Proceedings of the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly held at 9-30 a.m. on Saturday, the 28th May 1977 in the Assembly Chamber, Shillong with the Deputy Speaker in the Chair.
Present :- Six Ministers, five Ministers of State and thirty members.
Mr. Deputy Speaker :- Let begin the business of the day by taking up Unstarred Question No.2.
(Replies to which were laid on the Table)
Training Institute for Overseer/P.W.D. Muharrir
Shri R. Lyngdoh asked :
2. Will the Minister in-charge of P.W.D. be please to state whether the training institution for training of Overseer/P.W.D. Muharrir has been set up in Shillong as assured by the then P.W.D. Minister?
Shri E. Bareh (Minister in-charge of P.W.D.) replied :
2. Not yet.
Shri S.P. Swer :- Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, may we know the steps taken so far for the construction of the training institution?
Shri E. Bareh (Minister in-charge of P.W.D.) :- Sanction for the establishment of such institution was sought for and it was granted and then now we are looking for a building where we can start this training institution.
Names of Chairman and Members Transport Corporation
Shri K.M. Roy Marbaniang asked :
3. Will the Minister in-charge of Transport be pleased to state the names of the Chairman and the members of the Meghalaya Transport Corporation?
Shri W.A. Sangma (Chief Minister) replied :
3. The names of the Chairman and the members of the Meghalaya Transport Corporation are :
|(1)||Shri W.A. Sangma||...||Chairman|
|(2)||Shri Reidson Momin, M.L.A.||...||Vice-Chairman|
|(6)||Shri B. Massar, I.A.S.||...||General Manager|
|(7)||Shri S.D. Khongwir, M.L.A.||...||Member|
|(8)||Shri Akramozzaman, M.L.A.||...||Member|
|(9)||Shri O.L. Nongtdu, M.L.A.||...||Member|
|(10)||Representative of Railways to be notified later.|
Shri P.R. Kyndiah :- Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, may we know the amount of allowance given to the Vice Chairman?
Shri W.A. Sangma (Chief Minister) :- Rs. 500.
Shri P.R. Kyndiah :- Any other perquisites.
Shri W.A. Sangma (Chief Minister) :- Both the officials and non-officials are getting usual T.A. and D.A. at the rate of Class I officer and sitting allowance of Rs.50.
Shri S.P. Swer :- May we know the requisite qualification for membership of the Corporation.
Shri W.A. Sangma (Chief Minister) :- There is no qualification.
Shri S.P. Swer :- Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, then may we know the criteria which the Government takes into consideration while appointing a member of the Corporation.
Shri W.A. Sangma (Chief Minister) :- There are no criteria.
Shri W. Syiemiong :- May we know the basis of selection if there are no criteria.
Shri W.A. Sangma (Chief Minister) :- We are appointing those people in the Corporation who can advise the Corporation and also who consider that people have got difference of opinion and this difference of opinion should be there.
GENERAL DISCUSSION ON THE BUDGET
Mr. Deputy Speaker :- Let us come to the next item - General Discussion on the Budget. Mr. S.P. Swer?
Shri S.P. Swer :- Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, the Budget Speech before the House for discussion of of very special importance because it is a maiden speech of the Chief Minister who is in-charge of Finance and also the Leader of the House till today. Sir, the Budget Speech is very brief indeed but though brief it speaks of important achievements of the Government in the past and also commitments of the failure programmes. Brevity is always considered good but sometimes it is harmful also. Because brevity sometimes is a best device to conceal the failures and ill-motivated future programmes of the Government. Sir, may I draw the attention of the Government and this august House to the Budget Speech, page 4 - last paragraph. It is like this - "aimed at promoting the interests of our mothers and children, the family planning programme has now been integrated totally with health, child welfare and nutrition programmes. The emphasis is on voluntary acceptance of the programme". Now if we turn to the Budget Estimate for 1977-78, volume 2, Grant No.36 under Family Planning at page 257 under the Head of Account, Rs.5,000 will be given as award for best performance. it is for best performance. Now the question is that are we not aware that there is a target for sterilisation cases to be achieved by the doctors and there is a target for sterilisation cases to be achieved by the doctors and nurses of the the Family Planning Department and until and unless these targets are achieved there are punishments for them. So, to whom this award will be given. Is it not a fact that the award will be given to the doctors fully engaged for family planning activities. Are not these awards incentives and temptations to doctors and nurses to commit more and more excesses for coercive sterilisation? It is a clear case, though in the Budget Speech it has been emphasised that this programme will be operated only on voluntary acceptance. Then why this award? There is something fishy. Sir, it is the general practice that the hon. Members in the Treasury bench are supposed to sing songs of praises for success and achievements of the Government. But yesterday Mr. Deputy Speaker, we heard the song sung by the hon. Member from Sutnga. It is a different song altogether. This song was sung in order to plead for a parallel Government. Sir, the question is why this song was sung by the hon. Member from the Treasury Bench pleading for a new parallel rural Government. The reason is not far to seek because of the anti-rural Government. The reason is not far to seek because of the anti-rural people policy of the present Government. Sir, you will find many important roads in the rural areas have been eliminated from the list of new schemes. You will find dispensaries and hospitals are left incomplete and uncared for; you will find small irrigation dams at lesser costs in the border areas which we get no preference to costly lift irrigation projects. You will find adhoc grants given to non-existence schools which go to show that they get prefer anrteh functioning recognised schools in the rural areas. You will find to improved seeds and fertilisers meant for demonstration among the poor cultivators in the rural areas have been used for party affiliations .....
Shri P.G. Marbaniang (Minister of Education) :- Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, on a point of clarification. I would like to have the names of those schools which did not exist but which received adhoc grants.
Shri S.P. Swer :- One M.E. School at Phlangwanbroi of Mawsynram constituency and one at Mawphu of the Shella constituency. Sir, these seeds and fertilisers which are meant for demonstration to the cultivators for high yielding varieties of crops were used for party affiliation in order to achieve the political ambition instead of achieving food production. Sir, you will find many rearing centres in the rural areas production. Sir, you will find many rearing centres in the rural areas including bull rearing centres and training-cum production on centres of cottage industries situated in the rural areas are left uncared for. Nobody knows the reason. There are no trainees and no information at all. Such is the state of affairs in the rural areas. Sir, the most astonishing thing to hear is the people's cloth. In the first instance when these people's cloths are brought to our area. I have the impression that these are produced by the weavers engaged in the production centres somewhere in different parts in the rural areas of the State. But I find that they are the cloths of being mill owners in the country. So, I am wondering what will happen to the cloths produced by the weavers in the rural areas. You will find that these people's cloths will push out the weavers' cloth from the market and the ultimate result is that these weavers will be out of employment. These, Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, are some of the activities while implementing the new economic policy of the Government with regard to improvement and upliftment of the people in the rural areas. We are all aware that the rural population constitutes 80 per cent of the State's population and that is the reason why the song was sung yesterday pleading for a new parallel rural Government. This shows the true colour of the Government, as on the previous occasion the discussion took place in this very august House, it is the Government coming from the back-door without the mandate of the people.
Another point, Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, is the policy of the Government toward development of fisheries. Here in the budget speech, at page 7, paragraph 13 reads like this : "Pisciculture is another occupation which can be taken up profitably by our cultivators for supplementing their income." True. But what the Government did. If you read the rest of the paragraph you will that the Government is thinking to indulge in propagating the idea of how high is the philosophy of pisciculture in giving financial assistance to the individual fish farmers in the rural areas. These fish farmers do not require the high philosophy of the Government Fishery Department. What they require is the basic data of how to build a fishery pond and how to rear fish. I do not dispute the financial assistance given to the individual fish farmers in the rural areas. But my question is whether the Government has also provided the ex-partise advice to these fish farmers. That is the question which I do not understand at all. Fishery is a subject which I very much expected from the Government to come forward with a big programme to achieve self-sufficient. We are all aware that in the good old days a part of the country now called Bangladesh was the main supplier of fish to our State. In Meghalaya we are all fish-eaters- it is a good food from which we get more protein for health building. But now what we are getting is fresh fish from outside the State. We are getting dry fish what we call in Khasi "Kha-mluh" from Bombay. If you do a little arithmetic at the rate of one rupee per head per year and supposing a man eats fish at the rate of one rupees per month, you will find that it comes to Rs.1,20,00,000 a year for the state as a whole. That is the money drained out of our State - the money so drained is not less than Rs.1,20,00,000 in a year. Therefore, I urge upon the Government to come up with a big scheme with an intensive drive towards self-sufficiency in fish production. So why not aim at every family, at least in the rural areas, having a fishery pond of its own.
Shri W.A. Sangma (Chief Minister) :- Every family?
Shri S.P. Swer :- Every family to have a pond, at least in the rural areas.
