THE ASSEMBLY MET AT 9-30 A.M. ON MONDAY, THE 28th MARCH, 1977 IN THE ASSEMBLY CHAMBER SHILLONG, WITH THE SPEAKER IN THE CHAIR

Resignation of Member

        Mr. Speaker :- Before we take Item No. 1, I may inform the House that one of the hon. Members of this House has resigned. Here is a letter address to me -

"To

The Speaker,

Meghalaya Legislative Assembly,

Shillong.

Sir, 

        I hereby tender my resignation of my seat in the Assembly with effect from 28th March, 1977 (forenoon).

Yours faithfully,

Sd/- HOPINGSTONE LYNGDOH,

Place :- Shillong,

Member, Meghalaya Legislative Assembly,

Dated, the 28th March, 1977

Shillong.

        I think the House is aware that Mr. Hopingstone Lyngdoh was recently elected as Member of Lok Sabha. Let us wish him well in this new role as Member of Parliament.

The Meghalaya Finance Bill, 1977

        Let us come to Item No. 1. Minister-in-charge of Agriculture to move that the Meghalaya Finance Bill, 1977 be taken into consideration.

        Shri E. Bareh (Minister, Agriculture) :-  I beg to move that the  Meghalaya Finance Bill, 1977 be taken into consideration.

        Mr. Speaker :- Motion moved. Now I put the question before the House. The question is that the Meghalaya Finance Bill, 1977 be taken into consideration.

( The motion was carried )

        But since I have received no amendment to the Bill, may I ask the Minister-in-charge of Agriculture to move that the Bill be passed.

        Shri E. Bareh (Minister, Agriculture) :-  I beg to move that the  Meghalaya Finance Bill, 1977 be passed.

        Mr. Speaker :- Motion moved. Now I put the question before the House. The question is that the Meghalaya Finance Bill, 1977 be passed.

( The motion was carried and the Bill was passed ).

THE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY OF MEGHALAYA 
(MEMBER'S SALARIES AND ALLOWANCES)
(AMENDMENT) BILL, 1977

        Item No. 2. Before I ask the Minister to move for consideration of the Bill, let me read the message from the Governor.

"RAJ BHAVAN,
SHILLONG.
21st March, 1977.

MESSAGE

        In exercise of the powers conferred by clause (3) of Article 207 of the Constitution of India, I, Lallan Prasad Singh, Governor of Meghalaya, hereby recommend to the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly the consideration of the Legislative Assembly of Meghalaya (Members' Salaries and Allowances) (Amendment) Bill, 1977.

LALLAN PRASAD SINGH,
Governor of Meghalaya".

        Will the Minister move that the Bill be taken into consideration.

        Shri E. Bareh (Minister, Agriculture) : I beg to move that the  Meghalaya Legislative Assembly of Meghalaya (Members' Salaries and Allowances) (Amendment) Bill, 1977 be taken into consideration.

        Mr. Speaker :- Motion moved. I now put the question before the House. The question is that the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly of Meghalaya (Members' Salaries and Allowances) (Amendment) Bill, 1977 be taken into consideration.

( The motion was carried ).

        Since there is no amendment to the Bill, I would ask the Minister to move that the Bill be passed.  

         Shri E. Bareh (Minister, Agriculture) :-  I beg to move that the Legislative Assembly of Meghalaya (Members' Salaries and Allowances) (Amendment) Bill, 1977 be passed.

         Mr. Speaker :- Motion moved. Now I put the question before the House. The question is that the Bill be passed.

( The motion was carried and the Bill was passed ).

        Let us come to Item No. 3 and that is further discussion on a motion moved by Mr. W. Syiemiong on the 16th December, 1976.

