Proceedings of the Winter Session of the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly help on Thursday, the 16th December 1976, at 9.30 a.m. with the Speaker in the Chair.
Present : Minister - 6, Minister of State - 5, Members - 44.
Mr. Speaker :- Let us start the business of the day by taking up unstarred question No.1.
(Replies to which were laid on the table)
Rise in the Price of Mustard Oil
1. Will the Minister-in-charge of Supply be pleased to state -
|Whether it is a fact that there was a sudden rise in the price of mustard oil at Shillong during the Puja month 1976?|
|If so, by how much ?|
Shri Edwingson Bareh, (Minister in charge of Supply) to reply.
The rise was Rs.6 to Rs.7 in the wholesale price per tin of 16 kgs. and Rs.0.40 p. to Rs.0.50 p in the retail price per litre.
Shri S.D. Khongwir :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, may we know the reasons of the sudden rise in the price of mustard oil ?
Shri E. Bareh (Minister, Supply) :- Because of the rise of prices in the producing centre, Mr. Speaker, Sir.
Shri S.D. Khongwir :- May we know the present price of mustard oil as of now?
Shri E. Bareh (Minister, Supply) :- In Shillong ?
Shri S.D. Khongwir :- In Shillong.
Shri E. Bareh (Minister, Supply) :- We have given here. The price is between Rs.6.80 to Rs.7.00 per tin of 16 kgs.
Mr. Speaker :- Let us pass on to Item No.2. The first motion is to be moved by Shri S.D. Khongwir.
Shri S.D. Khongwir :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, I beg to move that this House do now discuss the apparent unauthorised occupation to an area not known as Jawahar Nagar by a neighbouring State.
Mr. Speaker :- Motion moved. Now you can initiate the discussion.
Shri S.D. Khongwir :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, for the purpose of this motion I will not go into all the details about the boundary issue that we have occasions earlier to raise before this House, the boundary issue between our State and another neighbouring State, i.e., Assam. Mr. Speaker, Sir, I think it is still fresh in our minds that we have had at least two very important occasions to discuss this matter, if I remember correctly, once in 1973 and then again in the year 1974 we had raised this very important and vital issue pertaining to the boundary issue between our State and Assam. Mr. Speaker, Sir, we have received the replies from the State Government with regard to this issue and I specifically remember that when the present Hon'ble Minister for Agriculture was, at that time, Revenue Minister, he had made a very bold statement very explicitly on the floor of this House when we from this side had raised this issue. He had made a statement that even Dispur falls within Meghalaya.
Shri E. Bareh (Minister, Supply, Agriculture, etc.) :- I still maintain that.
Shri S.D. Khongwir :- I congratulate him and I thank the Government now for they still maintain that Dispur falls within Meghalaya, and, especially from our side, Mr. Speaker, Sir, we would like to emphasize that Dispur also - I am not saying only Dispur-but Dispur falls within Meghalaya. So, Mr. Speaker, Sir, as I have said earlier for this purpose of this motion I am not going to deal with the details of this but only on the recent happenings that had occurred in a certain area now known as Jawahar Nagar.
Well, Mr. Speaker, Sir, taking the cue from Mr. Bareh when he made a statement as early as 1973.
Mr. Speaker :- You should either say the Minister-in-charge of Agriculture, or, if you like, to refer to the hon. member by name and it must be full name. But it is always a courtesy to address him by his office.
Shri S.D. Khongwir :- The present hon'ble Minister for Agriculture now, Mr. Speaker, Sir (Laughter) because we have been also friendly in the past. Mr. Speaker, Sir, I think all of us, especially our friends in the Treasury Bench have been going to this particular place or area and I think they have seen how this area has been developed. But not developed by the owner of this area. As far as we know, Mr. Speaker, Sir, it has been developed by another Government - another State - which is not the owner of this particular area. That is why I have specifically chosen the words in my motion unauthorised occupation". At this stage, the Speaker left the Chamber and the Deputy Speaker occupied the Chair.
So, Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, it really tantamounts to unauthorised occupation by another State or authority because this areas has never been given our state Government. That is why, Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I say that this entire area, which is now popularly known as Jawahar Nagar, has been occupied unauthorisedly by our neighbouring State. I remember that in this very august House I had made a proposal to the Government for the settlement of our people in the border area so that they can be the sentinels of our borders and, in his reply, the Hon'ble Chief Minister had really appreciated my proposal.
Shri W.A. Sangma, (Chief Minister) :- Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, not in the disputed area but in the border areas where there is no dispute. Of course, I quote agree to that but not in the disputed area.
Shri S.D. Khongwir :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, this only a general observation. I did not refer to any particular area. At that time I said the border areas and this happens to be a border area. So, naturally, it comes within this definition. Now, Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, at this juncture I would only like to get a clarification from the Government about this particular area. I also remember that the Hon'ble Minister for Revenue at that time had also stated that this whole area was under dispute between our Government and the Assam Government. As far back as 1974 this statement was made by the Government - that the entire area was under dispute between the two Governments. But, Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, in 1976, without the permission of our Government, another Government has come to occupy this particular area which has been declared by our Government to be under dispute. Now we would like to get a clarification from the Government whether they, from their side, have, given permission to another State to occupy this area and, if so, if they have authority to give this permission to another State to occupy our territory which very much falls within the territory and under the jurisdiction of our State. With these few words, Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I moved my motion.
Shri Maham Singh (Minister, Revenue, etc.) :- Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir......
Shri Hopingstone Lyngdoh :- Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, the motion moved by my colleague Mr. Khongwir is not in fact a new question but the point raised in the motion is new so far it relates to a place which has been named as Jawahar Nagar which is quite new to our State and to the people at large. Sir, as a matter of fact this area is the area which is well known to us as Marwet, within the Mylliem Syiemship of the Khasi Hills District or our State. Of course, I also admit that there is a dispute in the foot hills of that border, but the place in which a State Guest House has been constructed is very much well within the district of Khasi Hills. So, there is no question of dispute over this area but the dispute is over the Dispur area. So the question is very clear and I do not think that there is any more scope for a debate even because of the fact that this place is within our State, why this Government has allowed another Government to construct such a building. We know Sir, that even people of our own State need to take the permission to construct a latrine within the Municipal areas of Shillong. We have to get a permission from the Chief Executive Officer. This is applicable to any person in the State and I think it includes even a minister if he is to construct a house or a latrine or garage. So Sir, I fail to understand how such a bid installation has been put there in a place within the jurisdiction of this State by the Assam Government. Therefore, we would like to know on what ground the Government has given the permission to another Government to have so much of our area and to put up such a huge installation within our State. This is the only question Sir, which we feel, if at all Government has given permission, it has no right to do so. Such a big question should have been brought before this assembly to get the okay. With these few words, I also raised this question as discussed by the mover and support the motion.
Shri D.D. Lapang :- Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I would like also to associate myself with the motion moved by the hon. Member from other side. I really appreciate that the motion is being brought on the floor of this august House. Sir, the question of border dispute is a long pending matter and the hon. Mover has very rightly stated that this is not the only spot of the border where this dispute has been brought about by another Government at Jawahar Nagar, but there are many other places all along the border where the dispute exists. So we will be very much graceful if the Government can give a clarification on this. Just adjacent to the area at Jawahar Nagar, there is a Pilangkata area where the neighbouring State had made some sort of survey construction of some mental hospital. Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, this is not the question taken interest only by the Mover, but it is a question interested by every body in the State from every nook and corner. We have seen sometimes in local newspaper articles asking for some sort of clarifications from the Government over this question. So it will be in the fitness of things if the Government over this question. So it will be in the fitness of things if the Government give such clarification on this matter because it will be very much awkward if it is really an encroachment for making this construction without the knowledge of this Government, if at all that land belongs to our State of Meghalaya. Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I do not see that there is more scope to debate on this because the border area is a question which we have debated quite a number of times. Therefore, while questioning myself with the discussion of this motion, I would like the Government to kindly see that the clarification is given for the good gesture and for the interest people of our State.
Shri G. Mylliemngap :- Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, while associating myself with this important motion moved by the hon. Member from Mawlai, I would like to draw the attention of the Government to the fact that most of the area which is now being named as Jawahar Nagar is well within Mylliem Syiemship and it is under the Marwet Raid. The Raid Marwet of Mylliem Syiemship touches even half of Dispur and that also combined with the claim of the Sohiong Lyngdohship. Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, if this is the situation and it is a fact, I cannot understand this arbitrary action of the elder sister State of ours. I do not know, Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, whether it is a unilateral action or there were some inter-State norms fixed and agreed between the two Government.
Mr. Deputy Speaker Sir, if we are complacent and if we are just keeping mum, I am afraid that the days are not far off that even Nongpoh will be well within Jawahar Nagar.
Shri E. Bareh (Minister, Agriculture) :- May be up to Sohryngkham.
Shri G. Mylliemngap :- Yes, it may come up to Sohryngkham as expected from the other side. Therefore, Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I feel that the Government should give a clarification of their clear stand on this important issue, as to what are the arrangements arrived at by the two States.
Shri Maham Singh (Minister, Revenue) :- Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, at the beginning I thought that only the hon. mover of the Motion himself would speak on this Motion. Mr. Deputy Speaker, I am very much thankful to the hon. Mover for having brought in this Motion today in this august House. This subject matter has caused a great deal of anxiety in the minds of our people. For this I congratulate him because by bringing in this Motion he had helped us to really clarify the actual position and also to be able to inform or place before this House the steps that have already been taken by the Government in this regard. Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, it has been said earlier also that even Dispur itself falls within Meghalaya and in this connection, my colleague who has been incharge of Revenue Department previously also has rightly stated that according to him Dispur also falls within Meghalaya. Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, we will maintain that all the areas in which houses have been constructed by Assam Government recently, fall within Meghalaya. In this connection, Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, there is a difference of opinion between our State and the State of Assam which is a neighbouring State of ours. Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, we want to settle this particular issue in an amicable manner. We want to settle this difference of opinion in an amicable manner with our neighbouring State. We want to keep up our friendly relationship with this State. It is not a question of being complacent, Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, we will never be complacent but we will protect every part of the territory of this State of ours. Every portion of this State of ours is dear to us, it is dear of every inhabitant of the State of Meghalaya. We will exercise our rights over all these areas falling within Meghalaya. Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, we will surely see that no further encroachment is made in any portion of our territory under Meghalaya. In this connection, Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, although there was a dispute we have not actually filed any case against the State of Assam legally according to the provisions of law. But we want to settle this matter is an amicable manner and Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, in the settlement of these difference we are to be guided by the various notifications and definitions in the Act with regard to the boundary between the boundary between the State of Meghalaya and the State of Assam.
