The Assembly met at 9-30 A.M. on Wednesday, the 23rd March, 1977 in the Assembly Chamber, Shillong, with the Hon'ble, Speaker in the Chair.
Mr. Speaker :- Let us begin the business of the day. Mr. Reidson Momin to initiate the discussion on the Governor's Address.
DEBATE ON GOVERNOR'S ADDRESS
*Shri M. Reidson Momin :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, I am indeed grateful to the Governor for his addressing this august House. I am also glad to note that certain salient features have been spelt out in the Governor's Address that certain salient features have been spelt out in the Governor's Address and to begin with, I would like to say something regarding the small and cottage industries. The Government had laid down a programme for extending help to the poor weavers by supplying cost free and subsidised yarn and also for extending the benefit to students by making the essential commodities available at the hostels of these students. Here, I would point out to the Government that although necessary steps are being taken to help the poor students. I come to learn that certain students who are studying outside Meghalaya have not been receiving the stipends regularly. So, Mr. Speaker, Sir, through you, I would like to request the Government to see that these irregularities are sorted out and stipends should be issued to those students who are enjoying such facilities from the Government, Then again, in respect of family planning, there has been a lot of criticism against and for this scheme. But I am glad that the Government is still adopting this family planning programme without any intention of adopting this family planning programme without any intention of adopting coercive measures but only on voluntary basis. Then the planting of trees on the main roads is also another encouraging scheme which has been taken up by the Government recently. But here also there are certain lapses which I may point out to the Government, through you, Sir. Certain measures for maintain of these trees after they have been planted are lacking and I would request the Government through you, Sir, to take steps to look after the trees which have been planted on the main roads. It is very heartening to note that the law and order situation on the border no major disturbance during the last year and I hope that this Government will maintain this situation and will take proper measures to avoid conflicts along the borders or to stop the lifting of cattle, etc., in the border areas. I am also glad to note in the Governor's Address that construction of buildings for the headquarters of the newly set up administrative units and subdivisions is being taken up at the newly set up administrative units and subdivisions is being taken up at the earliest. I am glad to note that in the budget also an amount has been provided for construction of these buildings. Also, the Government has increased the amount for planning and development in the year 1977-78 by nearly 5 crores of rupees. This is very encouraging and I hope with this increased amount we shall be able to take up schemes like our Hydro Electric Schemes at Kyrdem Kulai and Nangalbibra, etc.
On the agricultural sector, I do not have much to say because last year we had no difficulty in producing foods-stuff, etc. The Agriculture Department has been trying hard in this respect, and we have achieved our target of 1.04 lakhs tonnes of foodgrains as spelt out in the Governor's Address. But I would like to say here, Mr. Speaker, Sir, that we should not be complacement and more efforts should be made in this score. I must ay here that the Agriculture Department has put in lot of efforts and hard work with the rest that now the price of cotton and ginger has gone up in Garo Hills. It is very heartening to note that this trend is encouraging the agriculturists in that particular district. I hope these measures will be continued and that these agriculturists will be given more help and more technical know-how by the Department concerned. But in order to increase production, I would rather request the Government, through you, Sir, to take up not only blow irrigation schemes but lift irrigation should be extended throughout the State. In this respect, I would more particular like to mention about my own constituency where the vast areas of fallow lands are lying unused for want of proper irrigation facilities, I mean to say that I represent the Dadenggiri Constituency and there we have got two major rivers, namely, Ditti and Ringi and if proper irrigation is done by taming these two rivers. I hope there will be a lot of agricultural land which will benefit the people of my area.
Sir, I am glad to note the development of the animal husbandry, poultry and fishery in this State. But Sir, here although the Department of Animal Husbandry and Veterinary are trying to do their best, somehow or other we have not been able to spread out this scheme to the interior area. If the department taken keen interest up the scheme to the interior of the State. Now Sir, these khutis or bathans are doing immense damage to our cultivable land in the State and if we do away with the stray cattle which are grazing in the hills and if we switch over to diary system, then I think our people will be much benefited because there will be no erosion of the soil.
Talking about soil conversion I must congratulate the Soil Conservation Department which is doing very well and I hope this tempo will be maintained by this Department in the future. Regarding border area development, etc. I must say that Government is taking keen interest and schemes have been formulated to market the produces of the border areas through MARCOFED. Then also to help people, the Soil Conservation Department is doing its best. But here again Sir, I must say, although the Soil Conservation Department has been helping the people living in the border, but the steps taken so far have not been very effective and certain suitable measures will have to be taken so that immediate help can be given to these people living in the border areas. Now Sir, previously the Soil Conservation Department has been trying planting of cashew-nuts pepper and other crops like coffee and other crops. But I find the rubber-plants are doing well in the border areas. So I would request the Government, through you that if at all these schemes are found suitable they should be expedited and intensive plantation of these rubber plants should be taken up immediately so that the people in the border areas who are suffering badly will be relieved of their difficulties.
Then Sir, I am also glad to note in the Governor's Address that the Mawmluh-Cherra Cements Limited is implementing its programme of expansion on schedule and also the Department has taken pain to negotiate with the Hindustan Machine Tolls Ltd., for the assembly of watches and also the Industries Department is making plan to set up the pulp and paper mill and that a Company is coming up for manufacture of jute products. Sir, I do not have much to say but on the whole the development in Meghalaya is coming up rapidly. I hope in the future we shall be self-sufficient in food and also we shall be able to develop the State industrially as well. Now it is very encouraging to note that 2.5. MW of coal based electricity at Nangalbibra has been commissioned recently and also the Electric Project of 30 MW capacity will come up very soon. Then regarding communication I am really glad to note that a ropeway in the Ichamati-Shillong-Byrnihat is also coming up and once it goes into commission, the people of these areas will be benefited to a great extent.