        * Shri W. Syiemiong :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, in continuation of my speech on a motion to discuss the desirability of shifting the headquarter from Nongstoin to another place and acceptable to all concerned which I have made on the 16th of December, last, I would like to refresh once again this House by going again from the beginning because on that particular day I had only six minutes and naturally the very important points which were to be discussed could not be touched. Mr. Speaker, Sir, as I have said earlier on the 16th December last, a proposed for the creation of this new District when the Government of the A.P.H.L.C. has brought forward in 1972, we on this side of the House had agreed in principle because) of the need of having another district in this very backward State of ours and as such to develop economically. Unless the Government machinery comes nearer to the people it is impossible that we can raise the standard of the people to develop economically. So, when the Government came forward with this suggestion, we were very glad from this side of the House and accepted. But then Sir, the problem that arises there is when the implementation stage came in 1976 I am sorry to say that it was done in a haphazard manner. The Government understand that this is a very important subject which affects the very life of the people. But then in a very cavalier fashion it did not bother at all to even consult the people. Consultation were held no doubt but consultations were held by calling only one or two members of the Assembly and the District Council. There were only two consultations, as far as I understand; all the notifications and notices were not sent to all the members concerned. On one occasion I received a notice for one meeting and no decision was taken at all. But on the second occasion we - certain members along with myself - did not received any notification or notice about an important meeting and I understand, on that particular day, a decision was taken to create another district with headquarters at Nongstoin. It is a sorry state of affairs that such an important subject should be decided in that manner. As the Chief Minister is not here, I believe the Minister of Agriculture who has taken over will realise that in our letter dated 25th October, 1976, we had raised another point in which we have stated that the report given by the Deputy Commissioner, who called the meeting of the representatives, did not contain the exact picture which was discussed in this House. I have here a copy of that letter we had written to the Chief Minister of Meghalaya on October last. We had stated that the consultation was not done in a proper manner because we had come to understand from reliable sources that the report as given by the Deputy Commissioner did not reflect the opinion of the people. But then the Government did not bother to go into the details which actually should have been given more a serious thought and considerations. As a matter of fact, even a committee should have been constituted for this; if not a committee, at least some officials should have been sent to the interior of the District where bifurcation was to be made in order to find out from the people the actual feelings right from the topography or the layout of the area to the economic condition etc. Then only can the Government, after collecting all these particulars, form an opinion and decide on where and how to bifurcate, create or divide the areas of the new district. But nothing of the sort was done. As I said earlier, no opportunity was given to the people and without taking the opinion of the people of the Government have decided in a high-handed manner to divide the district into two without considering the difficulties of the people. Now, Sir, considering the distance that the people who were tagged into this new district belonging to various elakas especially the people of Mawkyrwat, Maharam Syiemship, Nongspung Syiemship and Sohiong Lyngdohship have to cover we have written to the Chief Minister on the 25th October last giving him the details of all these things. This is just for information of the House. If we taken into consideration the distance of the people belonging to Maharam Syiemship, we will find that in many placed there, especially those of Balat areas, the people have first to come down to Shillong and then from Shillong catch a bus or transport to go to Nongstoin. On the return journey they will have to do the same thing covering the same distance. Then taking into consideration certain villages within the Sohiong elaka like Patharan, Dewsaw and other villages, the people of these villages if they have to go the Nongstoin, have to go via Barapani as there is no road communication from these villages to Nongstoin directly. Likewise the villages of the elaka of Nongspung which is the worst affected, no place within the Nongspung elaka has any road connection with Nongstoin and the people have to come down to Shillong first before going to Nongstoin. Of course from Mawkyrwat or from Maharam Syiemship, you can hardly get any road transport and the people there naturally have to come down to Shillong and waste one day and on the following day, they catch the transport and go to Nongstoin. You can very well Sir, appreciate the difficulties that these people will have to face by the creation of this new district. The Government says that by creation of this new district the administration will be brought nearer to the people. But by inclusion of a few elakas, Government has made the administration much farther from the people. There are certain people in my constituency who have come to tell me that if the Government will not re-consider the question of tagging Nongspung Syiemship with Nongstoin, some of them who are fair price shop dealers say that they would resign. None of the people would like to be fair price shop dealers as it will be difficult for them to collect rice from Nongstoin, as it is too far. The Agriculture Minister who is also in-charge of Supply is aware of these difficulties. I had the opportunity of meeting him the other day and he has kindly consented to consider the question to get rice from Shillong and I am thankful to him for this particular case. But there are many other cases where the people from Nongspung, Maharam and Sohiong have to come down to Nongstoin unnecessarily wasting their time and money because of the distance. For example, for getting a gun license, people have to come 100 kms to Nongstoin. You can well imagine Mr. Speaker, Sir, that apart from the distance, I like to mention also certain difficulties which there people are facing. As far as the new district is concerned, there are various factors which will touch the very life of the people of this new district, for example, those people who are in-charge of schools are to collect their pay from Nongstoin instead of collecting from Shillong. We remember in 1972 when the new Subdivision was created and Maharam Syiemship was tagged, we have made mention, Sir, at that time and talked to them to kindly re-consider locating some of the offices in Shillong instead of Nongstoin because it is too distant from Maharam Syiemship. At present I understand they have to come again what they said in 1972-73. We are going to connect all these places by roads. But five years have passed and no road communication has yet been opened connecting all these places. Even in Maharam Syiemship I understand that the road that passes through Jakrem to Nongshilliang is yet to be linked up although Government has started constructing the road five years ago. So the Government would say now also that they would give priority to road communication. I am afraid, Sir, considering the past records, I should say I can hardly give any credit to such assurance because the assurance will come in one form and implementation will be in another will and this Mr. Speaker, Sir, has been realised by the Congress Parliamentary Party at that time. I have here with me a copy of the resolution passed by the Congress Parliamentary Party in the month of October last.

