Proceedings of the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly held at 9-30 a.m. on Monday, the 21st March, 1977 in the Assembly Chamber, Shillong with the Hon. Speaker in the Chair.
6 Ministers, four Ministers of State and 20 members.
Mr. Speaker :- Before we start the business of the day, may I take leave of the House to receive the Governor at the gate.
(At 9-38 a.m. the Governor arrived in a procession).
May I now request the Governor to address the House.
Shri L.P. Singh (Governor) :-
Mr. Speaker and Hon'ble Members,
I have great pleasures in addressing you once again at the commencement of the Session of this august House. Many important events have taken place during the period which has elapsed since I address you last. The sad demise of our beloved President Shri Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed, came as a shock to the nation. In his death, the country has lost a great statesman whose steadfast devotion and unflinching loyalty to the ideals of democracy and secularism will be an example forever. The sense of our grief is all the more poignant as he launched his career and spent a considerable part of his life in the capital of Shillong.
2. The last year has been a year of positive gains and significant achievements for our country. Inflation has been kept under control to some extent. Today we have a comfortable foreign exchange position unprecedented for so many years. The national economy is improving. Production in the industrial sector has been satisfactory. The public sector industries have shown excellent improvement in their functioning. There is a sizeable stock of food-grains, the largest every maintained in the country. There has been growth of discipline in all walks of national life. Improvement has occurred in the machinery of administration. All these augur well and the country is firmly set on the path towards its march to greater fulfillment of its objectives and ushering in of an era of prosperity and growth.
3. Election - The holding of elections which have been completed recently is an event of great significance. It is matter of satisfaction that the elections were conducted peacefully in our State. This is a re-affirmation of the will of the people to adhere to the ideals of democracy. The holding of elections ahead of the period of expiry of the term of Parliament has also dispelled the misunderstanding and confusion created by the propaganda of vested interests in the country and abroad that India was departing from democratic traditions.
4. The New Economic Programme - The launching of the new economic programme generated widespread public enthusiasm in the State and created a sense of urgency towards advance on the economic front. The State Government, apart from strengthening the administrative machinery for the affective implementation of the programme, have taken steps to set up co-ordination committees at the State and district levels which are functioning with a view to ensuring people's participation in the programme.
5. The Government have taken the necessary legislative measures to support the implementation of the programme. A legislation to provide a moratorium on recovery of debts from landless labourers' small farmers and artisans has been passed. The Meghalaya Credit Operation and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1976, when enforced, is expected to increase the flow of credit for agricultural production and other priority sectors, such as the small scale industries, cottage industries and handloom sectors. An order prescribing the minimum wages for agricultural labourers has also been issued. The Programme places adequate emphasis on enlarging employment opportunities by apprenticeship schemes, helping the artisans and poor weavers by supplying cost-free and subsidised yarn and extending benefits to students by making available essential commodities at hostels and recognised lodges at reasonable prices.
6. Housing for the Poor - With a view to providing housing facilities to the weaker sections, 10 Housing Co-operatives have been organised and a State level apex body for financing housing co-operatives has been set up. The Government propose to confer full ownership rights to homestead dwellers and homestead tenants in some parts of the plain areas of the State where records of rights are available. The Government have also adopted the Urban Land (Ceiling and Regulations) Act, 1976.
7. Other items of the New Economic Programme :- The Government have taken necessary steps to implement the other items of the programme. A programme for plantation of trees on both sides of the main roads has been taken up. While appreciating the need for limiting the size of families and providing for the welfare of children and women, the Government are not in favour of the exercise of any coercive measures and believe in the voluntary participation of people in the programme. Schemes for development of primary education, adult literacy and non-formal education are some of the steps taken to remove illiteracy.
8. Law and Order :- The overall law and order situation in the State has been satisfactory during the year. Except for a few stray cases, no incident took place leading to major law and order problems or any political or communal issue. The measures taken by the Government under the Emergency had to a great extent restored normalcy and brought stable conditions. The Government have also released all political detenus except the members of the banned organisations and these detained in connection with economic offences. The Government have kept continuous watch on the situation along the State's border with Bangladesh. There had been a few incidents of trespass cattle lifting and kidnapping along the border. The Government have taken adequate measures and it is expected that the situation will remain peaceful all along the border. The Government of India have also conveyed their sanction to raise one Border Wing Home Guards Battalion in the State and recruitment for the purpose has already commenced.
