works done on the road are not satisfactory. Here again I think it is a remark on the efficiency of our officers especially the engineers in the Public Works Department. But we must realise that construction of a road in the hill areas, especially in the hilly terrains of our State, is very very difficult and to make a road in such an area, it requires much skill on the part of our engineers, and I can say with confidence that the engineers in our State are not less in efficiency compared to engineers in other States.
Again the hon. Member who moved the cut motion ventilated his grievances about the performance of the Department in respect of registration of contractors. I do not know how the Department could go wrong in registration of contractors because as far as my knowledge goes, in the application form for registration, it is very clearly laid down that the applicant should obtain a certificate from the MLA or MP and as far as I know, the Department is also taking steps to verify the applicant or to call for a report from the Police about the background of the applicant before registration. Therefore, I do not see that there is much room to pass any adverse remark on the performance of the Department in this regard. Mr. Chairman, Sir, we talk a lot about the rates, how a contractor could submit a tender or could offer to work below the schedule of rates. I think we all know that in every tender notice, if it is in the case of a very good contractors, there is a condition, that he should visit the side before submitting the tender which a good contractor generally does. He saw the site and satisfied himself and then and there he could decide that he could do the work even below the schedule of rates. An experienced and efficient contractors can make profit even if he submits the tender below the schedule of rates because after seeing the site, he knows how to work and to get profit.
Shri Hopingstone Lyngdoh :- First of all the engineer saw the site and not the contractor.
Shri S.P. Swer :- Naturally only after the engineer has prepared estimates for the work then tenders are called. It is for the contractor to go and visit the site so that he can decide whether he can take up the work below or above the schedule of rates. We can cite instances where the contractors quoted below the schedule of rates but there are many instances where the contractors also quoted much higher than the schedule of rates. That depends on the items of work in the contract. Sir we point out only the lapses on the part of Public Works Department, but we fail to appreciate that this Department within a period of two years has completed road construction of not less than 452 kms.
Shri. Hopingstone Lyngdoh :- But they consumed a lot of money also.
Shri S.P. Swer :- Yes, because construction of road generally in the hilly terrains means a lot of money. The road is to be constructed on rocks. It has to go through rocky hillocks. People in the plains could not understand what road construction in the hill areas means. That is a fact and we know also that this Department has achieved construction of major bridges- about 6 in number and the total length of these bridges is about 3162 running feet. Six major bridges were completed in spite of scarcity of essential materials like cement, iron and steel. It is no less achievement. This Department in a very short time can achieve so much in respect of construction of roads and bridges. We know for a fact also what is going on today that there is scarcity of explosives. Therefore, this is one of the major reasons which retard the progress of construction work. It is a great set back to the progress of construction of roads because in our hilly terrain you would not find soft soil; you will find soil mixed with boulders and in greater parts of the road to be constructed anywhere in the State we find rocks, the removal of which requires the use of explosives. Sir, I cannot agree with the hon. mover of the cut motion that we should condemn the performance of Public Works Department because of some lapses here and there. Therefore, Mr. Chairman, Sir, I oppose the cut motion.
Shri G. Mylliemngap :- Mr. Chairman, Sir, I rise to oppose the cut motion on the performance of the Public Work Department. Mr. Chairman, Sir, according to me the performance of the Public Works Department is very fast and because it is very fast our naked eyes have failed to realise the great performance. Sir, I agree that there might be lapses here and there. ( A voice: Minor ones)
Yes, minor ones, because when we are running we are bound to stumble here and there but we will not or should not submit to the stumbling blocks or pitfalls. We should keep on doing and running. Why I say that, Mr. Chairman, Sir, is because I have seen that there were many roads which had been approved during the time of erstwhile Government, since the Third Five-Year Plan, but whose construction could not be taken up till the Government of Meghalaya came into existence recently. The Government has started construction of those roads, as for example, the road from Shillong to Diengpasoh which, for so long, has been a cry in the wilderness. Now the Government has started the construction work. Besides that, the road from Smit to Mawkynrew and to Mawlai which has been approved a long time ago but could not be taken up. Only last year construction of the road was taken up and now a jeep can go up to Mawkynrew. So also the road from Barapani to Shiliangum. This also had been a long- pending road which could not be constructed due to land complications created by some vested interest. Only last year this road was started by the Public Works Department. Therefore, Mr. Chairman, Sir, in a small circle of my knowledge and information, I know that the Public Works Department in its performance is very very fast.