        Shri B.B. Shallam (Minister of State, Border Areas Development) :- Which Congress Party ? Here or Delhi Congress ?

        Shri W. Syiemiong :- Is there any separate identity between your Congress and the Congress ?

        Mr. Speaker :- I do not know whether you are presiding or I am presiding ?

        Shri B.B. Shallam (Minister of State, Border Areas Development) :- You are presiding, Sir.

        Shri W. Syiemiong :- I say the Pradesh Congress Committee and if there is difference between your Congress and the Congress, I have nothing to say.

        Shri B.B. Shallam (Minister of State, Border Areas Development) :- I would like to clarify whether the All-India Congress party passed that resolution or whether the Meghalaya Pradesh Congress Committee passed it. That is the difference.

        Mr. Speaker :- Perhaps the Minister did no hear the hon. member correctly. The hon. member said the Parliamentary Party of the Congress Party here.

        Shri W. Syiemiong :- So on 21st October last, the Pradesh Congress Party had passed a resolution to this effect disagreeing with the very formation of this new district. I believe, therefore, Sir, that since the Congress Party has now come to power, it will at least try to follow up what it has considered before because it is a fact that not only we who belong to the opposition here, the H.S.P.D.P, have this feeling. Actually this question  does not concern any party affiliation but all and sundry and the people of West Khasi Hills district do feel very much against, especially the people of elakas of Maharam, Nongspung and Sohiong to be included in the new district without consultation, without giving any facilities or privileges so as to make their inclusion there easy. Mr. Speaker, Sir, I would, therefore, request the Government to kindly re-consider this very important question and not to force people of the elakas into this new district. As a matter of fact, the people of Nongspung will comprise only 9,000 but the total population of the whole district stands at 1,29,000. So the people of Nongspung suffer most and worst in this case and for Sohiong which has population of only 7,800 if these two elakas can be taken away, I do not see any reason that it will have any effect in the administration of this new district. Government may, in the meantime, exclude these two elakas till such time when road communications and other facilities are made available to the people. But right for the present, I appeal and request the Government to kindly reconsider the question. As a mater of fact, .........

        Mr. Speaker :- You suggestion is to exclude these two elakas from the West Khasi Hills district to be included once against in the East Khasi Hills district.

        Shri W. Syiemiong :- So my humbler request to the Government is to follow up the resolution passed on the 21st October by the Pradesh Congress Parliamentary Party that they are quite opposed to the creation of this new district with its headquarters at Nongstoin and that for these two new elakas, the present arrangement is to have the administration right from Shillong restored.

        Shri P.G. Marbaniang (Minister, Education) :- On a point of clarification, I would like the hon. member to please explain whether the resolution passed by the Congress Parliamentary Party on 21st October is opposing the creation of the West Khasi Hills district.