9. Improvement of Administrative efficiency :- The Government propose to continue the measures for toning up for the administrative machinery by weeding out inefficient and corrupt Government employees. In accordance with the recommendations of the Conference of the Chief Secretaries convened in May last on the initiative of the Prime Minister, steps have been taken to improve the performance of the official machinery at the 'cutting edge' level. District Grievances Committees have been set up presided over by the Commissioner and with Deputy Commissioners as conveners to look into the redress the grievances of the citizens. Two Task Forces have been set up for proposing delegation of administrative and financial powers, and orders have been issued in the light of their recommendations delegating the necessary powers to facilitate smooth functioning of the administration at all levels. The procedures for performance appraisals have been revised with a view to ensuring better assessment of employees' abilities and levels of efficiency.
10. Re-organisation of Administrative set-up - The process of setting up two more Districts, four Subdivisions and six Administrative Units to which a reference was made in my last Address has been completed and the new-organised set up has already started functioning. Steps are being taken to implement the programme for construction of residential and office buildings in the headquarters of the new districts, subdivisions and administrative units and to taken other necessary measures to ensure effective functioning of the new administrative centres under the reorganised set up.
11. Policy for Planned Development - The Fifth Plan has been finalised at the national level during the meeting of the National Development Council held in September last year. The finalisation of the Fifth Plan symbolizes the will of the nation to march forward on the path of planned progress, with redoubled energy and effort. The finalised National Plan re-affirms the objective of self-reliance and removal of poverty and aims at curbing inflationary trends and ensures the fulfillment of the nation's objective of implementing the New Economic Programme.
The final size of the Fifth Plan for Meghalaya has been fixed at Rs. 89.53 crores as against the tentative outlay earlier fixed at Rs. 84.21 crores. The State Government have pointed out of the Planning Commission and the Government of India that the earlier outlay did not include any requirement on power generation schemes, as the on-going Kyrdem Kulai Hydro electric project was included in the Assam Plan and was being executed and financed by the Assam State Electricity Board. The State Government have also drawn the attention of the Government of India and the Planning Commission to the inadequacy of the revised Plan ceiling for the State, particularly in the context of additional requirement for the execution of Kyrdem-Kulai project. The Government hope for sympathetic consideration of the request for additional plan fund which would be necessary for maintaining the tempo of development activities in the State in the main sectors.
The allocation for the Plan for 1977-78, including the outlay for the Kyrdem-Kulai project has been fixed at Rs. 24.46 crores showing almost a three-fold increase from the level of expenditure on Plan schemes for the year 1972-73. While keeping in view the national priorities, the State Plan as drawn up by the Government, places emphasis on the special needs of Meghalaya.
12. Agricultural Development - The development of agricultural and allied sectors forms the core of the development programme in the State, as more than 85 per cent of the population of the State, lives in rural areas where agriculture and allied occupations are the main sources of livelihood. The food-grains production in the State has shown as gradual improvement. During 1976-77 the target of 1.40 lakh tons is likely to be fully achieved. The target for 1977-78 has been fixed at 1.47 lakh tons. The target for production of jute and mesta for the year 1977-78 is 70,000 bales and for potato 85,000 toms. Emphasis has been placed on extension of the area under high yielding varieties, popularisation of the use of fertilizers and pesticides and adoption of improved agricultural practices. The Government of India have selected the Garo Hills District for implementation of the integrated rural development project. To ensure supply of water for cultivation, two flow, and five lift irrigation projects will be started which will be completed in the next two years. The programme also includes the sinking of more shallow tube wells be laid on horticultural schemes, and the activities of Small Farmers Development Agencies and Marginal farmers development Agencies will continue.
13. Animal husbandry, poultry and fisheries - Animal husbandry and cattle improvement form an integral part of rural development and the Government have taken up various schemes for improvement in this sector. The period of operation of the Indo Danish Project is proposed to be extended further for another two years. The main emphasis of the programme is on meeting the requirements of breed-stock in the State. The programme is being operated in co-ordination with the Intensive Cattle Development Programme and the scheme for Key village centres. The programmes undertaken for development of poultry, fisheries and piggery are also being continued.
14. Control of Jhum-Shifting Cultivation :- The programme for control of jhum and grouping of villages has been undertaken as a special programme in the State to meet the needs of about 42 per cent of the tribal population which is dependent on shifting cultivation. The programme aims at weaning away shifting cultivators from jhum to settled type of cultivation. The programme includes, apart from land development and terracing, distribution of seeds, manure and fertilisers, improving of irrigation facilities, afforestation, supply of drinking water and construction of link roads and dwelling houses.