As regards the allotment of works, Mr. Chairman, Sir, the Department has to observe different types of rules and regulations. Besides the Public Works Department codes, the Department has also to satisfy the conditions as laid done by the set of rules. Not only that, Mr. Chairman, Sir, there is also another watch-dog and that is the Audit Department which the Public Works Department has to face in as much as, after the allotment of works, there is an audit party which will come - it has the right to come and look into their records. As you know, Mr. Chairman Sir, you were once upon a time in A.G.'s office.
Mr. Chairman :- We both were. ( laughter)
Shri G. Mylliemngap :- As you know, Sir, in other Departments the audit used to be conducted once a year whereas in the Public Works Department the audit is conducted after every six months. Mr. Chairman, Sir, it is not, therefore, correct to allege that the Department is allotting works haphazardly. As you know, if the Department is not giving the work to the lowest tenderer, the audit will jump on the Department as to why the work could not be allotted to the lowest tenderer and thereby save Government money to such and such an extent. Therefore, Mr. Chairman, Sir, we may say that the workmanship of the contractor may be poor but still the Department has to take into consideration this fact. Besides there are different categories of contractors who are allowed to submit tenders according to their classes. On many occasions we have seen to heard that the works are always allotted according to the lowest tendered rate and those contractors who have quoted even higher rates were also offered to execute the work at the lowest tendered rate even though they have quoted higher rates. Therefore, Mr. Chairman, Sir, as I have said that the Department has to work under these limitations, viz., codes, rules, audit and the performance of the contractors, they have to allot the works according to the circumstances and situation. With these few words I oppose the cut motion.
Shri Edward Kurbah :- Mr. Chairman, Sir, I rise to support the cut motion moved by the hon. Member from Mawkyrwat. While listening to the arguments advanced by many hon. Members of both sides of this august House, I feel it difficult for me to judge whether I should fall in line with some of the Members who said that the performance of this Department is very fast or I should be one with those who said that the performance of the Department is very very slow. Mr. Chairman, Sir, I think in one way I do not say that the progress of construction of all the roads which have been undertaken by this Department is very slow nor I would agree that the progress of works in certain roads is very very fast. Let us examine what are the roads that have been constructed and which are the roads that have not yet been constructed. Mr. Chairman, Sir, in this connection I would like to draw the attention of the House to the fact that many roads have been constructed but there are many yet to be constructed. In this connection, I would like to draw the attention of the Minister to only a few instances which I feel it necessary to bring to the notice of the House. Mr. Chairman, Sir, if the Department wishes that the roads should be taken up and maintained in a proper way, I know they are able to do so, because, from my own experience I have seen that some of the roads for which tenders were called only recently, have been completed very quickly. But there are roads for which tenders have been called long long ago but they have not yet been completed. Mr. Chairman, Sir, if you want me to cite some concrete instances, though I do not blame the Government because there might be some defects with their agencies who are supposed to perform the work. But I shall cite some instances like the road connecting Mawsynram and Nongrimsadew for which tenders have been called very recently and the work has been completed very quickly. But if you look at the other roads like the road connecting Sohiong- Nongspung- Balat, etc. and others for which tenders were called since last 2/3 years ago you will not find that no progress has been made uptil now. This I said only for the information of the House and I would like to urge upon the Government to see that the roads which have been undertaken since a pretty long time should be completed immediately. Soling and metalling should be done immediately. Mr. Chairman, Sir, there are roads which are quite good during winter season since water does not wash away the soil from the road but during summer season the condition of these roads becomes so bad that even jeeps cannot ply. So, Mr. Chairman, Sir, I would request the Government at least to see that the roads which are pending for construction for quite a long time should be taken up immediately.
