Proceedings of the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly held at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, the 8th September, 1976 in the Assembly Chamber, Shillong, with the Hon'ble Speaker in the Chair.
Present :- Minister - Seven, Minister of State - Three, Members - Thirty-nine.
Mr. Speaker :- Let us begin with the business of the day by taking up item No.1. The Minister-in-charge of Forest to beg leave to introduce the Meghalaya Tree (Preservation) Bill, 1976.
Shri Grohonsingh A. Marak (Minister-in-charge of Forest) :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, I beg leave to introduce the Meghalaya Tree (Preservation Bill, 1976.)
Mr. Speaker :- Motion moved. Now I put the question before the House. The question is that leave be granted to introduce the Meghalaya Tree (Preservation) Bill, 1976.
(The Motion was carried). Now the Minister-in-charge of Forest to introduce the Bill.
Shri Grohonsingh A. Marak (Minister-in-charge of Forest) :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, I beg to introduce the Meghalaya Tree (Preservation) Bill, 1976.
Mr. Speaker :- Motion moved. Now I put the question before the House. The question is that the Meghalaya Tree (Preservation) Bill, 1976 be introduced. (The motion was carried). The Secretary read out the title of the Bill).
Mr. Speaker :- The Minister-in-charge of Excise to beg leave to introduce the Meghalaya Intoxicating Liquor (Prohibition of Advertisements) Bill, 1976.
Shri E. Bareh (Minister-in-charge of Excise) :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, I beg leave to introduce the Meghalaya Intoxicating Liquor (Prohibition of Advertisements) Bill, 1976.
Mr. Speaker :- Motion moved. Now I put the question before the House. The question is that leave be granted to the Minister-in-charge to introduce the Meghalaya Intoxicating Liquor (Prohibition of Advertisements) Bill, 1976. (The motion was carried). The Minister-in-charge now to introduce the Bill.
Shri E. Bareh (Minister-in-charge of Excise) :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, I beg to introduce the Meghalaya Intoxicating (Prohibition of Advertisements) Bill, 1976.
Mr. Speaker :- Motion moved. Now I put the question before the House. The question is that the Bill be introduce. (The motion was carried). The Secretary read out the title of the Bill.
Mr. Speaker :- The Minister-in-charge of Finance to beg leave to introduce the Meghalaya Amusement and Betting Tax (Amendment) Bill, 1976.
Shri B.B. Lyngdoh (Minister-in-charge of Finance) :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, I beg leave to introduce the Meghalaya Amusement and Betting Tax Amendment Bill, 1976.
Mr. Speaker :- Motion moved. Now I put the question before the House. The question is that leave be granted to introduce the Bill. (The motion was carried). Now before I ask the Minister-in-charge to introduce the Bill let me read out the Message from the Governor.
Dated 4th September, 1976.
In exercise of the powers conferred by Clause (I) of Article 267 of the Constitution of India, I Shri Lallan Prasad Singh, Governor of Meghalaya hereby recommend the introduction of the Meghalaya Amusement and Betting Tax (Amendment) Bill 1976.
Sd/- L.P. SINGH,
The Minister-in-charge now to introduce the Bill.
Shri B.B. Lyngdoh (Minister-in-charge of Finance) :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, I beg to introduce the Meghalaya Amusement and Betting Tax (Amendment) Bill, 1976.
Mr. Speaker :- Motion moved. I now put the question before the House. The question is that the Bill be introduced. (The motion was carried). The Secretary read out the title of the Bill.
Mr. Speaker :- Let us pass on to item No.4. The Minister-in-charge of Power to move the Government resolution.
Shri S.D.D. Nichols Roy, (Minister-in-charge of Power) :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, where as under sub-section (3) of Section 65 of the Electricity (Supply) Act, 1948 (Act 54 of 1943) the maximum amount which the State Electricity Board may, at any time, have on loan under sub-section (1) of Section 65 of the Act shall be 10 (ten) crores of rupees, unless the State Government, with the approval of the State Legislative Assembly fix a higher maximum amount.
And whereas, the Meghalaya State Electricity Board shall require loans beyond this amount for implementation of generation schemes of the Board. Now, therefore, in exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (3) of section 65 of the Electricity (Supply) Act, 1948, this Assembly hereby resolves that the maximum amount which the Meghalaya State Electricity Board, may at any time, have on loan be fixed at 75(seventy-five) crores of rupees.
Mr. Speaker :- Motion moved. Now I think the Minister will have to explain about the purpose of this resolution.
Shri S.D.D. Nichols Roy, (Minister in-charge of Power) :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, the hon. Members probably know that the Assam State Electricity Board was bifurcated and in 1975 the Meghalaya State Electricity Board came into being on the 21st of January. Now all State Electricity Board raised their resources by way of loans from the State Government and from the financial institutions or from the open market borrowings. Now the Assam State Electricity Board had passed on the amount and the Assam Government had approved the undivided State Electricity Board do have borrowing powers and loan liabilities of Rs.95 crores. This had also been approved by the previous Government of Assam. When Meghalaya State Electricity Board came into being, we took over the assets of the undivided Assam State Electricity Board and up to March 1975 certain liabilities were allocated to the Meghalaya State Electricity Board. This was the approximate proportion of the assets taken over and the allocation was that 33% of the assets and liabilities should be given to the MSEB. The loan allocation was also divided. Pending final allocation of this amount the total amount of loan allocated to MSEB was 37.73 crores of which the State Government loan amounts to 25.93 crores. In addition, during 1975-76 the MSEB obtained a total sum of Rs.5 crores as loan. So loan and liabilities given to the MSEB stood at Rs.4.73 crores. This included the State Government loans. Now we have a number of generation projects which we also took over including the on-going Kyrdemkulai Project and we have two or three more projects under investigation. Therefore, we will have to increase the borrowing powers of the Meghalaya State Electricity Board. Hence the resolution today. It may be added that most of the State Electricity Boards exceeded 75 crores. We have enquired from various State Electricity Boards and their borrowing power considerably higher than 75 crores. But for this State Government, the generation schemes that we are now contemplating to take up this amount should be enough. Therefore, I request all the hon. Members to support this resolution so that the MSEB will be able to carry on with the works of both the generation schemes that have been already undertaken and those that we are contemplating to take up in the following years. Under section 65, there is a provision for the Board to take loan from other authorities or from the open market borrowing and so on. The amount of borrowing does not include the amount borrowed from the State Government. So with these words I urge upon this House to support and pass this resolution to enable the maximum borrowing of the Meghalaya State Electricity Board up to 75 crores.
Prof. M.N. Majaw :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, we would like to say just one or two words on this. First of all we would like to congratulate the Minister-in-charge for having managed, at last, to bring about the bifurcation of this Board. As this House must remember that we have had occasion in the past to speak a lot and discuss about the affairs of the Assam State Electricity Board and at the time when it included the State of Meghalaya, and although some amendment had to be made to the North Eastern Areas Re-organisation Act in order to enable us to remain together with the A.S.E.B. for another year, we are happy that at last this long hope for long dream of bifurcation has come about. But we would only like to enquire by way of information what it meant when the Minister speaks of liabilities. If our memory serves us aright there was a liability also of interest carried over compound interest. Do these liabilities included these interests which the Assam State Electricity Board had carried over? If I am not mistaken, the interest in the combined Board of the Assam State Electricity Board, that time was an unpaid interest amounting to 28 or 29 crores. Then there was a carried over loss which was about 23 crores in 1972 accounts and the financial statement. What was the position at the time of bifurcation and whether among these liabilities, we are also inheriting the carried over loss from the A.S.E.B.? Thirdly Mr. Speaker, Sir, we would like to know whether the Meghalaya Government, especially the Ministry of Power and Electricity has made a careful analysis of the failings or drawback under which the Assam State Electricity Board functions because it was not only a subject of debate in this august House.
Mr. Speaker :- You mean the erstwhile A.S.E.B.?
Prof. M.N. Majaw :- As I said, it was not only a subject of heated discussion in this House, it was also a subject of very heated discussion in another sister House where they had set up an Assembly Committee to investigate the accounts and functions of the famous Board at that time. And it was only after a great deal of complaints lodged by that Committee in that august House that we are able to get some co-operation from the terrible state. Has this Government been able to analyse what were the causes of the malfunctioning of the Board at that time so that we may be able to avoid such mistakes. It is not difficult for this honourable House to approve of the granting of this maximum loan of the power to borrow loans to the tune of 75 crores. I do not see that there is any great problem. But the problem may arise in future if we follow the footsteps of the erstwhile Board and this may become a huge bottomless ocean, and perhaps public funds may sink into that bottomless ocean. I would like some elucidation from the Minister on this point.
Shri Hopingstone Lyngdoh :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, over and above what the hon. Member from Mawhati has pointed out and enquired on this matter, I would only like to add one more point and to seek clarification from the Government. At the time of bifurcation of this Board we learned that there was some balance in the Assam State Electricity Board to the tune of Rs.80 lakhs or something like that and that balance was not taken into account at the time of bifurcation and that amount was credited straight to the Assam State Electricity Board. So we would like to be enlightened whether at the time of bifurcation these amounts have been taken into accounts or not.
Shri S.D.D. Nichols Roy (Minister, Power) :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, I am not informed of the interest amounting to 29 crores, I think the Member may not be correct in saying that the interest amounts to 29 crores or ...
Mr. Speaker :- The hon. Member was not sure of the figures.
Shri S.D.D. Nichols Roy (Minister, Power) :- Anyway, the quantum of interest certainly should not amount to Rs.29 crores, it is outstanding no doubt, the exact amount has to be examined as I do not have the figures here. The outstanding interest or liabilities to the State Government is not yet allowed.
Mr. Speaker :- The point that the Member would like to know is whether part of the interest which Meghalaya inherited from the common Board is included in the amount.
Shri S.D.D. Nichols Roy (Minister, Power) :- The process of division of assets and liabilities is still going on and the quantum of the interest is still to be allotted. Our share would be in the neighbourhood of 9 to 10 crores. But as I say, until we get the exact figures we do not know what is the actual interest liability.
The losses of the erstwhile State Electricity Board are not known as of date. The interest to the State Government has not yet been paid by the Assam State Electricity Board. This is still a liability. Now, the Member from Mawhati had made a reference to the Committee for enquiry. I have seen a copy of the enquiry report. It was not merely an enquiry into the accounts of the State Electricity Board. The enquiry was made into many aspects of the functions of the Board. That report was published and I have gone through it but it has not yet been analysed to determine all the factors. But there are 2 or 3 aspects which I may inform the House. One of the complaints made against the State Electricity Board by certain quarters was that much money had been spent unnecessarily. For instance, in increasing the capacity of the Umiam Hydro Electric system, the original design was of a certain level of the dam at 3210 feet and subsequently it was decided to increase the height of the dam which obviously meant an increase in the cost. It was suggested that this was unnecessarily done resulting in the increase of the cost. This was enquired into and it was found to be more than justified. As a matter of fact, the position in is such that had the 10 ft. not been done and the additional 9 MW generator not been put in, the whole of Meghalaya and Assam would have been very much shorter of power. But it is fortunate that an additional 10 feet height was put into the dam. However, as I said, we in this Government have not gone into this question of analysing that report. However, we are taking steps to try to streamline the activities of the Board and to improve its functioning. I would like to state very clearly that the very nature of power development in a very backward area like the north-east which included the whole of Assam and Meghalaya together, perhaps the Members have not appreciated the fact that when a Board is set up it operated only with total loans and the loan element is the total amount of funds available. There is no element of equity capital such as in other industrial ventures. With a loan element, the Board has to use only loans and then start paying interest before they get any income. It is inherent in a backward area like this that there is bound to be losses. Power generation has been considerable in other areas before the Electricity Board was formed. They have started with a certain income and perhaps the A.S.E.B. had started hardly with anything. Therefore the amount of income from power generation schemes was inadequate to cover even the interest. As soon as the loans were taken to build up generation schemes, we have to face additionals problem and that is the problem of transmission which is rather expensive. And because of scattered population of Meghalaya we have to take transmission lines to various parts of the State which are rather expensive. And to pay off the loans and also the interest on the loans it is very difficult because the income from power is very poor. It will take a long time for our people to come up for agriculture and industries to be set up so that they become viable schemes. These are the two inherent factors in the situation we are facing that we do not have very much power generation. In years to come when all potentials are developed, then certainly we hope that the Board will become a viable proposition. But in the beginning, we have to face the fact that the Board has to constitute some form of investment which is a basic principle. I appreciate the remarks that we have to look into the affairs of this autonomous body, i.e., the Meghalaya State Electricity Board, so that we can minimise the losses and improve the efficiency and streamline the whole set up so that it becomes a viable proposition.
