Proceedings of the Budgets Session of the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly assembled at 9.30 A.M. on Friday the 16th June 1978 in the Assembly Chamber Shillong, with the Hon'ble Speaker in the Chair.
Mr. Speaker :- Let us start the business of the day by taking up addendum to item No. A and since there is no question for today Mr. G. Mylliemngap to call the attention to the Chief Minister.
Shri G. Mylliemngap :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, under rule 54 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business I call the attention of the Chief Minister to the repeated demand made by responsible leaders from different quarters for instituting a high level impartial probe into the alleged financial and other irregularities prevailing in the North Eastern Hill University.
Mr. Speaker :- Chief Minister to make a statement.
Shri D.D. Pugh (Chief Minister) :- At the outset, I wish to categorically state that whereas the attention of the Government has been drawn to the alleged irregularities in the North Eastern Hill University through various Newspaper reports, this State Government cannot with authenticity say that the irregularities have in fact either occurred or that they exist. The matter pertaining to the alleged irregularities, as the Members of the House undoubtedly know, was highlighted in the Rajya Sabha by Shri Alexander Warjri, M.P. and by some other Members of the Rajya Sabha. In some of the newspaper reports a number of irregularities, administrative, financial and academic have mentioned. For example, it has been alleged that there has been undue delay in the constitution of the different Statutory Bodies of the University, such as the Court, the Executive Council and the Academic Council. It has also been alleged that various important posts, such as the post of Registrar, the post of Finance Officer, the post of Librarian and the posts of Secretaries of different bodies had not been filled up.
Serious allegations have also reportedly been made regarding the glaring financial irregularities in the handling of the funds of the University and in the various purchases made particularly in the purchase of furniture and books. It has reportedly been alleged that purchases were made without observing the necessary formalities such as calling for quotations/tenders, etc.
According to reports appearing in the Press, some hon. Member of the Rajya Sabha are believed to have demanded that the Union Education Minister should advise or request the President of India, as the Visitor of the North Eastern Hill University, to cause an inspection of the University and also to cause an enquiry to be made into the affairs of the said institution. From the reports appearing in the Press, it would appear that the Union Education Minister, has, on the floor of the Rajya Sabha, given an assurance that proper steps would be taken by the proper authorities.
Sir, Alexander Warjri, Member of Parliament is also reported to have raised the point concerning the promise made for the establishment of a University Campus in Nagaland. He is further reported to have alleged that this promise had not been fulfilled. In this regard, may I state that it is a fact that there was a proposal for the establishment of a Campus of the North-Eastern Hill University in Nagaland, but that from reports available it seems that no headway has been made in this regard. We sincerely hope that the University authorities as also the Union Ministry of Education will actively take up this matter so as to ensure that the university Campus proposed to be established in Nagaland will actually be established expeditiously.
While making this statement in response to the Calling Attention Notice tabled by the hon. Member from Sohryngkham, Shri G. Mylliemngap, I would like to draw the pointed attention of the Members of this august House to the fact that the North-Eastern Hull University is a Central University established under the North-Eastern Hill University Act, 1973 and administered and managed in accordance with the provisions of the said Act. As such the State Government has no direct control over it. In other words, the University or its management does not fall under the purview or jurisdiction of the State Government. However, I would like to take this opportunity of stating that I join hands with the Chief Minister of Nagaland, Shri Vizol and other responsible leaders who are reported to have demanded a probe into the affairs of the University in order to clear the atmosphere. In stating this, I wish to emphasise the fact that I supporting the reported suggestion of the Chief Minister of Nagaland in the interest of the University itself, i.e., with the sole objective of clearing the atmosphere.
Shri G. Mylliemngap :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, I would like to seek some clarification on some points only. Number one - when the Chief Minister has stated that in purchasing stocks and other furniture the formalities were not properly observed. But I just want to know whether the State Government is aware of the fact that there are discrepancies of about 8 lakhs in connect ion with purchase of furniture and other stocks. It has been reported that about 12 lakhs were expended on this particular item whereas the stock verification shows that only Rs. 4 lakhs were spent. Secondly, Mr. Speaker, Sir, whether the Government is aware of the fact that the fellowship scholarships, etc. are not given in preference t the students of this region. I have also one point to be clarified and that is when the term of the present Vice Chancellor will expire. .