Now, with regard to the territory of Meghalaya it has been defined in Section 5 of the North Eastern Areas Reorganisation Act, 1971 which runs as follows :- "From the appointed day, there shall be formed a new State to be knows as the State of Meghalaya comprising the territories which immediately before that day were comprised within the autonomous State of Meghalaya falling under Section 3 of the Assam Re-organisation Act, 1969 and so much of the territories comprised within the Cantonment and Municipality of Shillong as did not form part of the autonomous State, the said territories shall cease to form part of the existing State of Assam". These are the territories of the new State of Meghalaya as it stands and we will have to go back to see what was the territory of the autonomous State to be known as Meghalaya which shall under the provision of Sub-section (2) comprise the following tribal areas namely : United K & J Hills as described in Sub-section (2) of paragraph 20 of the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution exclusive of proviso 3 (2) that is the Cantonment and the normal areas of Shillong but excluding the areas transferred to the Mikir Hills Autonomous District by the notification of the Government of Assam dated April 1971.' Therefore, Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, the present territories of Meghalaya according to the Act for which the State of ours come into being comprise the Districts of Garo Hills as well as the then District of United Khasi and Jaintia Hills. These Districts comprise the territories of the State of Meghalaya. I will not go into the details with regard to the territory of Garo Hills because the area under question and raised in the Motion moved by the hon. Mover from Mawlai relates only to the area between U.K. & J. Hills as well as the State of Assam in which there has been a difference of opinion with regard to the territory of United Khasi & Jaintia Hills District, it has been defined again in the notification No.1430 of 14-9-1879. In this notification, it has been specially mentioned what shall be the territory of the United Khasi & Jaintia Hills District. Now, Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, it unfortunately that although the territory had been defined as far back as 1876 yet no proper demarcation on the ground had been made and no proper boundary stones had been erected along the territory of the United K & J Hills District. Or if the marks has been placed if the boundary stones had been posted these have not been properly maintained and it is unfortunate that this very area which we are discussing at present presently known as Jawahar Nagar, Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, there was no trace of these marks or the boundary stones to prove which area fall within the Meghalaya and which area falls within Assam and therefore there has been a difference of opinion. This actually is the main reason of the difference arising between the State of Assam and the State of Meghalaya in that the demarcation defined in the notification of 1876 was not properly plotted out on the ground. Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, differences arose actually even before the coming into being of the autonomous State of Meghalaya and when the autonomous State of Meghalaya came into being there were various attempts made by the our Government to negotiate with the Government of Assam to settle the matter in an amicable manner. Soon after receiving information of the constructions made in this area, our Chief Minister immediately wrote a letter to the Minister of Assam objecting to all the construction erected in the area and according to his letter of 7th August, 1976, he had requested the Government of Assam that all constructions should be stopped forthwith because all the constructions made fall in the area in which there is a difference of opinion and in which there is a claim and counter-claim between the State of Meghalaya and the State of Assam. Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir there was also an earlier discussion that had been held between the Chief Secretary of Meghalaya and the Chief Secretary of Assam. Now, according to the discussion of the two Chief Secretaries, they both maintained that the best and lasting solution would be to request the Survey of India to demarcate the boundary to be plotted out on the ground according to the notifications that had been incorporated in the Acts by which the State of Meghalaya had been formed. Earlier the Chief Secretaries of Assam and Meghalaya had come to some settlement and considered that that would be a lasting solution for both the States with regard of their claims and counter claims. Subsequently, on 8-6-76, the representatives of both the States met together. The representatives of the States of Meghalaya re-affirmed the stand that the area fell within the State of Meghalaya but then the discussion was inconclusive. Now, Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, the constructions in this area where made under special circumstances at a time when the A.I.C.C. Session was going to be held there and therefore, it was at a time when accommodation had to be provided to many people from outside the State of Assam as well as Meghalaya and there was also no other suitable place for holding the Session. Although the discussion with regard to the claims of both the States regarding the boundary dispute had been inconclusive, yet they had agreed to a temporary settlement. Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I am glad to say that according to the discussion that had been held and the agreement that had been arrived at, it is not unfavorable to the State of ours but the matters is still kept pending. After the inconclusive discussion, and taking into consideration the history of the case and the issue involved, Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, it was agreed by Meghalaya that the constructions might proceed leaving the question of the correct boundary between the two States in this sector raised by Meghalaya to be discussed further and dealt with in an appropriate manner. So the question is still pending. Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir we ill have to settle after some time, with regard to this portion of land and to determine to which State it falls. We believe that the best solution will be to plot out the boundary of our State according to the notification of 1876. Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, we are pursuing this matter. We want actually the matter to be settled as speedily as possible. This area is a very valuable area, but as I have said, it is not a question of whether the area is valuable in terms of money or not, every part and parcel of land of our State is dear to all of us. Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, we will try to settle this matter of boundary dispute as speedily as possible and try to pursue as quickly as possible and come to a final and lasting solution to demarcate the actual boundary between the States of ours and the State of Assam.
Prof. M.N. Majaw :- On a point of clarification Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, may we know very clearly what is the claim of the Government of Meghalaya position of the boundaries are concerned? What is the geographical position of the boundaries claimed by Meghalaya? Also, if possible, what is the claim of the Government of Assam? What was the date of the latest decision of the two Chief Secretaries to ask the Survey to India to interpret the Notification of 1976? Again, whether the Government of Meghalaya takes this as a final Notification or whether they would go back to the Notification of 1841 and 1826. Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, these are matters of bargaining. It we take a stand on the Notification of 1876 then we may be pushed backward. In such bargaining, if we take a stand on the Notification of 1826 much earlier, we may come half way and get much more land than what we not posses. I would like to get some clarification of these notifications and the counter-claims-of Assam and Meghalaya.
Shri Maham Singh (Minister, Revenue, etc.) :- The discussion between the Chief Secretary of Assam and the Chief Secretary of Meghalaya took place on 3rd August 1976. Now, as I have said earlier, the portion of land claimed by us will have to be plotted out. The whole area is to be surveyed according to the Notification mentioned in the Act in which the State of ours was formed. This we will have to do. It is impossible to say from where we claim and from where we do not claim. As I have already said, it is very unfortunate that in this particular area when the State of Meghalaya came into being there were no traces of boundary stones and demarcation to indicate which area falls within Meghalaya and which areas falls within Assam. Therefore, this land will have to be surveyed and plotted out on the basis of the Notification. Now, the demarcation of United Khasi and Jaintia Hills District, has been defined in the Notification of 1876 and has been agreed upon by the Deputy Commissioners of both the Districts of Khasi Hills and the Kamrup District.
Shri Hopingstone Lyngdoh :- The Government till now, it seems does not have any claim and does not know about the boundaries of the State. We would like to know if the Government did really have any claim on the boundaries of the State. It seems as the Minister of Law has stated just now, the Government has got no claim over the boundaries, as if they do not know the exact boundaries of the extent of the State. That we would like to know.
Shri W.A. Sangma (Chief Minister) :- Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, as the House is aware of the fact that there is dispute over the boundaries and it has got to be settled on the basis of the Notification.......................
Shri S.D. Khongwir :- Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I think I hear it correctly from the Minister of Law when he stated that actually this area is not under dispute because legally we have not filed any case. But now Sir, the Chief Minister has just stated that this area is under dispute. Can I get a clarification on this?
Shri Maham Singh (Minister, Revenue, etc.) :- I am using the term in a technical manner. Dispute means a claim made in a case filled in court according to proper formality. I am only using the term in a technical manner.
Shri H.S. Lyngdoh :- How can there be a dispute if from that side they do not allow or have any claim. This is my question. What was the real dispute as the Chief Minister has just stated ?
Shri W.A. Sangma (Chief Minister) :- I will make it very clear Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, that there is a dispute with regard to the actual demarcation of the boundaries and now clarification is sought by the hon. Members from the other side as to what is the area which the Government of Meghalaya claims. A reference has been made to the statement by the Minister-in-charge of Revenue that he made a statement in this House and that, according to him even the actual disputed area comes within Meghalaya. Well, this is yet to be settled amicably in the interest of the State. It is not desirable at this stage to indicate what will be done, when there will be a joint survey. The procedure has got to be worked out by the Revenue Department. We have a map and according to our own map based on our interpretation of the Notification this area goes beyond the hillock where a guest-house had been constructed, and according to us the entire area also falls within Meghalaya. Yet it is to be settled and I think, at this stage, it will not be to our interest to indicate how it should be done. Let us allow the Department to exercise and collect all relevant documents. Then this matter is to be settled on the basis of the Notification as referred to by my colleague. Also I may say that, irrespective of whether there is any actual ground demarcation or not, the interpretation could be made in this way or that why. That is why we want this matter should be allowed to be settled by the two Government, that is the Government of Meghalaya and the Government of Assam. Well, the Survey of India so should be there so that their help could be obtained. If it is to be left to the two Governments only they shall interpret their own way. Now, therefore, on the basis of the Notification referred to by my friend, we have to see how the boundaries should go. There is also a dispute about certain other areas. In the Notification it is said that the boundary runs from this point to that point and that particular point has been named, but yet it is not to be found or has to be located still. We say this must be the boundary of Meghalaya because the Shillong - Gauhati road goes this way, but there is also a dispute that the original road which leads to Gauhati is not the existing road, it is much on the other side. At such it will not be to our interest, even if we are in a portion to inform the House to go into the details. Let us be satisfied that the Government is pursuing this. I think this has been discussed a number of times. My colleague had made it very clear that we are insisting on this matter and we will pursue it. Now I enclose the statement of my colleague when he stated that every inch and every part of our land must be with us. The question is to what extent we shall be able to get what we claim on the basis of the Notification. It was previously the dispute between the Khasi and Jaintia Hills District and Kamrup. Now it had become and inter- State dispute. I am sure hon. Members also know that this dispute is one between Assam and Meghalaya. Even if we go to court we have, on the basis of the notification, to find out how the boundary should be decided. There are certain documents which have got to be depended upon for the final settlement. It will not be possible for the Government to give you now the exact area which is being claimed by us at Dispur. It is not good to allow this misunderstanding between the two neighbouring States to continue. We must be able to settle it once for all. if by proper study of the notification and by ground demarcation it is ultimately found that the area which we claim does not fall within our State, we have to surrender it. In the same way, if Assam claims that area but, according to the notification it falls in Meghalaya, they have to surrender it. This question started before Meghalaya came into being as Autonomous State. This matter was not referred to the Court by the State, if I am correct. The best course would be to have it settled amicably. That is why a Committee was appointed before Meghalaya came into being as an Autonomous State. The report was however finalised after Meghalaya came into being. The Government of Meghalaya did not accept it. That is why this matter is yet to be settled. I would, therefore, make it clear to the hon. Members that we are not sleeping over this matter. We will pursue it and, as has been repeatedly stated in this House, we shall try settle this dispute and other disputes as well amicable, in a friendly atmosphere. When a reference for the construction of a Guest House at Dispur was made to us, we have objected to that. We have discussed about it and we have allowed the construction to be completed by Assam on condition that this area where these buildings have been constructed including other areas are still under dispute and will have to be settled amicable, in an appropriate way. Therefore, with this understanding we may also ask the Government of Assam to give us a plot of land for some structure we need within Assam. As we know, we have a Transport Corporation running from Shillong to Tura which passes through Assam. We may have to construct some stations in Assam to make this service more efficient. Therefore, we thought that, if after the boundary is settled, it is found to be in Meghalaya we shall claim that area, and the question whether the House should come to us or should go to Assam will be settled then. If the area falls in Meghalaya we may have no objection to allow this structure to stand there to be used by Assam or if agreed mutually by ourselves. We have Meghalaya Houses in Delhi and Calcutta. I assure the august House that on the basis of the notification any are which falls within Meghalaya will not be surrendered. I do not agree with the observation of my friend in taking this particular instance that Assam in claiming Dispur may even lay claim up to Sohryngkham or Sohiong. As I said earlier, we would like to help in this matter, but everything depends on the notification and also the documents which are in the notification. Mr. Speaker, Sir, I want to assure the hon. mover of the Motion and others that we shall not sleep on this matter and we shall see that every inch of our land must be surrendered to us.