Prof. M.N. Majaw :- On a last point of information this House had 3 or 4 times passed or sanctioned loans to the erstwhile A.S.E.B. I think it comes to Rs.1 crore and 18 lakhs. May we know whether that sum has been re-allotted or remained as loan to the A.S.E.B.?
Shri S.D.D. Nichols Roy (Minister, Power) :- The process of dividing the assets and liabilities is according to certain basic principles and one basic principle is that the assets located in Meghalaya should go to Meghalaya and what assets are located in Assam should go to Assam. Then there are other assets, like stores which are to be divided according to the basic principle on fixed assets. Whatever liability has been incurred, naturally it goes to the State where they are allocated for a certain loan. There are certain loans, however, which are general and which cannot be pinpointed to any particular project. These are the ones which have to be carefully analysed by the two Boards. And when there is a difference between the two Boards, then it comes to the Committee set up under the control of the Government of India and that Committee which includes representatives from the Ministry of Energy will look into all these loans including the ones passed by this House and which had been given to the old Board.
Prof. M.N. Majaw :- Again, Mr. Speaker, on a point of information. The hon. Minister has stated that the percentage of the liabilities will be about 38% -33 percent of what? Of course I asked this question because in the previous financial accounts and financial statements there were a number of derogatory remarks passed by the Auditor General on the account of the erstwhile ASEB. There was one remark that there was no Register of Fixed Assets. Now in the absence of such a register of Fixed Assets, on what basis are we to go ahead with the division of the assets? 33 percent will be on what? We should demand that ....
Mr. Speaker :- I think that question is not necessary. The Minister has already explained the principle of division. So far as the details are concerned, the Minister has already informed the House.
Prof. M.N. Majaw :- We would like to have some strength so that we can insist upon a higher share for us.
Shri S.D.D. Nichols Roy (Minister, Power) :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, the fact is that in a situation in which the liabilities are greater than the assets it may not be a very good advise to demand for a higher share. So there are certain fixed principles, as I said earlier, and those assets involve some liabilities. Now there is no getting away from that aspect. Of course all these will be looked into and our people will see that if there is a dispute, it will go to the Government of India, first at all the level of the coordination Committee which is constituted including representatives of the Government of India.
Mr. Speaker :- Now I put the question before the House. The question is that the resolution moved by the Minister of Power be passed.
(The motion was carried by voice vote and passed)
Let us come to item No.5. Mr. D.N. Joshi to move.
Shri D.N. Joshi :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, I beg to move that this Assembly do now discuss about the devastating fire at Jirang in the Khasi Hills District on the 16th of April, 1976.
Mr. Speaker :- Motion moved. Now you can initiate a discussion.
Shri D.N. Joshi :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, on the 16th April, 1976, a devastating fire took place in the village of Jirang where all 166 houses were gutted and not a single house was left. All these houses were burnt into ashes thereby rendering all the people-nearly 1000 people-completely homeless. And the nature of the fire was such that no belonging of the villagers, not even a single grain, could be saved. The people there became destitutes overnight. The Government as usual got the information and give them help in the form of kind and cash doles which was not at all sufficient except for a few days. These people do not have any shelter and had to seek shelter in the shades of trees when practically the monsoon in our hills had already set in. Sir, after certain representations were made by the public, Government came up with some more amount of money and I am told it is about Rs.45,000 which is given by this a scheme was taken up to build the village on a modern scale, in a planned manner and the Department of Town and Country Planning prepared a scheme for building up the village so that the people there can have the benefit of modern life together with school shopping centres and a community hall etc. But these plans, I am afraid, are still only on paper and they are not yet to be executed if they will at all be executed. I could learn that there is also one Rural Housing Co-operative society there and certain amount of money was made over to this society. But we have to know how much of the loan was granted to each individual through this society and whether the money handed over to this society was at all distributed to the people and also how much to each individual.
Sir, not only the people whose houses were gutted and rendered homeless were affected by this fire but also affected were people from the surrounding areas numbering say about 800 to 1000 who were somehow or the other linked up with this village through business intercourse to augment their income. So these people who were not the actual settler of their village were also indirectly affected by this devastating fire. Practically four month have elapsed since that unfortunate incident took place but up till now nothing tangible has been done. So it is high time that our Government should take up schemes for rehabilitating these people and also Government should take up schemes for rehabilitating these people and also scheme for building up the village in a planned way so that the unfortunate victims of the fire are settled in no time. Sir, this problem should be considered on humanitarian grounds.
Mr. Speaker :- But when I visited the village I have seen that Government has done some very tangible good. But you said that nothing has been done by Government.
Shri D.N. Joshi :- Sir, I submit that some money was handed over to the villagers, but I am afraid that the money did not go to the actual sufferers due to the manner it is issued and I feel that whatever Government has done is not enough and something more should be done. The village consists of about one hundred and sixty six houses and all these houses have been gutted thus rendering the poor villagers homeless and so a scheme should be taken up for building a new village. Experienced people are the helm of affairs of the Government and in a modern society our people in the village also expect very much from our Government to get facilities to live with all modern amenities. So these people should be settled immediately and houses constructed for them and in such a way that it may serve as a model for other villagers also to emulate. This will be a shining example and I, therefore, request the Government to see that there should be no more delay in this matter and that the village should be reconstructed in a planned manner and the people should be rehabilitated as soon as possible so that they can carry on their avocation in a State of peace and tranquility. Thank you very much, Sir.
Shri D.D. Lapang :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, I take the privilege of associating myself with the motion moved by the hon. member. This incident happened on the 16th April 1976 where the whole of Jirang village consisting of about two hundred houses was burnt down, which is very much unfortunate. I extend my thanks to the hon. member for moving this motion here and thus enabling the members to participate and at the same time having scope to appreciate what the Government has really taken prompt and timely steps in helping these people. The sufferings of the people at Jirang are really very much and cannot be expressed by any human tongue because thousands of these people were rendered homeless. But Government had lent a very sympathetic hand in their rescue and they were thus saved from a worst tragedy. The Ministers have also visited the village but I do not know whether the hon. member who has just spoken has done so. From these visits the fact is revealed that Government has really taken steps for the interest of the villagers. I have never heard of such a big incident in any other village and I think this is the first instance and the attention of the Government has been drawn in as much as right from the Ministers down to the officers of the lowest rank have visited the place and are taking an interest to see that the people of the village are not left without any assistance when such a need arises. Government has, according to my knowledge, done its part in distributing free rations to the people during those days when the people had no shelter. Also Government has taken the trouble to construct sheds, though temporary, and hundreds of tarpaulins have been sent from Shillong on the very day of the calamity without wasting any time from any quarters. Also immediately the Ministers like the Finance Minister, the P.W.D. Minister and other Ministers visited the place. I have also on more than one occasion accompanied the Ministers and they were kind enough to pass necessary orders on the very spot itself without caring to go to their office chamber or going through the office files. Test relief works have been undertaken and many other officers like the agricultural officers and others have also visited the place and all have lent a helping hand, and have seen to the needs of the people.
Sir, it is in the month of April that the people usually start cultivation by planting of seeds. But all the seeds in the houses were consumed by the fire. This is especially true of paddy seeds. So Government decided that seeds will be supplied by the Agricultural Department as grant and also at a subsidised rate. I really appreciate the steps taken by Government
(At this stage, the Speaker left the chamber and Shri H. Hadem, Chairman, took the Chair)
and on top of that, Mr. Chairman, Sir, also really appreciate that the services of some officials of the Town and Country Planning Department had been spread for the affected area. They had inspected the area and had also taken up some normal works and the Government had taken such a sympathetic step as to spare the services of these officers to see and do something about this special matter and also to see that the people were being helped. Now they have been planning schemes and about these I have come to know schemes are being taken up and others are under consideration. I know also that decision had been taken to shift the village to a new place to be known so far my knowledge goes as a New Jirang and the estimated amount as per scheme for this new village will be 25 lakhs. It is not a matter of joke, Mr. Chairman, Sir, that the Government will be spending Rs.25 lakhs not as grant because of the type of incident that occurred in the village of Jirang may also happen in other places. So it is good that a precedent is not created in the case of Jirang. Therefore, the New Jirang will be given loan ....
Mr. Chairman :- Are you sure that the amount is Rs.25 lakhs?
Shri D.D. Lapang :- So far my knowledge goes, it is Rs.25 lakhs. But I really don't know, as memory may sometimes fail; but it is something like that, Mr. Chairman, Sir. They have also instructed the Cooperation Department to arrange housing Co-operative Society. This Co-operative Society for housing is the first of its kind in our State. So it is a wonderful step taken so far as forming of this housing Co-operative Society in our State is concerned. Necessities arise in the rural areas including places like Jirang village. This is very essential in order to meet the financial needs of the people of Jirang village. So the Co-operative Department had taken steps to help the people by channelising fund to the people. For this an easy recovery of the amount granted is essential to enable the people to refund the money. So the State Government have done very well in taking this step. The State Government have also taken step to form State Housing Apex Society and I understand that this Society has sent their officials to meet the officials of the West Bengal Government to see and know how finance can be afforded to the society and also to see that the people in the rural areas including Jirang could be helped by mean of such society. One fact remains that if the Cooperative Housing loans can be given by the Housing Department it will surely extend financial help and the recovery terms should be very easy to make sure that it is within the ability of the people. This should be examined very carefully. It is also considered good that the Government should take steps to extend subsidy to these people because as they are houseless their financial condition is very bad. If such loans can be given it will be very helpful. The Government and the people are really grateful to the Chairman of the Red Cross Society for the work and help that they have been substantially extended to these people. What I also want to say is that help to the people can be made on permanent basis in some respects so that people can live peacefully from now on and arrange for their livelihood in the normal way. So Mr. Chairman, Sir, with these few words, I also request the Government to see that suitable help may be allowed to continue to these people.
Shri H.S. Lyngdoh :- Mr. Chairman, Sir, I congratulate the mover of this Motion that he has brought such a motion in this House. In fact, Sir, as he has started that this is the one which we have never experienced in the State. This is the biggest instance where some 20 houses were burnt down and within few minutes the whole people of the village affected completely. But, Sir, I do not like to repeat what the hon. Member had said. We have learned what the Government have done, though not immediately after the incident, I am afraid. But whatever possible the Government have done, I agree. I am also afraid, Sir, that such an incident may occur in future. We know, Sir, that Government had sanctioned a huge amount of money for distribution to the affected people; but Sir, the money was not distributed in time to help the people. The money was handed over to some other persons who in turn kept it for a pretty long time with some other people. So, Sir, I am afraid that we may sing here a song of sentiment but the fact was that the people were not attended to immediately as necessary even with the money in hand as sanctioned by Government. Sir, we learned also, whether it is a fact or not, that some big people of that area have quarreled over the matter and they have been on one occasion wresting in the field because of that. So, Sir, we would like to know very clearly what was the amount sanctioned, when it was drawn and who has drawn it and who has kept the money undisbursed for so long, when the people were in such a trouble. Further, as we have said, the Government has encouraged the people to form such a societies for reconstruction of the village in a new place and that an amount of Rs.25 lakhs is sought to be given by the Government. This also, I am afraid may meet with the same fate. Therefore, we bring this question before the House in order to alert the Government. So Sir, with these few words we suggest to the Government that when the money has been sanctioned to see that in future no such dealing should be practiced towards the suffering people.