Regarding the aerodrome at Umroi also I would like to say that so long we remained backward as we have not been connected with civil aviation. But once, this aerodrome at Umroi is expanded and once the regular flight are introduced in this aerodrome, we will be able to make use of it to our great advantage. Probably the hon. Members are aware that the Transport Corporation has also been created since 1st of October, 1976 and it is running quite satisfactorily. But due to lack of funds they have not been able to run it properly but I hope in the near future the Corporation will be expanded and our people living in the far-flung areas will be benefited by this Corporation. I am also glad to say that many Primary Health Centres are coming up in every block headquarters as the Government is committed to do away with diseases and I am glad that the Government is taking proper action to see that the hospitals and Health Centres come up in the respective block headquarters. I am also glad, Mr. Speaker, Sir, to note that the Government has taken care to preserve wild-life and wild-life sanctuaries are going to be maintained for which necessary scheme have been taken up, and I hope Meghalaya will one day be proud of her wild-life sanctuaries.
On the food position, particularly the price of edible oil, I must say that although at present the mustard oil and other oils are not available easily and of they are available the prices are high. But now with the ensuing season of mustard seeds and as these mustard seeds are to be purchased through the co-operative societies, and they will be crushed in the mills then the oils will be available to the people at comfortable price in the very near future. Then Sir, regarding natural calamities, pointed out in the Governor's Address we do not have major natural calamities during 1976-77, but there has been depredation by wild animals and also fire incidents. In this respect, Mr. Speaker, Sir, I would also like to say that although certain help or Government grants have been given to those effected people, well, I find that the amount given to those people who were victims of wild0life depredation and fire incidents is not sufficient. Therefore, I would request the Government, through you Sir, that this amount should be increased so that substantial help can be given to those people who were affected and suffered from wild-life depredation and the incidents. So Sir, I have spoken thoroughly covering all the points contained in the Governor's Address and while I am appreciating that the Governor has been pleased to address this House in spite of his pre-occupation and heavy engagement, I once again, before resuming my seat, would like to thank the Governor for his address to this House.
Shri H.E. Pohshna :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, I rise to support the Motion of Thanks to the Governor's Address and I congratulate the Governor for the Address which he has given. The Address has presented a true picture of the Address which he has given. The Address has presented a true picture of the conditions of the State as a whole. Sir, the Governor has been pleased to mention about the holding of the election which has been held recently as an event of great significance. With the holding of the election, Sir, we are anticipating a great change in the administration for the country as a whole which may effect this State of ours also. Well, Sir, coming to this holding of the election, I would say that in so far as our State is concerned, the people through their votes in the recent election have dispelled some of the misunderstandings about the mandate of the people with the coming in of a new ministry in our State. While coming to this election, Sir, I would also like to point out some serious things which affect much our election and that is the anomalies in the Electoral Rolls. The preparation of the Electoral Roll in this State appears to have been done in a very bad way that the voters are facing difficulty. In some instances, males have been made females, fathers have became sons and mothers have come daughter and so on and so forth. Therefore, Sir, the holding of the election is very difficult for the voters who exercised their votes. One glaring instances there in which even people who were voters for last ten to fifteen years, their names are not in the Electoral Roll. On the other hand, claims and objections have invited from members of the public for new enrolment and also some of them made payment. (At this stage, the Speaker left the Chamber and Shri M. Reidson Momin, Chairman took the Chair). at a prescribed rate as required by the Election Department. It is very strange that most of the names did not appear. Therefore, Sir, I would request the Government to move the authorities concerned to look into this anomaly that has been caused great inconvenience to the voters in the State. Sir, the Governor in his Address has mentioned about the programme for planting trees on both sides of the main roads as has been already mentioned by the hon. Member who has initiated the discussion. Really this is very important that both sides of the main roads should be fenced by trees but I hope that Government will take a precaution through the Forest Department to see that those trees that have been planted should remain there so that they will not appear only in records that so many trees have been planted all over the road-side whereas those trees are not there. Therefore, while appreciating the idea of planting trees on both sides of the main road, I would request the Government to see that those trees are really standing on the road-side. The Governor has also mentioned about the re-organisation of administrative set up. In this particular subject, I have only one word to say, and that is the people have really appreciated the policy for setting up administrative Units. But I would like to suggest that in the matter of selection of the Headquarter as far as practicable, the local people of those administrative Units or Sub-divisions should be consulted. Sir, the Governor has been pleased to mention about the activities of the Small Farmers Development Agency and the Marginal Farmers and Agricultural Labourers Development Agency. The people are very glad for these schemes are very grateful to the Government for taking up this scheme especially in the rural areas. But I would like to mention here that there are areas like Jowai where the officers appear not to have any interest in consulting the local representatives for the speedy and successful implementation of the scheme. Sir, we are very glad about the motion being made on Animal Husbandry and Veterinary, Poultry and Fishery. The people have taken much interest in taking part with the Government in developing poultry, fishery and piggery. In this respect, Sir, I would like to mention here that something is there somewhere and that is the lack of enthusiasm in the successful implementation of the scheme. The more the fisheries, the higher the cost of the fish. The more made why the cost of fish and meat should become higher every time. Sir, the animal husbandry and poultry farms, the higher and higher is the cost of meat. So, I would like to request the Government to see that when so much of expenditure is spent on this important scheme which affects the day the day consumption of the public, some proper examination should be there has been mention about the development through the blocks. We are very glad that the Block Development Committees have done their duties very seriously but more should be done to see that implementation through the Block agencies of those developmental schemes should not be delayed because always as representatives of the people, we find that the sanction used to come at the fag end of the year and therefore, the Blocks are facing difficulty for early implementations of the schemes entrusted to them.