15. Co-operative and Community Development :- The programme of revitalisation and re-organisation of the primary level societies which was undertaken under the Master Plan prepared in consultation with the Reserve Bank of India will be completed within the next financial year. The starting of a project for Intensive Development of credit by the Reserve Bank and the Government of India will also considerably assist the co-operative structure and equip it better for taking up its task of expansion of credit for agriculture and other priority sectors. The State Cooperative and Consumers Marketing Federation will extent its activities further in the consumer sector and take up, on an expanded basis, the marketing of border produce. The scheme undertaken earlier for channelising the earmarked funds of various development departments through the block development of agencies will continue. The programme for development of backward areas is also being implemented through the block development agencies. Appointment of non-official Chairman of the block development committees has resulted in ensuring greater participation of the people in the Community Development movement.
16. Industries and Mineral Resources :- The objective of the industrial policy of the State Government is to encourage the growth of industrial based on mineral and agro-forest resources of the State with a view to increasing employment opportunities for the people ands to diversify and prevent lopsided growth of the economy. With this end in view, measures will be taken for extending a package of more liberal incentives and arranging consultancy units in the State. The Mawmluh-Cherra Cements Ltd. is implementing its expansion project more or less on schedule. Negotiations have been taken up for setting up a captive assembly unit for watches of the Hindustan Machine Tools Ltd. Steps are being taken for the setting up of a pulp and paper Mill, and a Company for setting up a Jute Mill in the joint sector at Mendipathar in East Garo Hills district has also been formed. The Meghalaya Industrial Development Corporation is playing the role of a promotional agency and is implementing the scheme for capital subsidy as also arranging training of local candidates to meet the man-power requirement in the industrial sector. The Government will encourage and promote the establishment of small-scale industries and cottage industries as also encourage handicrafts and handloom production. A Sales Emporium has been started in Shillong under the Handicrafts Boards Scheme. The implementation of the schemes for the development of sericulture and handloom industries has made satisfactory progress. The Government will taken up a new scheme for the centres for silk weaving, where training facilities will be provided for the benefit of the promising local weavers. In the mining sector, apart from continuing the work on existing schemes, providing of limestone deposits at Siju will also be taken up.
17. Power Development :- One of the units of the Nangalbibra coal based thermal station with the total installed capacity of 2x2.5 MW has been commissioned recently. The first unit of the Kyrdem-Kulai Hydro Electric Project of 30 MW capacity is expected to be commissioned by June, 1978, and the second unit of a similar capacity three or four months thereafter. The Rural Electrification Programme including the construction of the transmission line to connect Umian-Umtru system with Nangalbibra is progressing satisfactorily.
18. Transport and Communications :- Development of communications is necessary from the point of view of creation of infrastructure for marketing of agricultural produces, growth of industries and for ensuring movement of essential commodities to the interior areas. Hon'ble Members will be glad to know that the Planning Commission and the Government of India have accepted the priority of development of communications in the State and have agreed to an increased outlay in this sector during the next year.
The project report and feasibility study for the Inchamati-Shillong-Burnihat ropeway will be finalised soon. The State Government have taken up with the Civil Aviation Ministry the proposal for starting scheduled air services to and from the Airfield at Umroi. The Meghalaya State Road Transport Corporation has been appointed to report on the improvement in the working system of the Corporation. The Corporation will consolidated and take up new schemes depending upon the availability of finances from various sources.
19. Education, Art and Culture and Promotion of Sports :- The Government continue to give priority to the development of education. Apart from consolidation and qualitative improvement of educational facilities already built up, extension in primary education forms the main objective in the expansion sector. The recommendations of the University Grants Commission for improvement of pay scale of teachers have been accepted and the revised pay scales are being implemented. Revised pay scales for the teachers of all deficit schools including primary schools under the District Councils have been sanctioned. The State Institute of Art and Culture has been started. Due emphasis is being placed on the promotion of sports and games.
20. Health and Water supply :- The expansion of medical facilities in the rural areas is being carried out through the Minimum Needs Programme. It is expected that all the Blocks will be covered by Primary Health Centres by the end of the Fifth Plan. The expansion of the Ganesh Das Hospital is expected to be completed by the next year. The bed strength of the Civil Hospital, Shillong, and the Ganesh Das Hospital has been increased. Construction of building for Tura Civil Hospital is also expected to be taken up during the year 1977-78. The Maternity and Paediatric Wing of the Civil Hospital, Jowai, is expected to start functioning by the early part of 1977-78.
In the sphere of rural water supply programme, emphasis is being placed on the completing of the continuing schemes so that the benefit of drinking water can be made available to the people in the rural areas at the earliest. Work on the new Jowai Water Supply Scheme is continuing. The work on the Greater Shillong Water Supply Scheme has commenced and negotiations for loans from the L.I.C. for the execution of the project are in progress. A few small schemes to improve water supply in Shillong have also been undertaken.