*Prof. M.N. Majaw :- Mr. Chairman, Sir, just to add to what the hon. Member from Pariong has said. I would like to say that it is a very serious matter that money has been drawn from the Apex Bank for a particular purpose and then not distributing it on the day on which it was drawn and not having been distributed but not again redeposited for some days. There was a similar case in my constituency, Mr. Chairman, Sir. The Sonidan Service Cooperative Society where about 48 thousand rupees have been drawn on the 10th August, 1976 and not distributed but brought back only 15 thousand and redeposited. 33 thousand rupees of that original amount were not being redeposited in the bank although the loan have not been given out to the village. This is the problem.
*Shri Hoover Hynniewta :- Mr. Chairman, we are very grateful to the sense of compassion and personal and political identification on the part of the mover when he brought this matter before the consideration of this House. Sir, I believe many Members have raised fundamental questions relating to the rehabilitation of those 946 souls who have lost everything as a result of the fire that took place on the 16th April this year. Sir, what is at stake here is the suffering of the people. I do not believe any body in this House is interested in making political capital of the people's suffering, neither do I expect the Government will try to take political advantage of whatever relief they have extended to the people. Sir, we hear that though the persuasiveness of our Finance Minister the people have agreed that they should shift from the original village of Myannar and go to some other place and enjoy the benefits of a model village which will be raised with the participation of these displaced persons. I would like the Finance Minister to take this House into confidence as to what has prompted him to advise the people to shift from this village. This village is a most centrally located village of the whole Syiemship of Jirang and it is one of the oldest villages in our district because it is centrally located and is also a very healthy place. Healthiness, Sir, is one of the most fundamental factors which govern the settlement of people in any area and the very fact that they had lived in this village for centuries together shows that it has certain situational benefits which cannot easily be thrown aside. Now Sir, they say that because the houses are so closely constructed therefore, they must be shifted. The whole village must be shifted in order to prevent the recurrence of such devastating fire in the future. Sir, according to me, it seems that it is not so much the closeness of the houses although of course, that also is a very important factor, but it is primarily because of the flammable nature of the houses. If Government can help the people to resort to non-flammable roofs, I believe that the fire would not have as destructive and as devastating as it had been. So Sir, in view of the fact that the healthiness of the people is one of the most fundamental factors to determine the location of any village and retention thereof, I believe Government should think many times before they advise people to shift from this village. I was told by the local people, from no less a person than the local Syiem of Jirang, that this area is practically free from mosquitoes which is really a unique quantity that can be found in any area in that Bhoi region. So, I feel, therefore, if the Government have decided to advise the people to shift the village, they must have a second thought the matter so that in future they may not land themselves in greater difficulties.
Now Sir, I was told that the shifting of the houses will be done by Government by giving loans to the people to the extent of 2000 rupees per house and these loans will be given by some banks, may be, the Meghalaya Cooperative Apex Bank, I do not know for certain. This undoubtedly is a non-productive loan. I would request the Government to enlighten the House as to how they will help the people to repay this non-productive loan. People have nothing practically, no capital, no building left, how they will be in a position to repay this non-productive loan. If it is a productive loan, Sir, I am quite sure it will help the people not only to repay the loan but to obtain some lasting benefits from them. So, if it is the intention of the Government to give loans to the people which will help them to stand on their feet, I would suggest that not only housing loans but other types of loan like agricultural loans and other loans intended to help rehabilitate people be given. Then I feel it will be really a very good measure that the people and the Government together should resort to. So Sir, I feel that the most important aspect of this question is the question of rehabilitating these people and help them to resort either to permanent or terrace cultivation so that this misfortune may be converted into a source of blessings in the future. Sir, at one time I had the privilege to travel to this area in company of our Chief Minister. While we were travelling together he told me about the terrace work which had been going on in Garo Hills and he feft that some Officers from Garo Hills might be brought to that area to help people of that area also to take a terrace cultivation.
Shri W.A. Sangma (Chief Minister) :- Mr. Chairman, Sir, for his information I would like to point out here that the Directorate of Soil Conservation is here and in fact I have asked them to look into the matter. There is no necessity to bring officers from Garo Hills at all (laughter).
Shri Hoover Hynniewta :- Probably it is the outcome of your second thought. In case, there is no quarrel about it. We do not bother whether they are brought from Garo Hills or from the clouds (loud laughter).
What is necessary is that at least in this particular juncture we should help these people to stand permanently on their feet. Therefore, Sir, I would also join hands with the previous Speaker in registering in the minds of the Government the need to see whether these loans or grants are actually spent for the benefit of the people. You know Sir, there are ventures among the animals so also there are vultures among human beings. Whenever there are misfortunes of nature and money flows from the Government on compassionate grounds, there are vultures who are ready to make hay when the sun of the people is gradually setting. Therefore, Sir, I will remind the Government to see that the money intended for the people is actually spent for the people as one of the leaders told me that in his opinion the Test Relief Schemes were utilised more for the benefit of the implementing officers then the suffering people. So, this is a question which stand not be lightly dismissed because it is not enough for the Government, and I would fervently appeal to the Government, that it is not enough to be honest to themselves but they should appear to be honest to the people also.
Mr. Chairman :- Will the Minister-in-charge reply?
*Shri B.B. Lyngdoh (Minister, Relief and Rehabilitation) :- Mr. Chairman, Sir, we welcome the discussion on the motion on a very very serious incident that took place in one of the biggest villages in our State. In fact, Mr. Chairman, Sir, Jirang is likely the biggest village in the new administrative set up of the Ri-Bhoi which has now perhaps been raised to the status of a Sub-division and also it happens to be a fairly prosperous village. Those 166 houses which were gutted were very well built houses and there was a sizeable amount of grains stored in those houses which were destroyed by fire. Therefore it is really a very unfortunate that this devastating fire should destroy such a very prosperous village. That day, the 16th April, 1976 happens to be a bazar day and all the able-bodied men and women went to the market leaving only the old and small children in the village. So when the village caught fire there was nobody to deal with the fire rather they started running away three to four miles from the spot of the devastating fire and as a result almost all the houses in the village were gutted. Therefore it is a very unfortunate incident, that we appreciate.
Now Sir, what happened on the 16th night I was informed in the early morning of next day. It so happened, when I was returning from Mairang attending a function over there that I was caught on the road by the Secretary, APHLC who informed me about the incident. Immediately I rushed to a road side shop from where I telephoned to the Deputy Commissioner, Shillong. The Deputy Commissioner along with some local leaders were present at Jirang. I told the Deputy Commissioner that relief should immediately be rushed to the spot in the form of food, shelter and clothing's. So the Deputy Commissioner organised a set of officers to go there with food and clothing's and tarpulins for shelter. Altogether 302 numbers of tarpaulins were sent. Rice, dal and oils were rushed there so that the people may be saved from imminent starvation. In view of the fact that they have nothing else to depend upon since the grains were destroyed, they have to be provided with certain works to earn their livelihood for which, immediately, Test Relief works of Rs.47,000 were sanctioned. There are roads that used to connect these villages with the P.W.D. road. There was a demand that this road should be improved and an amount of Rs.25,000 was given in order to improve the road and made it jeepable. The opportunity was extended to the people of these villages to take up the construction under the Test Relief Scheme with a sanction of Rs.25,000. Then also another amount of Rs.10,000 was sanctioned for the improvement of a market foot-path from the village of Mawroh to the bazar. Later, with a view to connect the old village and to facilitate the shifting to the new site, another sum of Rs.12,000 was sanctioned to improve the foot path, the total of which costs over Rs.47,000. Now, Sir, some of the tools and implements like Kodalis were also destroyed. Government have given from the Revenue Department 90 kodalis and from the Agriculture Department, they have given 50 per cent subsidy as grant-in-aid and 81 kodalies. As such, all the departments have come to participate and involved themselves in the relief and rehabilitation of those villages. The hon. Members who have spoken, I do not know whether they have visited those villages and talked to the people and taught them about the need of shifting. Immediately, on the very night of the fire incident, everything was there, organisation of the departments for the first time was put into action by the Government, to do what they can relieve the suffering people of Jirang. Within a few days, every department visited Jirang for an on-the-spot study and spot verification for the relief and rehabilitation of the distressed villagers. As Mr. Hynniewta had said to take this opportunity to turn this misfortune into some-thing like a blessing and to rebuild the villages in a better and sounder footing. The Agriculture Department has gone there, the Health Department went there, the Soil Conservation Department went there and the Social Welfare Department also went there, the Town and Country Planning Department has gone there and the Co-operation Department has gone there. Every hon. Member has visited these villages and studied and talked to the responsible villagers there. This is a unique thing that happened in those villages. It is a unique thing in the sense that the whole Government within a few hours, and a few days, had been there trying to get the people to co-operate with the Government in whatever way possible and not only to give relief to them but also to rebuild and improve the whole village of Jirang. The Chief Minister immediate gave a donation of Rs.5000/- from his Relief Fund and also the Minister of Transport himself gave Rs.5000/- out of his discretionary grant and certain amount from the Red Cross Society and private persons. I think it is a unique thing that had happened there to the people which has the involvement of so many or all the departments of the Government and also the voluntary organisations in the unfortunate event that took place in Jirang.
Then Sir, so far as the Government is concerned, the best thing possible to give relief and cooperation to the people had been done for the betterment of the lot of those people in the village of Jirang. Now, I welcome the information given by the hon. Member and I welcome some of the mis-information that they have given because we would like to know also the misunderstanding. If the hon. Members are misinformed, how much more would be the public in general. It is a good opportunity to know the policy of the Government to assess not to give any more consideration for cash doles. There is no such cash dole at present. Relief was rushed in the form of food and shelter. This cash dole has been discontinued. All we have to do is to put in Test Relief works to make them earn their livelihood and not simply to live on cash doles. Therefore, we, have sanctioned only Rs.20,000/- to the D.C. for gratuitous reliefs. But Test Relief measures were taken only in the form of food and shelter and some cash for the very very needy ones. That was also given to the Relief Committee of those villages with the Syiem of the Elaka as the Chairman. That is why this gratuitous relief was meant only for that purpose. The substantive and real value of that was this Rs.47,000/- in the form of work and improve including earning. I think some of the hon. Members have not been properly informed. I would start with Mr. Hynniewta's remark because it was started from the beginning although he spoke last. A few days after I visited Jirang village, a good number of people gathered to meet me. Before I met the people, I visited the site of destruction and with me, came the leaders of the village, the Myntris Rev. Pastor incharge of the Church and the Secretary of the relief Committee. Before the meeting, we had a preliminary discussion as to the future course of action. It was realised by all of them that the closeness of the areas to the bazar and market was the secure of danger. It has happened before also not only this time. As such, we have already had a discussion how we can rebuild the village in such a way that it will be saved from such kind of fire devastation.