Shri D.D. Pugh (Chief Minister) :- Mr. Speaker, Sir. I have already stated and I would like to repeat the fact that the North Eastern Hill University is a Central University established and managed under the North Eastern Hill University Act, 1973 and by implication it means that the State Government has no direct control or supervision over the University and as such we the State Government have no way of knowing for sure, whether the allegations made and as reported in the news paper are well-founded or baseless. So far as the term of the present incumbent, i.e., The Vice Chancellor, I say subject to correction, that it will expire on 19th July, this year.
Shri G. Mylliemngap :- On a point of further clarification, Sir, when the term of the present Vice Chancellor is going to expire on the 19th of July, whether the State Government is thinking of recommending any local; candidate for this post?
Mr. Speaker :- I think that is irrelevant.
GENERAL DISCUSSION ON THE BUDGET
Mr. Speaker :- Let us come to item No.2. In this connection, I call upon Mr. S.D.D. Nichols Roy.
Shri S.D.D. Nichols Roy :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, I would like to make a few observations on the present Budget Speech and Budget for 1978-79. At page 7 of the Budget Speech under Animal Husbandry there is a statement as follow. "The cattle arm at Upper Shillong established under the Indo-Danish Project is functioning satisfactorily." I would like to bring to the attention of the Minister-in-charge that according to the information I have received, the Indo-Danish Project was not looked after very properly. I wonder how it is that the Danish experts according to my information got fed up and left. It is sad that after a lot of preparatory work with the Co-operation of the Government of India, this very important animal husbandry project which was started with the collaboration of the Government of Denmark which gave a large number of cows and bulls has not been working properly. I is unfortunate that we from our State could not have the wisdom to hold on to the experts and get their full co-operation. I would request the present Agriculture Minister to look into this matter and it may not be too late to restore the position because it will be too bad if an idea is created in the minds of the foreign collaborators as well as the experts in the Government of India that Meghalaya does not co-operate in such important projects in our State. I would urge the Minister concerned to examine what went wrong with this project.
Then I would refer to the next page, page 8; regarding Forest. A reference has been made to the Forest Development Corporation and to our knowledge it has taken time to organise this corporation and it was about to make some headway by getting loans and start afforestation in a big way. We wonder why the Officer-in-charge who seemed to be doing his duties well had suddenly been changed and a new officer has been appointed who will take time to get acquainted with all the works or the Forest Corporation. This does not seem to be the best way of getting the corporation launched.
I would like to refer to Education. Importance has been given to this department and I would like to add my voice to that of another member from this side who suggested that a review may be made to bring back primary education directly under the State Government. I think this should be done or some other arrangements should be made to strengthen the hands of the District Council in administering primary education. Mr. Speaker, Sir, it seems to me that not enough importance has been given to primary education and much of the backwardness in education in terms of proper teaching in our State is due to the inadequate attention that our Government have paid or have lacked in paying attention to primary education. I believe that this is one of the most important aspects of education in our State. I suggest that more funds should be allocated and more teachers should be sent for proper training, and the teachers should be upgraded so that we improve primary education in our State. I would suggest that one of the first things we should do is to send teachers for getting better training, to get the teachers' training certificate and other training and come back and take over and improve our primary education.