Mr. Chairman, Sir, coming to another point, i.e., the allotment of works to the contractors, I do not know whether it is a fact, as some of the hon. Members have already brought this matter to the notice of the House, that in some Subdivisions such and such contractor has gone to the officers concerned for getting allotment of works. Mr. Chairman, Sir, I have heard that the contractors even now have to meet the officers concerned for getting their work and when they approach them, the officers would tell them to go to the leaders or the representatives and so on and so forth and consult with them so that they will get the work. This is only a note of caution to the Government to see whether it is wise for us to take away the power of the officers to allot works to the contractors, otherwise it will amount to interfering with the day to day administration of the officers of the Department. In this respect I would request the Government that as public representatives, we should not involve ourselves in this. Mr. Chairman, Sir, another point which I would like to bring to the notice of the House is regarding the road from Sohiong to Weilyngkut which is also proposed to be extended upto Mawmih. This is a very important road and as far as I remember and as far as I know, about 6 to 8 years ago, this road had been already taken up by the Block agency. Now, Sir, the Public Works Department has taken up the work only upto Weilyngkut. A bridge is being constructed and the work is now in progress. I fail to understand, Sir, why the Public Works Department in spite of the fact that the Block agencies have handed over to the Public Works Department that portion of the road from Sohiong to Weilyngkut upto Nongbsab and then to Mawmih, up till now nothing has been done by the Public Works Department in this respect. Mr. Chairman, Sir, since that road was already in existence, I would like to request that the Public Works Department take it over for maintenance. It appears that the portion of the road upto Nongbsab had been taken over by the Public Works Department but I wonder why they have not taken up extension of the road upto Weilyngkut and Mawmih. I would further urge upon the Government to include this road in the scheme so that the people may be able to transport their produces. Mr. Chairman, Sir, I do not want to take much time but simply to remind the Government that with the induction of a new Minister for Public Works Department, I hope those roads which I have already mentioned will be taken up shortly by the Department and in a phased manner. With these words, Sir, I support the cut motion.
( Shri G. Mylliemngap, Chairman, in the Chair.)
Mr. Chairman :- Before I call upon the Minister in-charge of P.W.D. to reply, may I take it that we take up the cut motion tabled by Shri H.E. Pohshna since it is similar in nature?
Shri H.E. Pohshna :- No, Sir, I have already withdrawn.
Mr. Chairman :- Now, the Minister in-charge to reply.
Shri P.R. Kyndiah (Minister, P.W.D.) :- Mr. Chairman, Sir, at the very outset, I am indeed very thankful to the mover of the cut motion and to the participating members for having given me the opportunity to derive benefit from the points of view, the various observations, important suggestions and other points of view expressed and also particularly because of certain identity of views. That is, that all the Members in the course of their discussion on the floor of this House, have agreed on one point that in so far as the overall performance of the Department is concerned, the whole Department could not be blamed, in other words, it means that the works and performance of the Department have been generally satisfactory excepting on the field level where there are few lapses, where there might have been some loopholes which need to be plugged and the difficulties that should be removed. Therefore, I am indeed very very grateful to the hon. Members from all sides for having expressed their identity of points of view.