21. Tourism :- As a result of the organisation of Tourist festivals and execution of other schemes, the flow of tourists into Meghalaya has increased appreciably. With a view to accelerating the development in this sector, the Government have set up the Meghalaya Tourism Development Corporation.
22. Other Sectors :- I would like to mention briefly some of the programmes in other sectors of development. A separate Wildlife Wing in the Forest Department has been set up for proper management of wildlife resources of the State. The Forest Development Corporation is continuing its activities and recently the Agriculture Refinance and Development Corporation has agrees to finance a project for development of forests through the Corporation with assistance of Rs. 49 lakhs. The schemes of environmental forestry and social forestry are also continuing.
23. District Councils :- In accordance with the policy of the Government to attach due importance to the functioning of the District Councils, assistance is being extended to the Councils for enabling them to discharge their functions. The normal tenure of the existing District Councils of Garo Hills and Khasi Hills is to expire shortly. Considering that the creation of new Districts will result in delay in delimitation of constituencies, the terms of the District Councils have been extended by one year.
24. Development of Border Areas :- The emphasis in the programme for the development of border areas will be on introduction of new suitable crops in the border areas and setting up of nursery farms for the purpose of production of seeds and plants. The setting up of industries in the border areas for utilisation of the resources of the area will also be given priority. The development of handicrafts and small and cottage industries will also be encouraged. Irrigation facilities will be developed to extend the cultivated area. Grants-in-aid will be given to the educational institutions located in the border areas for construction of hostels and improvement and expansion of existing hostels and buildings.
25. Land Reforms :- In the light of recommendation of the Land Reforms Commission, a scheme for taking up cadastral survey in the East and West Garo Hills districts has been prepared. The process of acquisition of jotedari rights and abolition of annuity rights of zamindari estates in the plains of West Garo Hills district will be completed soon. The training facilities at the Survey School at Tura are being improved.
26. Employment schemes and Task Force :- The increasing of employment opportunities forms an important part of the policy of the Government and the schemes already undertaken for the purpose will continue. The Task Force which has been set up to meet the requirement of labour for departmental projects has been organised and has taken up departmental work in a few areas in the State. The Industrial Training Institute which was previously located at Gauhati has been shifted and has started functioning at Shillong. The generation of employment directly and indirectly through the execution of plan schemes will help in increasing employment opportunities for the people of the State.
27. Price Situation and supply of essential commodities :- The position relating to supply of essential commodities has been, by and large satisfactory in spite of occasional rise in the prices of a few commodities. The prices of edible oil and sugar have shown increase. The Government are seized of the problem and have initiated necessary measures in this regard.
28. Restriction on the sale and consumption of liquor :- The Government have taken steps for placing restriction on the sale and consumption of liquor. The Meghalaya Intoxicating Liquor (Prohibition of Publication of Advertisements) Act, 1976, has been enacted. Drinking in hotels, restaurants and clubs has been restricted to a room earmarked for the purpose. Liquor shops on the national high-ways are in the process of being shifted and temperance committees are being constituted. The first day of every month has been declared as "dry day". No new licenses for liquor shops had been issued during 1976. Sale of liquor to persons below 18 years has been banned. The Civil Services Conduct Rule have been suitably amended prohibiting consumption of liquor by Government servants and employees of Government undertaking in public places.
29. Benefits to the employees :- In accordance with the policy of the Government to extend benefits to the employees, dearness allowances at enhanced rates has been sanctioned for Government employees with effect from 1st September, 1976. The benefit of the revised rates of declares allowance has been extended to the teachers of deficit colleges and schools and also to the teachers under the schools managed by District Councils. The process of absorption in Meghalaya of the tribal employees of Meghalaya origin serving under the Assam Government has almost been completed.
30. Natural calamities :- The State was free from any major natural calamity during 1976-77. However, certain areas were affected by failure of crops due to excessive or scanty rainfall, depredation of wild animals and fire incidents. The Government have extended necessary relief measures by sanction of gratuitous relief, test relief and agricultural loans to alleviate the hardship of the affected people.