Shri Stanley D.D. Nichols Roy : Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, on a point of clarification, the Minister of Revenue has said that there is no dispute whereas the Chief Minister said that there is dispute. We are here not concerned with legal cases in the court. We are concerned with the actual state of affairs between the two Governments and we would like it to be clearly stated by the Hon'ble. Minister of Revenue.
Point No.2, Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir. Is it correct that it was not a commission set up by the Government of Assam at that time? To my information it was only a mere committee.
Shri Williamson A. Sangma (Chief Minister) : I shall correct it.
Shri S.D.D. Nichols Roy : It is not a fact that the Government of Meghalaya did not accept the Das Committee Report?
Shri Williamson A. Sangma (Chief Minister) : As I said, I have stated that.
Shri S.D. Khongwir : Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, only one point. I quite agree with the Chief Minister and the Minister of Revenue that we also want to settle this matter in an amicable manner. That, of course, I fully agree with the Government. But now Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, we also expect our neighbouring State should reciprocate to this attitude of the Government of Meghalaya. Now, Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, we on this side are always speaking in this House right from 1973 that there is a dispute and we wanted to settle this matter amicable. But in the meantime our neighbouring State is continuing erecting structures in the particular area which we have informed the Government that those areas are now under dispute. So, we expect Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, that the Government maintain those areas pending settlement of the dispute; let us maintain the status quo between the two States. I think that will be possible.
Shri Williamson A. Sangma (Chief Minister) : Well, Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, in fact Assam agreed to the proposal that we have suggested that all matters will be amicably settled at all levels as it is not possible at the district level. I agree that these things should be taken under special consideration, and we shall take the members into confidence.
Prof. M. N. Majaw : There is one regarding feature and it will be to our betterment if those areas are clearly defined as belonging to us.
Shri Williamson A. Sangma (Chief Minister) : That is a different question.
Mr. Deputy Speaker : I think it is clear now.
Prof. M.N. Majaw : The redeeming feature is this. Let the Assam Government carry on the constructions and if later on they are handed over to us it would be to our benefit.
Mr. Deputy Speaker : I think it is clear now.
( A voice- Let us hear from the Revenue Minister)
Shri Maham Singh (Minister, Revenue) : The word "dispute" is a technical term. We can say there is a dispute only when a case is filed in the court of law. In this mater there is no dispute in the technical sense as no case has been filed in the Supreme Court. So long it may be said that there was only a difference of opinion in that there was claim and counter - claim between the Government of Assam and the Government of Meghalaya.
Shri S.D. Khongwir : We now come to know from the Hon.ble Revenue Minister that there is a claim and counter claim. We know our claim but we would like to know the extent of their claim.
Shri Maham Singh (Minister, Revenue) : As you know, it is just behind that hillock on which the State Guest House is located.
Shri W.A. Sangma (Chief Minister) : Well, that hillock is about 500 yards within Assam I hope my old colleague knows.
Shri S.D. Khongwir : He is no more your colleague.
Shri W.A. Sangma (Chief Minister ) : That is why I said my old colleague.
Shri S.D. Khongwir : Now we know the extent of the claim of the Government of Assam but there is a claim form our side also. May we know the extent of our claim?
Shri Maham Singh (Minister, Revenue) : The Chief Minister has already told. Our claim is up to Dispur.
Shri G. Mylliemngap : Was there any occasion when two Governments have offered to agree, pending finalisation of the dispute, that the National High Way leading to the Gauhati Air Port shall be the boundary.
Shri W.A. Sangma (Chief Minister ) : There is no specific agreement. It was agreed that the dispute over the boundary should be settled amicably and if possible a notification should be issued and documents should be called at the official level between the two Governments.
Mr. Deputy Speaker : I think it is clear now. So, the discussion on Motion No.1 is closed. Let us pas on to the Motion No.2 to be moved by Shri Hopingstone Lyngdoh.
Shri Hopingstone Lyngdoh : Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I beg to move that this Assembly do now discuss about the functioning of the Meghalaya State Transport Corporation.
Mr. Deputy Speaker : Motion moved. Now you may initiate a discussion.
Shri Hopingstone Lyngdoh : Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, the purpose of my bringing this Motion is to discuss certain matters which have been causing great inconvenience to the public so far as maintenance of vehicles under State Transport Corporation is concerned. Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, it is needless to emphasise that the maintenance of buses by the Corporation is extremely poor causing immense hardship to the public at large. We have seen Sir, most of the buses which have been running by the State Transport Corporation are in a wretched condition; there is nobody to pay any attention or look after the buses. These buses are not only very dirty and congested but also we have seen that very often they meet with break-downs while plying on the roads. The drivers and cleaners also never look into the mechanism of the buses. I do not know whether there are technical personnel who can be entrusted to look after the mechanism of these buses. We never see there is such attention viz., checking and frequent repairing of these buses. As a result, those people who travel by bus are to face great inconvenience; not only due dust and congestion but also due to the fact that they are not sure whether they will reach their destination or not because of sudden bread-down half way.
Another thing is that, Sir, if you go to the Shillong Bus Station I will not talk about far off places, you will find that the Shillong Bus Station is dumped with all rubbish things and the whole compound is slippery with nigh soil and other dirty things either carried by the vehicles itself or caused by the staff working there and Sir, just, you cannot imagine how you will step in before entering the bus when you go to your destination. You cannot put and drop your luggage in the Bus Station, because there are many dirty things there. I think there could be no other dirties place anywhere than the station of the Meghalaya Transport Corporation. This is the dirtiest place ever found in Shillong town. You can see, Sir, not only these dirty things but all sorts of things like broken screws, broken tins torn sack and what not. The mechanics also sometimes come with their implements and tools to check the bus and after finishing the checking they used to leave the unused things in the Station. This Shillong Bus Station has become an eye sore to the public.
Another thing, Sir, since the Corporation took over the maintenance of the transport service the people have been experiencing difficulties and inconveniences because they never know which bus will go where? You will not find even a signboard displayed but you will see big, writing on the walls like 'No Smoking' 'No Drinking, 'No Sleeping' 'No Liming' and many other things have been written there. You see, Sir, there is no label fixed on the bus as to where this or that bus will go. It happened in the first week of November when the people who want4ed to go to Mawsynram and Balat have been loaded in a full bus. But then because there was no label, of course, they has already been seated in the bus, the driver came and drove it towards Malki. Nobody knows where the bus will go except the driver and those at the Station. As I have said, Sir, the driver took the bus towards Malki and then to Dhankheti and then again he moved towards Laitumkhrah and Nongthymmai. The Balat and Mawsynram passengers thought that the driver was going to take fuel from Alu Godown and Nongthymmai but he did not stop there also. They shouted "where are we going to? We will go to Mawsynram". "I am going to Jowai," the driver said, Because the driver never knows Mawsynram and he always go to Jowai on the G.S. route so he drove them straight. He took 15 minutes to correct the mistake that he has made. In this way, Sir, the people used to go in high speed and do things in speed, you just can imagine what was the inconvenience caused to the passengers who wanted to go to their place and have their works done.
Another point, Sir, we have seen that the Government has made arrangements to ply busses throughout the State and on the G.S. route towards Tura within Assam. We have also seen that from the Assam side they ply their buses, and trucks to Shillong and then down to Silchar. In this respect, I just want to bring out one point, Sir, and that is about enforcement staff. There was no enforcement staff who can check the trucks holding national permits etc. We know as per rule the trucks have been given a limit of loading and if a truck with a permit of loading capacity..........
Shri W.A. Sangma (Chief Minister) :- That will come under the National Corporation. Let us come to the State Transport Corporation.
Shri Hopingstone Lyngdoh :- Any way, Sir, that is just a reference I made. If the loading capacity of a truck is 6 tons, the permit is 6 tons and with the understanding of the driver with somebody or may be the ones who are running the office, at the Station they used to load extra loading. So if 6 tons capacity is the limit they used to load always 7 to 8 tons and that the extra load is an arrangement made by the driver with somebody. Therefore this extra one or two tons has escaped taxes that are to be credited to the State Exchequer.
This happens Mr. Deputy Speaker Sir, especially with the trucks running under National permit but so also is the case with the Vehicles that are being run by the Corporation. So this is a loss to the State. There is also no proper checking of tickets or loading and unloading of articles by these State transport buses. We used to travel every time by these buses. Sometimes the conductors used to issue tickets, but many times they never issue tickets for the half-way passenger. If the bus is schedule to go to Nongstoin, it will never leave the station unless it is loaded to its full sitting capacity. But what we find is that half-way, the number of passengers will be double the sitting capacity. The driver also just cannot refuse as the people force him to take them in the bus because there is no other means of transports for them. But tickets should be issued to these people. On many occasions, these half way passengers, we never know whether this money has been deposited into the account of the State Transport Corporation. Therefore, Sir, we feel that there is a great loss. We have never seen the bus plying empty or half empty or proper enforcement. With these few words, Sir, I move this motion.
Shri Jormanick Syiem :- Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, while taking part in this motion, I would like to make a few observations on the working of the State Transportation Corporation. First of all, apart from the filthy condition of vehicles and stations, I find that the arrangement for selling tickets is very inconvenient to the public. Tickets are sold within a few minutes because the bus leaves the station. The Gauhati Station perhaps is the worst place where the people have to buy tickets from the coolies who are queuing up in the counter only to get the tickets and sell them in black market. I think the people from this hardly get a chance of getting tickets in the lower class unless they go by first class or get some ladies to go to the ladies' counter. But even here in Shillong, the same condition prevails. In the Shillong Station, I mean the Gauhati-Shillong motor station, the same condition exists. And even in the Shillong-Nongstoin, Shillong-Jowai and Shillong-Tamabil Stations also, we find that so many people have collected for buying tickets, but the tickets sellers will not open the counter till about 10 or 15 minutes before the bus leaves. Men, women or children of that area were trampling there. How can you expect them to get their tickets conveniently. This is a pitiable condition which I think, the authorities of the State Transport will have to look into. Apart from that, we find that the conductors of the buses are not very helpful to the passengers on the way-side. Most of them were left behind and even those who were taken in hardly get the tickets issued although money is paid. I am not aware if any Travelling Ticket Checker is every posted. The place like Nongstoin which I have travelled on a few occasions, but I did not see anybody checking tickets while travelling in the bus to Nongstoin. This has given an opportunity for the people to misuse the State revenue. If tickets were not issued, where is the guarantee that the fare has been deposited into the coffers of the State. I would suggest that strict instructions be issued to the conductor because he seems to have an upper hand over the driver that he should be helpful to the passengers. If there is no seat when so many passengers waited on the road, he should stop and say there is no seat.
Shri W.A. Sangma (Chief Minister) :- If they stop, then the road-side passengers will jump inside the bus.
Shri Jormanick Syiem :- There is no harm in stopping for a moment telling them that there is no place. But if you say that these conductors are so weak and that they cannot stop the people from climbing the ceiling of the bus, then they are incompetent. But they should be able to control the vehicle of which they are in charge.