The Governor has mentioned about industries and mineral resources I hope that the Government over and above the fact that they want to increase the number of industries in the State, would start setting up more industries in the State, would start setting up more industries and that one particular problem should be properly examined. That is, while we are spending money for these industries- whether bug or small-which are coming up in our State every year, we should see that it solves also the employment problem of our local youths who are in the children of the soil. I am cite an instance in respect of the Kopli Project for which the people are very happy for its opening in the border of the Jaintia Hills District. But very few of our people, who are the children of the soil, have been employed in this Kopili Project. Therefore, since it is a project of the N.E.C. in which our State has got a very important part-and especially when the waters are coming from the rivers of our own State, I would request our Government to see that our local people also get employment un this project.
Regarding rural electrification there are still some areas which deserve electrification. There are important places where there are road-heads and so these should first be electrified so that our people, while having the benefit for their domestic use, would also benefit from the commercial and industrial point of view from this rural electrification.
Sir, mention has been made about the Meghalaya State Road Transport Corporation. The Corporation has very very recently started its work and although we cannot expect that it can serve the people well, at least some very very important routes should be plied with buses in good condition so that no inconvenience is caused to the passengers. While Speaking on his subject, I would also like to point out on the floor of this House that there is one road which appear to be out of sight of the Corporation and also of the Transport Department. That is the Jowai-Badarpur Road passing over most of the areas over a long distance through our State. In this particular road between Khliehriat and Rattacherra in the border of Cachar District, hundreds of trucks carrying coal day and night are plying without permits and that there are no check-posts of the Transport Department to see whether these vehicles have got proper permits and also to see whether they are paying revenue to the State. Therefore, Mr. Chairman, Sir, while appreciating the functioning of the M.S.R.T.C., we should also see that there is no leakage of revenue and no violation of the permits or licences issued by our State. Why I say this is because we cannot deny the fact that the transporters are subject to the rules and regulations framed by our State; they are to abide by those rules, they are to comply. But when the trucks and other vehicles are plying without paying anything to the State, it is the duty of the Department to see that these things are properly checked.
Sir, mention has been made about the Government's giving priority to education and it has been mentioned that the long looked for expectation of the people for revised pay-scales of the teachers of the deficit schools, including the teachers of the schools of the District Councils, would really be a good achievement if these were given priority as stated. While giving this priority for the development of education, there are also matters which the Government should take up like the long looked for Government College Building at Jowai. It appears to be in a stagnant position and so I would request the Government to see that this building is started as early as possible.
Regarding Health and Water Supply we appreciated the work of the Department in this respect for having covered most of the areas in the Town and in the bigger villages in the rural areas. But I cannot help mentioning about the shortage of water supply in Shillong which has even affected the hostel of the M.L.A. In most part of day there is no water in the M.L.As Hostel when I say this I do not mean simply for the inconvenience of the M.L.As. only. But if no water is there in the M.L.A. Hostel and in the Ministers' residence, what will become of the poor people in the village who most of the time spend some hours in the morning for the preparation of food and washing of cloths and than spend all day in their work and come back home in the evening and it will really be a big problem if there is no water for them. So the Department should see to this problem.
Mention has also been made regarding the increase of bed strength in some hospitals like the Ganesh Das Hospital, the Tura Civil Hospital and also the Civil Hospital at Jowai. There is something which would like to mention here-that we are very much grateful to the Government thinking of increasing the number of beds. But at the same time, we should also see that in implementation the work, there should be not delay in this respect e.g., we have been talking for so many years about the extension of the Civil Hospital at Jowai and here we cannot deny the fact that when we go to the Ganesh Das Hospital we hear its good name from the lady patients but we find that the beds are along the passage full of patients. The Government should try to see that this extension should be done expeditiously so that the people may not suffer.
Then, Sir, I come to development of forests. Over and above the fact that the Forest Department have done a lot of development in some areas in an area like Meghalaya with 2/3 of the jungles under the Forest Department, I think it is high time that the Government should go in for plantation of valuable trees. I would like to mention here about Narpuh Reserve Forest. Now Sir, most of the areas in these forests are beyond the reach of the staff of the Forest Department. It is through the help of the local people who used to encroach into the forests that forests are protected. It appears that not much seriousness is in mind of the forest staff of the Forest Department for making forest plantation. I have been to Garo Hills and I am very glad that large plantation was done there but not so in our Jaintia Hills District. In Jaintia Hills District, there are very few plantations and if any-body wants to know where are the forest plantations, then it would be very difficult to locate them as to where and in which place plantations have been started. Therefore, Sir, I think forest plantation is very very important in our State as a whole especially in Jaintia Hills District because forest resources and forest produces form a larger part of revenue in the State of Meghalaya which consists mostly of forests. I do hope that forest development or plantation schemes should be made as expeditiously as possible so that in future all those barren areas of our hills will be turned into verdant forest plantations.