Now, I would like in the first place, to diffuse the wrong idea which might have perpetrated in the minds of the members as to the exact provision of this Grant No.20. It appears to me that there are certain misunderstandings. Now, I would like to say that this provision is for the maintenance of staff, procurement of machineries, tools and to stock materials for execution of the works. It is also for the maintenance and repairs of non- residential buildings. It is also meant for maintenance and repairs of the M.L.As' Hostel and Inspection Bungalows and certain departmental buildings. Now, it was observed that this Department is money-consuming department. Any way, I agree that this Department is the biggest expending department. But it is through this Department that much of the visible works in the State has been seen. In fact, Mr. Chairman, Sir, if we are very objective, during the last three years after the full- fledged Statehood of Meghalaya, the whole landscape of the State has undergone a great change in so far as public works are concerned. The map of Meghalaya is now dotted in a network of roads. We have the trunk roads from Shillong via Nongstoin to Tura and the three districts of Khasi, Jaintia and Garo Hills are now connected with roads. We have border roads in Garo Hills, in Jaintia Hills, and in the Khasi Hills. We have diagonal roads cutting across the landscape of Meghalaya, we have horizontal roads every where. So everywhere is road, road and road. Indeed if you look at it from that point of view Mr. Chairman, Sir, I think it will be very correct to say that the achievement of this Department is indeed very very spectacular. But at the same time, Mr. Chairman, Sir, when I say this, I do not like to have the wrong idea that all is well. I quite agree with what the hon. Member from Sohiong has said only a few minutes ago when he said that many roads have been constructed but many more remain to be done. I think this is a correct thing because in this Department we have many proposals and in fact before taking up of the Five Year Plans we have formulated very big and massive programme of road construction. But unfortunately the Planning Commission has pruned down the allocation and most of these roads which we have proposed to take up could not be done. In fact the Department has had to cut many road development projects in order to bring them down with the allocation made by the Planning Commission. I would also like, right from the start to place before the House the many cases of delay in certain road projects. Now Mr. Chairman, Sir, in 1973-74, we have had a very bad spell when there was scarcity of building materials like cement, steel etc. We had a very bad spell indeed. Despite that fact that the Government pushed ahead very rapidly and we did not allow the non- availability or the inadequacy of building materials to stand in the way. It was a big handicap that most of the road project works could not be undertaken. Now I would like also to inform the House that there was another cause responsible for a lot of difficulties. That is the difficulty in procuring road rollers in the initial stage of 1973-74. But the vigorous attempt made by the Department with the DGS and D had paid dividends and now we are having a good number of road rollers and in fact during the current year the work has progressed so fast that today we can take up more projects provided there is fund. Of course the other factor for the delay is the non-availability of land. This is a big problem which had been dealt with in detail and with clarity by the Minister of Revenue the other day. I do not think it would be right for me to take away the time of the House by dealing on the great difficulties and problems which we are facing on this score. Now there has been a mention of a hope and encouragement for this Department in the near future that it will be able to discharge its responsibility well and will be able to achieve good results. I am happy that the hon. Mover of the cut motion had made it very specific that he has a great hope and encouragement that these things will improve tremendously. We are as concerned as he is with the need to have trained personnel in the Department; it is a very very important point. Now since the Public Works Department require technical and trained persons it is necessary that we produce trained men from time to time. And I agree that is not a right thing to depend on the technical persons from outside. I think this matter came up in the previous Sessions and the Government had examined the proposal and we are having a scheme for the training of Section Assistants. I am very happy to inform the House that we are expecting to open a training Centre at Shillong during 1975-76. In so far as training of S.Os. is concerned, I may inform the hon. Members that we have a polytechnic School at Mawlai and we are expecting that they can turn out trained officers from year to year. Now there was also a mention as to the registration of contractors and also that some contractors, big contractors, are having satellites and who are taking up the work on behalf of big contractors. But in so far as registration is concerned, Mr. Chairman, Sir, I think the hon. Member from Cherrapunjee had made it very clear that the registration of contractors is done on the basis of the recommendations made by the MLAs, MDCs and MPs and also leaders. Now this is not a very valid point for argument. But there was a point raised by a Member that there are contractors who are having a good amount of work by having relationship with the staff of the PWD. I do not know whether this means that family relationship or different kind of relationship is there. But in so far as the persons having works in the Department and have a family relationship are concerned work as a contractor is a matter which the Department cannot encourage and we will have to look into the matter very carefully because I agree that it may lead to many undesirable activities. So this matter has to be examined. I fully agree with the hon. Member that in so far as other relationships are concerned, whether it is in the form of corrupt practices, or whether in the form of any other relationships, this is a matter which is engaging the attention of the Government for quite some time. I want to be very very clear Mr. Chairman, Sir, that this Department did not; do not and shall not countenance any corruption. And this applies not only to this Department, but it applies to all Departments.