In the field of Health, I would like to pose a question as to what has happened to the scheme which we have heard of for the last tow or three years for a Leprosy Control Unit. It was to be established somewhere between Western Khasi Hills and Eastern Garo Hills. But we have not heard it in the last year or so. We wonder whether this scheme has been abandoned. Some of the old dispensaries which have been established have collapsed or about to collapse and I would urge the present Minister of Health to pay adequate attention to rebuilt some existing old dispensaries such as the one at Shella where the doctor cannot stay and it is a dispensary in name only. Recently, the Minister of Revenue visited Shella and received memorandum. One of the points which was made, it is not a new point but it has been made for the last three or four years, is that this dispensary which was established during the British period, many many years ago requires to be rebuilt and the quarters properly constructed so that the doctors can stay and the dispensary made to function. This is one of the few dispensaries in the whole of the border area and I would urge upon the Minister to place sufficient funds at the disposal of either the Public Works Department or the Public Health Engineer whichever is looking after rebuilding the dispensaries, so that the dispensaries which need construction are rebuilt. I would also urge that another series which need construction are rebuilt. I would also urge that another dispensary be put up in the border area somewhere between Laitkynsew, Nongwar and Tyrna. The people from these areas have always to go to Cherrapunjee which is far away for their medical coverage. Now in the field of medical, I am sure many members of this House would agree with me that it is very important that the Civil Hospital in Shillong be extended. It is extremely crowded and is time now that this Hospital be upgraded. to a full-fledged State hospital. I have had occasion to visit that hospital from time to time and almost every time that I visited, I found it crowded and complaints made from patients that they could not get space to stay in this hospital. I would urge the Government to examine the possibility of upgrading this hospital to a full-fledged State hospital with all facilities and min any case to extend the hospital requiring extension very badly. Moreover, the Reid Chest T.B. Hospital is always is always crowded and it is very very difficult for the patients especially from the rural areas to get admission and yet treatment of tuberculosis. This is one of the biggest problems in India and in our areas as well. This hospital needs extension. So I would urge that the Minister concerned examines the possibility of extending this T.B. hospital.
In the matter of Transport, I see the Minister of Transport is not here but a message may be sent to him. I have mentioned this before and the Minister made a visit to my constituency and it is a matter of great regret that the transport service started by Government before, was abandoned by the Last Government, and the border area is not served by the Meghalaya State Transport. In the Shella-Bholaganj area, the people have demanded that at least one service every alternate day should be provided. I do not understand why this service is not restarted and I would urge the Minister reopen this service as soon as possible. Mr. Speaker, Sir, a number of years ago, the Government of Meghalaya had examined the feasibility or possibility of improving transport from the border areas Cherrapunjee to Shillong to Gauhati by ropeway Survey was conducted and paid for by the North East Council. But we have heard nothing further what has happened to this scheme for ropeway. The expansion of the Mawmluh Cherra Cements Ltd., is about to be completed and we will be getting more cement very shortly and the transport of cement from Cherra to Gauhati was meant to be undertaken by this ropeway. We have heard nothing what was happened and we would like to be informed by the Minister of Transport or the Chief Minister whether the schemes is still being contemplated because it is very important scheme for carrying the produce from the border and cement and other produce from Shillong area at a lower cost down to the railway at Gauhati and subsequently if the railway comes to Byrnihat. We would like to be informed about this.