31. Assam-Meghalaya Border :- In accordance with the decisions taken in the meeting of the Chief Ministers of Assam and Meghalaya held on 29th February, 1976, of which a mention was made in my last address, meetings were held between the officers of the two Governments. During these meetings, the areas of differences have been identified. The Meghalaya Government have requested the Governments of Assam to have a meeting at appropriate level to discuss the method of resolving the differences in various areas on the boundary between the two State. The Government will continue to follow the policy of conciliation and amity and will seek to work for finding a peaceful solution of the differences by discussions with the Government of Assam and by utilising the good offices of the Government of India, if necessary. The Government expect that peaceful conditions will prevail on both sides of the border of the two States.
32. Seventh Finance Commission :- The next Finance Commission is likely to be set up very soon. It is expected that the Commission will give a sympathetic and just consideration to the needs of Meghalaya in view of its backwardness and special problems.
Programme for the Session :- In this session, the Government will place the Budget Estimates and seek a Vote-on-Account pending final consideration and passing of the budget by this august House. Besides, the Legislative Assembly of Meghalaya (Members' Salaries and Allowance) (Amendment) Bill, 1977 will be introduced during the current session of the Assembly.
I have briefly indicated the main aspects of the programme and policies of the Government. The coming year holds great promise and it is in your hands to ensure that the gains already achieved are consolidates and the nation's onward march, to its proclaims ideals is continued with renewed vigour and effort. The challenges of fulfillment of the ideal of economic prosperity and achievement of the objective of well-being of the common man are enormous and call for co-operative efforts and continuous endeavour. I am confident that all of you rise to the occasion.
I wish you all success in you deliberations.
MOTION OF THANKS
Mr. Speaker :- May I inform the House that the Governor has been pleased to address the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly. Now, let us come to the next item in today's list of business. I have received a notice from Mr. Reidson Momin seconded by Mr. Printington Sangma that they desire to move a Motion of Thanks to the Governor's Address. Now, Mr. Momin can move.
Shri Mr. Reidson Momin :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, I beg to move that the Members of the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly in this Session, are deeply grateful to the Governor for the address which he has been pleased to deliver to this House today, the 21st March, 1977.
Mr. Speaker :- Motion moved and you will have a chance to initiate the discussion on the 23rd March, 1977. Let us come to item 3-
Report of the Business Advisory and Committee
In pursuance of Rule 230 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business, I am to report that I called a meeting of the Business Advisory Committee on the 11th March, 1977 to settle the business for the current Session of the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly. A draft Calendar for the meeting of the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly was prepared by my Secretariat and circulated to the hon. Members present in the Committee with a statement of business received from various Departments of the Government.
I may inform the House that owing to the Lok Sabha elections the present Session had to be summoned rather late leaving little time for transaction of financial business which is required to be disposed of before the close of the financial year. Accordingly, it was decided to present the budget for the next financial year on the 22nd March, 1977, and go in for a Vote-on-Account instead of attempting to pass the regular budget before the 31st March. It was also the consensus of the Committee to defer the discussion on various stages of the budget till the next Session and devote the present Session for discussion of matters referred to in the Governor's Address and other urgent Government business. Thus, considering the volume of business required to be transacted, the committee recommended doing away with the second races day, i.e., Thursday, March 31, 1977 to accommodate the debate on the Governor's Address, so that the Session may be prorogued on the next day, after disposal of private members' business, if any.
The final form of the Calendar after modification by the Committee is placed on the Members' table.
I hope this has the approval of the House.
( Voices : Yes, yes ).
Panel of Chairmen
Let us come to the next item.
In pursuance of sub-rule (1) of Rule 9 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly, I hereby nominate the following hon. Members to the Panel of Chairmen for the purpose of conducting the Vote-on-Account Session :
Mr. M. Reidson Momin, M.L.A.
Mr. G. Mylliemngap, M.L.A.
Mr. S.D. Khongwir, M.L.A.
Mr. H. Hadem, M.L.A.
Let us pass on to item No. 5. Chief Minister.
Shri W.A. Sangma (Chief Minister) :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, I beg to lay the Legislative Assembly of Meghalaya (Members' Salaries and Allowances) (Amendment) Ordinance, 1977 (Ordinance 1 of 1977).
Mr. Speaker :- Item No. 6. Chief Minister.
Shri W.A. Sangma (Chief Minister) :- Mr. Speaker, I beg to lay the Meghalaya Police Services Rules 1976
Mr. Speaker :- Item No. 7. Chief Minister.
Shri W.A Sangma (Chief Minister) :- Mr. Speaker, I beg to lay the Delimitation of Parliamentary and Assembly Constituencies Order, 1976.
Mr. Speaker :- Next item. Minister-in-charge of Revenue.
Shri Maham Singh (Minister, Revenue) :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, I beg to lay the Meghalaya Urban Areas rent Control Rules, 1976.