Sir, another point is on industries. I do not find anywhere that the Government is trying to identify the different traditional village industries in the rural areas; nor the Government is trying to provide the know-how for development of village Industries in the modern scientific lines. We have many fibrous plants in our State. A fibre industry can be identified and production centres be started in the rural areas. I think the conception of the Government about village industries is quite different from that of the people on village industries. Why not aim at every home to be a production unit? Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, this is also another profession that the cultivators in the rural areas can take up to supplement their income.
Sir, I come to another item and that is the major industries in the State. I will refer only to one major industry in the State and that is cement factory at Cherrapunjee. We are all aware that this factory, in the first instance, was for a capacity of 250 tonnes per day and later on it was found that it was an uneconomic unit. Therefore, it was decided to expand to 950 tonnes per day. But during these last 4/5 months the production of cement has come down; it has dwindled to the extent which cannot be expected the average production has come to only 100 tonnes per day compared to 250 tonnes per day. Sir, there are many reasons. I hope the Government will give in their reply many reasons as to this decline in production. But I would like to touch only one point which I find is a very very important point which the Government should take immediate necessary steps to remedy it. During the last 4/5 months, as I said, production has gone down beyond expectation. We are all aware that this is the only major industry and the failure or closing down of this industry will affect about 7000 people who are dependent directly or indirectly on the running of this factory. The reason of all this fall in cement production is this: since the organisation of the Indian National Trade Union Congress, a trade union affiliated to the Congress Party and a trade union which was inaugurated and blessed by the then Industries Minister of the Central Government, since the factory site has become a political area, a battle-field of conflicting political ideologies. Sir, the employees of the company have to exert themselves for cement production but instead of giving all their energies for cement production they spent all their energy for party affiliation, education and indoctrination. This is happening till today and many of these active workers, who are employees of the company, are also engaging themselves as sub-contractors of the contractors for civil construction. Even officer of the lower category are contractors for civil construction. Even officers of the lower category are also engaging themselves as sub-contractors for civil construction works. How do we expect success? If this factory is to close down, as I said, God forbid, then about 7000 people will be affected and the burden will fall upon the Government. The burden is the question of rehabilitation of so many thousands of people and the question of rehabilitation of so many thousand of people will be the responsibility of the Government. For the benefit of the Government and the hon. Members of this august House, the money circulation in Cherra Bazar alone is not less than 3,00,000 of rupees per month and that is why many thousands of people have been given indirect employment because of Cement factory at Cherrapunjee. Sir, we all know that this Company is taking loans from different financial institutions and if I am not wrong, the loans taken have accumulated to about 6.20 crores of rupees at the rate of interested of 14 per cent per annum. These loans were taken on Government surety. Sir if you do a little arithmetic you will find that the interest accrued will not be less than Rs.1.60P per second. So the hon. Member from Nongtalang who happened to be the Chairman of this Company whether he is asleep or awake should note that the interest goes on merrily at Rs.1.60P. per second. I bring this information before this august House, because you or I am going to shirk the responsibility to see the industry progressing. This is the Government undertaking and the Government stood surety for all loans to this Company which means the whole State. And for the success of the expanded plant, the running plant should be taken care of. It should not be allowed to go so down in cement production and sales of cement.
Shri F.K. Mawlot, (Minister of State, Transport etc.) :- But you were one of the Directors and what have you done for that?
Shri S.P. Swer :- It happened recently about 4 or 5 months back. Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I do not want to take much of the time of the House but I will simply give my suggestions on how to improve the working of the Company and how to control its affairs and my simple suggestion is that the Government should ask this Company to move its office from the Shillong to the factory site for better control and enforcement of discipline on the workers and employees of the company and for efficient administration and efficiency in production.
Shri Rowell Lyngdoh :- Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir I would also like to participate in this budget discussion. First of all, when I go through the budget speech, I find that this year, there is a big deficit of about 424'32 lakhs including the deficit opening balance of Rs.33.70 lakhs. But Sir, on this deficit financing, we have also heard the assurances of the Chief Minister who presented this budget that there would be no proposal to raise any additional taxes to close up the gap. He has assured also that this gap will be met through the additional devolution which he will get from the Centre under Article 275 of the Constitution. He has also assured that through consultation, he will also try to persuade the Planning Commission and the Finance Ministry in the course of the year to close the gap. Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, while going through the budget as a whole, we feel assured of course. But then, with this political change now, this assurance of consultation may not materialise unless this State by itself puts or offers specific programme. But if there has been specific programme, it should have appeared in this budget itself. Moreover, Sir, in certain newspapers we have seen that there will be a recast of plan allocation and even the Planning Commission may be done away with. So Sir, we do not know what would be the outcome later on. Therefore, Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, we are running always with this deficit of a very big proportion and I do not know how Government will close this big gap.
(At this stage the Deputy Speaker left the Chamber and Shri H. Hadem, Chairman, occupied the Chair)
Mr. Chairman, Sir, we are not so much convinced of these assurances. If we turn to page 15 of the budget speech Sir, under dearness allowance we find that the Chief Minister had stated in his speech that the revised of dearness allowance will be effective from the first to September, 1976. But very recently, we have seen in the Press note of the Government that revised rate of dearness allowance will be effective from the first of April, 1975. So which one shall we take as correct? I do not know whether there is a contradiction or not. Moreover, we have seen also that the revised rate of D.A. will be extended to the employees of the aided educational institutions. I am thankful that the Government has brought about this type of policy, but when I turn to the practicability of it, I found that the aided middle schools in the State have not yet been given to understand whether they are going to get it because they have not been intimated.
By aided schools, I mean those schools which the Government have given adhoc grant every year. So, I would request the Government that if they really intend to extend these benefits to these aided schools, they should instruct the Department concerned to give clear instructions to those teachers who belong to those aided schools. I hope that these benefits should not be extended only to those schools like the deficit schools, etc., which are enjoying the benefit of Government scale of pay or the ad hoc maintenance grant, but I would also refer to those teachers in the lower primary schools which come under the District Council authorities. Mr. Chairman, Sir, these teachers were given to understand that this revised D.A. will be effective from September 1976, while the other Government servants were give the revised pay scales and revised D.A. since 1973, but these poor teachers, L.P. School teachers, have not been given those facilities as were given to the Government employees. Moreover, as per Government Press Note, they were given to understand that they are going to get their revised D.A. from the 1st April, 1975. If so, I think Government should have given a clear instruction to the District Council authorities also.
Mr. Chairman, Sir, now I come to water supply. Sir, this is a point that I have always raised in this House that in the distribution and the selection of water supply schemes there is always discrimination, for during the last many years since the attainment of full statehood, the areas of the eastern part of the West Khasi Hills District are totally left our from any developmental work including water supply. Mr. Chairman, Sir, I will tell you and the House here that there is so much water scarcity in that areas and at least for 7 or 8 months a year, there is no water. People there are always crying for water, they go the P.H.E. Department, and the Department in spite of their surveys, in spite of their investigations and spite of their estimates, not a single scheme had materialised. Mr. Chairman, Sir, out of 99 water schemes which are continuing schemes there is not a single one in that area being implemented or to be implemented. That area cover the Mawkyrwat Constituency, Phlangdiloin and the Pariong constituency. Of course one has come up at Nongspung. So I would take it that there is so much discrimination in the distribution of water supply schemes. Mr. Chairman, Sir, this sort of thing happened, it seems, because the area was represented, by the Members of the Opposition. or it could be because the Department is utterly inefficient. They had already gone to survey the places and if the Government intends to give proper distribution of these schemes in every respect, then I would say that the Department is inefficient, and that is why, this has not come to the notice of the Government. But I know also that this has come to the notice of the Government because we have raised this point in this House several times. So I would request the Government to look into this matter and at least a few schemes should be materialised in near future. There are one or two schemes the estimates of which have been completed but it is left to the Government to sanction the money by which they can be implemented. There is the Photjaud-Manad combined water supply Scheme and there is one at Mawkyrwat which is still under investigation and there is one at Mawkyrwat which is still under investigation and there are schemes in the areas of Mawphlang, Mawngap all these have not come through. So I request the Government to look into this matter immediately. Sir, when I refer to that Department, I find that there is really inefficiency in the officers and staff. Why I say so, it is because even those water supply schemes in the rural areas which have been completed are not working properly. Every time there is failure of water supply, it seems that these schemes which the Government have been spending money fail in their function. So inspite of the expectation of the people to get water, they do not get. So I would say that there is so much inefficiency in that Department and they require a lot of strengthening and strict supervision from the Government and those high officials of the Department. There is inefficiency inside the office even in the clerical staff. I may even say that there is corruption also because I understand that the junior staff of the Department are complaining always, especially in the office of the Hills Division of the P.H.E. Department. The junior staff are complaining that when they were going out on tour and when they fell sick and they claimed medical bills or T.A. bills, they were not passed in time. They are harassed and therefore, the junior staff are tempted not to cooperate with superior officers. Therefore, this sort of thing naturally leads to the inefficiency of the Department. I have seen here in this budget speech of the Chief Minister that there is mention about the Life Insurance Corporation of India offering to provide funds to the tune of Rs.350 lakhs for the implementation of the project of the Greater Shillong Water Supply Scheme, and in the newspapers recently we have seen that the General Manager of the Life Insurance Corporation has really agreed to it, but the question is whether this amount which the Government authorities are going to receive from the L.I.C. is not to be paid back with interest? Therefore who will pay later on. I know that the L.I.C will not give the money free of interest, they will charge interest, therefore, who will pay this? Mr. Chairman, Sir, the tax payers of the Shillong Municipality can they afford to pay this? Since the Shillong Municipality has not been represented from the public and the administration is being managed by the Government, who will pay this interest? Will the people be able to afford high taxes? Moreover, Mr. Chairman, Sir, this amount and the amount which the Government will incur on the water supply scheme of the Department, it seems that the Government intends only to submerged all the agricultural areas. Previously we heard that the Government is going to get water supply from the Umkhen river. But now they are silent about that matter and I learnt from the Umkhen river. But now they are silent about that matter and I learnt that they are going to get water supply from the Umiew stream Mr. Chairman, Sir, I do not understand what the Government is actually going to do. But Sir, so far as I know the people are very much against the proposed damming of this Umiew stream because it will submerge the whole cultivable area and even some villages will also be submerged. Sir, I understand that there was a meeting yesterday in that area where the whole people of the Raj area assembled there to protest against this proposed project of the Government. Therefore, Mr. Chairman, Sir, I request the Government, through you, to reconsider this matter and again take up the previous scheme as proposed before.