Another point Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, to which I would like to draw the attention of the Government about the smoke emitting from the State Transport buses and trucks also. I have had the occasion to defend certain appeals preferred by private truck and the bus owners against imposition of find by the Transport Authorities for the smoke. But this morning when I was coming to my own car, the State Transport bus was emitting so much fume and would not even give way for us to pass. I was wondering if one has to defend the Government Department for imposing find on private trucks and buses, what have we got to say about the condition of the State Transport Vehicles. I think some Act has been passed by this House that this smoke should be controlled, but whether this should apply only to private vehicles or it applies also to the State Transport vehicles. This is the question that the Government has got to look into. So, besides this point, Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I would like to repeat that some arrangements should be made in the issue of tickets at the Station whether at Shillong Station, Gauhati or any other Stations so that the poor women will not be put to such inconvenience as sometimes they do not even get the chance to go to the counter because they cannot push and rub shoulders with the stronger men folk. This has to be properly looked into and the transport authority will have to devise some means to open the ticket counter one hour or so because the bus leaves and that there should also be separate counters for women in this Cantonment Bus Station.
Shri Rowell Lyngdoh :- Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I would also like to take par in this motion, but I do not intend to be critical on the Corporation or to praise them because they have just taken over very recently. However, I would only like to discuss by way of suggestion so that things can be improved in the running of this Corporation. Sir, as the hon. Mover himself had pointed out, the condition of the buses which run in the State are having poor maintenance especially those buses which are plying in the villages, for the busses that are sent to the villages are mostly condemned buses. Many times and during bazar days specially the buses do not reach their destination in time because the poor maintenance. Moreover, Sir, what we would like to suggest is that, when this Corporation has taken over they should open more lines because as we have seen now, in this District only those more important lines have been served by the Corporation buses. But in other areas which we considered in the past as less important, whereas the passengers are increasing, the people find it difficult to get transport. I would suggest that Government should extend more line to cater to the need of the passengers of other areas as well. In my Constituency, we have got only one line so far, that is from Shillong to Mawkyrwat, but there are other routes which pass through so many villages, which have not been served by these buses. It may therefore be sent to the route from Shillong-Jakrem to Mawthappdah up to Rangblang. it is very necessary to place one bus in that line because many people from that area used to come to Shillong and they have to go walking up to Mawkyrwat to catch a bus for Shillong, There at Mawkyrwat also, sometimes the bus is crowded, so that people have to return to their villages and sometimes they have to spend a night at Mawkyrwat to avail to the bus on the following day. I would suggest that line also should be covered by the Corporation bus. Sir, there are another areas that is Mawphlang-Balat up to Moheshkhola road. The buses are plying on that road up to Balat only and no further. But the people from Moheshkhola who are coming to Shillong need transport. I understand that during the last Ministry, the Government had proposed to send Corporation busses up to Ranikor, but up will now it has not gone there. I would request that in that road also, there should be one Corporation bus. I would suggest also that in the Sohiong-Lyngkhoi road, one bus should be placed, if not every day, at least twice or thrice a week will suffice. One road from Mairang to Nongkhlaw which has become a very important road. There also the line should be extended. There are many roads which the Corporation should examine, so I would request the Government to direct the Corporation to examine all these suggestions.
Then I come to another point, Sir. Since the taking over of the State Transport by the Corporation, I do not understand yet what is the policy of employment. When the Government was running the State Transport, we found, in the matter of employment of conductors and drivers and other menial workers like chowkidars and all, that there are some undesirable influence where the people do not get a fair share of employment. For example, the people from the western areas of the West Khasi Hills District, many of them have come here to apply for the post of conductors, and many of them have got their licences for conductors at least, but I saw only one or two are from that area. Whereas there are so many who applied. They have spent a lot of money, even entertaining the office clerks in order to help them. And they spent a lot of money in their journey, but they do not get the job, and some of them got the job after spending such a lot of money. So, in this connection, the Corporation should see to it that when there is vacancy anywhere, there should be fair share of employment as per the Government policy so far followed. I would also like to stress and also make a suggestion on the performance of the conductors of buses. It is really true that we cannot expect all the amounts realised by the conductors from the road-side passengers to go to the exchequer although we expect that all should come to the exchequer. But then, from what we have seen, the bigger percentage of the fare might go to somebody's pockets because there is no proper enforcement or checking. In most of the routes there is no checking at all whereas, during the then Government of Assam when we traveled on the G.S. Road, we found ticket checkers everywhere to check collection from passengers. There are so many passengers from whom fare has been realised without any tickets. Moreover, Sir, as the hon. Member from Mylliem has stated, the behaviour of the conductors is not satisfactory. One thing that we would like to suggest is that before any bus leaves any station, I think it should be better to have some sort of indoctrination to our people. The conductor should announce before leaving the station, that the bus is going to such and such places and that the passengers should not travel without tickets. The conductors should insist on tickets and that way he is committed himself to them. Moreover, this would teach our people along with other things like the dos and don't in social life. Sometimes the passengers spit on somebody's legs. We cannot blame them because they do not have that education as we have, to understand what is right and wrong. So, if the conductors know how to teach them, it would be some sort of education. I raise this point only as a suggestion or an idea so that our Government should think it over.
I would also like to state here that in future there should be proper maintenance of vehicles by having at least some workshops and sheds. The stations also should be properly cleansed. With these few suggestions, Sir, I resume my seat.
Shri Blooming Shallam :- Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I would like to get one clarification. In course of his speech the hon. Member has stated that there should be some sort of education to the passengers so that they do not spit at somebody's legs. I would like to know whether such persons really require any education to prevent them from spitting at somebody's leg (Laughter).
Shri Rowell Lyngdoh :- I said that merely as an example to show that our people have not yet come to that standard. If we announce earlier, it would be some sort of education.
Shri Blooming Shallam :- My point, Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, is that we do realise that for spitting on somebody's legs education is not .........
Shri W. Syiemiong :- May we know, Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, what would be the other alternative because probably he has another proposal for that?
Shri Blooming Shallam :- Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I do not say that education is not necessary. But what I mean is that a man who spits on somebody's legs is treated not as a human being. (Laughter).
Shri W. Syiemiong :- Well, Sir, we are concerned with practical things and that was not just a talk of finding alternative steps as to what the conductors should teach that particular culprit.
Prof. M.N. Majaw :- Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I would also like to say a few words on this motion. Actually we cannot expect too much of this Corporation just now since it was only recently that the bifurcation took place and a new Corporation came into being. But since setting itself up on its own legs, some suggestions may be put forward in this House. What about the serving of these vehicles? I wonder in what fashion these vehicles are serviced, because if a vehicles is run day in and day out it is bound to break down somewhere, and then it is put off the road' This is a regular feature. When a vehicle is put on the road without servicing it would seem as though every ounce of its energy is being extracted; and so it is made to run and run and just break down. Servicing and the consequent change of mobil and diesel oil would also reduce the quantum of smoke-black smoke that is emitted from the exhaust pipes and it may be desirable, to change the exhaust pipes as has been done in some vehicles or buses. The exhaust pipes which emit smoke at the road level may be turned up to operate like chimneys. [laughter]
As regards the routes, there are a number of routes which have not been developed, roads like the Mawhati Road, i.e. the Umsning-Jagiroad right upto Umsohlait village. Then some of the bridges have also been made into semi-permanent ones. But there is no transport service from the heart of the Ri Bhoi neither to Shillong nor to Nongpoh which will now be the headquarters. Even Umroi a place so developed where we have aeroplanes you do not see a single State Transport Bus going there. So, I would suggest that since we have the Dwarksuid-Tyrso road which goes beyond Umroi and is fairly well-developed upto Bhoi-Lymbong at least from Bhoi Lymbong to Nongpoh and or from Bhoi-Lymbong to Shillong, Government should have regular Transport services. There should be bus services from Umsohlait to Nongpoh of from Umsohlait to Shillong particularly because the people from the interior can not afford to find alternative means of transport. Since the people are too poor to purchase their own vehicles it would be better if, in this socialistic work the Government could provide State Transport facilities for them.
Another thing, is to look at the trucks and buses stranded near the Anjalee Cinema and other places. These buses are a dead loss. There are buses standing on inflated and deflate tyres. Will the huge monumental pressure of a truck or bus pressing upon the inflated tyres, the tyres will be completely ruined in a short while. Those who are in the Transport Department know very well that there is shortage of tyres. And so if the vehicles cannot be moved let the tyres be removed from these vehicles Thank you. Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir.
Shri H.E. Pohshna :- Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I just want to take part and discuss something through this Motion. Really I am very grateful to the hon. Mover of this Motion for having brought such kind of Motion which is a very very important one and which affects the interest of the public. But I do not know what is the intention of the Mover in bringing this Motion. Whether he has got something against the function of the Corporation or whether he has got some sympathy with the Corporation because in his discussion, he has said stress mostly on the functions of the previous State Transport of Meghalaya. Sir, the Meghalaya State Transport Corporation has been born very recently and before its creation buses were run by Meghalaya State Transport. The Corporation came into being only during the past few months as a result of the bifurcation of the State. Actually Sir, (laughter) this word "actually" has become very very important it appears to me, and those who run the transport service during the first time are not here at this moment and as such to criticise so much on transport at this juncture is like riding on a wrong horse. Any-way, Sir, I do appreciate very much the changes against the defects of this Transport Corporation by the hon. Member. It is true there is inconvenience, over loading breakdown and the non taking up of so many roads which are required to be run by the Corporation and so on and so forth. But we should also think that there should be some reasons behind all these things.
Now coming to overloading by the State buses, we better make a comparison between passengers on the G.S. road and passengers on the other roads like Jowai and Mawsynram. What I find is that there is a few cases of overloading on the G.S. Road whereas there is great overloading in other roads because passengers on the G.S. Road are properly educate people and they do not like overloading in the buses. But passengers on Mawsynram or Jowai roads are not properly educated and therefore, there is always overloading in the buses, and it has also become the habit of the passengers. One hon. Member has mentioned about passengers spitting into bus it may happen so because on account of overloading he will not get any chance to spit through the window and as such he will have to spit inside the legs of some passengers because of overloading. It appears much education has to be imparted to those passengers to avoid overloading and save all the troubled. We have seen that even when there are private buses running on the same road, people will not go by those buses but generally they like to go by State Transport buses rum by the Corporation in spite of the overloading problem.
Then another point is education to be given to the drivers and conductors of State Busses also because it appears that no-body knows who is the conductors and who is the driver of the bus. This is known until they collect bus fare or issue tickets to the passengers that we know them to be conductors. This is so because conductors never wear uniform while on duty. It appears they do not like to wear uniform. The same is the case with the drivers, unless and until the drivers take their driving seat, no-body knows that they are drivers. If a driver takes tea outside no one would think that he is a driver till he takes his own driving seat and drives the bus. Sometimes when we ask where is the driver of such and such bus, we do not get a correct answer even if the driver may be standing near us. All these things happen because drivers and conductors do not like to wear uniform while on duty.