Then Sir, regarding restrictions on sale and consumption of liquor, I would like first of all to congratulate the Government in the Excise Department in this respect that they have been very serious in doing something laudable to tackle this problem. They have been able to improve the condition of the people of our State in so far as liquor is concerned. Mention has been made about the first day of every month that has been declared as dry day. The general population in the State are very very glad that steps have been taken in this regard. But Sir, I would suggest that we go a little further, i.e., the Sunday of every first week of the month should also be declared as dry day. I am glad that drinking of liquor has been mentioned in the Civil Services Conduct Rules and others. I think it is right but we should not only lay much stress on Government servants alone but also on other people of the State as a whole.
Then Sir, I now come to the last point - that is the Assam Meghalaya Border. Many times there were complaints of some sad incidents along the boundary of Assam and Meghalaya over which there were many boundary disputes and we all know this is a long pending problem. But I would like to suggest that some responsible officers should be appointed and posted in those places near the border to establish good and friendly relationship between the people of our State and the people of Assam. I hope here will be no difficulty to do so because we have like to stress this point on the Units in our State. Therefore, Sir, I would like to stress this point on the Government and request them to view this matter with great seriousness and try to solve this long-standing problem as early as practicable. Before resuming my seat, Sir, I express my thanks to the Governor for his valuable Address for in this Address he has given a full and complete picture about the State as a whole. We really are very glad for the achievements that have been made by our Government which is evident from the economic condition of our people which has been improve. We are very glad for the development schemes that have been taken up to improve the life of the people of the State. We have seen progress has been made in the field of agriculture, animal husbandry, education, etc. But at the same time, Sir, we are also to remind the Government now that they should see that our people get the benefit out of all these development schemes. Now Sir, with the lifting of the emergency I am afraid there may be some traders who may take the opportunity of raising the prices of essential commodities and this may affect the poor people in the State. So I would request the Government to see that proper checking and proper vigil should be made on these unscrupulous traders and to see that our people should not suffer in this respect. With these few words, I one again thank the Governor for his Address.
Mr. Chairman :- Now Mr. Koch.
Shri S.N. Koch :- Mr. Chairman, Sir, while participating in the debate on the Governor's Address, I would like to thank the Governor for his Address in this august House on the very first day of this Session. I share the views expressed by the Mover of the Motion of Thanks to the Governor's Address. Mr. Chairman, Sir, I can say with least hesitation that the Governor has presented in his Address many achievements that the Government have made in the past and those which are going to be made in future. So there is but little to speak on this, yet. Sir,. I feel I shall not be doing justice, if I do not touch on some points. The Government have tries to lay great stress on development of agriculture. The Mover of the Motion has very rightly pointed out that in the field of irrigation, our Government were not in a position to cope with many requirements of the State. In this respect, I would only like to say that in Mendipathar which is one of the rice growing pockets of the State in Garo Hills District, the irrigation facilities in the entire area are absolutely nil. Of course Government have come up with one irrigation Project name Didram Irrigation Project in Mendipathar and I am thankful to the Government for taking up the said project. But that alone is not sufficient, Sir, to cater to the need of agriculturists because the topography of our State is such that there are hills and hillocks and streams running from one end to another. I know that even if drainage streams is introduces, from the Didram irrigation project it would not be of any help because that cannot reach other parts of the District due to insurmountable intervening factors like hills and steams. So I would like to suggest to the Government through you Sir, that some more irrigation projects be taken up in Mendipathar especially in Borjora, Sualmari and Bolsong areas. In Garo Hills starting from Mendipathar right up to Mahendraganj, there are vast agriculture areas, but unfortunately irrigation schemes in these areas are yet to be taken up.
Then Mr. Chairman, Sir, regarding creating of two more Districts, four more Subdivisions and administrative Units, I would like to share the views expressed by my previous speaker, Mr. Pohshna. As regards Subdivisional Headquarters, I have nothing to say, but as regards Headquarters of Administrative Units I think I should make some suggestions that while selecting the headquarters, Government should have consulted the concerning local M.L.As. Unfortunately, I do not remember while selecting the headquarters for administrative unit that they have ever been consulted. In Resubelpara, administrative unit is made at Resubelpara the headquarter of that unit. But while making or selecting headquarters we are to see many aspects such as communication facilities and facilities of hotels, etc., and if we go into the depth of the reason behind creating administrative units we will find that it is with a view to bring the administration nearer to the people. If that is the view in point then the administrative unit should be really brought nearer in reality and not in theory only. The Resubelpara Administrative Unit Headquarter is made at Resubelpara, where there are no communication facilities and hotel facilities and facilities for boarding and lodging. The bridge over Krishnai river was washed away three years back. The Government have not reconstructed it which has converted Resubelpara Administrative unit headquarter into an island. So, the best place for the headquarters of this administrative unit should have been at Mendipathar because it is easily approachable from all corners such as east, west, north and from south. Mr. Chairman, Sir, though we posted one Administrative Officer in this administrative unit, I think it will neither help the people nor in any way ameliorate their lots. So there will be no gain. So, Sir, I would like to request the Government to look into it so that while selecting permanently the headquarters for Resubelpara administrative unit, the points are taken into consideration and the headquarters of Resubelpara administrative unit is made at Mendipathar, so that we can help the people in the real sense and not in theory only.