Then there is a matter of great importance to Shillong. Now of course the people are not talking about it. But almost every year members in this House have raised questions of shortage of water supply. It is tragic that in an area which has 80 "to100" of rain per year still there is shortage of water. It is purely a matter of neglect in engineering schemes. Now a scheme was suggested a number of year ago, namely, the Greater Shillong Water Supply Scheme. A statement has been made in Budget Speech page 14, due to difficulties in connection with land acquisition work in the Greater Shillong Water Supply Scheme has been stalled. We understand that there were a lot of misundertakings, misapprehensions and oppositions to this water supply scheme. We wonder whether the Government in this present Ministry had taken any Cabinet decision. We bad the information that the Cabinet decision was taken to try to solve this problem. But recently in the newspaper, we have seen a statement made by the Minister-in-charge that scheme is now going to be abandoned. Sir, it is a sorry state of affairs that the Government will abandon such an important scheme when money has already been arranged from the Life Insurance Corporation of India as a loaf for the scheme. To our knowledge, money for compensation was already drawn and deposited with the D.C. but could not be paid. What will happen to this money which is in the hands of the D.C. for this water supply scheme? Or whether the Government have an alternative scheme to provide water for Greater Shillong? If so, we would like to know about it and it is a matter of concern to every citizen of Shillong because water is one of the things which every one needs. So I urge the Government to pay very serious attention to this. If it is so that it is officially abandoned, then what is the new scheme to come in its place. We would like to know about it. Mr. Speaker, Sir, I am glad to see in a newspaper report a few days ago that the Government of India have decided to increase the allocation for roads in the rural areas from Rs.200 crores in the Fifth Plan for the whole country to Rs.800 crores, four times. I wonder whether the Minister-in-charge of Public Works Department has reflected that in this budget. I presume it has not been reflected because according to his statement made, these budget estimates were prepared on the basis of the directives given by the previous Government. Probably it was too early for this Government to be informed of the new policy of the Government of India for increasing the allocation for roads in the rural areas this year. Then I would urge the Minister in-charge of Public Works Department to see it that our State gets its due share of this increased allocation for roads in the Sixth plan which starts in 1978-79 and it has already started. In this connection, I am glad to say that in this new document, Meghalaya Public Works Department detailed estimates, some funds were allocated already to a very important road from Mawmluh to Mawshamok for which Rs.50,000 were allocated. I would urge that some additional funds may be made available to some of the important roads in the border areas. Another road which is very much needed which I have been pressing the Government for many years in the road connecting Mawsahew to Nongsteng near the Shillong-Cherra road. Another road which has been demanded by the people for many many years is the Lad Sohbar to Tharia road. Now that the Mawmluh Cherra Cements Limited is taking up this vital expansion programme we have requested the Public Works Department to divert the Cherra-Mawmluh road around the cement factory campus. Unfortunately, the Public Works Department has not yet taken up the scheme. I would urge that the scheme be taken up at the earliest.
Now, Mr. Speaker, Sir, I come to Power. There is an old complaint in the delay of payment of compensation. I have spent much time in telephone calls for this purpose. I spoke to the Chief Engineer and the Secretary of the State Electricity Board and finally only a few weeks ago they have made compensation for the trees cut in the Mawmluh-Tyrna Laitkynsew area. Some of the people came to me frequently and complained that trees have been cut down: For instance, one lady said that she had four large trees, quite expensive and valuable trees. Even if they had been cut down and sold for firewood to the Meghalaya essential oils limited it would have fetched them over one hundred rupees but instead this the lady was paid a wonderful sum of Rs.1.20 only! They were wondering whether the decimal points have been misplaced. But enquiry it was found that Rs.1.20 was for four trees. I brought this to the notice of the officers concerned. I do not think uptil now anything has been done and there are a number of such cases. I would urge that this matter be looked into. It is better not to give them anything than giving them something which will make the department look so ridiculous. After a number of years, 3 or 4 years, many cases have not yet been taken up for payment of compensation for Laityra-Sohbar line for instance and I do not see any reason why the State Electricity Board could not speed up the process of payment of compensation. Even during the time when I was incharge of this Department the public have come to me and told me that the department is going this slowly. I would urge upon the present Government to look into this and speed up the process of payment of compensation so that the people do not have maintain constant vigilance months after months and year after year to get compensation for the valuable trees that have been cut down by the department in drawing the power lines.
Finally, Mr. Speaker, Sir, I will bring out a few points on tourism. In page 17 I find a small paragraph on tourism, development of tourist bungalow, construction of tourist resort complex and so on. I wonder whether much headway can be made in this department, unless we also pay attention to the transportation of tourist into the State. Many tourists would like to visit our State from other parts of the country and other parts of the world as well and it was hoped that the Umroi Airfield would be one of the very great opportunities for bringing in many travelers into our State. We have no airfield in our State and this was the first. Unfortunately during the previous regime, the Government of India in the Ministry of Civil Aviation decided to close down that airfield I would urge the present Government to take up this matter once again with the Ministry of Civil Aviation and to have this airport reopened and not only to fly small planes which we saw in the newspapers recently that some small planes will be flown but to connect Shillong with Calcutta by the normal Indian Airlines through the Shillong Airport to Jorhat so that the people coming to Shillong will also visit Kaziranga. This can be carried out by the department to link up this State with the various States of the country to attract tourists to visit the hill areas as well as the game sanctuaries in the Assam Valley. I would urge that this scheme be taken up so that Shillong can be put on the tourist map of India.