        Mr. Speaker :- I think you have not heard him from the beginning. The hon. member referred to the resolution passed by the Pradesh Congress Parliamentary Party at the time when the Parliamentary Party was sitting in the Opposition. His request is that that particular resolution should be implemented when the Congress Party has come to power.

        Shri B.B. Shallam (Minister of State, Border Areas Development) :-When he referred to the erstwhile Congress party, then I am more clear. ( laughter ).

        Shri W, Syiemiong :- Finally, I have only one point more to make and that is the whole question of locating the headquarters of the West Khasi Hills district in which case the people in the various elakas who were tagged to the new district would have an opportunity to decide upon a central place where all people can be accommodated. 

        Shri Jormanik Syiem :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, I share the views of the mover of the motion on certain things for the location of headquarters. I have also had some talk with the people I met wherever I went to that part of the district. In the first place, the present headquarters is out of the way from the more populous area of the district. It may be nearer to a larger area in respect of land. But in respect of population, I think Nongstoin is too far away from the people for whom this new headquarters was located. In the second place, the headquarters of the district should have been well-planned before hand. At present, I find that Nongstoin has been spoilt already by the sudden construction of buildings and there is hardly any scope for improvement. It will be difficult to shift these buildings from the present site and if they are left as they are, I am afraid this headquarters will not be convenient from any point of view. So if the headquarters is allowed to remain in Nongstoin as it is, I think the location has already been spoilt. It is quite reasonable after the mover of the resolution has said that it is better to re-open the whole question to start the headquarters in any other place which is more convenient and which is more accessible to the bulk of the people for whom this headquarters has been started. I know the Government will say that they have spent a lot of money for construction of these buildings but I think that is not to be considered. The main point for considering the areas for which it is meant and also some consideration should be given about the healthy condition of the area. The people have suggested that some areas in between Kynshi and Nongstoin are more healthy and they have got sufficient water supply, they have got good forests even suitable for wildlife sanctuary and tourists attraction, for example, that hill Mawthadraishan which is known to the people as Lumthadkrai. If the Government can make up its mind to shift this headquarters to some other places, I hope it would be best to locate them in some of these areas which is lying waste at the moment but which are more suitable for district headquarters and which will give all facilities both to the people and to the administrators when we want to have a good headquarters or a new district like Nongstoin. So my suggestion would be to re-consider as the mover of the motion has said that the district headquarters may be continued at Nongstoin as it sub divisional headquarters. But the district headquarters should be well-planned and should be attractive and accessible to the main bulk of the population for whom the headquarters is meant.  

        * Shri Y. Fuller Lyngdoh :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, in supporting the motion moved by my friend from Nongspung, I have a few observations to make. Sir, in selecting Nongstoin as headquarters of West Khasi Hills District, you might have heard and I hope the Government  have received many representations from the people of the different elakas of West Khasi Hills district opposing Nongstoin to be the headquarters of the new district. There are some factors which the Government have not taken into consideration in selecting Nongstoin as headquarters of this West Khasi Hills District. As has already been expressed by my hon. friend, if we taken from the point of view of communication, Nongstoin is still in-accessible and people from Maharam Syiemship, Nongspung, Sohiong and even Nongkhlaw Syiemship will find great difficulty in going to Nongstoin for their daily or official need for the office due to lack of communication and Sir, it is also difficult for the Government and it will take years and years even for Maharam Syiemship to link with this new headquarters. The roads which have been constructed like the Nongshilliang-Jakrem, the Nongthapdoh-Nongstoin and other roads also will take 20 years to complete and only for the roads which are in Maharam Syiemship, I think the Government will have to spend more than 20 crores of rupees to link up the different areas in Maharam Syiemship around Balat with Nongstoin and even the present Maharam area. So. if we spend all the amounts which are to be spent for some other purposes, for some other roads in other places in the State, for the roads in Maharam Syiemship, it will take 20 years to completed and to link Maharam Syiemship with Nongstoin and the distance also will not be nearer. The areas which are under the Nongspung Syiemship, as it is at present, there is no road which links Nongspung Syiemship with Nongstoin. All the people will have to go to Shillong and even from Nongspung itself which is not so far from Nongstoin, they will have to go to Sohiong and Mairang and then back to Nongstoin. So from the point of view of communication, Sir, we see that Nongstoin is not at all convenient to be the headquarters of the West Khasi Hills District. As has already been said by my hon. friend from Mylliem, if we consider from the point of view of population, 3/4th of the population of this West Khasi Hills District is in Nongkhlaw Syiemship, Maharam Syiemship, Nongspung Syiemship, Sohiong and Mairang Syiemship, the inhabitants of these five elakah, comprise 3/4th of the population of the new district and it is difficult for them to go the Nongstoin and there are some other places which can be made a headquarter than Nongstoin which will be convenient for the people of these elakas. As it is, in almost all the headquarters or the capitals of different States in India and even the capitals of the countries of the world itself, we find that most of the headquarters are also trade centres.