Mr. Speaker :- Now Minister-in-charge of Forests.
Shri Grohonsing A. Marak (Minister, Forests) :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, I beg to lay the Meghalaya Tree (Preservation) Rules, 1976.
Mr. Speaker :- Item No. 10. Minister-in-charge of Forest.
Shri Grohonsing A. Marak (Minister, Forests) :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, I beg to lay the Meghalaya Tree (Preservation) (First Amendment, Rules, 1977).
Mr. Speaker :- Now let us come to Item No. 11. May I request the Chief Minister to initiate the obituary references.
Shri W.A. Sangma (Chief Minister) :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, with your permission, I would like to initiate the obituary references.
Firstly, the sudden demise of Shri Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed, the President of India on the 11th February, 1977 has come upon, the Nation as a great shock.
Born on May 13, 1905, Shri Ahmed had his early education in the Government High School at Gonda, U.P. After graduating from St. Stephen's College, Delhi, he proceeded to England for higher studies. He took his tripos in History from Cambridge University in 1927 and was called to the Bar from the Inner temple, London, the following year.
Returning to India, Shri Ahmed enrolled himself as an Advocate at first with the Punjab High Court in 1930 and then with the Assam High Court.
Shri Ahmed joined the Indian National Congress in 1931 and was a member of the Assam Pradesh Congress Committee and its Executive Committee and of the All India Congress Committee from 1937 to 1957, except for a short break. He was also a member of the Congress Working Committee and the Congress Parliamentary Boards in 1946-47 and from 1946 to 1969.
Shri Ahmed Successfully contested the Assam Assembly Election in 1937 as an independent candidate. He joined the first Congress Cabinet headed by Gopinath Bordoloi in 1938 as Minister for Finance and Revenue.
When the Ministry resigned on the issue of participating in the War effort, Shri Ahmed joined the Satyagraha Movement and courted arrest. Soon after his release a year later, he was again imprisoned for over four years for participating in the Satyagraha and Quit India Movement.
He became Advocate General of Assam in 1946 and held that post till 1952.
In 1954, Shri Ahmed was elected to the Rajya Sabha but remained a member for hardly three years.
In 1957 he was elected to the Assam Assembly and the following in the year joined the State Cabinet as Minister of Finance, Law, Community Development, Panchayat and Local Self Government. He was also a member of the Indian Delegation to the U.N. General Assembly in the same year. In 1962 he was re-elected to the State Legislature and continued as a member.
Elected to the Rajya Sabha in 1966, Shri Ahmed was appointed Minister for Irrigation and Power; later, he become Minister of Education.
After 1967 election, when he was elected to the Lok Sabha, he was sworn in as Minister for industrial Development and Company Affairs. When Mrs. Gandhi reshuffled her Cabinet, Shri Ahmed was given the Food and Agriculture Portfolio.
In 1969, he represented India at the Conference of Heads of Arab States in Rabat.
Re-elected to the Lok Sabha in 1971, he was given the Portfolio of Food, Agriculture, Community Development and Co-operation. He attended the Food and Agriculture Organisation in Australia as a special guest in 1970 and let the Indian Delegation to the Food and Agriculture Organisation Council Sessions in Rome in 1971 and 1973.
Shri Ahmed resigned in July 1974 when nominated to contest the Presidential Election and was elected with an overwhelming majority. He was sworn in as the Fifth President of India on August 24, 1974.
In his death, the whole country had lost a great leader, an ardent patriot and a nationalist of the highest order.
Shri Ajit Prasad Jain, a veteran Congress Leader and former Union Minister, passed away on the 2nd January, 1977 at the age of 61.
Born in 1902, Shri A.P. Jain did his M.A. and L.L.B. from Lucknow University. He was member of the Constituent Assembly from 1946 to 1950 and a member of the All-India Congress Committee for many years. In 1950 he joined the Union Cabinet where he first held the portfolio of Relief and Rehabilitation from 1950 to 1954; the Food and Agriculture portfolio from 1954 to 1959. He had also been the President of the U.P. Congress Committee from 1961 to 1964.
For a brief spell, Shri A.P. Jain was appointed as Governor of Kerela in 1965-66. He returned to active politics when he was elected to the Rajya Sabha of which he was a member until a few years ago.
Shri A.P. Jain was also the Chairman of the Irrigation Commission, Government of India, since April, 1969.
In this death the country as a whole had lost a great freedom fighter and a statesman.
Shri Lewis Bareh, a sitting member of the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly, passed away on the 12th February, 1977 at the age of 61.
Born in 1916, at a village called Rymbai, Shri Lewis Bareh completed his Matriculation in 1939.