The hon. Member from Mawhati has suggested that Government should run State Transport buses to Mawhati also. So also the hon. Member from Mawkyrwat has suggested that a number of more roads should be taken up in other parts of the State. But Sir, taking up of more roads means experiencing more inconvenience, more breakdown, and more overloading and incurring of more loss. What is the reason behind it? Our Corporation is so young and it dies not have sufficient number of buses and proper place for parking of its buses. Therefore, we have to suffer from all these inconveniences. I would like to cite concrete instance which happened recently during this month at Jowai. It was a Bazar day when one State bus came from Muktapur already overloaded to the stand bus at Syndai. But when it went to Pdengshakap the conductor did not step for want of any more accommodation inside the bus and the passengers were stranded on the road-side. When the people asked as to why the bus did not stop and give them a life, the conductor replied that there was no more space for accommodation. Moreover, on that day being Barabazar day, the Corporation has got only one bus to ply inspite of overloading and inconvenience of the passengers. The bus on return had to be blocked on the road by the public who were deprived of the opportunity to attend Jowai Bazar and as a result there is a case in the court now. Such are the incident when there is shortage of buses. Therefore, while appreciating the ideas expressed by the Mover about the difficulties of the Corporation as well as the members of the public. Moreover, as I have said that Corporation is only in its infant stage because it was started very recently.
Then another point, Sir, the hon. Member from Mawkyrwat has also mentioned about the employees being transferred to the Corporation. This is also a very very important problem because at the time of bifurcation, I think less than a thousand employees have been transferred from the Government of Assam to our State. So, along with the transfer of buses, employees were also transferred. Therefore, although I am not in the Transport Department, yet I know of its affairs because I used to frequent there as a passenger. I have heard the complaints made by the drivers of these buses that they have not got their revised scale of pay, or their trip allowances. This is also the case with conductors and they have to suffer even they have to purchase anything on credit basis. So, I would suggest to the Government to study this matter properly and seriously. It may be due to the fact that buses drivers and conductors are not happy with their pay and allowances or because of many other reasons that the buses are not running smoothly. So for proper functioning of the Corporation which concerns with the public at large, a thorough study and examination should be done and enquiry be made whether the Transport Corporation can start new routes or not and whether all the facilities are provided to the drivers and conductors or not. With these few words, I resume my seat.
Shri Akrammozzaman :- Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I am rather glad to participate in the discussion on the motion moved by my hon. friend, Mr. H.S. Lyngdoh. In the State of Meghalaya where there are no communication facilities except the road transport facilities all of us are very much interested to know how this Meghalaya State Transport Corporation should develop. In this regard, many difficulties were brought and discussed in this House also previously when this State Transport Corporation was not in existence. Now, on the 1st of October, if I am correct, the Meghalaya State Transport Corporation came in existence and it is now almost 75 to 76 days. When the common Corporation, that is, the Assam and Meghalaya States Transport Corporation was bifurcated, and as my friend has already mentioned, not only the assets of the previous Corporation were with the Meghalaya State Transport Corporation but also the liabilities. Liabilities of everything. And on the other hand also when the Meghalaya Transport Corporation came into being the liabilities and the assets of the then Assam and Meghalaya State Transport Corporation were not only one factor but there were also liabilities from the Transport Department of Meghalaya itself. So, these are the factors tender which the Meghalaya State Transport Corporation has come into being. Naturally, Sir, there will be so many difficulties as discussed not only in the Meghalaya State Transport Corporation but in many other States in India also. This should be thoroughly discussed and studied and I am of the opinion that there is usually some burden or difficulty or loophole in public undertaking or Corporation are not running on profit basis. Whatever might be the case and the suggestion which were coming in I just wish to also make my observation whether the opening of a counter for the selling of tickets for one year shall also tantamount to black-marketing of the tickets or not. Mention has been made that in Gauhati motor station it is found that porters are also purchasing and selling tickets. There are two factors. There is one class of passengers who usually find difficulties even if they are in fact healthy but they are also passengers who are also again having other ailments who may not be able to stand in the queue to purchase the ticket and naturally whom he will engage to purchase the ticket. The porter who is his friend at the motor station comes to his rescue. He goes to the window and purchase the ticket and the ailing passengers has to pay something extra for purchasing the ticket by the porter. It will not be absolutely correct to say that the purchase of tickets by the porter is black-marketing. Porters are there when the bus arrives and starts. If they get extra time of their leisure hour, I believe, they may be tempted to do this thing. so, our real proposition would be what is the time required for selling the ticket and what is the number of seats of a particular bus. Certainly this should be calculated and the time should be allotted according to that otherwise there is a possibility of black-marketing of tickets and also inconvenience to the passengers. So, in my opinion, I believe and as my information goes, the Meghalaya State Transport Corporation is taking an account of the time factor that is required to sell the last ticket and the time schedule of a particular departure of a bus. These two factors must be taken into consideration and I believe the Transport authorities are also thinking on the same line. Sir, so far as the efficiency and others and breakdown are concerned, the question is very much eminent and I believe that the Meghalaya State Transport Corporation is in full consideration as to how to make all these things clear. Particularly in the Engineering Department there is shortage of staff while at the bifurcation time of the Assam and Meghalaya States Transport Corporation, the employment in the lower category is so much overloading and the assets and liabilities of the Meghalaya Corporation which is almost 1 to 9. But in the upper level in the Engineering, Mechanical or other levels, I believe, there is shortage of personnel who can give the Transport Corporation advice and to supervise and readily make up these things. But comparing the breakdowns that were before and after the present Corporation and also the expenditure on repairs, etc. we also that there is less breakdown and less expenditure on the purchase side. So, there is a sign that the Meghalaya State Transport is in the move of progress and at the heels of the people to serve the people to the fullest capacity. An example could be cited here. The rush that we have seen in the Shillong Motor Station and also at the Gauhati Motor Station of the Meghalaya State Transport during the A.I.C.C. Session at Khanapara. Such was the tremendou's scene of traffic potentialities in those days which would have been very difficulty to run the affairs of the State Transport Corporation. For so many days, passengers or visitors fro either sides would have been stranded but because there have been buses from the Meghalaya State Transport Corporation, the problem had been eased and this may be attributed to the activeness of the Meghalaya State Transport Corporation. I believe that expansion of the road transport to other areas where there is no road transport, would be possible in the very near future. It is also a paradox in the sense that every body desires that the State Transport Corporation must earn some profit; and it must not incur any loss. It must fetch some revenue, some profit for its own running and administration. In our State, this is the only means of communication through which we can have traffic potentialities. Buses must have certainly earning while plying on these roads. So, the natural conclusion or the sentimental conclusion, should be that there should be a network of roads of the State Transport Corporation. If it is a loss of the Corporation, then it is also a loss of the people. If we cannot give the facilities to those parts where there is no bus service of the Corporation then only we are lagging behind and failing in our duty. This aspect of the matter should be properly looked into and carefully examined. Under the influence of the various factors of the Government the State Transport Corporation should ply through negotiation between the Government and the Corporation. But one thing should not be lost sight of and that is that before plying any transport bus in any new road, we must see that transport facility is there otherwise if in the balance sheet there is a loss, there will be hue and cry which could not be avoided. There will be a good sense of intelligence why this thing has come up and there will be no end to that. The best thing I would suggest would be to have traffic potentialities properly examined first before plying any bus by the State Transport Corporation. There should be a comparison of the difficulties as faced by the people of those localities. It does not mean that the difficulties of that particular region should be given attention. I believe that I am living in a part of Meghalaya where no Meghalaya State Transport bus is plying There was a discussion among us an the people of this area on how to reach the capital of Meghalaya only in the one day. Even if a passenger wants to travel by a taxi from Shillong to Phulbari, no taxi is easily available. There is no other means of transport except bus service. These are the difficulties faced by the people of this area. At the same time, we have also consulted the leaders of the localities on what would be the potentiality of passengers. This is the working and I do not see any difficulty at all. There are other avenues also. Private vehicles owners should be allowed a chance to ply on those roads. I believe, the Government was taking a definite step in meeting this problem of the State Transport Corporation buses. This could well be achieve indirectly by proper execution of the schemes and the joint efforts of the P.W.D. The wear and tear of the tyres, etc., affect much, the comfort of the passengers who much more depend on the roads. Therefore the P.W.D. must see to that-the interest of the State Transport Corporation of the Meghalaya State P.W.D can come to the help of the Transport Corporation by giving road facilities to the people. If our own roads are bad I think, it will tell much on the maintenance side and it would be beyond the control of the State Transport Corporation. With these few words I believe we all understand the activities of our State Transport Corporation. In the vigilance side also they have taken a keen step how to supervise and check buses and I think checking and counter checking must be enforced immediately to prevent corruption on the part of the staff and the conductors. There are colossal wastes when the checkers in collaboration with the conductors are taking away money which is to come to the exchequer of the Corporation. With these few words, I am convinced about the progress of the Meghalaya State Transport Corporation. Within this limit of 76 days, I believe they will also take note of my suggestions and observations we have made in this House. They need to be examined thoroughly and rectification should be made. Let us hope for a good and better Corporation; let us not incur a loss but have a sound profit and better Corporation; let us not incur a loss but have a sound profit and better facilities for the people.
Shri W. Syiemiong :- Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, consideration that so many Members had taken part in this very important subject and that hey have discussed so many points which initially, I wanted to discuss, I would, therefore, not take much time of the House but only like to put one question before the Minister-in-chief replies as to why the Meghalaya State Transport Corporation on the 22nd and 23rd November last did not send to different places such as Cherrapunjee, Nongstoin, Jowai, Mawsynram, Shella, Mawkyrwat, Dawki, etc. On these particular two days no transport buses were sent to those places without any intimation to the passengers.
And secondly, may I know from the Government when will they construct a passengers shed-cum-waiting room for the passengers in the present location near the Anjalee Cinema because that station has been established for the last two years, I think. But the Government have not seen to that very important need of the people and as far as I understand, Sir, it is said that plot of land belongs to the military Cantonment and as such they could not get the necessary permission. But at the same time we fail to understand how could it be that the Government could not obtain permission when just on the other side of the road we see a big building of a very big business man as if on his own initiative has been able to construct the building. So, I would like to get the answer for this particular position.
Shri M. Reidson Momin :- Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, in the first place I would like to thank the mover of this motion on this very important subject and also my friend in the Opposition on this point. But one thing, Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, it is really a matter of pride for our State that our State buses have been running on the Gauhati-Shillong Road or different roads of Meghalaya itself. Although this is the youngest department in our State, I do believe that this Department is doing very well. But as many things have been stated by the hon. Members of this august House and there is that scope for improvement. Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, regarding the maintenance of buses I would like to say that since this Corporation has been born very recently, i.e. on the 1st of October, 1976, they will not be able to construct the new workshop to maintain those buses and also I understand that there are managerial staff who have got some scope under the managerial field and many other things necessary. Unfortunately, the breakdown are very often and the buses are not maintained properly as the mover himself has pointed out and unfortunately because of lack of facilities in maintaining them, these vehicles are not maintained properly. But I am glad that the hon. Member himself has understood the difficulties of the situation and I do appreciate the hon. Members who have taken part in this discussion who are very sympathetic to this new-born department. So, Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, the mover himself has stated that there is overloading. Overloading cannot be avoided because our people are so bus-minded that even for a distance of a few kilometres they are going to wait of the bus and unfortunately this Corporation has not been able to meet the requirements of our people and they are not able to meet the demand of the public. The hon. mover has also stated that our Shillong Station is very dirty, very slippery and there is a lot of filth in the area. Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, we also know that we have inherited or rather took over this station from Assam Government and naturally it was constructed by the Government of Assam long before and the Corporation took over the and the actual need has been very high and more and more goods are being handled. So, Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I would only like to inform the hon. mover that we have all these inconveniences for the time being but I am sure the State Transport Corporation is also capable to look after this and I do hope that these things will be improved in the very near future.