        Mr. Speaker :- Most of the countries are also what ?

        Shri Y. Fuller Lyngdoh :- Trade centres, the majority of them : Take the case of Calcutta. Calcutta is not only the capital of West Bengal but also a trade centre which is quite convenient for the people of West Bengal. When people wish to go to the headquarters, they will also go for some other purposes or for business. So from this point also, Sir, to choose any place to be the headquarters, in my opinion, should be whether that place is also a trade centre because the people, when they go to the headquarters, they will go there for some other purposes also not only for official purpose or some official business, they will also come by taking some of their potatoes or even some agricultural produces and so at the same tome, they can finish their official business and without much difficulty. So, Sir, as the people of these 5 elakas and even the people of Myriaw Syiemship also as far as I know, have given a representation to the Government against selection of Nongstoin as the headquarters of the new district and not only that, they have also come in a delegation to the Chief Minister and some other members of the Cabinet before the inauguration of that new district was done. But Sir, to say that the former Government had taken the matter seriously and also that they have taken into consideration all the factors that the people have placed before the Government is no correct. We hope that the present Government will look  into the matter and re-open and re-consider this question of the headquarters of the West Khasi Hills District. In my opinion, I would suggest that Mairang is more convenient than the present headquarters of the West Khasi Hills District at Nongstoin. If this is not possible, I am afraid that the people of these four elakas especially of these elakas like Nongspung, Sohiong and Nongkhlaw Syiemships will not remain contended.

        Mr. Speaker :- Rather they would prefer to be in the East Khasi Hills District.

        Shri Y. Fuller Lyngdoh :- Yes, Sir, they would prefer to be in the East Khasi Hills District.

        Mr. Speaker :- I think, this House will be more enlightened if some other members from the West Khasi Hills District would also express their views on this. I think, Mr. Edward Kurbah, Mr. Raisen Mawsor are there. But it appears that there is nobody else to participate. May I call upon the Minister-in-charge of Agriculture now to reply ?

        Shri E. Bareh (Minister, Agriculture) :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, on the question of shifting of the headquarters of the West Khasi Hills District from the present headquarters, the mover of the motion if I do not understand him when he discussed the motion, did not press for the shifting of the headquarter but he rather pressed for the deletion of Nongspung Syiemship and Nongkhlaw Syiemship from the present jurisdiction of the West Khasi Hills District. When this District was created Mr. Speaker, Sir, the question of communication is not the only consideration. As far as communication is concerned the whole State is still in a very bad state of affairs. From communication point of view no place within the area is suitable for the headquarters. But we have taken a decision to upgrade the old Subdivision, viz., the Nongstoin Subdivision to a District. When the existing Subdivision is upgraded naturally the existing headquarters would be the future headquarters of the upgraded District. Hence Nongstoin is considered to be the best place for the headquarters of the upgraded District. Of course, there are inconveniences to the Nongkhlaw and Nongspung Syiemships. But to solve that problem a new Subdivision, with headquarters at Mairang had been created and I do not know what else could be done to remove their inconveniences. For renewal of gun licenses of those people from Nongspung and Nongkhlaw they could easily come to Mairang for that purpose. Now, to speak about Maharam Syiemship, is rather too late because Maharam was already in the old Subdivision since the beginning, and it had never objected Nongstoin to be the headquarters of that old Subdivision. To raise a new point now for the Maharam Syiemship, is not a convincing point.