Regarding water supply, of course here in the Governor's Address, the water supply at Jowai and Shillong have found place, but unfortunately, there is no mention about Tura water supply scheme, and at Tura from January, in fact there is, no water. In every house, there is scarcity of water not to speak of rural areas. If a District headquarter itself suffered from the shortage of water, I think it does not speak very high of the Government's work and I would like to request the Government through you, Sir, that it looks into it because this will not only affect the people of the district and also of the town but it is exposed to the people coming from outside when they would be going back to their respective places. I am of opinion that the outside visitors will not carry a very good impression about the Government of our state and our people when they find District Headquarter without drinking water. Regarding rural electrification I am grateful to the Government that they have already taken up a programme for electrifying some villages in Mendipathar area. But electrifying Mendipathar alone will not help in developing our economy because if we are to develop our industries, power is essential. The entire Garo Hills district is in fact without any electrification. So, Mr. Chairman, Sir, I would like to request the Government to extend this electrification scheme up to Nangalbibra Thermal Project so that the rural areas of that part can also be benefited.
Regarding health, I believe Government is trying its best to eradicate diseases from our State and I do not want to say more about it. But one thing I must point Mr. Chairman, Sir, to the Government that there is one dispensary at Bhaitbari which was burnt down about 7 years back but up till now the Government has not re-constructed the dispensary building there as a result of which about fifty to sixty thousand people who used to get benefit from this dispensary are suffering. So, Mr. Chairman, Sir, I request the Government through you, to take up construction of Bhaitbari dispensary building immediately with a doctor posted there. Mr. Chairman, Sir, it is also known to the Government that in Mendipathar Constituency in between Bajengdoba and Tikrikilla, there is no medical facilities and the length of this area is about 30 miles. If one travels from north to south and from west to east up to Tura from Rongsai one will find that there is neither a dispensary nor gamy hospital in this vast area. There was a long pending demand from the people of Barjhora-Sarapara area that one dispensary or hospital should be established there but up till now, the Government has not taken any step to sanction either a dispensary or hospital in that locality. So I would like to request the Government, through you, Sir, to sanction either a dispensary or hospital at Bajhora-Sarapara are in Mendipathar Constituency.
Though I have confidence in the Government that it is all out for giving justice to the people, but I cannot reconcile in one point Sir, that the Government is silent about the policy in respect of judiciary. There is no mention about it and it is high time now that the judiciary should be separate from the executive. The combination of judiciary and executive on the one hand had not only undone the very fabric of our Constitution, but it has really done great injustice to the backward, down-trodden and poorer people of our State. It is also difficult to conceive that a man who arrest a man on some criminal or other grounds and when he sits as a judge how he will deny his own action that he is not the culprit. So it essential that our Government comes up with the scheme of separating the judiciary from the executive and if fact our Constitution envisages that judiciary should be separated from the executive. Now in our Constitution, this directive principle of State Policy chapter gets preference over fundamental rights chapter in which the Constitution envisages to have uniform code for entire country and also separate the judiciary from the executive. So I would like to request the Government in the Law Department that this scheme is taken up as expeditiously as possible.
Regarding employment, Mr. Chairman, Sir, except absorbing employees in Assam Government who happen to be the people of this State, there is nothing in the Governor's Address. In any case, I do believe that Government will take such steps so that employment opportunities and avenues are created and these are feasible in other schemes such as Power Development, Transportation Corporation, etc. In this respect, Mr. Chairman, Sir, I would like to stress one point here that this Government stands for the weaker section of the people and it also stands for the poor people and minority in the State. But Sir, it has been found that for the welfare of the minorities and weaker section of the society the Government has till now done very little. So I would like to request the Government, Mr. Chairman, Sir, through you, that the Government should come up with certain schemes for the welfare of the minorities. In this respect I would like to suggest to the Government to create a minority cell as there was also a Tribal Affairs Department during the composite State of Assam. Sir, regarding transport and communication in our State I would like to mention here that our State is neither linked up with railway, air-way nor with the shipping transport, etc. The only means of transport in our State is road transport. Sir, now we are having our Transport Corporation in our State. But Sir, one surprising thing is that our Government has done nothing for linking the most important areas like Rongsai, Borjhora, Balsong to Simsanggiri via Mendipathar, Resubelpara though these areas are now tagged with East Garo Hills and their day-to-day affairs are connected with Williamnagar. Now the people of these areas are to travel to Sasanggirir via Tura which is more than triple the distance. If there would have been any communication from Rongsai to Williamnagar, it would be more convenient to the people of these areas. So, I would like to request the Transport Department to taken up the line from Williamnagar to Rongsai and also one line from Tura upto Rongsai via Phulbari. Sir, because of the lack of transport communication facilities people are facing much trouble for getting seat in the bus. There is not a single bus in which the seat capacity is more than 40 or 45 but in those 40 or 50 seat capacity buses about 100 to 120 passengers travel. As overloading passengers is illegal so Police Department is taking stringent measure to check overloading in the buses, but without increasing the number of line buses. So police action has added further miseries to the travelling public. So, Mr. Chairman, Sir, our State Transport Corporation should taken up the line up-to Rongsai via Bajengdoba from Williamnagar and another line from Tura to Bajendoba via Phulbari, Tikrikilla and Garobada and at least three to four buses should be provided to ply on these roads and thus help our poor passengers. Sir, before I resume my seat I must express my thankfulness to the Governor for taking up the jhum control scheme and I would like to request the Government for, through you, Sir, that the Government should take up this scheme in right earnest because this scheme is not only un-remunerative to our cultivators but this system is eating up our entire economy. Every year we see the forest wealth worth crores of rupees is being destroyed. So, if we can direct our scheme of jhum or shifting cultivation in its right direction, I do hope that we will be able to control the shifting cultivation and project our forest wealth. So, I am of firm conviction that if this scheme is implemented successfully it will not only save our forest wealth, but it will also help the water supply scheme as most of the rivers are now drying up due to indiscriminate destruction of the forest by jhum cultivation. With these few observations, Mr. Chairman, Sir, I once again thank the Governor and also the hon. Member who moved the motion of Thanks to the Address made by the Governor to this august House.