Shri S.K. Marak (Minister, Health) :- Mr. Chairman, Sir, this scheme has already been taken up by the Government for the additional water supply scheme.
Shri Rowell Lyngdoh :- Mr. Chairman, Sir, I do not understand if this big river had been dammed, why are we still facing the scarcity of water supply?
Shri S.K. Marak (Minister, Health) :- Mr. Chairman, Sir, actually we got two lakh gallons of water per day and this scheme was completely under the control of the Army authority, we cannot expect to get more water than what the military authority allows us.
Shri Rowell Lyngdoh :- Therefore, Mr. Chairman, Sir it seems that the Government has not done anything for the implementation of this scheme and it is the military authority who has done everything. So, Mr. Chairman, Sir, I would like to request the Government, through you, that they should again survey the area at the river Umkhen and take up necessary action immediately for the implementation of this water supply scheme.
Mr. Chairman, Sir, now I would like to discuss the activities of the Community Development. Sir, though we agree that this Department is a very very important department as it has a close contact with the people of rural areas but I am very sorry to mention here that this department has done nothing concrete so far and it is still in the same condition as it was during the them previous Government of Assam. Sir, during the administration of the then Government of Assam, so much money was provided to each Block in our State, say from Rs.5 to Rs.10 lakhs, annually but Sir, there was not a single project worth the name which we may call development in our State. But, now the amount has been reduced and the way our officers are implementing these projects, it seems, they are still following the same method as it was during the time of the Government of Assam. Sir, there are of course B.D.Cs. in each and every Block which sanctioned the scheme against amount earmarked by the Government for the development of each Block but for the implementation of such schemes they completely depend on the Government officials. Sir, though the Chairmen were appointed by the Government to supervise these works they were not given enough power to deal with the implementation of the scheme or to take necessary action against those officers who did not implement the schemes properly. Mr. Chairman, Sir, in this manner the works suffered and whenever they construct bridges, etc., by spending about Rs.10 to Rs.12 thousand and then it will collapse after a few months. In this way, Sir, because of the poor workmanship not a single project can remain or last for long. Therefore I suggest that the Government should pay more attention to this Community Development Department so that there will be real development in each and every village of our State and the Government should also consider to allot little more amount for the implementation of such projects and at the same time qualified engineers should be appointed by the Government to supervise these works. Moreover, Sir, the officers should stay in the Block Headquarters and supervise these works and the Government should see that the work will not be done haphazardly. Moreover, Sir, there are so many staff in the Block Development offices who are still on purely temporary basis. And there are, of course, some staff who belong to the other departments and even amongst them some are temporary and some are permanent. As for example, some of them belong to the Education Department and some to the Agriculture Department. It seems that those who come from the Education Department like the S.E.Os. have not been confirmed in their respective Department they do not know which Department will confirm them later. There are people who have been working for the last 10 to 15 years but have not been confirmed. Therefore, I would request the Government to look into this matter. There are also posts like Accountants, Gram Sevaks and Gram Sevikas which are purely temporary. These people have been serving for the last 15 to 20 years, but they do not enjoy the benefits as other confirmed Government servants like House Building Advance, etc. But those temporary employees do not enjoy these facilities. So I would request the Government to look to the welfare of the staff in the Blocks to whichever Department they belong. Mr. Chairman, Sir, I would suggest that at least the Accountants, Gram Sevaks and Gram Sevikas should come under same departments. As it is now, the Block Development Officers belong to some other departments while these employees are not known to which department they belong.
Therefore, Mr. Chairman, Sir, I would suggest that the C.D. Department should be made permanent first of all and the officers and staff who have been absorbed in the C.D. Department should be confirmed in that department. If the B.D.Os are sent back to the parent departments, I do not think there are posts equivalent to the posts of the B.D.Os. So the best ways is to absorb them permanently in the C.D. Department.
Now I come to soil conservation. As stated yesterday by the hon. member from Mawkhar, we find that more attention has been paid to the checking of shifting cultivation but at the same time we are blind to the barren lands which are void of vegetation. If we go from Mawngap, Mawphlang towards the border areas or Nongstoin upto Sonapahar or Riangdo, we will find that many areas are void of any vegetation. We know that in our State we get heavy rainfall and during rainy season, the rain water washes away all the soil and fertility of the land and, therefore, the land is left unfertile. Therefore, our people suffer very much because they cannot grow their crops as the people suffer very much because now that the Government should give serious thought to afforestation. We should make special programmes and persuade the Central Government to give money for these special programmes. We know that the Central Government, during the previous regime, encouraged planting of trees and therefore, it depends upon our State to take up these plans and programmes as to how we should by phase in afforestation of the vacant lands which are barren.
Mr. Chairman, Sir, now I come to transport. It looks very pathetic on the part of the Corporation because since it took over in October last year, we find that the vehicles are not plying regularly and they are kept near the Anjalee Cinema. I do not know what is wrong with those vehicles.
Earlier when the State Transport Undertaking was running those vehicles to Mawkyrwat, I remember on every bazar day we used to get two buses and, of course, one bus in the afternoon. But now we do not have even one bus in a day. I do not know what is wrong with it. When we ask them they say that their higher officials are not doing anything, the vehicles are not repaired and so they are unserviceable or because of lack of this thing or that thing. Sir, the Chief Minister here has stated that there are hundred buses and of course this is correct because they may not be plying on the roads but parking somewhere at present. In the last few months the passengers were suffering a lot because sometimes when those vehicles started from station and after travelling a few kilometres and have reached some places they broke down and got stuck up there. Every time I have seen they are in the condition. The main cause we could understand is because the high official of that Corporation is not an officer who understands the psychology of the people here since he is from outside. Now of course, we have come to learn that, that officer has been changed. But then Mr. Chairman, Sir, this is because the Government did give little indulgence to such officer. I understand that the Corporation since took it over expressed that it does not require the Chief Automobile Engineer whom the Government of Meghalaya have requisitioned from Nagaland. While Corporation recommended that his services are no longer required, we also came to know that the officer of that Corporation at that time went to South India and was searching for an Engineer there. How can this be? Do we require an engineer from outside. Is is a fact that he went to South India just to have an engineer? We understand also that the Chief Automobile Engineer was requisitioned from Nagaland Government and he came here to Meghalaya but then he was sent back and we do not know the fate of that engineer now and it may so happen that the Nagaland Government might not require his services any more as they might have appointed another. They can't just wait for him. Not only that, but there is also lack of proper maintenance of those vehicles and there is lack of administration in the Corporation itself because we understand many parts were purchased for repairing of those vehicles and if we look properly at their activities we will see all these things are still going on there. So I do not know now whether the Corporation will earn any benefit or not by running those vehicles. Moreover, I understand that there is so much partiality in allotting vehicles for repairing works. There are some local firms belonging to the local tribal people of the State where some vehicles were given for repair but as they could not complete in time they are penalised. This is because they want money from the Government which the Department did not clear their bill in time. But those non-tribals firms in Shillong whether they could complete in time or not are getting payment of their bill as usual and no penalty is imposed. So I would like to urge upon the Government to go minutely into the details and see that all these things should not be there in the Corporation so that vehicles in good condition are provided to our people, I mean the rural population who are really suffering. Otherwise if the situation remains like this, the rights of the people are denied .........( bell rang ) ..........So Mr. Chairman, Sir, sine you have rung the bell, I resume my seat.
Mr. Chairman :- You have had enough time.