        Shri Y. Fuller Lyngdoh :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, the Minister has stated that the Government have only upgraded Nongstoin Subdivision to a District. In this matter, I may remind Nongstoin Subdivision to a District. In this matter, I may remind him that these three new elakas also have been tagged. If these three new elakas have not been added to the Nongstoin Subdivision, then we will not bother to ask anything regarding the shifting of this Sub divisional headquarters. 

        Shri E. Bareh (Minister, Agriculture) :- Yes, three new elakas have been tagged to the West Khasi Hills District. Mr. Speaker, Sir, when we were in Assam, that whole area was under one Constituency, and it was named Nongstoin Constituency. This consideration was taken because Nongstoin is the most centrally situated place, where there is also the Block headquarters.

        Mr. Speaker :- I think, Mr. Lyngdoh, you can seek clarification after the Minister has finished his reply.

        Shri E. Bareh (Minister, Agriculture) :- Therefore, Mr. Speaker, Sir, from my side, I do not see any new convincing point raised during the discussion on the motion to demand the shifting of the present headquarters of the West Khasi Hills District from Nongstoin, though Nongstoin, from the communication point of view, there may be a little draw-back. But from the geographical point of view, it is the most centrally situated place and the best place for the headquarters of the new District. It will cater to the needs of the entire area of the District which is inhabited by the most backward people known as the Lyngngam. A new District was created for the interest and benefit of the people in that area, and Nongstoin is considered to be the most central place for the headquarters of the new District.

        Shri Y. Fuller Lyngdoh :- No, Sir, I just want to remind the Minister.

        Shri E. Bareh (Minister, Agriculture) :- I do not need to be reminded, as I have got the papers here with me.

        Shri Y. Fuller Lyngdoh :- But I want to remind him that during the Government of Assam these three new elakas, viz., Nongstoin, Nongkhlaw and Sohiong had been tagged to the Nongstoin Subdivision. But because Government did not like to shift Nongstoin to some other places, so these elakas have been demanding that they should be excluded from the Nongstoin Administrative set up. So Sir, we are grateful to the Government of Assam in those days, for excluding those three elakas from the Nongstoin Subdivision.  

        Mr. Speaker :- Was there Nongstoin Subdivision during the time of Assam ?

        Shri Y. Fuller Lyngdoh :- It was proposed to be created into a Subdivision.

        Mr. Speaker :- Perhaps, we should not discuss anything about what the former Government intended to do or not.

        Shri Y. Fuller Lyngdoh :- An administrative unit was opened during the Government of Assam at Nongstoin.

        Shri W. Syiemiong :- Sir, may I have a clarification from the Minister when he said that the location of Nongstoin is ideal. What does he mean and how does he come to this conclusion whether by looking at the map or topography or by knowing the economic point of view. 

        Shri E. Bareh (Minister, Agriculture) :- From our own point of view, Sir, it is the best location for the headquarters of the District.

        Shri W. Syiemiong :- No. We want to be clarified.

        Mr. Speaker :- When the Government took any decision it must have taken into consideration all these things. But it appears that the real problem here is communication : whether the head quarters would be at Nongstoin, Mairang or any other place in between the two, the problem of communication is a major one. And there is one thing perhaps that the Minister has not replied. As a matter of fact, the two hon. members, Mr. Winstone Syiemiong and Mr. Fuller Lyngdoh had said that if the headquarters at Nongstoin would remain, whether the Government would re-consider the case of these 'himas' or 'elakas' to be excluded from the West Khasi Hills District. That was the point.

        Shri E. Bareh (Minister, Agriculture) :- We are not in a position to say anything now.

        Mr. Speaker :- So the discussion is closed.

        Let us come to a motion to be moved by Mr. H. Hadem, but he is absent.

ADJOURNMENT

        The House stands adjourned till 9-30 a.m. on Wednesday the 30th March, 1977.

D.S. KHONGDUP,

Dated Shillong

Secretary,

The 28th March, 1977

Meghalaya Legislative Assembly.