Then another aspect that the leaders discussed is about what had been hanging on the problem of Jirang for the last 25 to 30 years right from the time of the Assam Government till our time. It also happened when the Chief Minister, I think accompanied by Shri H. Hynniewta, the hon. Member from that Constituency, visited that place. I think this was the main problem that the hon. Member might have witnessed and what was discussed in Jirang, it is about water supply. The Chief Minister immediately on his return had taken up with the Department to see how water supply problem of that village should be solved. But what apparently was the problem was that they do not have the gravity source. The source was down below the village. So it was calculated that when electricity would reach there, by means of pumping with the help of that power, the maintenance cost would be to the tune of 60 thousand rupees. This is one of the big problems that concern that village and the leaders themselves also say this big problem. There is an opportunity to shift the village a little down where supply of water would be brought easily down by gravity. This was discussed by the leaders themselves. I am aware that there was a joint consultation with the leaders of the village and when we met the public we discussed with them about this problem. I think the suggestion came from them as we had not finally made a decision. We do not adopt such kind of hasty decision where we have to go slowly and gradually in a democratic way. What I have advised was to form a Town Planning Committee discuss thoroughly and decide for this. This was formed with the Syiem as Chairman and leaders as Members. It may be that they have decided or have not decided about the problem of rebuilding the whole village. I entirely left it to the Town Committee to decide their future in a democratic way. There was no question of stream-rolling any decision by the Government in any way.
Shri H. Hynniewta :- There was no such indication.
Shri B.B. Lyngdoh (Minister, Relief and Rehabilitation) :- This was a matter that the Town Committee were in constant touch with the Town Planning Officer, with the Soil Conservation Departments and other departments and with the B.D.Os to decide among themselves. Now we may realise that it is not possible to make such a decision to shift altogether unanimously from the old to the new site. I have found that in Nongkrem village, when the Umiam Project was considered to be taken up, that village was to be raised instead of being submerged under water. There was that sentiment that the old site should be shifted to the new site. They have got this kind of decision and I do not know whether they will remain or they may have linked up between the old and the new sites. But we have not decided hastily to shift, as I said earlier. We are helping, cooperating and showing them about the advantages for having a new place. This is in the process now. There was a wrong information in so far as 25 lakhs of rupees are concerned. Now it is not like that. There is no Government scheme to construct by the Government. When there was fire, the people sometimes shifted from one place to another. We have seen plenty of cases even in my own village at Laitlyngkot; I have seen people shifting from one place to another and there is no question of Government scheme to construct for them and to move to the new houses. People themselves shifted for this or for that reason or for better facilities of gardening or for some other purpose. Here the Government do not come into the picture of constructing houses for the people. What we know is that people themselves construct houses for certain difficulties. It may be because of loss of money or property. Perhaps they may not have enough finance and so there is sometimes a question of aid or housing loans. Now the Housing Cooperative Societies are being organised and they will process the matter and try to give loan and raised funds for these people who are affected and also as a business proposition to see that they have the capacity to repay the loan and in an ordinary way, people after sometime do return the money or loan.
Then again there is another Department i.e. Soil Conservation Department which has got scheme known as jhum control scheme. With the help of this Department people are taking up certain plots for terracing and the Department gives them grant-in-aid to each family who starts terracing to the tune of 2,000 rupees to construct their houses also. This is what I can say in so far as monetary is concerned. It may be to the tune of one lakh and surely it could not be to the tune of Rs.25 lakhs. So I hope the hon. Members would appreciate and support this sound policy of dealing with the situation and that we will not create a precedent that will destroy as hon. member has said. Actually, if the people and the leaders of the village will take this opportunity they can rebuild this village in healthier places or in special places with better facilities for marketing. I say this because the present village is far off the road and also from the market. Of course we can leave that out entirely to the members of the committee. I think that is all that we need to explain so far as this unfortunate incident is concerned and I do wish that the hon. member from Nongkhlaw who is a representative of the area, would also give full-hand co-operation, that is, in what he said that this misfortune may be turned into something that would be really good and permanent to the people.
Shri W.A. Sangma (Chief Minister) :- Mr. Chairman, Sir, I would also make certain observations since my name was brought in. It is a fact that the hon. member from Nongkhlaw accompanied me. It was the first time that I had been to that village. Before us the villagers raised a very pertinent question relating to water supply and I myself realised the need for such a scheme. I found a big gathering of about 50 persons or more. I really felt that something must be done immediately to give them good drinking water and fortunately, I was accompanied by the Chief Public Health Engineer. This is a big village and the people have to draw water from distant river lower down and they said: "We want a pump." A pump will cost about Rs.60,000. There being no electricity they said, "We will have to use diesel." Since the pump will cost about Rs.60,000 the question is whether the Government of India would agree to the scheme. While we bear the expenditure for the construction of a water supply scheme the maintenance is the responsibility of the village as a whole. I said that it would not be possible for these villagers to pay Rs.60,000. Then I consulted the Power Department whether it would be possible to extend power by taking up some sort of a programme as I was told that if we could give them the pump run by power the maintenance cost would be reduced to Rs.12,000 only a year, i.e., Rs.1,000 monthly. I realise the problem faced by those especially that relating to the water supply about which we should see what can be done. Sometimes when we examine the problems facing a village we find that the hardships bring certain blessings too. The blessing in this case is in the sense that the villagers themselves have agreed to shift their village to a place where the water source is much nearer. Even if the villagers had not gone to the market on that fateful day they still would not have been able to fight the fire when there was no water nearby since the nearest source is from a stream far down below. So when we talk about water supply, we should see whether there is a water source nearby and whether there are facilities on the communication side. In this course of our talk about this village we were given to understand that some people was suffering from malaria. Of course, I do not know the extent of its prevalence.
(A voice : There is also leprosy in the area)
Therefore, when the leaders of Jirang came to me I was very happy to learn of the decision of the village durbar to shift to a new site. That was why I gave Rs.5,000 but this was not an inducement to leave the old site. It was given through mutual appreciation. At the same time we want that everything should be done in a planned manner and that is why we have involved the Town Planner. When the village durbar decided to shift to the new site I ordered that the Soil Conservation Department should go ahead with the work of terracing and reclaiming the land. After reclamation each family would get Rs.2,000 which other jhummiers have not get. I would also see that the Housing Corporation would come into the picture. Naturally, the Syiem of Jirang will not be satisfied with the house which costs only four thousand rupees. I was very happy that the delegation came to me and started that the village durbar had agreed to go to the new site. I said "Let us as leaders send our blessing for the reconstruction of the village." I am very grateful to Mr. Joshi for bringing up this motion because by doing so he has given us the opportunity to explain all that had been done by the Government. I think the hon. mover and other participants will themselves take part in the reconstruction of this village.
Shri H.S. Lyngdoh :- Mr. Chairman, Sir, only one thing. Our enquiry is mainly regarding the amount. We understand that Government has spent so much already on these people and so we would like to know. Further regarding the amount drawn from the Apex Bank as loan to this Co-operative Society. Was it given in time?
Shri B.B. Lyngdoh (Minister Relief and Rehabilitation) :- Sir, may I interrupt. This is in the process of organising. The society has not taken any money; money is yet to be drawn. The question now is only of organising and getting the right people. A Committee will also be formed for proper selection of persons who really entitled to these loans. Some people may have taken loans privately, but from Government side we have not given any loan.
Shri Hoover Hynniewta :- May we know from the Chief Minister whether this amount of Rs.8,000 will be in the form of loan or grant?
Shri W.A. Sangma (Chief Minister) :- It will be in the form of a grant.
Mr. Chairman :- So discussion on Motion No.1 is closed. Now I will ask Mr. S.D. Khongwir to move Motion No.2.
*Shri S.D. Khongwir :- Mr. Chairman, Sir, "this House do now discuss about the immediate need to provide for transportation of cattle from Khanapara to Shillong."
Mr. Chairman, Sir, as we are all aware beef cattle for Shillong is being brought up from Khanapara every week. There is a certain bazaar day which is called "Rynghep" where traders from Shillong used to go down to Khanapara where there is a big gathering of traders from other parts of Assam in Khanapara in Meghalaya to sell cattle to the traders who came from Shillong. After purchases have been made by these cattle traders from Shillong these cattle are handed over to the cowhands engaged by the traders for the cattle to be brought up to Shillong. Mr. Chairman, Sir, this motion is really a very simple motion and very straightforward also. The only point that I would like to raise for consideration of this House is to provide transportation for the beef cattle from Khanapara to Shillong. The distance between Khanapara and Shillong is about eighty to eighty five kilometers or so. These cattle started from Khanapara on a particular day and they will take about three days and two nights to reach their destination here in Shillong. This entire distance has to be traversed by the cattle and Mr. Chairman, Sir, I think most of us fully aware of this; because while travelling between Shillong and Gauhati we used to see this cattle coming up to Shillong and it is really a very heavy strain on the cattle to do this distance on their own in about three or four days. Mr. Chairman, Sir, in the process of their travel, some of these cattle used to get sick; very sick and they cannot continue with the herd up to Shillong and the cowhands used to just keep them in the corner of the road. These are sick cattle, but these sick cattle are afterwards brought up in some motor vehicle like Jeep with trailer and on reaching Shillong are slaughtered for beef.
So, Mr. Chairman, Sir, I would request Government through this House that certain arrangements should be made for the benefit of the public. If I am not mistaken most of the members of this House with very few exception take beef. I know that for a fact. But Mr. Chairman, Sir, it is really very sad to report that as I have already mentioned earlier, even these sick cattle were butchered and sold in the Shillong bazaar and who knows may be the Minister incharge himself has taken it. That of course I am not sure but there is every possibility he has done so since he also takes beef. So Mr. Chairman, Sir, just to avoid this problem of bringing cattle from Khanapara to Shillong, I would suggest to Government that at least some arrangement should be made to facilitate transportation in some way or the other either by trucks or in any way the Government thinks it suitable.
Mr. Chairman, Sir, as I have said earlier, this is a very simple motion and very clear. From the wordings of the motion itself the intention here is to move Government to make necessary arrangements for the transportation of these cattle, and at the same time, help the public by assuring them of the beef which is being sold in the Shillong market. With these few words, Mr. Chairman, Sir, I commend this motion for acceptance of the House.
*Shri H.S. Lyngdoh :- Mr. Chairman, Sir, I would also like to take part on this motion for providing certain means for bringing up the cattle from Khanapara to Shillong and which is consumed as beef in the Shillong market. Sir, the mover of the motion has in fact said that this is mainly because most of the cattle brought up from Khanapara to Shillong took about three to four days to reach their destination and in the course suffers from some disease. Sir, the public of Shillong including the Ministers are all beef caters had some of us may have even taken beef of the sick cattle. I am just repeating what the mover of the motion has mentioned but in my own way. Sir, I am to differ if that is the only intention of the mover, as the question of providing facilities for bringing up the cattle to Shillong is not so much, but actually the question of preventing them from contracting disease is more important. So I think this motion is quite necessary.
Sir, I have seen sometimes when I accompanied the Minister from Shillong to Gauhati, they used to travel very fast on the road and we used to meet these cattle which are a hindrances to traffic. The road becomes congested because of them and we can see that more and more cattle are being brought to Shillong due to the increasing population. In other parts of the country they do not take butchered cattle and I think we are the only people who consume this and so we can expect more cattle will have to be brought from outside. We have also heard that about 25,00,000 heads of cattle will be imported from Australia to India.