Regarding the sign boards as the hon. Member has stated, now a days there are many signboards, I do admit that these are being neglected by this Corporation and I would request the authorities, through you Sir, to see that these are also displayed in each and every bus. Then, it is very unfortunate that the passengers of Mawsynram or other passengers who are travelling through are not issued with tickets. Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I understand that this Corporation has appointed the enforcement staff and I also understand very well. But unfortunately, due to lack of experienced personnel they have not been able to extend their services to the roads like Nongstoin as the hon. Member has stated but served very actively in the Gauhati-Shillong Road. So, in future if this Corporation can get experienced people, I do believe that they will deploy enforcement personnel to other roads as well. Mr. Jormanick Syiem has stated that for issue of tickets the passengers are put into trouble and inconveniences because they have to form a long queue. Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, this is a practice everywhere and we cannot avoid such queue because everyone is interested in purchasing tickets and in purchasing tickets they will have to form a queue. I would also suggest that they should provide a counter if possible. Unfortunately, as also stated by the hon. Member that booking counter should be opened for at least an hour. I do not think it is possible to open a counter. One hour before, as has been stated by Mr. Zaman. But it is not possible to open the counter one hour before because he has to look after the other routes also; he has to sell tickets for other routes as well. Now for G.S. Road buses are plying every one hour or a quarter of an hour but if we are to open the counter one hour before then we have to appoint at least 8 or 10 numbers of Booking clerks for each route which, I think, is not possible.
Now, regarding opinion about stopping buses for way-side passengers I should say this has become a problem. If they stop the bus then passengers will force in and for that the conductors and drivers would e susceptible of disciplinary action. Then again if they do not stop the bus, there will be some passengers who may bring some allegation against them to the authorities that they have not stopped the bus although there were plenty of seats vacant. So this is a very delicate problem. Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I think our conductors and drivers are trying their best to entertain our way-side passengers also by taking them wherever there is accommodation in the bus. Usually, our conductors and drivers wave their hands when there is no accommodation so that the way-side passengers may know there is no accommodation. But probably sometimes people either do not observe or do not understand. Mr. Pohshna said that one bus was gherawed while it was plying on Muktapur-Jowai Route. As I said these are our difficulties; these are our problems but I am glad that all of us who belong to this august House are sympathetic towards this Corporation and I do hope this Corporation will improve from day to day. Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, the hon. Member from Mawhati also talked about servicing of the buses but I said this Corporation is not in a position to provide proper maintenance and servicing because there is lack of facilities. They do not have good workshop, good buildings and if the hon. members of this august House visit the workshop they will find how our mechanics are working in rain and heat the sunshine. They do not have any shelter yet they are working in such trying condition for he convenience of all of us. The hon. Member from Mawhati has also stated that we should change these diesel and mobile engine to stop emitting smoke. But Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, it is not possible to stop the production of smoke only by stopping diesel or mobile. Smoke is emerged due to the defect of the engine.
Now regarding extension of services to Ri Bhoi area, I know everyone is aware that our State of Meghalaya is full of difficult terrain and as such we have not been able to provide bus service in interior areas not only in Khasi Hills but also in Jaintia Hills and Garo Hills. But is the desire of the State Transport Corporation to extend bus services to as many routes as possible. But unfortunately they have not been able to collect the data or information about the traffic potentialities because they do not have that agency and also they do not have sufficient number of buses to take up all the routes.
Now the hon. Member, Mr Pohshna, has stated that our buses are sometimes so much overloaded that passengers do not find windows to spit even and as a result they are to spit on the legs of fellow passengers (Loud laughter)
So, Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, our condition is such that we have not been able to provide more facilities and conveniences to our passengers by providing more busses because our Transport Corporation was born only the other day. They do not have adequate number of buses.
In this connection I would also suggest that there should be provision for uniform for our staff like drivers, mechanics and conductors. Because sometimes it is misleading as to who is the driver. Sometimes it so happens that we talk in abusive terms and someone from nearby may respond saying here, Sir, I am the driver. (Laugher). Therefore, I think it is essential to provide different uniforms to the different categories of employees.
Regarding another point that he has raised is payment of revised pay and allowances to our staff, I think our Corporation has not been able to do anything and I do not know why it has not been done. I think it should be done as early as possible because if we cannot make them happy we cannot expect good services from them. The hon. Member from Mawkyrwat has stated about construction of waiting rooms for he passengers. I also feel this should be done but as I said earlier, presently the Corporation has got no requisite capital.
Shri S.D. Khongwir :- Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, may we know whether the hon. Member is giving reply.
Shri M. Reidson Momin :- I am not replying but only telling something which I know.
Md. Akrammozzaman :- For the information I would like to tell the House that the hon. Member is also the Vice-Chairman of the State Transport Corporation.
Shri S.D. Khongwir :- As Vice-Chairman, he is not responsible to the Legislature. It is the Minister for Transport who is responsible to the Legislature.
Shri E. Bareh (Minister, Agriculture) :- The hon. Member did not reply on behalf of the Government. He replied on his own behalf because he knows about it.
Shri M. Reidson Momin :- It is not in the form of a reply.
Shri S.D. Khongwir :- To that extent, I will accept.
Shri M. Reidson Momin :- Mr. Chairman, Sir, I have expressed an conveyed the knowledge that I know to this House an with these few words I resume my seat.
(At this state the Deputy Speaker left the Chamber and Shri M. Reidson Momin, Chairman, took the Chair)
Shri G. Mylliemngap :- Mr. Chairman, Sir, I was trying to take the floor before so that I could share the knowledge and informations of my hon. friend who has just spoken but I failed. So at last I could get a chance. Nevertheless, I have missed the points which I would like to place before this august House and also my points have missed the attention of the hon. Members who has just spoken. Mr. Chairman, Sir, at the outset, I would like to give a word of caution to this baby Corporation, that is, "do not bite more than what you can chew" Why I say so, Mr. Chairman, Sir, is because I have seen that with great enthusiasm the Corporation in its short span of existence had stretched its hands to different routes and different roads scattering all around the State and by the practice Mr. Chairman, Sir, I found that we have made the people to realise that there are State Transport buses coming to their area and all the time they are looking forward that the Bus services will be placed at their disposal, and they would not try to find our alternative arrangements. Therefore Mr. Chairman, Sir, I feel that it would be better for the baby Corporation not to stretch its hands too much on different roads but to concentrate on some of the roads, and" to improve the existing services improve their functions and also improve their behaviours on those roads which they have already undertaken. Mr. Chairman, Sir, it is pathetic to bring to your notice the fate and plight of the roadside passengers and I quite agree with the hon. Member from Nongtalang when he said that overloading on the G.S. Road is not as bad as in other roads. This is because of the fact that on the G.S. Road there are many many trucks and these trucks have relieved overloading on the State buses and besides that you know, Sir, there are other means of communications as well, and a good number of tourist taxis, mini buses and private buses.
Shri E. Bareh (Minister, Agriculture) :- Including 'Mama Jeep'.
Shri G. Mylliemngap :- Yes, 'Mama Jeep' also. All these have relieved overloading on the G.S. Road. But in the other roads the fate of the roadside passengers, Mr. Chairman, Sir, is really pathetic and I quite agree with the information just stated by the previous speaker when he said that we have to form a queue while purchasing the tickets. It is all right, and they have been practising this. But you will be surprised to know Mr. Chairman, Sir, that the roadside passengers though they were in the queue were denied tickets as if their money is not as good as the money of other passengers. This sort of treatment, Mr. Chairman, Sir, I feel that the Corporation or the Transport Department should take special note of because most of the passengers coming from my Constituency are all roadside passengers. They had to cover a distance of 12,15,20 upto 30 miles and all the passengers are always denied tickets.
Mr. Chairman, Sir, I have been trying to help the Department in different ways and requested the erstwhile Corporation to allow the State City Buses, to go and cater to the needs of the people of Sohryngkham' Umphyrnai' Mawryngkneng and Puriang but the Corporation has never given a clearance to the city buses. Had this been given, Mr. Chairman, Sir, a great relieve would have been given to the roadside passengers. Beside this could do another thing but also granting more permits to the bazar goers from all along the roadsides. But Mr. Chairman, Sir, all these ended in futility.
Regarding the checker, I know that there are a good number of checkers not only on the road but there are even checkers in the offices. But it is interesting to note Mr. Chairman, Sir, that it is learnt from the employees of the then Corporation, I do not know much about this Corporation which has just come up, but always there is a group of people who are on this line and they make some sort of agreement among themselves that a conductor is paying to a certain checker and the checker is paying a certain sum of money to a certain people in the office.
So this chain of people is there in the organisation which, I think this new Corporation should look into and examine and try to find out and bring all the culprits to light. As I have already stated, Mr. Chairman, Sir, in view of the demands and requests put forward by many hon. Members, if possible, would also place a little demand only, though I have cautioned, to considered to consider and examine the feasibility of taking up the Transport service from Shillong to Jongskha. But Mr. Chairman, Sir, as has been stated by the hon. Member from Phulbari before any new roads is taken up, it would be advisable for the Corporation and the Department to go into the details and survey the potentialities of the areas. With these few words, I resume my seat.
Shri D.N. Joshi :- Mr. Chairman, Sir, I thank the mover of the motion that he has given us scope to make observations here in the working of the newly created Transport Corporation of Meghalaya and the whole House, it seems is seized of the problem of improving its working condition so that it may serve the best interest of the people. In this connection, Sir, I am confident and hopeful that our Government will do its best in improving the condition of the Corporation as per the suggestions put forth by the hon. Members in this House, I have also the suggestion to make to this infant organisation of ours. Here in Shillong, there was a practice of plying small cars for first class passengers coming to and from Shillong. Many Government officers have either to go out to Shillong to and from some other parts of the country. The Class I officers purchase their tickets right from the starting stations to Shillong and other parts of Meghalaya. But while in Gauhati, they cannot find any first class cars to come ever to Shillong and other part of Meghalaya and the charge they we have paid in the stations of starting is considerably much more than what is charged for our super buses which are provided for the first class passengers. We should have improved modes of transport in order to attract the tourists also besides the Government officials and other persons desiring to come to Meghalaya. Therefore, I would like to suggest that our new State Road Corporation purchases at least 2 or 3 cars and start plying for these Class I passengers who can afford to pay and we should not allow these passengers or make them use the super buses or other buses when they have paid more money than what is charged by our Department for these buses. Therefore, to meet that particular requirement, cars should be provided and this should be done as soon as possible. With these observations, Sir, I thank the mover of the motion.