Mr. Chairman, Sir, only the other day on this very floor of the House, a reference was made by a member of this House to the payment of certain bills which was of a controversial nature which the Government have found that there is a certain prima facie case of investigation and because of this basic stand of the Government, the Chief Minister himself the other day had referred it to the Anti- Corruption Branch. So you can see, Mr. chairman, Sir, that we do not allow any grass to grow on our feet. If and when cases come before us, that can be substantiated. Of course I would like to be very clear on this lest I may be mis- interpreted, that we do not like to go witch hunting; to witch hunt would make officer in a sense afraid of doing his job and that is not my wish. But then, at the same time, Mr. Chairman, Sir, whenever a case of corruption comes up, whoever he is and whatever position he occupies, the Government will take such a person to task. Now this is in so far as that matter is concerned.
Now a very interesting debate has come up before the House on the advisability or otherwise of acceptance of lower tenders. Now Government is interested to have efficient economic work, and to that end the Government will have to take all steps to see that the tenders are accepted on the basis of competition and on the basis of giving preference to scheduled tribes. Concession is extended to them at 7½% below scheduled rates and also concession is given to the local people. In fact an instruction was issued that the local people, where the work is taken up, be given preference and by "local people" we mean those people living on the road side where the road is proposed to be taken up and its vicinity. While all these preferences are extended, we are all the while interested in the efficient functioning of the works. Now a very interesting point again was debated as to the need to re- examine the giving of allotment of works to contractors who offered very very low rates. Now, this matter also came up before the Government and we have examined it very carefully, and it is the stand of this Government that we do not want cut- throat competition; we do not encourage cut throat competitions and to that end, - to avoid such competitions- a decision has already been arrived at. The hon. Member from Mawsynram had wanted me to make a bold statement, but I will make a simple statement that tenderers quoting below 10% are not entertained. So a decision has been arrived at and now tenders below 10% are not entertained.
Another point which seems to be a matter which has seized the minds of the members, is the streamlining of the Public Works Department and, Mr. Chairman, Sir, on this Government had, for quite some time, been exercised with this problem as how to stream- line the machinery in order to make it more efficient, more speedy and more responsive and also more effective. On this, I think last month, subject to correction, the Government had come up with a notification creating three more Divisions and 10 sub-divisions; these divisions and sub- divisions will be created with effect from 16th April, 1975. Now there was a discussion on a point of need that since the administration is to be effective and efficient, the headquarters of such divisions should be nearer to the people. Well, there are no two opinions on this. Whether in the formation of civil sub- divisions or in that of administrative units, whether in the formation of the public works division or public works sub- division, the whole policy of the Government is that the Government should go nearer and closer to the people. This is the stand of the Government, but before making any definite decision on this matter, we have to weight the pros and cons of the problem: we have to consider the administrative needs, we have to consider the wish of the people and in fact, even in matters relating to one sub division converted into a division, even on this, the Government is keeping an open mind. Now I think on more than four occasions today, while discussions took place, mention was made that being a new Minister, I will, therefore, exercise a new look. I think I will slightly differ on that; I will have a fresh look. I think that will be more appropriate. Now even after the notification was issued, I came to learn about a certain Sub- division, that is, Mawkyrwat being tagged with Nongstoin. Then after considering the points of view of the leaders of the area and also the mover of the cut motion today, the hon. Member, Mr. Rowell Lyngdoh, after giving a weighty consideration, the Government has decided to re-open the issue and come to a decision by tagging Mawkyrwat with Shillong West. This was done, which in effect means, we are taking a fresh look on many things concerning the State because in public affairs, as used to be said by the Finance Minister, nothing is absolutely final; we are to be guided by the need of the situation of the day. So we are trying to be as responsive as possible in administration and I believe the hon. Mover will appreciate the attempt on the part of the Department to fall in line with the feelings of the people at large. Now, a very unexpected criticism has come from the hon. Member from Nongstoin who had made a very sweeping remark- I wish he were here. He said that the Public Works Department have not been able to serve the masses, that is serves only the interest of some persons. I do not know in what context he has said that, but I think it is far from truth. The very fact is that the road projects or building projects have been taken up with such vigour bringing in its trail employment and opening and creating an infrastructure for the economic development of the people. Some of the roads are going through the agricultural areas, some of the roads are passing through the mineral bearing areas and some of the roads are passing through the strategic areas. All these, I think are serving the masses. Therefore, to say that this serves only a few people I think it is very very improper and incorrect. However, when the hon. member has said this, he might have said it in a different way and context and perhaps he might have meant that some contractors are manipulating the work to the detriment of the small contractors - that might have been said in that context, then of course in this I will have an open mind and a fresh mind.