Shri Lewis Bareh was twice a member of the United Khasi Jaintia Hills District Council.
He was elected to the Meghalaya legislative Assembly in the year 1972 from Rymbai Constituency and later joined the Congress (R) Party.
In his death the State had lost a patriot and a statesman.
Shri Uchangrai Nawalshankar Dhebar passed away on the 11th March, 1977 at the age of 72 at Rajkot.
Born in 1905 at Gangajala (in Gujarat), he passed Matriculation in 1922 and joined St. Xavier's College, Bombay, but could not continue his studies because of financial difficulties. He passed and set up practice law in Rajkot. He gained reputation as a good lawyer from the beginning.
Shri Dhebar made up his mind when he met Gandhiji in 1936. He settled down in a village and started relief work in the neighbouring villages when a famine broke out. Later, he organised cotton mill workers of Rajkot and won their rights to form a trade union against stiff opposition from the Rajkot Durbar. He became Chairman of the Rajkot Mill Kamdar Mazdoor Singh.
Shri Dhebar was arrested in 1937 when he started a movement for administrative reforms. Released on public pressure, he received the moribund Kathiawad Political Conference and became its Secretary, continuing in that capacity until 1948.
In September, 1938, he started a Satyagraha in Rajkot demanding responsible Government in that State. He was imprisoned three times during the Satyagraha, which culminated in Gandhiji's fast there in 1939.
Sent to prison in 1941 for offering individual satyagraha. Mr. Dhebar was again arrested in 1942 during the Quit India Movement and kept in prison for three years. His wife died in an accident during his last prison term. In 1947, he was elected Secretary of the Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee. After Independence he took a prominent part in the popular agitation in Junagadh against the Nawab's decision to accede to Pakistan, and in later discussions with Indian Government representatives on the State's accession to India and integration of the Kathiawad States.
In February 1948, he became Chief Minister of the enlarged Saurashtra State. Resigning from the Chief Ministership in 1954, he became Congress President the following year and was elected for a second term in 1957. In 1960 he was appointed Chairman of the Scheduled Tribes Areas Commission. Two years before that he visited Aden to inaugurate a Gandhian Institute. In 1962 he attended the Anti-Nuclear Arms Conference at Accra and also visited Russia and Italy.
In 1962 he was elected to the Lok Sabha from Gujarat Constituency, but resigned his seat the following year on becoming Chairman of the Khadi Commission.
Shri Dhebar has worked as Vice-President of the Bharatiya Adim Jati Sang from 1957 to 1962 and as its President from 1962 to 1964.
In his death, the country as a whole had lost a great freedom fighter and a statesman.
Mr. Speaker :- Any other hon. Member ?
Shri B.B. Lyngdoh :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, I would like to associate myself with the sentiments expressed by the Leader of the House on the passing away of these great leaders of our country more particularly, on the sudden demise of our late President F.A. Ahmed. As rightly expressed by the Governor in his Address, this great man had shown an example of unflinching loyalty to the ideals of democracy and secularism in the country. This is all the more poignant for us the people of Shillong when the news of his death came here because he was associated with the people of Shillong for many many years. Therefore, in his death, we the people of Shillong and the people of this part of the country have lost a great leader and a great statesman.
In the death of Mr. Lewis Bareh, our colleague in this House, also we have lost a public leader who had been associated for a long time with the people leader who had been associated for a long time with the people in public service in Khasi Hills and Jaintia Hills Districts and we mourn his death.
Mr. U.N. Dhebar had visited Shillong in the year 1955 and I remember we gave him a torch-light reception in the War Memorial, Barabazar and he had cordially attended our tea party we gave in Dinam Hall, Jaiaw. He had been a great example of humility, in service and dedication he had rendered to the country for the cause of the people. So in his death we have lost a very great man. Therefore, Mr. Speaker, Sir, I fully associate with the sentiments expressed by the Leader of the House as well as the Governor in his Address on the sudden demise of all these leaders.
Mr. Speaker :- Any other hon. Member ?
Shri Jor Manick Syiem :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, I would like to associate myself with the sentiments expressed by the Leader of the House and the Leader of the Opposition on the demise of these great leaders who had passed away recently. I have known the late President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed for more than 30 years. I have had several occasions in the past to meet him in the Court in the sports activities and also in this august House during the composite of Assam. He was a very courteous and always understanding and he always tried to appreciate the points of view of others. I have found in him a very nice gentleman and a very friendly Minister when he was Finance Minister and Law Minister during the Chaliha Government. He had been one of the great sons of India who had served in various capacities and his death has been not only a great loss to the family and to this North Eastern Region, but also to the whole of India. It is therefore, right and proper that we send a heart-felt condolence to Begum Abida Ahmed and her children at this time and we wish them well. May his soul rest in peace.