Shri Jackman Marak :- Mr. Chairman, Sir, I want to speak a few words on this Transport Corporation. Many hon. Members have brought out many points. But Sir, I want to point out about the buses that are being placed specially in Garo Hills. I want to point out about the incident that took place on 7th /8th of this month in which the bus which has been placed at Baghmara and Rongra did not come. All passengers were waiting for the morning bus which are schedule to start at 7 a.m. from Tura to Rongra. More than 40 passengers, I have taken note, were there at that time. But there was no State Transport bus at all and I myself went to the booking office and asked the Superintendent about the reason for the bus not coming. He replied that one bus has not yet come back from Simsangiri. Again I asked him how many buses have been placed in Garo Hills. He replied 8 buses and out of these 6 buses are running in good condition and 2 broke down. I have seen that more than three weeks, these two buses have been sleeping on the road side near the booking office. I do not know whether there was any mechanic to take up the repair works of these buses. But what happened in the evening of 8th December. On that day, more than 60 passengers came to the bazar. Another thing is that this habit is very very bad. I have never seen such things in any other places. I have seen in the Shillong station, tickets are issued at the counter in the booking office at Tura. But in Baghmara and Rongra, tickets are not being issued in the booking office but in the bazar inside the bus. That was on the 8th December evening. The scheduled time was 1.30 p.m. All passengers, more than 60 of them rushed up to fill the bus, but many of them could not get seats and the one who issued the tickets came out because he could not issue the tickets to all. So, I called and asked him why he did not issue the tickets in the booking office and I asked him to take the bus to the booking office and the Superintendent and so the bus was taken to the booking office for a check-up, then some of the passengers got the tickets and some did not. There were as many as 50 seats and 55 passengers but somehow I could not get the tickets and so I had to go back to Sibbari. So I suggest to the Government to see that the issue of tickets should be done in the booking office to Baghmara and Rongra otherwise if they continue the same practice something may happen. Those officers may be beaten by the passengers, who cares for them. So at least what I want to suggest here is to let the booking clerks issue the tickets in the booking office and not in the bazar and inside the bus.
Sir, about the break-down. The buses which have been placed in Garo Hills why there is a break-down daily. I can tell about the Baghmara lien and Rongra line, and I am pointing out the fact. There were 5 break-downs in a month and from this, the public will lose or the Government will also lose. This Department is trying to improve the situation. So Sir, the public are getting troubles and the Government also will not gain. 5 times of 4 times and sometimes on the way there is a break-down. On November 15, one bus was coming from Rongra and in many passengers have got seats at Sibbari. But what happened, the driver - I am pointing out the fact, was drunk with some white liquid and a report has been sent by the passengers to the authority but no action has been taken yet. On the 15th November, the driver went to the Sibbari bazar and he did not come back to the bus, all the passengers were left in the bus without food. There were many children and many gentlemen and when in the morning he came back. What happened. I do not know but he said that the rubber belt or the fan belt has got burnt. I do not know whether it is a fact or not, it is up to the driver, the laymen does not know about the mechanical defects. So, I would request the Government to please look into this matter and improve the condition and workings of this Corporation for the benefit of the people of the State of Meghalaya. Mr. Chairman, Sir, I have seen many times and for the last 4 or 5 hears, I have been going and coming to Baghmara and Tura. But who is the Line Inspector I have never found. A Line Inspector should see that it is his duty to go to certain place to check up the bus, how many passengers have got tickets and how many did not get the tickets. But I only saw that he checked up at the station and he got down there. So, Mr. Chairman, Sir, these anomalies should be rectified
Now I come to the issuing of tickets to the roadside passengers I have been experiencing a lot and once what happened, the conductor whether he knew or not, I do not know, he issued the tickets for the front seats only and not for the back seats. At that time I was sitting in the Upper Class and then the conductor told the passengers not go to the Upper Class but to go to the Lower Class in spite of the fact that there were many seats in the Upper Class although they have got tickets in the Upper class. Still they have to go to the back. Sir, these things should be looked into. Sir, I have seen the border roads in the Garo Hills being improved, but the buses are not being improved, which is very important to the people of the border areas. So, Sir, I request the Government to look into this matter and try to rectify all the defects and improve the workings of this Corporation.
Shri William Cecil R. Marak :- Mr. Chairman, Sir, I would also like to participate in this motion. I have been hearing some suggestions from other groups also and why they have brought this motion is mainly to discuss the functioning of the Corporation. It is known to us that the Corporation has been born very recently and so the people should not expect the Corporation to improve overnight. Some friends have been talking about the running of the bus service on the different routes in our State. But according to my opinion and from what I have seen, I think the Corporation is trying its best to put regular services on the different routes. It is my experience also when last I came from Tura to Shillong. I did not see any bus there but they tried to put one bus from Tura to Shillong. So I believe it is the success of the Corporation.
I would also like to offer my personal suggestions that our Corporation should take up more routes in the district of Garo Hills also. These are : 'Tura to Phulbari, Tura to Mankachar and Tura to Mahendraganj. I would also request the Corporation - if it is not possible for the Corporation, then it should request the P.W.D. to construct a urinal at the roadside near Bajendoba where there is a bus-stop.
With regard to the functioning of the State Transport Corporation which is mainly to give bus services to our own people, I do hope that our people would really benefit from the coming up of the Corporation. With these few words, Sir, I resume my seat.
Shri Francis K. Mawlot :- Mr. Chairman, Sir, while appreciating the initiative taken by the hon. Member from Pariong who brought this motion before the House, I would also like to make a few observations. At the first instances, I see that there is no point for discussion on the functions of the Meghalaya State Transport Corporation as the Corporation has come into being just a few days ago. But in order to help the Corporation effectively and to find out ways and means of how to improve the functioning of this Corporation, I would also like to point out some of the defects with the M.S.T. Corporation have failed to attend to. Among many of the defects as pointed out by the hon. Members from all sides of the House, there is one particular point which nobody has raised and that is the power of authorisation given to certain persons or officers to indent materials required for the buses or even materials required for the buses or even materials required for furnishing the office. Mr. Chairman, Sir, we have seen what the State Transport Department have done in the past so that no one knows exactly what work to be done by each and every officer in the Transport Department because each one of them acts at his own sweet will. If one particular bus needs one tyres or one spirit or exhaust pipe or distributor, whatever the case may be, that takes a long time altogether to get one particular item required item required for the buses. This is because the Assistant Station Superintendent cannot intend materials. Nor can the conductor, the driver or the line-inspector. For the indent of one spare spring it has to go up to the Chief Automobile Engineer get his approval and it is also upto him to place indents. In this manner, the functioning of the Corporation cannot meet the demands of the people. Mr. Chairman, Sir these are the lapses in the past and now since the Corporation has taken over the running of the buses, I do hope that things would improve and that all the lapses which were experienced by the State Transport Department will now be taken into consideration and also rectified by the Corporation. One such instance, Mr. Chairman, Sir, took place I do not know exactly where, - but it must have been some time during the first week of November or the last two or three days of October. One bus was to leave Shillong for Mawsynram. The bus was not in a good running condition because no one checked up and there was nobody who was interested in the condition of the bus. Then tickets had been issued against the that particular bus and so the passengers boarded the bus. They had to wait for a long time before the driver turned up. At least the fellow made his appearance although he was completely drunk. He put the key in and started the vehicle which ran up to Weiloi. On reaching Weiloi the driver started filling his own tummy with liquor and the few passengers who saw the danger did not board the bus. They had to stop at Weiloi. The other passengers who risked travelling by that bus could not reach Mawsynram because the driver was completely drunk. The bus then met with an accident half-way from Weiloi. The sad thing about this is that the driver was not in a position to tell the story to any-one as he himself was killed in the accident. I hope, Mr. Chairman, Sir, that this incident will not be allowed to be repeated by the Corporation. All the other lapses of the past will have to be rectified by this Corporation which has taken up the management of this State Buses and I hope it will try to improve the functions as well to serve the people better according to the needs of the day.
Mr. Chairman :- Will the Minister-in-charge reply ?
Shri. W.A. Sangma (Chief Minister) :- Mr. Chairman, Sir, I am indeed very grateful to the mover of the Motion and to those who have participated in the discussion. It gives us a chance to know a number of lapses and short comings in the functioning of this new Corporation. But, I would at the first instance, like to request the hon. Members of this House to realise that the Corporation which came into being only in October 1976 cannot yet be expected to produce good results. It is a fact that we can study the defects in the functioning of the State Transport Undertaking. But there should be better scope on the part of the Corporation to bring about all round improvement. The Transport Corporation took over all the assets and liabilities of the erstwhile Assam Meghalaya State Transport Undertaking. The Corporation now has on its roll about 900 employees. The Corporation has about 100 buses including seven chassis and 50 trucks. Out of these, 58 buses and 32 trucks are in running condition. It may, therefore, be appreciated that with this number of vehicles it will not be possible on the part of the Corporation to meet all the traffic requirements. I entirely agree with the suggestion put forward by the hon. Member from Sohryngkham, Mr. Mylliemngap, that we should not take up new routes unless we are in a position to provide adequate number of vehicles. Before we think up new routes we must first of all have a thorough study of the traffic potentiality. Transport services can be effective and profitable to the public and can render good service to them only when we can provide adequate number of vehicles to run on a particular route Mr. Chairman, Sir, from experience it is found that, apart from the Transport Corporation, in some of the routes there are more vehicles than are required to run and so there is a competition and this has become a losing concern to some operators. In some cases the number of buses permitted by the authorities are found to be less than the requirement. That is why overloading is there. All this due to lack of proper traffic survey at the beginning. Let us take the Shillong - Gauhati Road. It has been pointed out by one of the speakers that cases of over-loading is less on this road because there are private trucks, private jeeps and taxis which ply on this route whereas in Shillong-Jowai road there is always over-loading. It will, therefore, be clear that the number of buses placed on the Shillong - Jowai road is not adequate. We must also know, after making a thorough traffic study, what should be the number of buses to be placed on this particular road. This method is applicable to other routes also. Therefore, there must be proper planning, proper traffic survey and I would advice the Corporation not to think of going for new routes with only the exiting buses but to come forward with complete plans to see which routes we can take up to render efficient and adequate services. It is very unfortunate that even in today's discussion there have been counter-suggestions, and a number of Members from both sides of the House wanted that the Corporation should take up new routes. There is also a suggestion that we should not take up new routes un less we have sufficient number of vehicles and that we should not take new routes unless we can cope with the situation. Mr. Chairman, Sir, a number of speakers have also stated tat the vehicles are not reliable and there has been a lot of break-downs. I agree and I have seen that a number of buses broke down on the road. Why all these things happen ? It is because without taking into consideration the number of vehicles needed to run on different routes, they simply took up the routes regardless. I have had occasions to suggest to the Corporation only recently on this point that in future we must make it a point that a vehicle should be completely off for one day in a week for complete check-up and maintenance. When I was working during the war time as an Army Transport Officer, we had been instructed that out of a fleet of vehicles at our disposal we should make it a point that each which is off from the road once in a week for check-up and maintenance. We have to write on the body of the vehicle on what particular day it should be off from the road for complete check-up and maintenance. If the vehicle is to be off on Sunday then we write on the body of the vehicle 'Sun' of it is of Monday, 'Mon' and so on and so forth. I have advised the Corporation to adopt a similar programme so that they will be able to place a good number of vehicles which are reliable and which can render good services to the public on different routes. They also must see that each vehicle is allowed to be completely off the road for one day in a week for proper check and thorough repair. We know a Biblical story that even God, in creating the world, took rest for one day in a week. A vehicle should also have a complete rest for one day in a week so that it can be looked after properly, and proper maintenance can be given.