So, this matter is linked up again with the satellites, a statement made by some members.
Now, in so far as the Muster Roll labourers are concerned, I think Mr. H.S. Lyngdoh has made a very strong remark. I know Muster Roll labourers are available in most of the roads but I think the hon. Member from Pariong mentioned about Mawngap- Mairang Road. This is for example. Well, on this, I do not know whether such a blanket remark is called for because the Department maintained Muster Roll Registers and that they have labourers.
Shri H.S. Lyngdoh :- Sir, on a point of information, the Muster Roll Register is always maintained and bills are always maintained and bills are always paid normally but there was no muster roll at all. Sir, it may be that some fictitious muster roll labourers have signed the bills and register but there are no muster rolls at all. And for instance, in the road from Sohiong to Weilyngkut we find that these are no muster roll labourers at all. But the Muharrir concerned brought some of his relatives to the road- side and got them signed their names while in fact, there are no muster rolls at all. These are the examples, Sir.
Shri P.R. Kyndiah (Minister, P.W.D. etc.) :- Now, Mr. Chairman, Sir, in view of the very strong feeling that the Member has in this respect, the matter deserves to be looked into. Now, the hon. Member from Pariong had mentioned specifically about the construction of the over- bridge at Mawkhar or Mot Phran. In this connection, there are two points made by him. The first point is that it is a fact that certain firms have offered tenders along with the estimates and technical designs as asked by the Department. This is one point. The second point is that the tenderer has quoted 43 per cent above. Well, on this, I have just got an information for the benefit of the Members of this House. Now, tenders have been invited on the basis of the design etc. of the Department. Or alternatively, they may make their own designs also as they did in projects. But now there is no firm which has quoted 43 per cent above scheduled area. But I may inform the hon. Member that Doss Premiere offered 45 percent above, Birendra Singh Thangkhiew 80 per cent above and Frankstar Well Marbaniang 99 per cent above and I think the last date is over. Anyway, these are the tenders.
Shri H. Hadem :- Sir, is the Hon'ble Minister, P.W.D. definite that the last date is over?
Shri P.R. Kyndiah (Minister, P.W.D.) :- Yes, the last date is over. Anyway since the matter has come to this point in which the Member has strongly felt about it, I will take the Member into full confidence and so I have done that.
Shri H.S. Lyngdoh :- Mr. question, Sir, is that this is also the performance of the Department, because the Department has a Technical Branch and therefore, why not call for all these tenders and distribute the works according to the plan and designs of this Technical Branch of the Department? For what purpose this Technical Branch of the Department exists when the plans and the designs etc. have to be prepared by the private firms or tenderers?
Shri P.R. Kyndiah (Minister, P.W.D.) :- Anyway, the Member from Pariong has made his point and I am carrying his point with me. Now, it is not my intention Mr. Chairman, Sir, to go into the details of certain suggestions made because I have already made my views but I am just trying to touch certain highlights of the view points.
Now, in so far as the transfer of officers is concerned, a very strong point has been made on this by all sections that there is always a tendency in favour of creating vested interest if any officer is posted in a certain place for a long time- which is not good. So, this matter has to be considered, and I think this is administratively correct that officers should be allowed to stay on in the same place for many many years. I think this deserves the attention of the Government and I will certainly consider the matter. I do not know how far the Department has been able to follow this guideline, there was a guideline on this, but is appears from the various statements made by the Members that these guidelines have not been followed in detail. So, I will look into this matter which is very very important in the interest of better functioning of the Public Works Department. Now, a mention has been made as to the quality of work as it exists in the town and in the interior. Well, in so far as the road project is concerned, Sir, we are to be guided by certain specifications. Now, these specifications are already in the code in the guidelines and there is nothing at all to suggest that there is any discrimination of work. The same guide- lines are to be followed by the offices, but in specific cases in which quality of work is not up to the standard, we certainly will have to examine and see that it has been specifically adhered to. Now there was a mention of a National Highway at Mawlai. I went to Mawlai the other day and it appears to me that the work has been done properly. But even then since this matter has been raised in such a manner that there is discrimination of the quality of works, I will certainly look into it and try to find the truth of such allegation.