Shri Rowell Lyngdoh :- But you have given me only warning bell I think.
Mr. Chairman :- No, the time was divided among all the participants in the list. You have been given 14 minutes. Anyhow, you may continue for another two minutes.
Shri Rowell Lyngdoh :- Mr. Chairman, Sir, now I would refer to another point point. Our Government sometimes is giving much indulgence to officer from outside.
Mr. Chairman :- What do you mean by "outside" ?
Shri Rowell Lyngdoh :- I mean from outside the State. Not son of the soil. Now Tourism Department, Sir, when we travel outside the State of Meghalaya by train we sometimes used to see photo from Kerela when they use to put the name "India" which means that tourism is projecting their State in the photo itself. It means that the photo has to tell about their State. But Mr. Chairman many Departments have been housed like Tourism Department, yet in that Department we do not find anywhere to show anything about Meghalaya. Moreover, we do not understand about the Trade Adviser there in that same House who ahs been appointed by Meghalaya there in that same House who has been appointed by Meghalaya Government and who has no regard of anybody in Meghalaya except the Chief Minister and the Chief Secretary of Meghalaya. He has disregard everybody who went there.
Shri W.A. Sangma (Chief Minister) :- How do you know?
Shri Rowell Lyngdoh :- But then he did not do anything to project our State. Many citizens of our State and even M.L.As. have complained against that particular officer but the Government did not do anything. I understand also that he used to harass the tribal employees. I do not know also how many of the M.L.As. they came back to Meghalaya House excepting to feel at home they became sour. He never cooperates with them. There was one occasion, Mr. Chairman, Sir, when I went there along with the Committee and when the Chairman of that Committee asked him to drop him at Dum Dum airport because he could not get a taxi on payment, he then flatly refused to help him (bell rang).
He was posted there to help the people and other officers of the Meghalaya Government. But I do not know whether M.L.As as entitled to his help.
Mr. Chairman :- But the Chief Minister himself had stated that he had received many complaints.
Shri Rowell Lyngdoh :- Mr. Chairman, Sir, now I turn again to Tourism Department. What Tourism Department should do is that it should project something there. With these few words Sir, I resume my seat.
Prof M.N. Majaw :- Mr. Chairman, Sir, I would first like to begin with a point of order because I have got this voluminous Budget in my hands. I wonder how many hon. members have this copy. We are actually discussing this Budget - the Budget Speech of the Finance Minister is, of course only a general speech on the Budget-actually, the Budget that is this volume, is the subject of our discussion. I do not know how many hon. members have taken pains to read this voluminous work. Mr. Chairman, Sir, this Budget was presented before this House, together with many other papers. It is becoming bulkier every year, with an annual financial statement and the memorandum from the Finance Department. Unfortunately, Mr. Chairman, Sir, some figures are wrong. The figures in the Budget, even with my poor eye-sight my four eyes-are wrong. The grand total is a mistake. The House will bear with me if I indicate at least 2 glaring mistakes: one is at page 291 of the Budget, Vol. II, under Public Health. It is a Department which has been helping us a lot no doubt, but them we are discussing the Budget, and we have the documents before us filled with thousands and crores of figures, I had thought that some care would be taken by the Finance Department in presenting the figures before us. With reference to rural water supply schemes, in the sub-head coming under the rural pipe water supply schemes, the rural water supply scheme for Khasi Hills, Jaintia Hills and Garo Hills, the grand total as totalled here in the Budget on page 291 is Rs.11,74,100/-. It should actually read, if you total all the figures, as Rs.11,04,100/-. There is an excess of Rs.70,000/- shown in the Budget. Then also Mr. Chairman, Sir, on page 741 if you total the figures where we are dealing with Public Health - the sub-head is rural pipe water supply scheme, for Khasi Hills, Jaintia Hills and Garo Hills, the total, as it appears here on page 741, is Rs.61,16,000/- it should be Rs.60,41,000/-. Here there is a discrepancy of Rs.75,000/-. So a total of Rs.1,45,000/- was demanded and presented in the Budget Speech and taking also the three accounts of the consolidated funds, the contingency fund and the public account fun together with revenue expenditure the total comes to Rs.115,14,42,000/- and if we deduct Rs.1,45,000/- for the discrepancy it should be Rs.115,12,97,000/-. So I would request the Chair, when we are discussing the Budget and when the figures are wrongly totalled, to give us guidance as to what is the constitutional procedure? Whether the Budget is to be withdrawn and again re-presented before this House? I would like to be guided by you.
Shri W.A. Sangma, (Chief Minister) :- Well, Mr. Chairman, Sir, on earlier occasions also there had been some mistakes. I think the question of constitutional procedure does not arise if the figures can be corrected. but then whether in this there are real mistakes or not. So it is a question of only addition and subtraction. that is all.
Shri B.B. Lyngdoh :- I would suggest Mr. Chairman, Sir, that it is not relevant since there should be definite figures. Therefore, I would point out that correction should be made before we seriously go into this.
Mr. Chairman :- The matter can be examined during the voting on demands for grants and if there are mistakes the minister of Finance can bring in a corrigendum and if the member still find that even after correcting there are mistakes this can be taken up when cut motion are discussed. So there is no need of going into constitutional procedure. We will have the chance to discuss this at that stage which will come later on.
Prof. M.N. Majaw :- Thank you, very much Mr. Chairman, Sir. But I would like only to emphasise that great care should be taken in presenting the Budget in this House for otherwise it could amount to an insult to the intelligence of the hon. members to confront them with wrong figures. Due to shortage of time and too much work to tackle the members will not be able to go through all the figures. Thus, officers can get by with errors. This is the second time that I have has to move for the correction of mistakes. On the earlier occasion 11 pages of the Budget and wrong figures and these corrigenda had to be issued. While presenting the Budget the figures should not be taken for granted. We are not mere mannequins and puppets.
Mr. Chairman :- To err is human.
Prof. M.N. Majaw :- But a wise man corrects his mistakes. Now, Mr. Chairman, Sir, I think this budget too has served the Government in many ways. It is a wonderful thing for us to know the performance of Government Department. But it is only from the Public Works Department and the Public Health Department that we have so far received a performance budget not from the other department concerned. Unfortunately, while preparing this statement in the memorandum the Government has not given due credit to this Department so that we could at least praise them for their hard work.
Now, Mr. Chairman, Sir, most of us have been talking about expenditure. But I am told that the revenue of the State and the receipts of the State are the lowest. We are to cut our coat according to the sloth. Unfortunately we have developed a tendency to go ahead, to spend more that what we actually can spend and that is why expenditure has been in excess of receipt. but it is a very important factor whether we have sufficient receipt, whether we have other sources of revenue that could be tapped. No doubt the Central Government will give help to the State. But there must be some relevance between expenditure and receipt. Mr. Chairman, Sir, we know that we will have a closing balance of over four crores twenty nine lakhs and thirty two thousand. It is very unfortunate. How are we going to cover this deficit of four crores and odd? The highest deficit so far as 1974-75 is concerned was a closing balance of Rs.3 on the budget estimates. Then, the actuals come to Rs.1 crore eighty two lakhs; but this year the estimated balance will have a deficit of Rs.4 crores, 42 lakhs thirty two thousand, that is, taking into account last year's budget balance. With this year it will come to four crores thirty two lakhs and odd. That means we are in debt. How are we going to cover up this debt? Of course the Reserve Bank has given to the tune of sixty lakhs and a special advance of ten lakhs against ways and mean advances. Now that has been changed to one hundred lakhs while the special ways and means advance has also risen to twenty five lakhs. Our estimated deposit of four crores and of is the highest in recent years.
Last year, the deficit was less, namely one crore sixty eight lakhs thirty five thousand.
Then we come to grants-in-aid from the Central Government. While the deficit has increased, the grants-in-aid from the Central Government according to our 1977-78 estimate, is thirty five crores; an increase of ten crores forty five lakhs. So there is an increases in grant-in-aid from the Central Government to the tune of more than ten crores of rupees. But before we come to the other receipt, we find that this is not a very healthy situation. Hence the remedy would be to seek for a proper doctor to cure our ailment. We have been experimenting with various political systems of medicine; these remedies have been coming and going. Now, when we are still sick and we have got the worse deficit of recent times, though we are not interested in arguing for argument's sake in the House, we are interested in the people, the welfare of the people. In his Budget Speech, on page 1 the Chief Minister had declared that there were "inherent weaknesses in the State's economy". When that is the case, we must find the quickest and shortest possible way and the best means; we must honestly and sincerely think in order to secure the best medicine that we may find. We must sincerely feel that we must help our State so as to turn it into a surplus State. We should not depend only upon subvention from the Centre. Now, Mr. Chairman, Sir, the debt position has become worse and worse.