About leakage of revenue. At present we have got as many as 9 Inspectors. For enforcement and vigilance, a Central Vigilance Squad has been set up by the Corporation recently. The Squad was given a car to move around. They have effected a large number of surprise checks and as a result 15 conductors have been placed under suspension during the last two months for misappropriation of revenue. Leakage of revenue has been cut down as a result of this Vigilance Squad.
Complaints have been made about black marketing of tickets. According to my information, this kind of practice was more so during the previous joint Corporation because of shortage of buses. From this point of view also it is desirable on the part of the Corporation that they should limit their activities in taking up new routes. I would, therefore, appeal to the hon. Members from both sides if they are really anxious that the Meghalaya State Transport Corporation should run efficient service, that they should not as for more routes knowing fully well that if the Corporation cannot increase the number of vehicles and set up workshops for maintenance and repairs, such new venture will be only in name but the people will not get any benefit out of it.
About the workshops, I agree we have not been able to establish as many depots and workshops as may be required for running this Corporation efficiently. We are short of personnel. Recently, we have decided to fill up the top posts such as Chief Accounts Officer, Chief Mechanical Engineer and Civil Engineer. Once we are in a position to entertain these officers we shall give the responsibility to them to plan properly for running this Corporation efficiently. The planning should cover different fields, both the running of the buses, their maintenance, and also the checking of leakage of revenue and so on and so forth. Mr. Chairman, Sir, as I said, out off near about 100 buses at present we have got only 58 which are in running condition, and out of 50 trucks about 30 are in running condition. It will, therefore, be appreciated that with this meagre number of vehicles, it is not possible to meet the requirements of the State in every part or in every district of the State. Therefore, it will be appreciated by all the Members that we should start and proceed in a phased programme so that efficiency can be achieved.
Complaint has been made about non-payment of the revised pay scales to the drivers and conductors, etc. The new pay scales have just been approved and a full-time Accounts Officer has joined the Corporation just a week ago. The revised scales would be given effect to shortly.
A question has been asked why construction of a shed or booking office has not been taken up near the Anjalee Cinema side. As soon as the Corporation is in a position to appoint a Civil Engineer, plans and estimates will be prepared and the construction will be taken up.
Mr. Chairman, Sir, a number of speakers have informed the House about the same number of difficulties and lapses on the part of the Corporation. I have noted all these and I can assure the House through you, Mr. Chairman, Sir, that efforts will be made by the Corporation to bring about an all-round improvement.
Shortage of parts is also one of the major difficulties. In this connection also, I have advised the Corporation that, being a commercial body, they cannot afford to block the money; there must be quick circulation, they must be able to stock the parts according to the requirements. In this, there will be three types of stores namely - slow moving, medium moving and fast moving parts. They must be able to know what is the average life of a type in the road conditions of Meghalaya. If the life of the tyre is 3 months, they must be able to know how many tyres should be kept in stock for the number of vehicles in position. In a similar way other parts should be stocked according to the requirements, as I said, whether for slow moving, medium-moving or fast moving parts. The hon. Member, Mr. Marak, has said something about fan belts. We must know what is the average life of a fan belt. If there is a checking, the man who will be checking the vehicle would be able to know whether there is need for replacement and accordingly these fast moving parts should not be stored in Central Store only but they should be made available at other depots also. I entirely agree that if a vehicle gets stuck up at Jowai, it is a waste for the driver or the handyman to come to Shillong to get the parts replaced and then go back to Jowai.
Therefore, in future, we will think about setting up stores in the various depots and stations so that along with the mechanics, the parts required to be replaced could be replaced without delay Complaint was made that on November 22nd and 23rd, buses plying in Khasi Hills were diverted to G.S. road on account of the A.I.C.C's Session. It is a fact that there was a big rush of passengers from Shillong to Gauhati as well as from Gauhati to Shillong. Therefore, a good number of buses had been diverted to the G.S. road but in their places, private buses were allowed to run. Well, Mr. Chairman, Sir, I know that the conduct and the behaviour of our bus conductors are not up to the mark. In fact, I have advised the Corporation that these conductors sh9uld be given proper training to be polite and helpful to the passengers. I am suggesting whether in the short routes like Gauhati to Shillong, Shillong to Gauhati or from Shillong to Jowai, we can have lady conductors. I hope they will behave like Air hostesses. Let us compare so that we can have a thinking over it if we can give them proper training. I do not know whether we agree or not. But I believe since we belong to the maternal type of society, women are custodians of our properties, they can do well in the job. This is my way of thinking Mr. Chairman, Sir. As I said, Mr. Chairman, Sir, about the defects of this Corporation, I am quite aware of them and I know that much exercise is to be done to make this Corporation efficient. In fat, we are taking advice from one of the best Transport Corporations in the country how to organise our Transport Corporation. We are expecting to get their report soon, some time by the end of this month. On the basis of their recommendation we will try to organise our Corporation. I hope after we have been able to man all top posts, it will be possible for us to organise properly and to bring about all round improvement to the transport business of the Corporation. It has been stated that a number of people from the West Khasi Hills District came with applicants but none of them have been appointed. It is very unfortunate Mr. Chairman, Sir. As a result of the joint Meghalaya and Assam State Road Transport Corporation we have to bring a huge number of employees from the combined corporation. If I am not mistaken about 600 of them have been taken over from the State Transport undertaking. As such, we do not have much scope. I will give the details for the information of the hon. Members. At present, we have got one General Manager, one Assistant General Manager, one Assistant General Manager, one Accounts Officer, one Station Superintendent, four Assistant Station Superintendents, three Foremen, thirty-two U.D.As, and 139 L.D.As. Then again, 4 Accountants, 131 mechanics, 142 drivers, 91 conductors, 9 Line Inspectors and 68 car washers, sweepers and chowkidars 273. In fact, in certain categories, we have got excess personnel. Until and unless we can absorb all these people there is no scope for new recruitment. With the increase in the number of buses tin future, other categories of employees would be required, like drivers for example. We are trying to utilise properly the existing man power available with the Corporation. Till then, I am afraid there will be no scope for new recruits except the top offices like the Chief Accounts Officers, the Chief Mechanical Officer and some of the top Civil Engineers. We are thinking whether at will be desirable for the Corporation to have petrol or diesel depots in those places where we can also keep some fast moving parts. When a vehicle goes there to get petrol or diesel filled in, it can get those parts like motor or fan belts replaced easily. This is to be examined. It would be appreciated that we have just started this exercise. I would request the hon. Members not to press for any new route as we do not have sufficient number of vehicles. A stitch in time saves nine. Every vehicle should be checked once in a week thoroughly for longivity of the vehicle. It is not necessary for me to reply to every point because it is necessary that we attend to all the suggestions put forward and also I may inform the House about the lapses or the short comings. We are quite aware of those shortcoming and lapses and we welcome the new suggestions put forward. While we shall be exercising and planning for the future of this organisation, we would also study those suggestions and see how far those lapses and shortcomings can be removed. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Sir.
Shri. Winstone Syiemiong :- Mr. Chairman, Sir, may we get a clarification as to when this decision was taken to accommodate the passengers who are supposed to go to Jawahar Nagar by the State Transport buses that were meant for other places of Khasi Hills District and secondly, whether any prior information was given to the passengers prior to the suspension of State Transport Services on the 22nd and 23rd.
Shri. Williamson A. Sangma (Chief Minister) :- Well, I do not have a definite information here but since the buses were to be deployed on this road on the 22nd and 23rd because of the rush of passengers the decision must have been taken on that day. The private city buses were deployed in the interior buses.
Shri. W. Syiemiong :- I think this is a mere assumption that private buses were deployed. There was no bus and the people were stranded in the very station itself.
Shri. Williamson A. Sangma (Chief Minister) :- According to information available with me, I am not very sure about it. But I have been given the information that on those days city buses were sent to these routes.
Mr. Chairman :- The discussion on Motion No.2 is closed. Now, I would call upon Shri. W. Syiemiong or Shri. R. Lyngdoh to move Motion No.3. Anyone of you can move.
Shri. W. Syiemiong :- Mr. Chairman, Sir, I beg to move that this House do now discuss the desirability of shifting the headquarters of the West Khasi Hills District to a place acceptable to all concerned especially the people of the Elakas of Nongspung, Sohiong, Maharam and Nongkhlaw Syiemship.
Mr. Chairman :- Motion moved but before I allow you to initiate the discussion I may inform the House that we have only five minutes. Shall we continue within 5 minutes or take it up gain tomorrow ?
(Voices - Tomorrow there is no time)
Prof. M.N. Majaw :- The usual procedure is to carry over any pending motion to the next Session.
Mr. Chairman :- Since we do not have enough time we will have to carry over the motion to the next Session.
Shri. W. Syiemiong :- With the permission of the Chair I shall speak for five minutes and I am asking for the permission of the House because there will be no reply. Mr. Chairman, Sir, at the very outset I would like to clear the mind of the House that in bring forward this particular motion there is no intention whatsoever on my part to oppose the very creation on the West Khasi Hills District. In fact, right from the year 1972, when the then Government brought forward the proposal for creation of more districts, we on this side also were very much in agreement with the proposal and, naturally, we were hoping that eventually when the new district would come up the problems that our backward State has been facing for so long especially in developmental affair would to great extent be minimised. But, Sir, the tragedy of all the tragedies I may say, is that the cherished hope to get the administration closer to the people, as the Government then had said, was belied when it was actually put into practice. We were thinking along with many others that before the actual creation of this district, the Government perhaps would do some spade work such as going to the people, consulting the people and asking from the people and knowing the exact conditions so that before the Government decided it could decide Rightly and know actually what to do and what not to do. But it is a very sad state of affairs when the Government started a consult people, the consultation was done in a most haphazard manner.
Shri. Williamson A. Sangma (Chief Minister) :- Well, Mr. Chairman, Sir, it is not a fact that the Government did not consult the people. In fact, it was merely an upgradation of a sub-division to a district. Of course, it is a fact that some new areas were added.
Shri. W. Syiemiong :- Exactly. Secondly, Sir, the new areas were added or tagged and consultation was made in a very haphazard manner at the initial stage. Only certain Members of the Legislature and the District Council were invited. I say haphazard because in the first instance many did not get the information and so did not go to that meeting. Naturally, this being a very important issue, we had thought that the Government would take interest to send information to each and every one of us and to see that they receive the information. But a good number of them, like myself for example, did not receive the information. Then in the later part of 1975 in that meeting more suggestions were given in the absence of certain members whose constituencies were very much involved. Mr. Chairman, Sir, as a matter of fact, this being a very important question, consultation should have been made with not only the legislators and hon. Members of the District Councils but also with the leaders of the villages, the Syiems and heads of elakas and certain other gaon-buras or Rangbah Shnongs. Then only could the Government get the real picture for the creation of the new district. But it is very sad that these thing were never done at all and the very object of creating this district is to bring the administration closer to the people but that very object was belied because after the creation of the West Khasi Hills certain areas were farther from the seat of the administration.
Mr. Chairman :- The time is up. The House now stands adjourned till 9.30 A.M. tomorrow, the 17th December, 1976.
The 16th December, 1976.
|Meghalaya Legislative Assembly.|