This herd of cattle used to move from Khanapara to Shillong under much strain with the result that some of them may not reach the destination and because of this strain, it will take them 2 or 3 days to reach Shillong. You can well imagine how they move and how many days are involved. What we see all along the G.S. Road is horrible. I can cite one instance which I also saw in 1961, if I am not mistaken. One fellow was bringing his new ambassador car and while he was driving along the G.S. Road he had to pass through a herd of cattle. While driving he could not control the speed and so under such strain, he hit one cow with the bumper. On the other side of the road there was a local bull not of the same herd. On the other side of the road there was a local bull not of the same herd. The bull attacked the car with his horns and caused two big round holes on the side of the car. (laughter). This was what I have seen. So, because of such congestion on the road, the Government ought to find out ways and means to transport the cattle from Khanapara to Shillong. Sir, especially we people living in the Western side of this State saw that these cattle have been brought to Mawkyrwat, Kynshi, etc. by driving them for 4 days from Boko in order to reach those places, but our experience is that by driving in such a long journey the sick and affected cattle die on the way and those healthy cattle were brought and so we people are free of those disease (laughter). Sir, diseased cattle are mostly TB infected. Those cattle will not be able to pull on or stand such a long journey. On the other hand those healthy cattle while trekking such a long journey the whole body will be very much strained, the blood circulated in the whole body. But Sir, if these cattle are kept for 2 or 3 weeks grazing in Khasi Hills, they will become all right, we will get a good meat out of them. This is because after that long strain even the old run down bull become fresh again, that strain has caused the dying tissues to become active and the dying cells in the body will be filled up with blood and thereby fat develops so the meet will be softer and tasty. In this respect I may not ....
Shri G. Mylliemngap :- Mr. Chairman, Sir, while associating with the motion, I congratulate the hon. Member from Pariong who has brought in many interesting points in relation to this particular motion. One pertinent fact which he has mentioned, is about the health of the cattle. This marching of cattle is a practice prevailing not only in our area; it is also prevailing in almost all parts of the world where meat is being taken. Mr. Chairman, Sir, when we discuss about the transportation of these cattle from Khanapara to Shillong, to be brief, I will bring in only few points. Point No.1. is the economic implication of the cost of bringing these cattle either by marching or by transporting. Here, Sir, if we have to transport the cattle, undoubtedly we have to transport them by the only means of communication connecting Shillong with Khanapara, that is, only by trucks through the road. And as you know, the accommodation which can be provided for the cattle in the truck is very limited. Besides, that, the cost of transportation, as it is, will be much more than the loss in quantity of the meat as has been stated by the hon. Member from Pariong and also will be more than the cost which is being paid to the people driving the cattle and this extra cost will have to be borne by the Consumers. Under the present system of driving the cattle from Khanapara to Shillong, the traders have some sort of contract arrangement with these people who are driving the cattle. If I am not mistaken, Rs.10 is paid per head of cattle for 3 days and 2 nights from Khanapara to Shillong, and in case any cow is missing, the man who is entrusted to drive the cattle is responsible. Here, Mr. Chairman, Sir, it is a fact that there are lots of inconveniences because this driving of cattle is all along the main G.S. Road and it is cruelty to animals because they had been driven all along without any proper resting or feeding place, and the path on which they are driven is not meant for the cattle, Therefore, I feel that .....
Mr. Chairman :- May I interrupt the hon. Member? I would like to draw his attention to Rule 275(7) which provides that a member while speaking should occupy his own seat. I am not sure whether that seat is your seat or not?
Shri G. Mylliemngap :- Because one of the hon. Members occupied my seat, but at the same time, I am taking advantage of the mike.
Mr. Chairman :- You should have taken the permission of the Chair before moving to that seat.
Shri G. Mylliemngap :- May I have your permission to speak from here?
Mr. Chairman :- Yes, please.
Shri G. Mylliemngap :- Thank you Sir, for the permission. I have lost track. I do not know who is responsible for that (laughter). Therefore, I feel that this question may be examined and it possible, a proper resting place and also a feeding place of these cattle should be arranged if we are to drive them all along the G.S. Road and also least the road should be widened and the portion that is meant for driving the cattle should be made in such a way that it will suit their hooves.
Mr. Chairman :- You mean to say that another cattle path should be there?
Shri G. Mylliemngap :- That is to be examined Mr. Chairman, Sir. To come to the conclusion, I feel also in order to avoid many complications and many inconveniences and to cater to the need of the consumers not only in Shillong market, but also throughout the whole district and the whole State, I would suggest that if a slaughter house is constructed somewhere in Byrnihat or anywhere near Khanapara, all these losses, all these complications and all these inconveniences can be avoided and also the processed meat to be transported will be quite handy not only in Shillong but to all other parts of the State. With these few words, Mr. Chairman, Sir, I resume my seat.
Shri D.D. Pugh (Minister, Transport) :- Mr. Chairman, Sir, while appreciating the various points that have been raised by the hon. Mover of the motion and other hon. Members who have participated in the debate, I would like to state at the outset that the Government is fully aware of the problems and the difficulties which are created by and inherit in the existing mode of transporting herds of cattle from Khanapara to Shillong. For example, to cite just a few, as has been stated by two or three Members that it takes about 3 days to bring cattle from Khanapara to Shillong and, therefore, once they start the treck up for the following 3 days it creates all kinds of difficulties for plying vehicles, as stated by the hon. Member from Pariong. But at the same time, Mr. Chairman, Sir, I would like to state that this phenomenon of bringing cattle from one place to another is not anything unique and peculiar only to this part of the world because you know in the good old days big herds of cattle were all the way from Texas to places almost somewhere in California and the trials were hundreds of miles in length and this practice continued till the rail road tracks were laid and locomotives were introduced. Now this business of bringing cattle from Khanapara to Shillong, as has already been stated by some of the Members, is a phenomenon which is repeated from one week to another. In fact I am informed that the entire exercise is repeated almost always on the fourth day soon after the Barabazar Day. Then again, as very correctly stated by the hon. Member from Sohryngkham, there is a lack of water holes, grazing grounds and resting places for cattle and consequently the cattle get thinner, resulting in loss or some pounds of meat. They suffer also in health but on this point I would like to say that I am informed that cattle like horses and dogs but unlike human beings have the capacity to regain lost weight almost in no time.
Now coming to the question of providing transport for lifting cattle from Khanapara to Shillong, I will briefly touch on three points -
(a) as of now the Meghalaya State Transport Undertaking is not in a position to provide the necessary number of vehicles to carry cattle to Shillong because every single truck is engaged in lifting essential commodities; (b) the cost of transporting cattle by means of road transport would be much much higher than what the contractors pay for the cow hands. This in turn would effect the consumers' cost. Higher cost of transportation will enhance the price of meat in the market. And it is not only the question of the cost of transport being higher or costlier but there are other difficulties also that will have to be overcome if one is to transport the cattle by trucks. Unlike goats which can be squeezed in 50, 60 or even 150 in one truck, you cannot do so in the case of cattle. For cattle you will have to make bamboo crates, compartments and cage like contractions. Even then you cannot bring more than 5 or 6 number of cattle. The fact that private operators have over the years not come forward to offer to transport cattle in trucks, proves that transport cattle by trucks is very difficulties and not a profitable proposition. The reason being that the cattle will not be transported every day. It will be transported once in eight days. The truck carrying goods to Gauhati like potatoes and other articles will have to be fitted with cages and bamboo compartments after unloading. Then the last point I would like to make for consideration of the hon. Members on this motion is the fact that the people who are today engaged in driving up the cows will became unemployed over night if transport is provided for bringing cattle. So this is what I have to say on this motion and I believe that my colleague, the Minister-in-charge of Animal Husbandry, will like to add a few words especially regarding disease and things like that.
Shri E. Bareh (Minister, Veterinary and Animal Husbandry) :- Mr. Chairman, Sir, my colleague had already stated what the Veterinary Doctor can do. He had already touched the health side of the cattle. But I would like to take the floor at this time only on two points which the hon. Member from Sohryngkham had put a suggestion and that is, to have those cattle examined in Khanapara so that only the healthy cattle are allowed to proceed to Shillong. But I was also happy to learn the new technique of carrying those cattle from the distance by driving and parading them through a long distance as stated by the hon. Member from Pariong.
Shri S.D. Khongwir :- I do not agree with what the hon. Member from Pariong had stated because he is not a Doctor of Veterinary.
Mr. Chairman :- Order, Order, please.
Shri E. Bareh, (Minister, Veterinary and Animal Husbandry) :- There is a good suggestion that a sort of health centre is established at Khanapara where the health of those cattle would be examined and checked which is a good proposal. We will certainly examine the proposal and if we can put it into action, we will definitely do. The second proposal thrown under discussion was that to have a slaughter house round about Byrnihat or near Khanapara. This also was already there in the mind of the departments. We have taken up the matter with the Government of India but up till now, we ha against the cow slaughter; whether we will be allowed to go ahead with the scheme. We have not received any green signal so far from the Government of India on the question of establishment of this slaughter house near about Byrnihat at Khanapara. But we also had a project to start a slaughter house for Shillong and we have already placed the money with the MIDC to give us a good slaughter house with modern techniques. So the matter is not under examination of the MIDC.
(At this stage the Speaker occupied the Chair).
They will soon give us the project report and after the project report and the feasibility report are received the work can be started and then we can do the butchery and examination of cattle. Only the healthy cattle would be slaughtered and sold to the public. So, these are the only two points Sir, that I have to add to what my colleague had already given a reply to this motion.
Mr. Speaker :- So, the discussion is closed now. Motion No.3 to be moved by Prof. M.N. Majaw.
Prof. M.N. Majaw :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, "I beg to move this House do now discuss the problem of unemployment in the State, with particular reference to the employment of hill tribal persons of the State in Central Government offices including the North Eastern Hill University".
Mr. Speaker :- Motion moved. You can initiate the discussion now.
*Prof. M.N. Majaw :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, it was said that man does not live by bread alone but in the harsh reality of life and daily bread when it is scarce is assuming a serious proportions. So the meaning becomes the essence and the need for every man who is to have some existence in the world. People are referring to the head of families as the bread earner. In other words, the person who is to look after his family, should provide for education and clothing and shelter to himself and his family. Now, this problem is a problem common to almost every country in the world. Here too, in India, it is a very live issue today. In fact, it is being incorporated in one of the Twenty Point Economic Programme of the Prime Minister and we in this State also, are faced with the problem of un-employment.
Now, Sir, I will not enter into many details on how un-employment can be solved in a small theoretical or academic fashion. But there is one way by which we can reduce the extent of un-employment in the State and it is by merely ensuring in the first place, that those Central Government Offices in the State to duly carry out the instruction of the Government of India with regard to employment of local people of the State. I know that I may be dwelling upon a subject which may not be relevant to this House. But I know Mr. Speaker, Sir, although there are Central Government offices here and the people to be employed are our own people but still Sir, the problem is there - the problem of unemployment of persons in the State. So the problem has also become a headache to this State Government to decide upon whether he is to be employed in the State Government or the Central Government. Certainly this Government has some responsibilities to bear in that matter. Now, in the year 1973, Mr. Speaker, Sir, an office Memo. No.1/3/73/Estt.(SCT), dated 12th March, 1973 was issued by the Under Secretary to the Government of India, Department of Personnel and Administrative Reforms to all Ministries, departments etc. If I may be permitted to read a few lines, it is with regard to the reservation for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in recruitment on local or regional basis. Revision of percentages, Model Roster to give effect to revised percentages of reservation. I may read a fee lines. "The undersigned is directed to refer to this Department Office Memo No.1 No.1/11/69-ESTT(SCT) dated 28th September, 1970 in which the percentages of reservation for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes effective from the date of issue of that office memo were prescribed for recruitment on a local or regional basis taking into account the proposition of population of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes to the total population in each of the various States/Union Territories according to the 1961 Census. These percentages have now been revised taking into account the proportion of population of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the various State/Union Territories as revealed by the 1971 Census. The revised percentages of reservation are indicated in Column 3 and 5 of the Annexure to this office memo. It would be seen that there are changes in the percentages of reservation in respect of some States/Union Territories only. The revised rosters will come into effect from 1st April 1973. Vacancies filled on or after that date should be shown in the rosters now prescribed in the Annexure to this office memo. Te reservation which had to be carried forward in the previous roster shall now be carried over to the new roster." In the annexure it is stated for the Government of Meghalaya, the percentage of reservation of Scheduled Castes will be only 1 per cent and 44 per cent for the Scheduled Tribes. Comparatively, for Assam 30 per cent for Manipur 31 per cent for Nagaland 45 per cent and for Tripura 29 per cent. Meghalaya being the second highest with 44 per cent. Now Mr. Speaker, Sir, we have done a little bit of investigation into the actual figures and facts obtaining in some Central Government offices in the State of Meghalaya and by confining ourselves only to the city of Shillong and its suburbs, we find that approximately employment in the State Bank of India and its regional offices is only 3 percent for scheduled tribes and in the Nationalised Banks about 5 per cent and in the Post and Telegraph Department about 11 per cent. In the Accountant General Office about 12 per cent, in the Assam Rifles office about 8 per cent, in the Income Tax office 7 per cent, in the Land Customs office 6 per cent and in the NEHU about 4 to 5 per cent.