Mr. Chairman, Sir, if one would take pains to go through these documents, voluminous documents that were given to us he will find the actual debt position. So I earnestly recommend that serious thought be given to this. No doubt the Government at the Centre is compelled by the Constitution to look after the State, because the State is a part of the body politic. But then there are certain extraneous arguments of course, which are almost convincing because of the human element involved in the financing of the State.
Now let us look at the other receipts. Mr. Chairman, Sir, let us look at the State's share from Excise duties. It has remained constant from 1975-76 till 1977-78. I would recommend here that there should be greater activity on the part of the Excise Department in collecting more Excise Duties so that the share of the State can become greater, In many parts of the State no cash memos are issued. It also applies to sales tax Certainly improvements can be brought about to increase the share of the State. Regarding Loans and Advances from the Central Government we should try to reduce these. We cannot live on borrowed blood; those blood donors are very generous people no doubt, but, sometimes, you inherit dreaded genes ......( Laughter) and these Loans and Advances have increased. In the year 1975-76, the amount was only some Rs.99 lakhs and this year's estimate Loans and Advance from the Central Government would amount to Rs.3 crores and not Rs.99 lakhs of 1975-76. This time it amounts to Rs.3,49,65,000. Of course, this was arranged by the previous doctor, but what shall we do when the doctors have changed? The medicine also may have to be changed because every doctor has his pet theories; one doctor might give this specific medicine while another doctor might give another specific medicine. We may have to consider whether the doctor should be changed or the system of medicine .........( Laughter)
Mr. Chairman Sir, talking about the country spirit a highly spiritual subject (Laughter) we would like to know why no tenders were called for the sale of local liquor in Shillong? I am speaking of the granting of licenses in Shillong although that particular gentleman is a very good friend of ours and of many here still, for the good of the State, and to increase its revenue, we would like to know, Mr. Chairman, Sir, why, when every year tenders are called for the retail sale of country liquor were tenders were not called this year? I know that about Rs.6 lakhs were tendered last year. But if we had called tenders for this year these gentlemen might have gone upto Rs.8 lakhs or if there was competition, the amount would have even gone to Rs.10 lakhs, thereby increasing the revenue of the State and reducing our dependence upon the Centre.
With regard to the collection of sales tax, I would say that it is very poorly collected. It should be really systematically carried out.
With regard to motor spirits and lubricants, there is no small loss because of black-marketing in the sale of petrol and lubricants, especially on the Shillong-Gauhati route; there are some places where some of us can easily buy petrol, although those are not recognised petrol pumps. Of course, in those places there are pumps for human beings also (Loud Laughter). Now, petrol pumps for vehicles are scarce and far between and the black-markets are selling petrol openly. So I would recommend that drastic measures should be taken to put a complete stop to this so that motor spirits could be sold in proper places from where collection of taxes could be made. This will go a long way towards increasing the revenue of the State.
Coming to the Motor Vehicles Act, I would say that this is linked up with the Assam Passengers and Goods Taxation Act. It was passed in 1962 - if my memory is correct; but under the Assam Government the Department was not up and doing with regard to the collection on these Department was not up and doing with regard to the collection of these taxes, so there were many defaulters with huge sums remaining as arrears. And because of that, a number of transport operators have been served with various procedures by the Government of Meghalaya. There were no arrangements for paying passenger and goods taxes for so many years no arrangements for paying passenger and goods taxes for so many years. But Assam is leniently looking at this problem, as they were partly to be blamed for not collecting the taxes for so many years. They do not insist on payment of arrears while granting or renewing road permits. But in this State, it is a Sine Qua Non you must clear all your arrears before you get your permit renewed. And so what has happened? The hon. member from Nongtalang also knows that about 200 private truck ownership have gone down to Gauhati and registered their vehicles under the Assam Government. This is how we have lost so much revenue because of the Department's not being able to relax their terms.
When we look at the books - a small book and a huge book - we se the huge voluminous expenditure, and the thin receipts. It almost shows what is the situation in our State: expenditure is so huge and receipts so small. It is a little book on receipts. if you look at it, Mr. Chairman, Sir, you will see that regarding the collections under the Motor Vehicles Taxation Act from the AMSRTC nothing has been shown. From the AMSRTC, from which we are to receive huge sums of money, - I am sure the Minister of Finance is aware of it we would have expected at least some entries, as part of the revenue receipts of the State. But these have not been shown. Then also the inter-State vehicles at page 14, Vol. I. of the Budget. Here we read that receipts from vehicles on inter-State routes of Meghalaya, under the Meghalaya Passenger and Goods Taxation and Goods Taxation Act, are NIL. Is it possible? How can it be nil because there are so many vehicles plying and each would have to pay the stipulated fees? In fact, the Chief Minister laid on the Table of the House, on the opening day, various documents, notifications and rules, some of which was placed on the Table of the House on the 25th, which says that these vehicles "shall pay Rs.700/- each". This was passed or notified on the 25th August, 1976. Now there are many many vehicles - I do not have the figures here but the Transport Department would have them - plying in this State or through it under the inter-State National permit system and we have exempted such vehicles from payment under Section 63. But we have imposed a lump sum fee of Rs.700/- per truck. At least the collection of Rs.700/- per truck - I do not know how many trucks there are-should have been shown at page 14 as receipts of the Budget. But unfortunately, these are not here to show that we have reduced the deficit.
Then I come to Entertainment tax. here also there is a huge loss in terms of tax as the same ticket is sold 20 times over and over again A better example is the black marketing of cinema tickets. On one occasion a man had to pay ridiculous sum of Rs.40/- for a ticket ! How much of that money came to the coffers of the State I would like to know?
This system of black marketing which is being practised by the owners and by the management of the cinema halls should be severely dealt with so that we can at least prevent the loss of revenue to the State. Now, we have the Assam State Electricity Board, which is also a pet subject, and have the Assam Electricity Board, which is also a pet subject, and this comes on page 18 of the budget (Volume I). Here they have shown interest from the public sector-State Electricity Board. Now, I know and all of us know that this honourable House in the past 5 or 6 years had givens a sum of 1 crore of rupees as a loan to the Assam State Electricity Boars on a number of occasions. I think, this loan was not interest free and there must have been some interest. I would like to know the facts and get some enlightenment from the Minister of Power on this whether this loan is interest free or not. If it is not interest free, that interest should have been tabulated here in the budget; but instead, we have a blank column at page 18 of the volume I of the budget. At least, returns in the form of interest from the huge loan given to the Assam State Electricity Board should have been put here. Then, loans to the District Councils. here, I personally checked up and verified this from the Chief Executive Member of the Khasi Hills District Council. He informed me that they really received a loan of Rs.60,000. I do not know what is the situation in the other two District Councils. But this loan must have some interest attached to it. This also requires investigation. If there is interest accruing to the State Government from this loan of Rs.60,000 given to the District Council for marketing, then that interest should have been shown here in this column. I, therefore, request the Finance Department and its officers who prepared this budget to try to collect and squeeze out every paise so that we can bring more revenue to the State, and not to bring us only these blank sheets of paper. Take again another case, the Arms Act. Here we have under Police, page 36-Volume I of the budget, where I know for a fact and you all know that when you take a license for a gun, have to pay a free prescribed by the district authorities. Now, let us come again to page 26-Receipts under the Arms Act collected by the districts authorities is nil. Last year in 1975-76 nil. How is it possible that collection under the Arms Act by the district authorities should come to nil? That should have been entered so that we could subtract it here to reduce the deficit that has appeared at the end. Then, dividends from public undertakings, at page 23 of the budget. Volume I of the budget lists only the Mawmluh-Cherra Cements ltd, the Meghalaya Industries Development Corporation and the Meghalaya Forest Development Corporation but no dividends have been indicated. But I think, we have some other Corporations also of which the Chairmen, some of them at least, are sitting in this House today. We have the Tourism Development Corporation, the Meghalaya State Road Transport Corporation. What about these corporations? At least, the returns out of these corporations also should have been put down. May I know whether it is a fact that no dividends have been declared by any of these corporations or public undertakings, especially the one which have been in existence for a number of years? No dividends have been declared, and if they had been declared, why have they not figures as receipts or revenue in volume I of the budget? Receipts from guest-houses. These include the Meghalaya House at Calcutta. Here receipts are shown of course, for 1975-76, Meghalaya House Rs.72,000. In 1976-77, it fell to Rs.32,500 and the revised estimates Rs.23,500. Budget estimates for this year Rs.97,200, that is, the expected receipts from guest houses and Government hostels etc. I would propose here, Mr. Chairman, Sir, that these receipts from the Meghalaya House at Calcutta can be increased to a great extent by allowing the Director of Movements and Trade Adviser, as per the terms of his appointment, to draw house rent by staying outside the Meghalaya House. For two years, he even drew house rent allowance while staying free at the Meghalaya House, Calcutta. The Finance Department found this out recently and issued a small warning to him. (Of course, they are now deducting a certain amount out of his pay per month.) It amounts to temporary misappropriation. He claims it is through oversight. But how a serious and responsible officer like himself, who is a drawing and disbursing officer can act through oversight? I know for a fact that he is staying free at the Meghalaya House. he is occupying 6 or 7 air conditioned rooms on the second floor of the V.I.P. building. There are two buildings; one for the VIPs and the other for non-VIPs. This great person occupies the entire second floor of the V.I.Ps building with 6 or 7 air conditioned rooms. We have made an enquiry recently, last month. If the six or seven rooms of the second floor had been let out, they would fetch at least Rs.3,000 per month to the State Exchequer. His occupation of a part of the VIP house for two years, free of cost, has caused a very big loss of revenue to the State. I know the terms of his appointment. When he was appointed Trade Adviser at the Meghalaya House, Calcutta, he was allowed temporary accommodation at the said house until he found other suitable accommodation. I would suggest very strongly that since we must have savings and more revenue, the terms of his appointment should be revised so that we can increase the revenue of the State. Now, Agricultural Exhibitions and Fair : they have come up this budget. But there also it is blank. Mr. Chairman, Sir, I would like to know why no receipts were made from Agricultural Exhibitions and Fairs. At least, we should have imposed a small rent for exhibition prize-bulls and cows and other animals. Some rent could have been derived. Under toll on roads; this is also something which must be examined; nothing has been recorded here. We may recommend what the Gauhati Municipal Corporation has done by collecting tolls from every vehicle that enters Gauhati. In Shillong also, we can install toll gates for collecting toll from every vehicle that comes to Shillong or goes out to Gauhati. Why should every vehicle that goes down to Gauhati have to halt at Khanapara? I do not know whether there is a distinction made there between private and public carrier. We can also erect a toll-gate for every public carrier at Khanapara next to the toll-gate of the Municipal Corporation of Gauhati. Why don't we make some reciprocal collection of tolls from vehicles coming to Shillong?