Shri Jormanick Syiem :- I fully agree with the Governor about the holding of election which has proved that the people of the State and also of the country as a whole as well as adhering to democracy and we have seen that the election had been completed except a few incidents here and there and here in our State it has passed off peacefully. Now coming to other subject Mr. Chairman, Sir, I would say that the Governor in his Address has mentioned that the law and order situation in the State has been very peaceful. It is true Meghalaya are always been very peaceful. Of course the people inhabiting Meghalaya are always law abiding and peaceful citizens. Therefore, I would say that it is due to the mentality of the inhabitants of Meghalaya and not solely to the efficiency of the Government machinery that the State has been peaceful during the past year. In fact the State has been always peaceful. Coming to the administrative efficiency. Sir, the Governor in his Address has mentioned that there is a remarkable improvement, I am afraid the performance of the administrative machinery in the State has not been commendable. It is known to everybody, especially to the Members of this august House, that investigation and disposal of cases have not shown any improvement. On the other hand, it has been deterioration because for want of judges and magistrates. Now, at present most of the judges and magistrates are executives and are entrusted with cases and suits as executive magistrates also. These judges and magistrates are also busy with other works. They are not only for tribal of cases due to other executive matters and therefore, cases have accumulated to such an extent in the courts right from the investigation stage, I would say that the machinery has been very slow and incompetent and very slack because they take years together to frame a charge-sheet in sessions cases and other cases, not only heinous crimes. So, Mr. Chairman, Sir, I think the Government has to look into the matter because this affects the interest of the litigant public because as it is said "Justice delayed, is justice denied". It is strange that after so many months even a district judge at Shillong has not yet been appointed. Now all sessions cases are being tried by the Additional District Magistrate or the Additional D.C. who is also the executive officer and who has to attend to so many executive matters. Without a District Judge in Shillong, we find that civil appeals are piling up and nobody has taken up these appeals because the District Magistrate or the Additional D.C. is too busy with other things and is not a judicial matters are always disposed of only by the District. I do not know why the Government has taken such a long time to officially appoint a District Judge for Shillong. I would, therefore, appeal to the Government, through you, Mr. Chairman. Sir, that this matter should be looked into and that the District Judge for Shillong should be appointed without further delay, otherwise the litigant public will suffer very much unless judges are appointed. If possible to try to appoint more judicial magistrates instead of the executive magistrates because the judicial magistrates have got a legal background for one thing and they are not also to bother with the executive maters as the executive magistrates are. Whether that will be possible for the Government to consider because the people from courts. So I do not see how this administrative machinery in spite of the conference of all the Chief Secretaries held in May last year could have improved so far, it still remains as it as from before and unless Government taken up the matter seriously. I am afraid that the whole thing will go on deteriorating from time to time.
Coming to the control of jhum and shifting of jhum and shifting cultivation, Mr. Chairman, Sir, I would like to say that this is a very difficult problem indeed. Although some terracing has been introduced and money spent-quite a good sum but I find that those places where facing has been started years before have not been attended to and that have been wasted. So, unless these things are followed up by the Department concerned, the money that is being spent in this terracing will be wasted.
Regarding irrigation, I would like to observe that they started lift irrigation and also the grouping of farmers, if they have got a big area to cultivate jointly or to share irrigation scheme. In the old days during the composite State Assam even individual farmers were given help for starting small irrigation scheme. But of late, this has been stopped with the result that the farmer who cannot get any place in a big area where he can join with others, he is deprived if such benefit which the Government used to give before. My request to the Government through you, Mr. Chairman, Sir, is that when there are genuine farmers who are really determined to improve their farming, why Government should not see that he also should be given help. There will be quite a few of such people and if they are given help, than the production of food-grain will be much improved. It will not be possible in the places like Khasi Hills to have this grouping of villages, because here the people have got settle habitation and also have got their own private lands where they have to cultivate crops by themselves. But most of them are too poor to improve their lands unless Government come to their help, so it will be a great thing if Government can extend its helping hand even to individual farmers who are genuine farmers and who really wish to improve production by having small irrigation scheme whenever possible.