Mr. Speaker :- In the NEHU only 4 to 5 per cent?
Prof. M.N. Majaw :- In the North Eastern Hill University which is to some extent under the Central Government, it is about 4 to 5 percent. Approximately the figures are correct. They have not yet confirmed some persons. This depends on reinvestigation. But they have now appointed some persons and have not confirmed them.
Mr. Speaker :- I think the hon. Member has investigated into the teaching staff of the North Eastern Hill University; he must take into account the administrative staff and the academic staff.
Prof. M.N. Majaw :- Only the administrative staff, Mr. Speaker, Sir here. Of course we have got something more. But these are the figures as far as NEHU is concerned and excluding NEHU they are about 6 to 7 thousand applicants still to be employed if the Central Government offices are compelled or persuaded to carry out the instructions of the Government of India in giving employment to our hill tribal people, our scheduled tribe. We have seen the crowd who come to chase after one or two posts. I remember an occasion when a post of Sanitary Inspector was advertised whose qualification was merely matriculate when there were large crowds at the Deputy Commissioner's office applying for the same post of Sanitary Inspector. Even for the post of L.D. Assistants where there may be only 4.5 or 6 vacancies you will find about 4 thousand applicants. So the State Government will not be in a position to give employment to persons because of a number of schools opened and a number of training institutions and colleges that these persons have passed. We have to settle with so many half-educated or well-educated persons whom we have to look after if the State Government can use its good offices in persuading the Central Government offices to give employment to our schedule tribe candidates in accordance with the instructions of the Government of India. We will go a long way in solving unemployment problem in the State.
Now Mr. Speaker Sir, with regard to NEHU, I would just like to draw the attention of the House to the preamble of the North Eastern University Act 1973 which says: Whereas it is expedient to establish and incorporate on teaching the following University rules for the benefit of the people of the Hill Areas of the North Eastern Region and to develop the intellectual, academic and cultural background of the people etc. : These are under Section 4 and the University has to pay special attention to the matter of social and economic condition and welfare of the people of the Hill Areas. In Section 5, sub-section (2) says that the University should take such academic steps as would contribute to the improvement of academic condition and welfare of the people of the Hill areas in the North Eastern Region. Mr. Speaker, Sir, I beg to submit that there have been several complaints on the non-implementation to the fullest extent of this Section of the Act. Even in the matter of appointments Mr. Speaker, Sir, currently there is a matter agitating the minds of certain persons over the intention to appoint directly certain teachers or lecturers without advertisement for the said posts. Their intention is merely to appoint directly persons from outside the State although there may be qualified persons within the State belonging to Scheduled tribes who can be equally appointed. Now Mr. Speaker, Sir, there is one example in Geology Department of a tribal who has passed class I and being seven in the list, but only because he did not fall within 40 percent of the reserved quota he was not appointed although he very well qualified in the general quota. There have been examples of appointments in the Economics Department also. From the general quota they can give appointment to outstanding scheduled tribe person yet even this is not being done. Instead certain favours are being shown to certain friends or certain appointees who are able to persuade the appointing authority to appoint them. This is very unfortunate state of affairs. Some days ago, an announcement was made by the University authorities that within two days tribal students had to submit applications for a particular scholarship to which they only were capable of applying. But that particular notice had arrived in the office of the university more than a month earlier. Somehow it was mislaid and given to the Assistant Registrar. It is better that he refuses to make that announcements which was the responsibility of somebody else and naturally students did not find time to apply for this particular scholarship. Now, there are other matters which I would not go into the details, but which I had placed before this House that the Government should ensure that our people should be given adequate representation in the Central Government offices. At least we should try to achieve this goal of giving employment to our tribal people so that their material needs are also looked after.
Mr. Speaker :- I think before any other hon. Member would like to take the floor of the House, I would like to request them to confine themselves within the limits of the Motion. The hon. Mover of the Motion has not only discussed the unemployment problem in the Central Government offices including the North Eastern Hill University, but has also tried to discuss about the difficulties faced by the students in certain matters like scholarship and others which are are quite irrelevant. That is why I would like to pinpoint on the matters of University appointments in so far as administration side of the University is concerned. In this respect, the hon. Member is very correct. But whether the percentage which he has brought here is correct or not, I think it is up to the Government to find out. In so far as the teaching staff are concerned, I do not know whether there are one or two cases of appointment that he has referred to. But I know there are certain qualifications which have been prescribed by the Executive Council in the appointment of Lecturers, Readers, Professors. If you look at Section 21 of the Act, it clearly lays down that the Vice-Chancellor is authorised to select outstanding scholars from any part of the country who can appointed to assist the University to run smoothly. Of course that power can be exercised only for three years. If you care to look at Sec. 21 it is clearly laid down that the Vice-Chancellor is capable of selecting outstanding scholars from any part of the country to assist the University. Of course, that power is only for 3 years and after the 19th July, 1976, all appointments are subjected to the approval of the Executive Council.
Any other hon. member would like to participate?
Shri P.G. Momin :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, while appreciating the contention of the hon. member from Mawhati, I would also like to make my observations and considerations and also some of my knowledge in this regard. As you know Mr. Speaker, Sir, there are so many Central Government offices and institution located here in Shillong. To cite instances, some of these major institutions here are the Accountant General's Office, the office of the Post Master General, the N.E.C. Office, the North Eastern Hill University, the Central Excise and Customs and some Defence Departments Offices. At the outset, Mr. Speaker, Sir, I would agree that it is a fact that as it appears today the representation of tribals in the field of employment in the various offices of the Central Government is very very inadequate and poor. I would not like to elucidate up to what percentage or ratio in each and every Department or institution of central Government in Shillong the hill tribals are represented today in field of employment. But Mr. Speaker, Sir, I would like to pinpoint certain important aspects in regard to the mode of recruitment and the basis or terms and conditions or guidelines. In fact, Mr. Speaker, Sir, I would like to quote for instance that one of the Central Government agencies like the Posts and Telegraphs Department the recruitment is not being done on the basis of written test and interview. According to my knowledge the recruitment and selection to the posts are made according to the marks obtained in the University Examinations. In other words, Mr. Speaker, Sir, the Department will advertise for a number of vacancies and they will make selection on the basis of marks. In this way, the candidate with the highest marks would get the appointment. While following this procedure, Mr. Speaker, Sir, this condition is very much unfavourable and in-congenial specially to the backward hill tribals, and the fact is well-known to each and everyone of us. Unfortunately, by natural environments we are backward in all respects and in all aspects of human life economically, educationally and so on and so forth. Therefore, if the selection is to be made on the basis of the highest marks obtained, then others coming from other corners of the country will get the advantage because the hill tribals in this most backward area, with poor educational background, cannot complete with the other candidates from elsewhere who are well educated coming from well civilised areas. Of course, I would like to admit here on the floor of this House that our State Government is not competent to fortunate the plans and policies in the mode of selection. But what I would like to repeat here, Mr. Speaker, Sir, is that if the State Government would take up with the Central Government for reservation of certain proportion of seats or vacancies in employment as far as practicable for the various communities in the north-eastern region, then only under the reservation of vacancies this educational qualification can be relaxed. Then Mr. Speaker, Sir, some other Central Government institutions do not generally publish advertisements for filling up vacancies. They directly make requisition of the candidates through the Employment Exchanges. Here also Mr. Speaker, Sir, I would like to pinpoint certain defects. It has been brought to my notice that while certain Central Government offices or institutions requisition from the tribal reservation quota, the Employment Exchange would not comply with the provision of reservation quota but do according to their own will. It is one of the defects. In other words, they do not prefer the hill tribe candidates who have registered with them. So I would urge upon the Government to look into these defects.
So Mr. Speaker, Sir, I do not like to go further and with these few observations, I would like to request and place my humble request to the Government to look into this matter so that in future, in all Central Government Offices or institutions, preference should be given to tribals living within the State in the matter of employment.
Shri Rowell Lyngdoh :- Speaker, Sir, I would also like to participate in this motion. Sir, so far the reservation which has been given to this State, I mean to the tribal people, by the Central Government, we are quite satisfied and actually we congratulate the Central Government for having generously granted us this 44 per cent of reservation in the Central Government offices situated in Meghalaya. But, Sir, what we are sorry to see is that many of the Central Government offices do not inform the people about this reservation. In this case, I think only the post and Telegraph Department has made some publicity on this employment policy of the Central Government and we do not hear of other offices talking about this reservation. So whatever examination conducted by the Central Government offices are done haphazardly and appointments made at random. Sir, we would request Government to take up this matter with the officers or the heads of those Central Government offices situated within the State to give wide publicity on the reservation policy so that our tribal people can get the benefit of employment.
Secondly, Sir, the Employment Exchange, in our State branch and it is thus expected that the Employment Exchanges should have sent many people who have registered in their office, to appear in the examinations conducted by the Central Government offices here in the State as well as outside the State. But Sir, so far, we do not know actually how many people they used to send for the examinations from our tribal candidates for filling up the reserved vacancies in the Central Government offices in the State. But we are given to understand that instead many non-tribal candidates are registered here. Of course there are also tribal candidates who have registered, but their names are not sent regularly for appearing in these examinations for such vacancies. So we would also request the Minister in-charge of Labour to look into this matter and ensure that our people also are sent for filling up posts in the Central Government offices. Moreover, Sir, as it is now we understand that only educated people are registered in these unemployment exchanges due to the lack of publicity on the part of our Government. The people should be made aware that anyone can register himself whether educated or uneducated. In other State, Sir, labourers reading only upto Class II or Class III register their names with the exchanges, but here in our State no such thing has been done for the people who are uneducated. So I would request Government to give publicity on this so that not only educated unemployed people are registered, but also the uneducated people.
Sir, in the matter of employment we are given to understand that 44 per cent of the vacancies are reserved for the tribals in the State. But what about promotion. I understand that there are difficulties in the matter of promotion and it does not commensurate with the reservation of employment. I do not know exactly what is the percentage in this matter of promotion for tribal people, but I do know they are finding it difficult in the matter of promotion. So I request the State Government to look into this matter also and help our people who are serving in the Central Government offices. With these few words I associate with the Motion.