Then we come to transport. Of course, only last year in October this Corporation was set up. The Meghalaya State Road Transport Corporation. prior to that, Mr. Chairman, Sir, it was the Meghalaya State Transport Undertaking ; and prior to that, it was the Meghalaya Transport Department which was running these buses and truck service in the State. But, unfortunately, so many vehicles are lying unused today. This Corporation has 99 vehicles of which are lying unused today. This Corporation has 99 vehicles of which only 40 are running and 59 are called shut-downs. No doubt this Corporation does not enter into the this Budget, but still I may add, because the Corporation has not been listed here, that this constitutes a huge loss. We have enquired from the Transport Department and it appears that a net profit of Rs.300 is lost per day and if you multiply this 300 rupees, by 59 buses, it comes to a net loss of Rs.31,86,000 in 6 months And prior to the Corporation, when it was an Undertaking, even if you allow 20 to 30 buses, it did constitute a big loss of revenue to the State. So, I would earnestly recommend that something must be done immediately to collect revenue for this Corporation.
Mr. Chairman, Sir, I will now talk about the Budget Volume No.II which has been cited also in the Speech of the Chief Minister. I find a number of things that are praise-worthy in this Budget. The work done by the S.F.D.A. - the small Farmers Development Agency in building roads, market roads an in irrigation projects in the State. Then of course we are sad to learn that the rural works programme has been dropped on the orders of the Central Government. We would therefore press the State Government to recommend to the Central Government the resumption of all the rural works programmes, at least in order to complete the roads which have been already under construction. Otherwise, it would to infructuous expenditure. Lakhs and lakhs of rupees have been spent on at least 14 roads in the Bhoi area, if I may give an example, of which only two have been completed and 12 are left incomplete. Since the Central Government has asked the State Government to stop the rural works programme, nothing has been done at all. I would recommend that the State Government move the Central Government to allow at least 4 or 5 schemes that have been taken up to be completed so that the amount can be utilised profitably for the State. So also I have done a great job, and they have done their utmost to encourage handloom industries in the State by opening schools and distributing handlooms. The Forest Department has also done well. They have introduced re-afforestation. The work of the Meghalaya Forest Development Corporation is also praiseworthy. I would however, recommend to the Government that it takes a decision to stop buying charcoal. It is an old economic policy of demand and supply. If there is demand, there will also be supply. This is why prohibition always fails, because there is always a demand for alcohol the oldest profession in the world never fails because there is a demand for it and also that when Government is buying hundreds of tons of charcoal per year, how can you have a policy of re-afforestation? You cut down trees that are twenty or thirty years old and then start re-afforestation, which will mature only after 20 years? This is lopsided. I would, therefore, recommend that we have other means of heating the tender bodies of our staff in the Secretariat and other offices, with coal or the heating system of hot water, or better still with electric heaters V.I.Ps., but not in the rooms of the clerks or the peons. By using electric heaters we will at least conserve forest wealth. The Public Health Minister is burdened with the problem of drinking water. But if all our forests are being destroyed, there won't be any water. In so many areas the sources of water are drying up because the forests have become bare, and all our water sources have been exposed to the rays of the sun. Water then evaporates, and even if the Minister for Public Health shouts to the Department to give water to some areas, there would be no water. So I would very strongly propose to this august House that Government ban the selling of charcoal to this august House that Government ban the selling of charcoal and immediately reduce the huge demand on the supply of charcoal.
Then Mr. Chairman, Sir, I would like to refer to one aspect which has been agitating the minds of the people and of the country namely, the Energy. Unfortunately when the Budget Speech was drafted, I think the Emergency was still in existence because there are references as to "the impressive gains of Emergency" That is on page 1 : "the impressive gains achieved in the wake of the Emergency." I will not however quote anyone lesser than the President of the Congress Party who, only yesterday, made a public statement as reported over the radio, in which he had deeply regretted the wrongs done to the Indian Nation under Premiership of Mrs. Indira Gandhi during the Emergency. This statement was carried over world radio stations also, this statement by Shri Brahmanda Reddy yesterday, that he deeply regretted the wrongs done to the Indian nation. he regretted the wrong done .....
(Voices - He is only regretting the wrongs)
I am only quoting. But the statement was made by Shri Brahmananda Reddy. So I would that we try to overlook the repeated instances upon "the impressive gains of the Emergency", when no less a man than the President of the Congress party regretted the wrongs done by the Emergency. That is why even this booklet on "The New Economic Programme" is a little outdated. It is still presented to us with the budget of today. But it has become old. So we should, therefore, be in tune with the time. Even the Congress Party itself has revised so many of these things and there are one or two States run by the Congress party where commissions of enquiry were set up. I therefore demand, with all seriousness that a Commission Enquiry must be set to inquire into allegations excesses committed during MISA in this State. I may declare here with full knowledge, Mr. Chairman, Sir, that at least two people detained under MISA were absolutely the wrong people. I am not talking of myself. There were people who were detained under the Emergency - I give examples, Mr. Chairman, Sir.
I will give one example. Orders for detention were issued against Shri Ratanlal Saraf of Barabazar. But those active persons who are supposed to look after our security roped in the younger brother of Shri Ratanlal Saraf. In place of him Shri Rohit Kumar Saral was thrown into jail under MISA. He showed his passport issued in the name of the President of India, but it was not accepted. Then he went to the court to get himself released. The court obviously found him a wrong man who was not Ratanlal. He was then released Even though he produced his passport signed by the President of India he was not released for four days. Then Mr. Chairman, Sir, I would like to tell you of another case in which one Shri Brij Raj Misra was detained under MISA for more than a year. He was suppose to be a school teacher in the Hindi Boys' High School at Tura. He was detained for alleged association with the RSS which was a banned organisation. But he was not a school teacher and had not passed his matriculation. For many months I had the privilege of having him as my colleague in jail. After many months a letter was issued to him from the Headmaster of the Hindi Boys' High School, Tura. What happened in the meantime was that the Ministry of Home Affairs, New Delhi, instructed the State Government here that those school and college teachers detained under MISA may receive their salary for the period leave due to their credit and not any more. Now, as per instructions of the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Headmaster of the Tura Hindi Boys' High School was asked to pay to Shri Brij Raj Misra his salary for the leave period due to him. The Headmaster then wrote to Shri Brij Raj Misra to this effect : We have received such a salary for the period of leave due to you but since you were never a teacher in this school, this order does not apply to your case at all.
But it was Shri Kailal Misra, an elder brother of Shri Brij Misra, who was wanted by the Police for being a member of the banned organisation. But since they could no get hold of Kailal Misra they roped in Shri Brij Raj Misra and put him into jail. But he had no access to the courts, and all his fundamental rights were denied. When this had happened, I asked Brij Ray, who could speak only Hindi, what work he was doing. He stated that he was a petrol pump attendant at Tura. He had read upto class IX and he was listed by the CID for his alleged association with the banned organisation as a school teacher.