As for the other leaders, as has already been expressed Shri Lewis Bareh and Mr. Dhebar, nevertheless they were also great leaders of this country and in their death India has lost much. We in this part of the country also mourn their death. It is a great loss to the country as a whole. May their souls rest in peace.
Mr. Speaker :- Any other hon. Member ?
Shri Humphrey Hadem :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, I also would like to associate myself with the sentiments by the Leader of the House and the Leader of the Opposition and other Members on the said demise of all these leaders of the country. The late President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed was very friendly and we all knew him very well because he happened to stay for sometime here in Meghalaya. Once he had come to my constituency when we inaugurated the Development Block at that time. We the people from that side happen to meet him at that time when he went there and he was very friendly and sympathetic to us.
This is a very sad moment for is here, specially when we have also lost one of our colleagues. Mr. Lewis Bareh, who had been a very silent worker. So this is a very very sad time indeed especially when, for the first time, this Assembly has to face the departure of one of its hon. members. Therefore, I express my sense of grief and sorrow as already expressed by other hon. Members on the sad demise of all these three leaders. May God bless all their families and may their souls rest in peace.
*Shri Maham Singh (Minister for Parliamentary Affairs) :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, I would like to associate myself with the sentiments expressed by the Leader of the House and also other Members. Mr. Speaker, Sir, in the sad demise of our late President, F.A. Ahmed, I have considered that we have lost a great friend who had always been very sympathetic towards the people of this North Eastern Region. We had the occasion to work with him and in him I have found a very good friend for many years. He was always listening to our problems patiently and he was very unassuming when he was trying to solve our problems that were presented to him in the past.
Mr. Speaker, Sir, I would also like to express my grief on the passing away of one of our colleagues, Shri Lewis Bareh. He was most humble and unassuming and as has been said by one of the speakers, he was a silent worker. Mr. Speaker, Sir, he was a man who has tried his best to contribute for the welfare and development of this State of ours in the manner based on his capability.
Mr. Speaker, Sir, on the passing away of other leaders namely Shri U.N. Dhebar and Shri A.P. Jain, I feel that our country has lost the great leaders. With these few words, I would like to express my deep sense of sorrow at their passing away and also in the passing away of one of our colleagues, i,e., Shri Lewis Bareh.
Mr. Speaker :- I would like to associate myself with the sentiments expressed by the Leader of the House and other hon. Members on the passing away of the four prominent personalities of the country of whom two were so dear and near to our hearts. Why I am saying that is because I feel that with the passing away of Lewis Bareh we have lost one of the members of this small family of 60 and we shall no longer be able to see him in this House, and another was the late President of India Shri Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed who had actually spent more than half of his eventful carries here in Shillong. We also mourn here to-day the death of two other great personalities of the country, i.e., A.P. Jain and U.N. Dhebar. We have assembled here to-day, therefore, when the nation has scarcely recovered from the shock and sorrow which had overtaken it.
Late Shri Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed was one of those few leaders who could emerge as an embodiment of secularism and nationalism transcending all narrow prejudices and affiliation. India has lost great personality like Shri F.A. Ahmed and I hope it would be no exaggeration if I say that the people of North East India have lose two personalities, Shri U.N. Dhebar and Shri A.P. Jain. Their contribution towards India's freedom and selfless services great friend and a noble citizen. India is equally unfortunate to lost a member of their family, and as I said, Shillong has lost a for the social upliftment of the masses will forever remain invaluable legacies to posterity.
As the know, with the passing away of Shri Lewis Bareh this Assembly has become poorer. He was always dedicated to uphold the dignity and prestige of this Legislature and as stated by others though he was a silent member, yet he was always a champion of the down-trodden and the poor. He was a firm believer that deeds speak louder than words, that is what I found in Mr. Bareh while he was still alive.
We are all grateful and highly indebted for all what these great personalities had done in the services of the nation and to-day we bow down our heads in deep obeisance to those great souls and pay homage to their memories.
I now request the hon. Members to be on their feet and observe two minutes' silence as a mark of respect to the deceased. May God grant them eternal rest and peace and fortitude to the members of their bereaved families.
( The House observed two minutes' silence )
The House stands adjourned till 9-30 a.m. on Tuesday, the 22nd March, 1977.
The 21st March, 1977.
Secretary, Meghalaya Legislative Assembly.