Mr. Speaker :- Now, Mr. Obil Kyndait to speak. He is absent. As there is nobody who would like to take part in today's discussion and since we have another one hour twenty minutes, I will give a special chance to hon. Member, Dr. B.K. Roy to speak once more.
Dr. B.K. Roy :- Thank you, Mr. Speaker, Sir, I am just presenting one point because there is no other speaker today and you have been kind enough to give me this opportunity to speak.
Mr. Speaker :- Mr. Roy, that does not mean that you have to speak for the whole one hour twenty minutes.
Dr. B.K. Roy :- I will take only seven to ten minutes, Sir, because this is only another special chance given to me. We have been hearing for the last three days and I have been giving through to the matter from a particular angle. I take this as the unique opportunity to speak through you, Mr. Speaker, Sir, to the leaders of this State. A new terminology which is unheard of in any part of India has come up by way of evolution and particularly as climax as revealed by recent trends in the state. That is term the "non-tribal" which is not there in the Constitution.
Mr. Speaker :- I think you have already spoken about this and also other members.
Dr. B.K. Roy :- I am talking specifically about one point because in course of discussions on budget very often we mentioned the terms "tribals and non-tribals". This deserves a little bit of discussion. The Constitution has provided various measures for brining up the plight of the schedule castes, scheduled tribes and other backward classes. Why should there be a new class of people in this State.
Then Mr. Speaker, Sir, it is a matter of policy of the Government to protect and preserve the distinct identity of the "people" of the State there should be protection by a suitable ministry or a special department for minorities. The term "non tribal" is uncalled for in the absence of a distinct category. Those who do not belong to Scheduled Tribes are either "Meghalayan" or "other Indians" Therefore there should be a complete definition as to who are Meghalayans, or who are permanent residents of Meghalaya, because Mr. Speaker, Sir, even we who have been here for decades or ages mixed up with the air and the soil of this place, with all the hope for the future, have to face this question of permanent citizenship.
Mr. Speaker :- Are you also asked to furnish a permanent residential certificate?
Dr. B.K. Roy :- Yes, Sir, I wonder under what law all citizen who are termed as non-tribals are required to procure a permanent residential certificates. They are requires for a particular type of people for which one has to undergo so many hurdles. That is my question. There are must be some definite law about it. Some members of this House have suggested that there must be a differentiation between the tribals of this State and the tribals coming from other States and non-tribals of this State and non-tribals of other States of country. I personally believe that as a Meghalayan I have a distinct duties. I may be a Bengali speaking Meghalayan, I may be a Bengali speaking Khasi. That is what I mean to say. I am appealing to the good sense of the Leader of the House to come forward with a distinct policy as to who should be categorized as Meghalayans tribal or non-tribal. In the absence of such a policy it creates ill-feeling and hatred among different sections of the people. It smacks of an unconstitutional gesture by one section of people against the other in the name of a religion or community and consistently hampers the growth of Meghalaya as a whole "U Dkhar" means a foreigner. Just because a person does not belong to Scheduled Tribe how can he be terms as a foreigner (The bell rang).
Mr. Speaker :- You have exceeded your time.
Dr. B.K. Roy :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, we are against the influx of outsiders, we are against exploitation by the outsiders from Bangladesh or from Nepal. But we are all out to see that we as Meghalayans who are here for decades together, for generations and make their hearth and home and identity themselves with the scheduled tribes and who want prosperity of Meghalaya should be treated as brethren and there should be no communal feeling. Thank you Sir.
Mr. Speaker :- The House stands adjourned till 9.30 a.m. on Monday the 19th June, 1978.
The 16th June, 1978.
|Meghalaya Legislative Assembly.|