Now Mr. Chairman, Sir, I feel embarrassed to talk of myself. But I must speak of one matter at least, apart from the general excesses committed during the emergency. First, Mr. Chairman, Sir, I wrote a letter to the then Prime Minister because it was the then Prime Minister herself who had declared that the MISA detenus might write letters to the Central Government. And as such, I wrote a formal letter to the then Prime Minister, but I was officially informed that my letter could not be forwarded to the Prime Minister. That was the only means for securing justice open to the MISA detenus. The then Prime Minister declared that only the detenus himself could write to the Central Government. Unfortunately replies to my unofficial letters came officially only to the jail authorities, as if we were not existent.
Now, Mr. Chairman, Sir, I would like to point out that the conditions under which we were placed beggared description. Although there were partitions separating us from the other detained criminals and U.T.Ps, we were very much in the same area, in the same compound. Also there, Mr. Chairman, Sir, was a man dying of leprosy. The dying leper was screaming the whole day and night while leprosy was gradually eating up his vital organs. He was kept alone in an isolated cell but we had to listen to the screaming of this dying man. Until my dying day I will never forget his screams. Then there were other persons who contacted leprosy; there was one female warder also. The female warder was sent to Mother Teresa's Lepers' Rehabilitation Centre, Nongpoh, where she is still under treatment. That source of leprosy was very near to our quarters, and we were 12 persons living in one room, in which even a man accused of murder lived (bell rang).
I will take 2 or 3 minutes more, Sir. Then Sir we had to inhale the fumes of charcoal and listen to the ravages of mad men and women. There was a mad woman close by, as you know, when women get mad they are worse than men (loud laughter).
We had to listen to obscene language day and night. There was another religious fanatic lady who use to chant hymns through out the night or scream like mad. I would also like to speak of what is happening to the U.T.Ps. Every morning, for a bucket of refuse from our kitchen, like rotten vegetables, and chewed chicken bones there was literally a quarrel among the prisoners. I used to see the U.T.Ps collecting rice grains from the open drain which passes through our latrine. The used to collect grains from what drain. We had to see all these things. It was quite an experience. I had to share that same jail with all those convicts and dying lepers. After being released and after representing this to various authorities, conditions now in the jail are relatively better (bell rang).
I will take at least 2 minutes more. My order for release under parole, Mr. Chairman, Sir, was signed by the Chief Minister in the file on 17th August and it was cyclostyled on 18th August. My mother expired on 19th August. Had I been released on the 18th of August, 1976, I would have been able to have a last glimpse of my dear mother. But Sir, this order was served to me only on the 20th of August, though it was jail, received his release order on the 18th of August. Sir, my dear mother expired on the 19th and if I had been released on the 19th, I would have been at least able to have a glimpse of my mother. But it was due to the mistake of the department concerned I received this order only to the mistake of the department concerned I received this order only on the 20th August, and I have signed in the peon book on 20th August, whereas my dear mother expired on the 19th and the order was issued on the 18th. I cannot deny saying that there is a personal grudge against me. Yes, of course, there is a very very high person who did stop the issue of my release order in time and he is not a member of the House. He had also stated to a close relation of mine that I should not in jail ! So Sir, that is how my release order was delayed and how I was unnecessarily harassed in jail. With these few words I conclude my speech.
Shri Jormanik Syiem :- Mr. Chairman, Sir, participating in this debate to-day I have only a few observation to make. The Budget Speech of the Chief Minister is too short to cover all the points when are essential. He is probably one of those who believe in the saying that brevity is the mother of wit, but important items cannot be sacrificed for the sake of brevity. Firstly let me come to the budget speech of the Chief Minister who is also in-charge of Finance and in the first instance I congratulate the Finance Minister for having obtained from 84 to 89 crores. It is hoped that the Fifth Plan will be implemented in the best way which our Government have prepared their programme. Now in so far as the agricultural development is concerned, we can see only that the Government have mentioned about the high yielding varieties of crops which I do not know how far these have been introduced in our State and how far they have been successful in our hills. Now, it is good to introduce new variety of crop, but I think that at the same time the old existing methods of cultivation also need improvement. To improve the existing method of cultivation we require fertilizer. But the price of fertilizer is high that very few can afford to buy them in sufficient quantity. It is said that ammonium sulphate costs Rs.990 per ton and urea costs Rs.1,325 per ton and super-phosphate costs Rs.502 per ton. So, how can we expect that the poor cultivators can afford to buy such costly fertilizers unless and until the Government provide them at subsided rates. And in fact, these fertilizers are being produced in Assam. I do not know why the prices of these fertilizers have gone up so high in Meghalaya. I wonder whether it will be possible for our Government to take up the matter with our neighbouring Government and see how the prices of these fertilizers can be reduced so that the Government may try to see how far the prices of these rate. Otherwise the Government may try to see how far the prices of these fertilizers can be subsidised so that even a new variety of crops can be cultivated for the benefit of the cultivators. Moreover, if irrigation is also linked with agriculture, the result will be better. Here in irrigation we find that the Government have introduced certain lift irrigation system in some parts of the State. But being a hilly State, I think there are very few areas for so many people who can cultivate in one place. It is unfortunate that the private individuals could not avail of any such help from such help from the Block Development Department and that did help to solve their problems. But now I understand that it has been stopped and only the community irrigation can get such help. But Sir, as I have said how many of such areas can be available in a hilly State like our Meghalaya. So, Mr. Chairman, Sir, I would like to urge upon the Government to reconsider the question of giving grants to private individuals if they are deserving persons and it should be taken up by Agricultural Officers after through enquiry. Sir, I do not see the reason why such grants should not be given to them. Now so far as this lift irrigation is concerned we will have to consult the Statistics Department to see how many families have been benefited out of this scheme, and whether the capital invested for such schemes are worth-while or not and whether the yield would be commensurate with the capital invested for lift irrigation schemes. This does not mean that we have any objection but I think it will be interesting to know that the lift irrigations scheme have really given the benefit to so many people, families or villages otherwise the Government fund will be utilised only for very fortunate people.
So far as soil conservation is concerned I give full credit to the Department because wherever I want, I found that attempts have been made to regenerate some barren hills wherever they are available. Of course, in our hills specially in Khasi Hills most of the lands being private lands and unless the owners concerned agree the Department will not be able to help them in the way of soil conservation, terracing or regeneration of trees in those hills. But after seeing what is being done, I hope that the land owners also will appreciate and cone forward of their own accord and requested Department to take up areas in their lands also so that we can have more forest areas even in the private lands. This State has get the authority only on reversed forests, the rest being under the District Councils or private owners. So we cannot expect much from the Forests Department to re-afforest or regenerate sufficient areas at least in the Khasi Hills, but perhaps it may be easier in other districts.
Coming to co-operation, which is quite a new venture for the people of these hills, many co-operative societies were started and many were liquidated. There must be reasons for that. People should be properly educated to understand the meaning of co-operation and to run the societies. Some of them have not had any idea about the co-operative movement in these hills. Therefore, proper guidance is needed and supervision be experienced officers will be necessary to guide the people especially in the more distant villages where the co-operative movement has just been introduced otherwise it will be a waste of money and waste of energy for the officers to visit occasionally without proper guidance to the people how to run their own societies. I would suggest that Government should depute experienced hands to those areas where co-operative societies are just being started so that a good beginning will be much better.
In so far as community development is concerned, I think we are making some progress on this line. But the only unfortunate thing is that whatever has been started through the Blocks, this was not followed up. There is no provision for following up programmes and the local people to not feel that these schemes which have been introduced in their villages are their responsibility. They just look up to the Community Development Department to come and help them such as the repair of roads and repair of water supply. I think it is the duty of the officers of the C.D. Department to take it to the people and impress upon them that they should under-stand that once the Government has given the start, it will be the responsibility of the local organisations concerned to see that these are followed up and maintained otherwise a lot of money will be wasted.
The mineral development seems to be very slow and the progress is very very slow indeed. We have heard quite some time that surveys were being made where the mineral resources are available both in the Khasi Hills and the Jaintia Hills and in Garo Hills also, but we have not heard the progress made on this line. I do not know whether the Government and the Department concerned have already started producing any minerals from these areas which have been mentioned here except coal. But there are other minerals which we were expecting that they would be produced and manufactured. Unless the Department is geared up, I am afraid no progress can be made on this line, and it will be just in paper. We find that no development programmes can be made only in paper and actually we do not get much in substance.
Now so far as the Education Department is concerned, there are quite a lot to be said because only this morning I believe quite a number of hon. members have got copies of representations made by the General Secretary, Meghalaya Aided High and Higher Secondary School Teachers and Employees Association. On going through this representation it appears that our Government are not following the principles although they have accepted the award of the Assam Pay Commission. But it appears that Assam is following and adhering to the award of the said Commission. Our State Government have not followed the principle and therefore, I do not know whether the State Government will implement the scheme or not as has been drawn up by the Pay Commission. Otherwise the employees and teachers of the Government Aided High Schools will be placed in great hard-ships. I think there is a lot of disparity between them and the employees of the Government Schools. They deserve more consideration in view of the fact that they are not pensionable and they have got no real benefit by working as teachers in these Government Aided High Schools. So it is a pity if our Government did not pay any regard to them. I hope this will go to the notice of the Minister in-charge of Education and I hope he will see how best he can implement the principle laid down in the award of the Pay Commission.