Shri R. Lyngdoh :- Mr. Chairman, Sir, what we want to know is whether these specifications which were done here with the Mawlai specification are the same or the different specification?
Shri P.R. Kyndiah (Minister, in-charge of P.W.D.) :- Mr. Chairman, Sir, in that case I would like to have a notice. Now some allegations were made that the registration was done in the name of the school- going children. How true is the charge that the school- going children are being registers as contractors? But if there are any specific cases, well it is my bounden duty that this should be done away with. I would request the hon. Mover through you, Sir, to give me specific information and I will certainly deal with this matter. It appears Mr. Chairman, Sir, that I have dealt with almost all the major points that have been expressed by the hon. Members. Therefore, we have to keep in view the very sincere attempts made by the Department, as already admitted by the hon. Members who moved the cut motion who said that sincerity prevails among the top officials and I look forward that sincerity will percolate down to the bottom and the day would come that you would come here with a motion of confidence on the Public Works Department. With these few words I humbly request the mover of the cut motion not to insist on going through with his cut motion. '
Shri E. Kurbah :- Mr. Chairman, Sir, I would like to have one clarification about the delay in completing some roads which may be because of the delay of payment of land compensation.
Shri P.R. Kyndiah (Minister in-charge of Public Works Department) :- Mr. Chairman, Sir, I have already mentioned that in fact there are some cases pending with the Public Works Department.
Shri F.K. Mawlot :- Mr. Chairman, Sir, in course of the reply the Minister in-charge of Public Works Department has said that he could not understand me that the Public Works Department could not serve the masses but it has rather served a few persons. Well, Mr. Chairman, Sir, I would like to make a clarification to this effect. When I say the Public Works Department could not serve the masses the main reason being that satellite contractors are surrounding a particular big contractor. Thus, very few persons are benefited from the allocation of work made by the Public Works Department.
Shri R. Lyngdoh :- Mr. Chairman, Sir, I am very glad and we are almost satisfied with the reply of the Minister in-charge that he has covered all the points and I hope that the Government will take into consideration all the points raised by the hon. Movers. Also the point raised by the member from Nongspung about the bill clerk. Of course with the assurances that the Minister in-charge has said that he has already given his co-operation right from the beginning as he has also said about the creation of the Public Works Department Sub division which he has complied with our request in the public interest and the points he has touched are almost satisfactory, I withdraw my cut motion.
Mr. Chairman :- Has the hon. Member leave of the House to withdraw his cut motion? ( Voices- yes, Yes). The cut motion is with leave of the House withdrawn. Shri Lewis Bareh has another cut motion but there are only three minutes left.
Shri Humphrey Hadem :- Mr. Chairman, Sir, since we have got only three minutes I doubt whether we can finish this cut motion.
Mr. Chairman :- Yes, let him initiate and we will continue tomorrow.
Shri Lewis Bareh :- Mr. Chairman, Sir, I beg to move my cut motion that the total provision of Rs.1,76,50,300 under Grant No.20 Major head "259- Public Works" at page 121 of the Budget be reduced by Rs.100.00 i.e., the amount of the whole grant of Rs.1,76,50,300 do stand reduced to Rs.100.00. I want to discuss the failure of the Department to construct the following roads, 1. From Borghat via Huroi up to Sonapur and 2. From Bapung on the Jowai- Badarpur Road up to Pamra- Paithlu.
Mr. Chairman :- Motion moved. Now you can initiate your discussion.
Shri Lewis Bareh :- I think I cannot finish it in one minute. After all we are very very interested for a reply from the Minister in-charge of Public Works Department with regard to the various types of discussions that took place in the House. But why I move my cut motion is because I have a particular aim and particular concentration. Therefore, it is not in general line as it was done just now. Sir, it is really.............( Bell rang ).
Mr. Chairman :- The time is over. The House stands adjourned till 9 a.m. tomorrow the 25th March, 1975.
|The 24th March, 1975.||
Meghalaya Legislative Assembly.