Shri Francis K. Mawlot :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, I thank the hon. Member from Mawhati who brought up this motion for discussion in the House. He has dealt at length with the various difficulties which our people have to face while searching employment in the Central Government offices. So Mr. Speaker, Sir, I do not think it necessary to again bring more of such instances. But one point which the hon. mover has not raised in the difficulty which the tribal employees in Central Government offices, those who are already employed are facing every day. Now as we all know for a fact Mr. Speaker, Sir, that the Central Government offices situated in Shillong, the majority of them from the top to the bottom are outsiders and a very negligible number of local people are employed. Now even these very negligible few who are employed are neglected by this Government and they are facing difficulties from time to time. They have asked for help to which our State Government seems to be lending deaf ears towards them. Mr. Speaker, Sir, take for example the employees of FCI. In many instances they have asked for help from the State Government.
Mr. Speaker :- You mean the Fertilizer Corporation of India or the Food Corporation of India?
Shri Francis K. Mawlot :- The Food Corporation of India, Mr. Speaker, Sir. There are many complaints abut that particular office from time to time and they give us a copy of their complaints also sometimes, but we are in a helpless position since the State Government in not doing anything. So I would request the State Government to look into these matters and also with regard to the employment of local people in these matters and also with regard to the employment of local people in these matters and also with regard to the employment of local people in Central Government offices and also to be very keen and pay attentive ears towards their grievances whenever it is necessary.
Mr. Speaker :- I think the point raised by Mr. Mawlot is irrelevant in the context of this motion and it is really very difficult to interfere in the affairs of other Government exception personal level. But the context of the motion concerns with the policy of employment in Government offices which is relevant whether the State Government can pursue the matter in line with the policy initiated by the Government of India.
Shri D.D. Pugh (Minister, Labour) - Mr. Speaker, Sir, I must admit that the problem of unemployment does exist in our State, although perhaps it is not as acute as it is in other parts of our country and because we are aware of the existence of this problem, we would like to assure the House that the Government is equally concerned about the fate of the unemployed youths. And it is precisely because of this concern that we have, as the Government, taken a policy decision connected with the employment of job seekers to the various offices falling within the State Government and as the House knows very well, the Government of Meghalaya have decided that 40% of the vacancies should be filled by the Khasis and Jaintias, 40% by the Garos 5% by other schedule tribes in Meghalaya and of course, the remaining 15% is for the general people.
Mr. Speaker :- That is outside the scope of the motion; the hon. Member does not want reply on that.
Shri D.D. Pugh (Minister, Labour) - But it is clearly mention is the motion. Then again as already admitted by implication that the Government of India itself has made provision for the reservation of vacancies in varying percentage of varying areas, as has been stated by the hon. mover of the motion in respect of our State the Government of India have instructed the office to reserve 44% the vacancies for schedule tribe in Meghalaya. As a Government, once again, Mr. Speaker, Sir, I would like to assure you and the House that we have made sustained efforts to help our youths to get employment in the various Central Government office and also other institutions and because of these sustained efforts, we have succeeded in getting our youth employed in the various offices of the Central Government and in other institutions, say in office of the North Eastern Council the position is as follows-68 non-gazetted posts were sanctioned of which 66 have been filled, 7 have been filled up by members belonging to the schedule castes and 17 by members belonging to various schedule tribes. The percentage, if my arithmetical calculation is not wrong, is about 25.75. I am mentioning this percentage because of the reason that the hon. Member had very categorically stated that the percentage of schedule tribes appointed in the various Central Government offices came to only between 4 and 5. While in respect of the North Eastern Hill University, I would like to inform the House that out of the 24 posts of the U.D.C., 17 have been filled by members belonging to Schedule Tribes, 30 posts of stenos and steno-typists exist of which 25 have been filled by members belonging to Schedule Tribes. Of the 21 posts of L.D. Assistants 16 have been filled by members belonging to Schedule Tribes. Of the 13 typists, 9 have been filled by members belonging to Schedule Tribes; and of the 118 grade four employees, 71 belong to the Schedule Tribes. Beside that , the Officer in charge of Finance is a tribal. The officer on special duty incharge of campus development etc, is a tribal. The Project Officer, Engineering Cell, is a tribal. The Assistant Registrar (Administration) is also a tribal. The Assistant Registrar (academic) is a Schedule Tribe and the Director of Sports also is a Schedule Tribe. Now since Mr. Speaker, Sir, you have yourself made some reference to the question connected with the appointment of members belonging to the Schedule Tribes on the teaching staff, I would like to state that unfortunate and regrettable as it may be, the fact remains that we as a people do not really have many who are qualified for appointment to the various categories on the teaching staff. But some of those who are qualified have already been appointed for some reason or another. They are either not available or are not interested. So, it would not be correct for any one of this House to try and make an issue out of it or to find fault with the University authorities on this account.
I must admit Mr. Speaker, Sir, that the instructions issued by the Government of India to the various establishments, institutions, offices of the Central Government located within the territorial jurisdiction of the State of Meghalaya concerning the need to appointed or fill 44% of the vacancies by candidates belonging to the schedules tribes has not always been followed. Therefore, it is because of this that we as the Government of India and we will continue to pursue this matter further with the appropriate authorities in Delhi. Now as the hon. Members know full well, under the Employment Exchanges Compulsory Notification of Vacancies Act, 1959, an employers is required to notify the vacancies through the Employment Exchange except of course in respect of those posts which are to be filled through agency of the Public Service Commission. The Labour Department Mr. Speaker, Sir, has endeavour during the past 12 months to keep a vigilant watch to ensure that this provision o the law is implemented, and as a result of which, I would like to report of this House these four facts. Fact No.1 : 10,280 job seekers were on the Live Register of the Employment Exchange as on 30th June, 1976 of which 4171 were schedule tribes of the State. Fact No.2. 761 vacancies from the Central Government establishment were notified during the period from 1.7 75 to 30.6.76
Fact No.3 Names of 1606 Scheduled Tribe applicants were submitted to Central Government establishment against vacancies notified by them during1.7.75 to 30.6.76
Fact No.4 : 63 Schedule Tribe applicants were appointed in Central Government establishments during the same period.
Therefore, Mr. Speaker, Sir, you will agree that it would not be correct or even proper to even hint that the Employment Exchange in the State had failed in the discharge of their duties while sending names to the various employers in the State because as I have already stated just now, as many as 1606 names of Schedule Tribe applicants were duly forwarded. You will also see, Mr. Speaker, Sir, that every possible effort is being made to ensure that the maximum number of candidate belonging to the Schedule Tribes get employed against the various vacancies that come up within the State during the period.
Finally, Mr. Speaker, Sir, I would like to take this opportunity to assure you that through you, the House, that all the suggestions made by the various Members who have participated in the debate on this account have not been taken note of and that Government shall see how best they may be acted upon.
*Prof M.N. Majaw :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, we are happy that at least the Minister in charge has acknowledge that the appointment is not always 44% but with regard to the North Eastern Council, may I point out that these figures given, of 17 Schedule Tribes or 13 Schedule Tribes or 71, these are the figures for the entire North Eastern Region. But the instructions of the Government of India were for each State. So even that again you have to break up to find out how many from Meghalaya, from Nagaland from Manipur, Assam and other states. We are happy anyway that Government is aware opt the problem and will try its best to see that these instructions are carried out.
Mr. Speaker : The discussion on this motion is closed. Let us come to motion No.4 to be moved by Mr. Khongwir. Since he is absent, the motion is deemed to have been withdrawn. Now Motion No.5.
Prof M.N. Majaw :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, I move that this House do now discuss the setting up of an Assembly Committee to examine the use of purely indigenous names fore geographical places of localities in the State.
Mr. Speaker :- Motion moved.
Prof M.N. Majaw :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, I had the occasions to bring in a resolutions which I withdrew to an earlier occasion in this House on the assurance from the Leader of the House that a Committee would be set up to consider not just to change a few names here and there which I had mentioned in my resolution at that time, but also to consider the advisability of changing names in other parts of the State. But since till date, I am not aware of the setting up of such a committee nor of the notification of such a committee if it has been set up nor of the functioning of such a Committee, I felt constrained to come forward with the motion before the House nor in the aggressive form of the resolution, but with the hope that as in the earlier resolution No.3 we received a good supporter from the other side of the House, we would also hope that motion. No.3 would received equal sympathy and co-operation from the other side of the House.
Now Mr. Speaker, Sir, it is a fact that we have inherited a legacy of all kinds of queer names which are not very indigenous to the State like Bishnupur, Motinagar, Lalchand Basti, Lalsharai, Khanapara, Barapani and Garampani, there is no thandapani as yet-all these news have come down to us. Mr. Speaker Sir.
Mr. Speaker :- This is more in proper names.
Prof M.N. Majaw :- Yes, Sir, But now since we have found a State of our own, we would like to consider whether an all party Committee should be set up by this Assembly which would entered threadbare into this problem of how to baptise the geographical place of location with names which are indigenous to our people or at least to restore the ancient names of which were used by our people such a Mawlein for Lalsharai, Marwet for Khanapara, Khwan or Umiam for Barapani, Umsning for Nayabungalow and so on.
Mr. Speaker :- What name would you suggest for the Ward Lake?
Shri Maham Singh :- Nanpolok.
Prof M.N. Majaw :- Yes, Mr. Speaker, Sir, I do not see why we should differ. Just as we are meeting here all the 3 parties in this House, we could meet in a smaller committee and examine this question whether it would not be advisable to change these names of rebaptise them or give the name of our State as Garo Khasi State or some other names like Jammu and Kashmir.
Shri D.D. Lapang :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, I quite agree with the view expressed by the hon. Mover of the motion and I feel it is really high time for our people in the State to see that the name of the places is identical with the people of the State and not an imposed one. Earlier we had the occasion to discuss this question and we heard about setting up of a Committee to rename the place, lakes etc with appropriated terms. I do not know what is the intention of the mover when he talk of setting up of an Assembly Committee, but I think that it would be appropriate of the Government be requested to look into this matter. It is the opinion of the general public to find out names which are quite relevant to our own people.
Mr. Speaker, Sir, I think the general public will really welcome if appropriate names are given in place of those which are quite foreign to us. So I quite fall in line with the hon. Mover of the motion.
Shri W.A. Sangma (Chief Minister) :- In the first instance I would apologise for not setting up a Committee over this purpose. I have gone through the files and I find that the matter was processed at the initial stage then got struck up. But I can assure the hon. Mover of the motion that action will be taken to constitute the Committee, as I promised in March '74. But I would suggest that this Committee need not be an Assembly Committee. Since his involves various places in different District of the State, the Executive Members of the District Councils may form the Committee to deal with the question. if can assure it will not be further delayed.
Prof M.N. Majaw :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, we have accepted the very grateful assurance from the Chief Minister and also accepted the amendments to my motion.
Mr. Speaker :- Now motion No.6. to be moved by Prof. M.N. Majaw.
Shri H. Hadem :- May I raise a point of order on this particular motion ? So far as this motion is concerned, I would like to refer to the provision under the Sub rule (ix) of Rule 131 which reads - "It shall not relate to a matter which is not primarily the concern of the Government of the State". But the motion here is regarding the policy and programme not of the State Government. It is a national policy and as such I submit that this motion is out of order.
Prof M.N. Majaw :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, to reply to that I would like to point out that while it is the policy programme of the Central Government it is not the policy of the State Government it is also the policy of the State Government. To that limited extend I would confine my observation.
Mr. Speaker :- So far as this subject is concerned, Health and Family Planning is entire a subject which falls in the State list and so far as the general policy is concerned, the Central Government has outlines the general policy for the State. So this House is quite component to discuss any subject concerning the subjects in the State List.
Prof M.N. Majaw :- Thank you, Mr. Speaker, Sir, I beg to move that this House do now discuss the Family Planning Programme of the State Government.