Coming to industries, I will not have much to say except that I found that the industries that have been started are not making such progress as expected for want of raw materials. Of course, the Mawmluh-Cherra Cements Ltd., has got ample raw materials and it is gratifying to note that they are implementing the expansion of the project within schedule. The only regrettable thing here is that most of the top posts in the factory are being held by people from outside the State. Now we have got some technical hands from within the State and unless these are given opportunities to take up responsibilities or unless they are given a chance of training we cannot expect that they will be able to take up that responsibility for many years to come. Complaints have been made that we have not got such men; how can we have such men unless we send them for training to give a chance even in the officiating capacity to see whether they can do the work as well as the experts from outside the State. Again, there are industries like the Meghalaya Plywood's which was started with the great hope that the Government will come to its help in supplying the raw materials. It is regrettable to learn that the Government are not doing anything or giving any help as has been promised and therefore, this particular factory is depending for running its machines by bringing raw materials all the way from Nagaland and from far-off Bhutan. It is a pity that if such industries are closed down just because the Government is indifferent or is not giving them the help that they need. Therefore, I would appeal to the Department concerned to see how best they can help so that this infant industry would not be closed down for want of raw materials.
Now, coming to the Ropeway Project from Ichamati to Byrnihat, the Governor in his Address has said that "the State Government has 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 set up by bifurcating the joint Corporation. Consultants have been appointed ........" I could not follow exactly what does it mean because if we speak of Ichamati-Shillong-Byrnihat Ropeway now how far and what is the connection between this and the Airfield at Umroi ? What we know is that the Ropeway should be commissioned as soon as possible because the produce from the border area, even from higher plateau, of this District will be able to be transported to the rail head. (At this stage, Mr. G. Mylliemngap, Chairman, occupied the Chair).
Although survey has been completed, as I understand, but there is no sign of the work. Even in this connection, I would like to mention that several complaints were made by the owners of the land against the procedure adopted by the survey party of the ropeway and also by the officers assessing and making payment of compensation for the trees. In the first place, although it was agreed in one meeting that whenever the survey party reaches any particular area, they should call the headmen or the Sirdar and also the owners of those lands to be present so that counting of trees to be felled for the ropeway should be done there and then and, in fact, it was promised that compensation should be paid immediately. But the to call the owners of those forests not to speak of the headmen or Sirdar but they themselves cut down the trees and counted them and gave all the figures. I do not know whether this correct or not. Even is some cases, they gave wrong names because some plots are adjacent and sometimes one person has been given compensation for the trees belonging to another. So this is not in accordance with what has been agreed at the initial stage I would, therefore, appeal to the department concerned through you, Mr. Chairman, Sir, that these complaints should be looked into so that owners of the forests should not be deprived of the compensation which was due to them and why compensation should be paid to the wrong persons and whoever is responsible for that, action should be taken against such persons.
Now Mr. Chairman, Sir, I come to health and water supply. Water supply for Shillong and its neighbourhood is very inadequate and in fact, there is acute shortage of water supply in the town itself. It is regrettable to note that some areas get water throughout the day while some areas could not get water even for half an hour. Why this has happened ? It shows that there is maldistribution and that there is no competent personnel to rectify the defect and, therefore, while others are getting all the benefits, other rate-prayers are not getting water even for half an hour. I do not know who should be held responsible for that. Although it is a subject of the Municipal Authorities but surely Government should see to the interest of the inhabitants of Shillong and that distribution should be more or less the same to the people. The other day I happened to go to Bishnupur and in fact, it was only yesterday and I found that at about 12-30 p.m. water was still running. While we in Jaiaw, could not get water before 7-30 a.m. or after 8 a.m. Then in other areas also I know that water supply has been quite inadequate but not as bad as areas like Mawkhar and Jaiaw. So, Mr. Chairman, Sir, I would appeal to the Government, through you, to enquire into the position of water supply for Shillong and why these defects of maldistribution cannot be rectified and why competent technical personnel should not be consulted so that when we all pay the same municipal taxes, we should also get more or less the same benefit from the Municipality.
Now, last of all, I would like to deal with the Assam-Meghalaya border which has been the question since the Independence of the country. We know of the areas called Block I and Block II which were predominantly inhabited by the people who were Jaintia. But for some reasons these were tagged to the Mikir Hills District and the people of those areas are being harasses by the Police and other people from that District. We would like to know whether negotiations for retransfer of these Blocks are being taken up seriously by the two Governments or even by the Government of India so that these people should not suffer too long. Even in that area called Nongwah which was taken out by the British for their administrative convenience, the people have been representing all the time that as Khasis they would like to be brought back to the Khasi Hills District because they belong to Khasi Hills from the beginning. We have heard nothing about this area, what happened to it and what steps Government are taking. I think this should be taken up separately instead of mixing it up with the general demarcation or enquiry of the boundary between Meghalaya and Assam. Block I and Block II of Jaintia Hills and the Nongwah are should be taken up independently. I would, therefore, appeal to the Government through you. Mr. Chairman, Sir, that these matters should be taken up without any further delay and failing any agreement with the Assam Government, they should be taken up with the Government of India. With these few observations, I resume my seat.
Mr. Chairman :- May I call upon the hon. Member, Mr. Nongtdu, to participate in the debate.