Apart from that, I want to come to the grievances of the teachers. I would like also to mention that there is a lot of Government Aided School teachers in the rural areas who are really suffering because they are out of touch with those people who are in the know of things. So unless the Government enquire into their grievances, I think they will be the worst sufferers. And then now there are also schools which are making much progress but then they are being neglected. In my own constituency, there is one school in Upper Shillong which is running even a big nursery class. This school was started some time in 1962 to run a nursery school which is still running with such a large number of children. This is one of the oldest nursery schools in the State, I think. But although their annual expenditure exceeded Rs.2,000 the Government helps them with only a sum of Rs.700. It is very hard indeed for that school to go with such a meagre amount. They may have to close down that nursery school which was started so long ago and which is doing very well now. So whether the Government would see to this matter now? Perhaps there are other schools also in the State which are getting much more than the Government Aided Schools. Therefore, I would appeal to the Minister incharge of Education, through you, Mr. Chairman, Sir, that sufficient financial help should be given to this particular school which is very very important in that area so that it may be able to run satisfactorily.
Now, so far as health is concerned, much has been said by the previous speakers right from the beginning. The administration in the Health Services Department is not very satisfactorily and for certain reasons, I can only add that perhaps sufficient medicine could be made available to Civil Hospital and the poor patients who are staying there, although they get treatment, yet they still have to go outside to buy medicine at exorbitant rates. Perhaps it would be much cheaper if the Government indent those medicines and sell them to the patients. It will be much less I think than what they have to pay in the market here in Shillong. There is another complaint which I have heard of. Of course I have not been there to Civil Hospital myself, but there are others who went there and what they found. Sometimes there are too many physicians attending to a patient at different times. In private hospital, generally one physician is responsible for a particular case even if another physician is also attending to the same patient he must follow what the previous physician has done to the case and he must see what prescription has been given to that patient. There are many patients in Civil Hospital, Shillong and the patients will suffer more than expected. The D.H.S. or the Civil Surgeon should see that doctors attend to the patients. There are certain people who have lost their limbs but were left unattended. In a particular case which I have experienced once when a man was brought right from Swer to the Civil Hospital here and the Civil Surgeon had recommended a particular article for being attached to him as he has lost his foot. As a matter of fact although the Civil Surgeon has recommended, particulars have been supplied yet it is three years now that man has not yet got anything. It is a pity that such things are happening. If the Department is not in a position to implement the schemes such notification should not be given, since the people will be very much disappointed. Then I do not know how the Government feel about the Health Unit in my area where the buildings which have been inaugurated for unknown reasons. Perhaps they say water supply is not available or because it costs more than Rupees 2 lakhs. What is the sum of Rupees 2 lakhs compared to the need of a hospital and when the buildings have been completed. Why cannot Government arrange water supply so that the purpose for which this Hospital has been constructed can be fully served? Apart from that is also affects the very prestige of the Government to see good buildings have been completed but not being utilised. So I would appeal to the Health Department and to the Minister in-charge of Health to see that this hospital which has been constructed at the heavy cost is utilised. Something must be done so that it can be opened for the benefit of the people of that area.
Now we have heard enough criticism time and again on water supply. But one thing which we cannot deny is that the water source to greater Shillong Water Scheme has to be found. The need of water supply what-ever the difficulty may be, is the duty of the Government to find out means for the water supply to Greater Supply. As it is now, certain areas in dry season did not get a drop of water and we had to buy through the fire service van of the Municipal Board or through the jeep which bring water in drums and we had to purchase even from these jeeps. Now Government cannot accept things lying down. Some means will have to be found out. People need water and the town is expanded and the population also in increasing. So what-ever the difficulties may be the Government will have to do it comfortably as we are living now. Though of course the water supply scheme will be necessary for the rural areas as well but that is being taken up by the Blocks. I do not know how far the P.H.E. Department has done for the rural areas. But the Blocks with their limited resources are trying to give water to the people by means of gravity. This type of scheme takes a lot of time and now-a-days the pipes are very expensive. But the Greater Shillong Water supply Scheme is a must which the Government cannot but take it up.
Now coming to the P.W.D. Here of course the Department deserves credit for the development which has been started from year to year. But I am afraid that in their enthusiasm to extend the roads to other parts of the State they are neglecting certain very essential items of works in the existing roads. There are some bridges which are hazarduous, some roads are so neglected and although the Department have taken up construction they did not complete them in a proper way, because of this enthusiasm to open roads in other parts of the State. I feel that the Department should see that there are some roads which should not be neglected. So it will not be right to leave certain things unattended to when they are really necessary for they locality. Some of the bridges are hazarduous like the bridge at Mylliem.
Now coming to the Transport Department I am afraid I cannot give any credit to the Department because as we have heard from other speakers there are lots of things in the Department. With a fleet of 100 vehicles-but I do not know whether all of them are running, and we find a large number of them are lying in the Station at Cantonment area. I do not know whether they are condemned or whether they are irreparable. If not why they are occupying the yard in that Station which could be utilised in a better way. If the vehicles are no longer fit for service why they cannot be sold as scraps or removed elsewhere. Why should there be room for unused vehicles. There are many vehicles lying unused. It may be that they have not got proper staff to examine them, to see how to dispose of them. I am afraid something must be done otherwise this Department will be a slur to the administration in our State. Now we have heard certain allegations against the members of the staff. I do not know how far they are true. But surely when there is a smoke there must be fire sometime. Why not Government look into this. Sometimes, I came in a State Transport Bus. I noticed that the passengers who could not get tickets at the station are accommodated inside the bus without tickets. And then going along the road so many passengers were being picked up and I do not know whether each one of them was given a ticket.
I was trying to find out whether there is any Inspector or member of the checking staff but I do not see any. If this is the way the people are allowed to run the transport vehicles, there is a great tendency of their misusing the services of the State Transport buses. There are reports many times from the passengers about the misbehaviors of the conductors also. In one instance a man was having a puppy, a small dog in his hand. When the conductor had a talk with him, he charged rupees ten for the dog, I am afraid, Mr. Chairman, Sir, the State Transport authorities are not doing their duty as they should. So Mr. Chairman, Sir, there is still a lot of improvement to be made in running the motor vehicles of the State Transport Corporation of which is an autonomous body which the Chief Minister himself is the Chairman. I, as a member of Corporation is run properly. So I thought that they should try to see how best they should run the State Transport services so that it will be best they should rub the State Transport services so that it will be beneficial to the Government, it will be helpful to the travelling public and also it should not be a waste of money. We would like to know also whether proper staff have been engaged whereby this Transport Department is being manned by qualified men. Whether it is a fact that the people who are running this Transport Corporation are not doing their duty properly. There is an allegation that they even sell parts of the vehicles. I do not know how far that was true but that talking about this I think there must be some truth in it. So I think is is proper that Government should enquire into this.
Then about tourism also, we have heard it is not making much headway. In Calcutta, it is difficult even to locate Meghalaya where there is no map or poster in the Meghalaya House.
Shri W.A. Sangma (Chief Minister) :- There is a big signboard in the airport.
Shri Jormanik Syiem :- I am just repeating this because I have not stayed myself in the Meghalaya House at Calcutta. But certain people say they do not see any poster even in the Meghalaya House at Calcutta. If that is true, then it is a pity. That means the Tourism Department have not taken note to see to this. So I hope when I brought this to the notice of the Chief Minister, he will see that this should be done for the Meghalayans otherwise it will be just like the old days where people will look upon us as outsider and things like that. Now that we have a State, let us have in Meghalaya Houses proper information.
Shri Hoover Hynniewta :- He does not seem to be very serious about what he says.
Shri Jormanick Syiem:- Why not? Who say I am not serious? He may not be serious.
Mr. Chairman :- For the Chairman of the Tourism Development Corporation that is serious.
Shri Hoover Hynniewta :- For the information of the House, who is that Chairman of that Tourism Development Corporation?
Shri Jormanik Syiem :- He is not an hon. Member of this House, but he is also a man responsible for the running of the Department or Corporation. Mr. Chairman, Sir, I do not think I have more to say on this now since other members have produced facts and figures about the budget presented to this august House. Of course I sympathise with the Chief Minister that mistakes have been made through miscalculation as he is also very busy with other things. With these few words, Mr. Chairman, Sir, I resume my seat.
Mr. Chairman :- According to this list we have also Mr. K.M. Roy Marbaniang as one of the speakers. He is absent. Any other hon. Member who would like to take part?
Since there is no other hon. Member who would like to take part in the discussion for today the House stands adjourned till 9.30 A.M. on Monday the 30th May, 1977.
|The 28th May, 1977.||Meghalaya Legislative Assembly.|