Mr. Speaker :- Motion moved. You may raise a discussion.
Prof M.N. Majaw :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, we are very much aware that there is a national policy on Family Planning and there is also a programme and funds are also budgeted and chanelised for implementation of this policy and programme. But when programme is being implemented or the policy being enunciated the officer of the State Government should confine themselves to that particular subject. In the past we had a lot of discussion on this subject and I do hope the Minister in-charge of Health and Family Planning is quite accustomed to the observations which was made. Now in this programme there is a provision for doing sterilization, in other words, sterilization is done to ensure that a man or woman does not contribute any further to increase the human race out of the eggs that are being generated in his or her body.
Now, Mr. Speaker, Sir, the immediate occasion for my bringing this motion before the House is because of the very sad incident that took place in my constituency on the 27th August ,1976. On that day, Mr. Speaker, Sir, some persons from the Malaria Eradication Programme - I do not know what sterilisation has go to do with the eradication of mosquitoes-but the S.I. from Nongpoh who is in-charge of the Malaria Eradication Programme tuned up at the village of Sonidan which is a few miles east of Mawhati. He was also accompanied by the Surveillance staff and he had a meeting there with all the women of the village. There in the meeting he clearly told these women that if anyone or all of them come to Shillong to take oral medicines or take some pills that would ensure that they would not have any more children, they would received a sum of Rs.500 per head. I am making this statement with the knowledge that these ladies later on submitted a formal complain to the Deputy Commissioner a few days ago, and in that complaint they have stated that the fact of the incident. The S.I. told the ladies of the village Sonidan that if you agree to go to Shillong, here is the jeep ready to take you tomorrow, that is the 28th August. He told them that no operation would be performed and over and over again he said there will be no operation, but you have to take some medicines only and then he also said you will get Rs.500 each if you agree to go to Shillong. Now the acting Sirdar of the village persuaded the ladies that they should go and try these medicines and he even told them jokingly that if these medicine do not work, you will still get Rs.500 per head. There was quite a number of people collected there and because of the poor and most miserable conditions under which these people live they were quite eager to get Rs.500 per head for merely swallowing a few pills and take oral medicine. So they were to go and meet at the Sonidan Bazar point and there the jeep which is waiting can accommodate only 11 person and the 11 ladies, 9 from the village of Sonidan, 1 from Jair and one from village Mawpat, 11 in all. They came down with the acting Sirdar, U Siershen Umbah and the S.I. in charge of Malaria Eradication programme. But when they go to Umsning, this S.I. instead of bringing to the people along with the acting Sirdar to Shillong, he and the acting Sirdar got done at Umsning and left the ladies at the down mercy of the driver who drove them straight to the Family Planning Centres at Police Bazar, Shillong for necessary treatment. In their complaint to the Deputy Commissioner these ladies said they have waited at Family Planning Centre at Police Bazar on that day until almost midnight for the appearance of a doctor who was supposed to treat them and this doctors told them-look you will have to undergo an operation. The Ladies wear horrified at this. They told the doctor that it was explained very clearly to them that no operation is to be performed, they are only to take certain medicines. he has written down their names, 9 from village Sonidan , 1 from Jair and open from village Mawpat.
Mr. Speaker :- These are the instance which you can take up with the Government. Your contention is that the Government is following the policy of tempting the people through indirect methods.
Shri S.K. Marak (Minister, Health) :- Sir, the motion clearly states about Family Planning and programmes of the State. I think what the hon. Member is speaking is not at all relevant.
Shri Humphrey Hadem :- But the statement of the Mover himself is that a complaint has been lodged with the D.C. So it is subjudice.
Prof. M.N. Majaw :- It is not a case of subjudice. It is an information. They have not filed any case at all in the court. I will make it very brief. What happened ultimately, the doctor said-if you do not agree to be operated upon, you should leave this place, you cannot stay here at night. These 11 ladies from the village not knowing where to go at midnight, felt compelled because the doctor insisted that unless you anticipated an operation, you cannot stay here tonight, so they agree to be operated upon and they had to stay 12 nights in Shillong and the next morning they were paid Rs.25 and not Rs.500. So this is just an instance of the implementation of programme. Other Members may speak on other areas. I am told of the Balat areas where people cannot stand straight anymore, but that is another story Mr. Speaker, Sir, But the implementation of this programme by offering inducement whether real or false and misleading of persons is a very serious matter. A few days later, 21 unmarried ladies of Umden village were also brought to the same Family Planning Centre at Police Bazar and the regional news in the Bhoi Area was that the people have gladly welcomed the Sterilisation Programme which is misfortunate. This is how this programme is implemented I am only talking of the area known to me. I would like to stress here, Sir, that even if money is being offered for this purpose, how much money can one pay for the life of a person or for cutting off the very root of existence of a man and destroying the progenity.
Mr. Speaker :- I think that is a religious question of something of the sort. Perhaps the whole country has accepted the programme, but if the people come voluntarily, that is a different question, and if you say that you do not agree with the method of inducement, that is a different matter. Let us avoid any controversy regarding religious beliefs. I think in this House we are concerned primarily with the actual implementation of the programme and policy of Family Planning.
Prof. M.N. Majaw :- Religion is the domain of all of us, But nevertheless, if you insist on that, I will confine myself to the implementation of the programme.
Mr. Speaker :- Because you have had occasion to speak on this subject. this is the same Assembly which is still continuing since that time. This House has heard your strong views on this.
Prof. M.N. Majaw :- However, Mr. Speaker, Sir, people pray at least twice a day every day, every week and every year. Sir; I was speaking of the implementation of the Programme. We would certainly call upon this Government to see that such inducements are not accompanied by false promise and also would insist that if you try to induce the person through his poverty then it was also some sort of compulsion because he may be induced to accept this Programme. But it becomes very compounded when inducements are falsely offered.
Shri Onward Leyswell Nongtdu :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, I would like to associate with this Motion moved by the hon. member from Mawhati. I think the Motion itself is very clear. It deals with the policy and programme of the State Government. as has been said this is a National Programme of the State Government. As has been said this is a National Programme. In fact the very name of this programme has been changed now to Family Welfare Programme and I believe it has never been the intention of the planners to see that this programme would be based on inducement or to get the unmarried people sterilized. It has never been the policy of the Government to reduce the number of children. But the Government and everybody would like to see more children and not to reduce the number of children. We would like to see a number of healthy children. But personally, Sir, I would like to see one healthy child rather than three sick children. This is the main intention of the Government in applying this programme. Of course about implementation of the Programme there may be some thing wrong here and there and it may be applied in different ways in different areas. But I feel the programme is a must in a State or country like ours. This programme as far as my humble mind can comprehend does not specifically mean sterilization but it means spacing of child birth to enable the mothers to have proper care of themselves as well as their children before having another child. So Sir, I feel that this programme is very essential and so I would like to request the Government that if there is any thing wrong in implementation, to see that people are extensively educated in the lines of this programme. To educate our own people should be our intention and not to force them. This is a voluntary scheme. As far as Jaintia Hills is concerned, I know that even people from the Malaria Eradication Programme also have been used to propagate this programme to educate the people about its importance and there had been no inducement. But there is an incentive meant for those who apply this programme to get some relief to take proper craze of their health. In this connection, I beg to differ with the view of the hon. Mover of this Motion on this important national programme.
Shri H.S. Lyngdoh :- Mr. Speaker Sir, I would like to take part in this motion. Time and again Sir, we have heard in this august House the statement made by the Government about the implementation of this programme as the hon. Member from Sutnga has said. But Sir, as the mover of the Motion has said, while bringing this Motion here that the implementation of the programme is done otherwise. There was depth time and again in this House and the Government while replying one various points raised by the hon. Members about the implementation of this programme said that it is a National Policy that the State Government has to implement. What is the State Government has clearly stated in the programme is for the general welfare of the people but not at all for birth control. This fact was stated on many occasions if look back to the proceedings of this House. At the same time Sir, it was also stated by the Government that this is a voluntary programs. Those who want to adopt this programme can do so voluntarily and it is not for the Government to force to compel them to adopt it. But what the hon. Mover has said is that the implementation is quite otherwise here. So I would also like to cite one instance here if it is allowed that every hon. Member has a privilege to speak on behalf of the whole State. Sir, at Balat recently something happened. The Minister may ask whether you have reported the matter to the authorities, but I will tell you that something has happened at Balat very recently. Now it was told that at Balat there is no dispensary no health centre and yet the Family Planning people have gone there from Shillong. What they did they put the table in open field with heap of currency notes : the one hundred rupees notes in one bundle, the 5 rupees notes on another side and the 20 rupees notes :- new notes and I was told that if the people would accept they will give them Rs.500 each.
Mr. Speaker :- Did they really promise Rs.500?
Shri Hopingstone Lyngdoh :- Yes Sir, this is what we were told by the people there. I think I can only raise my voice but I cannot demonstrate.
Then some mobile family planning unit had come to my constituency at Markasa. They have spent a lot of time taking to the people to make them understand how to use this and that. But the people got bored with the explanation and they said it would be better to do some experiments and demonstrate.
So, Sir, in this matter to say, 'talk less and work more' does not apply.
Mr. Speaker :- There was once a talkative teacher and he refused to talk to the students. When the students asked him why, he simply showed the advertisement "Talk Less Work More.
Shri Hopingstone Lyngdoh :- So, Sir, it is this case that I am telling which happened in some parts in my constituency, Pariong. Sir, in Balat area most of the people are very poor and backward and with all that demonstrations done there the people have been enticed and convinced. On the day at Balat there was a queue of poor people coming from the rural areas. And what they did because there was no hospital or dispensary they just gave spinal injection and did all the things (Laughter)
Sir, because of the Laughter I cannot shout at the top of my voice. Unfortunately some of those people could not go back home, though they were from that place itself, after the operation and it is a fact that even till now many of them cannot stand straight (Laud laughter) and most of them are in trouble till now. Some of them have died.
Mr. Speaker :- Is it true that some of them died?
Shri H.S. Lyngdoh :- Yes, Sir. That is what we get in the report. Now we want to discuss the implementation part of the programme. It has been stated that this was a voluntary scheme but practically the people are being enticed, the poor people specially the Garo people as it happened at Balat area are victims. So, if this is the case it is a shame to the community.
Mr. Speaker :- To the community?
Shri H.S. Lyngdoh :- Yes, Sir, and it is a crime if the poor people have been enticed through this programme like that. Sir, I do not want to talk much on this but I must say something on the national policy relating to family planning, as has been stated by the Minister and supported by the hon. members. But what we would object to is the implementation part of the programme because the policy of the Government is such that no force should be applied. One of the hon. members has just stated that even young people, unmarried people have been sterilized. I do not see that this is a national policy or even the State policy declared in this august House. If unmarried people have been sterilized then it amounts to degeneration of our tribal people. So it is a matter of grave concern if this programme is going on like this. With these few words, Sir, I resume my seat.
Mr. Speaker :- Before any other hon. member would like to participate, I think it is better to ascertain the deaths at Balat. The Department should investigate into the matter. And whether the people came voluntarily or not, that is a another matter altogether. But vasectomy is a simple operation. Actually, we should not make any complications on this. But then there must be something wrong and so the matter should be investigated into.
Prof M.N. Majaw :- If I may interrupt, Sir, I think the death was due to sepsis arising out of unhygienic instruments.
(Voices : Time is up, Sir.)
Mr. Speaker :- There are about 3 minutes more. But I think the Minister would not be able to complete his reply in three minutes.
So the House stands adjourned till 9.30 a.m. on Friday, the 10th September, 1976.
the 8th September, 1976.
Meghalaya Legislative Assembly.