Shri O.L. Nongtdu :- Mr. Chairman, Sir, while supporting the motion of thanks moved by the hon. Member, I would like to make certain observations and a few suggestions. It was mentioned in the Address about the elections and how elections were being peacefully conducted in our State. In this connection, Sir, I would like to bring to the notice of the hon. Members and the House that during the elections, we in Jaintia Hills received bad news from some responsible leaders about the family planning programme of the Government, and in fact that was one of the main issues of the election campaign, but here in the Governor's Address it is mentioned at page 3 para 7-I will read out. "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". But as I said, Sir, some responsible leaders of the people brought news that the Government used coercive measures, forcibly giving pills, tablets and injections to the students in Shillong, Jowai and other towns in Meghalaya and many died. I do not know how far it is true. But as far as my knowledge is concerned, this was a false and malicious news. All such malicious news were spread out to create prejudice in the people's mind against a certain candidate in the last election. Sir, it is very sad that since this is a national programme, actually a world programme, and, this is also a programme in our State, but false news were spread against it. And, it is a fact that the increase in population in our country just in 30 years is equal to the population of Russia or more or less the population of America, and if such programme is not taken up, I am afraid that the country will suffer very much from over population and as such, it will affect the economy of the country. It is also a fact, Sir, that in the interior villages, though they have heard something about this programme, they never know the working of the Department in implementing this programme in detail. In this respect, I would like to urge the Government in the Health Department, the Government machinery implementing this programme to inform the people or at least the headmen of the villages about how this programme so that they will know and they will be aware of this very important programme which I feel will have to be implemented whether the Congress party is the Ruling Party or another party will be the Ruling Party, this will have to be implemented in our country. As I said Sir, Since the news was spread out against this programme and that there has been forcible implementations of the programme, I would like also to know from the Government the facts and whether that news was true or not.
Secondly Sir, mention has been made about the control of jhum and shifting cultivation at page 8 of the Governor's Address. Sir, this is a very essential programme and I appreciate that this is one of the important programmes of this Government. It is also stated that about 42 per cent of the tribal population depend on shifting cultivation. But Sir, in this connection I would like to make some observations that at present there are a few programmes taken up in different parts of the State. But I feel that if concentration of funds and labour is made have been very effective and I am aware that for a certain programme to be taken up, there should be 50 families or more, but Sir, in the hill areas it is difficult to get space for 50 families to have a good place for cultivation of crops. So it is very necessary that this scheme is revised or reviewed so that in future this scheme can be taken up effectively. In those areas where jhum and shifting cultivation still remain, I feel that communication is very necessary. Unless there is good communication, that is motorable roads, even if such jhum control schemes are there and even if people cultivate vegetables, fruits, etc., it will be useless because they will never be able to sell their produce in the markets. So Sir, I feel that while taking up this scheme, it is very necessary that the Government should see also that those places where the schemes are taken up should be well connected with roads.
The Governor in his Address has also mentioned about the new economy programmes. Sir, it is very important that new programmes should be taken up to help the people especially the people in the backward areas like ours. As I have mentioned just now, Sir, I feel that one of the most important programmes which we should have to taken up is communication. Unless communication is there, either programmes will be of no use to the people in the interior areas, and at present we see that the people from the interior villages especially those educated young men, used to come to towns like Jowai, Shillong and Tura to get employment. For the well-to-do families they have to send their children to Shillong, Jowai because only in the towns there are good schools, dispensaries, etc. I think, Sir, if the new programmes are to be seriously implemented, it is very necessary to see that parts of the State. When those people or educated young men come to Shillong or Jowai, there a problem arises and that is employment in the towns, they are habituated to town life it is difficult for them to go back to the villages. I therefore, sincerely urge upon the Government to see that good schools are there in the villages, goods dispensaries are there in the villages so that the young men will become habituated to the village life or to the rural life. You see Sir, the economic disparity is still there. Here in the town or in the city we see new bridges are being constructed, over-bridge is being constructed and many people from the interior come to Shillong just to see the bridge over a road over a road; we are talking of a bridge over the ricers and streams and when the people learn that there is such a bridge. So Sir, as you are represent ting the people in the interior, you might be aware. We have always to talk and represent the people's grievances, and we are to approach the authorities for opening up of good schools, good dispensaries and so on in the interior areas.
So Sir, I urge upon the Government, especially the Public Works Department, to see that this disparity should not be there. I think, Sir, it is like Narpuh, Saipung and Sumer areas, cent per cent of the people there are living on jhum or shifting cultivation. So, Sir, I feel that those areas should be well connected with good roads so that those people will be able to change their way of life, that their way of cultivation and also dispensaries in those places like Saipung and Sumer should be established to help the people in the interior villages. We used to talk a lot about the welfare of the people. Sir, up to this time, it seems that this fact ends only in talking or discussion. Here as I said, there is a disparity and the disparity is so big enough. So Sir, I would appeal to the different departments of the Government to see that the first and foremost duty of the Government is that the economic disparity is got down and the people in the interior should be helped in all respect. I have seen also in the Governor's Address that mention has been made about housing for the poor. It has also been mentioned that 10 Housing Co-operatives have been organised. But as far as my knowledge goes, Co-operatives Societies are there but they do not have funds to start the work. Therefore, Sir, I appeal to the Government to see that loan is sanctioned to the different Co-operative Societies so that they can really start their work of helping the homeless and the poor people. With these few words, Sir, I resume my seat.
Mr. Chairman :- Any other hon. Member who would like to participate ? Since there is no other hon. Member who would like to participate, the House stands adjourned till 9-30 a.m. on Friday, the 25th March, 1977.
|Dated Shillong :||Secretary,|
|The 23rd March, 1977.||Meghalaya Legislative Assembly.|