Meghalaya Assembly discusses progress of JJM, pending arrears for govt employees & others


By Ibankyntiew Mawrie & Ladiangti Rani | SHILLONG:

Meghalaya PHE Minister Renikton Tongkhar, on Tuesday, informed that at least 34.59 per cent of the Functional Households Tap Connections (FHTCs) are targeted to finish up to March 2021.

Tongkhar said this while replying to a starred question raised by Nongpoh MLA Mayralborn Syiem on the third day of the budget session of the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly.

He said that the amount sanctioned to date under the Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) for rural households is Rs 1,190.64 crore.

Seeking clarification, Syiem asked why the progress of the work is slower in some districts as compared to others.

"In districts like East Jaintia Hills, North Garo Hills, South Garo Hills and South West Khasi Hills, the progress of the work is very slow," Syiem said.

Replying to the query, the PHE Minister said the reason for the slow progress of the work is general in all districts.

"One of the reasons is lack of manpower in the department which was why the recruitment of 45 new Junior Engineers for PHE was approved by the Cabinet recently," Tongkhar said.

He also informed that the other reason is the increase in the price of steel and pipes.

To a question raised by Congress MLA Zenith Sangma on the huge gap between demand and supply of pipes for the implementation of JJM, Tongkhar admitted that there is a challenge in the demand and supply of materials.

"The Government is taking serious action of the problem. We have allowed contractors to procure pipes on their own. We are reviewing the situation and hope this step works out," he said.


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Setting up of Police Outpost at Barato village in West Jaintia Hills

Meghalaya Home (Police) Minister Lahkmen Rymbui said the Government is considering setting up a police station outpost at Barato village and, a fire service station at Laskein Block in West Jaintia Hills.

Mowkaiaw MLA Nujorki Sungoh raised a supplementary question and said, "Since 2016-2019, there have been 21 fire incidents" in his constituency.

Villages have to depend on the fire department from Jowai (headquarter of West Jaintia Hills), which is two hours away from his constituency, he added.

Replying to the query, Rymbui stated that the Government is actively considering setting up a fire service station at Raliang in Laskein Block.

He added that road accessibility is important for the fire service to reach on time.


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Setting up of Sawsymper PHC

Minister-in-charge of Health & Family Welfare A.L Hek informed the House that the proposal for up-gradation of Sawsymper Sub-Centre to Primary Health Centre has been approved by the Government.

Pending arrears of the Government Employees

Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma informed that the State Government has released 1/4th of the remaining 30 per cent arrears for government employees on February 11, 2021.

During the current financial year, there has been a huge shortfall in the monthly entitlements due to the State from the Central Government, he said.

"This is on account of the reduction in the collection owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. The State Government is making all efforts to prudently manage the finances despite the challenging times," Sangma added.

Furthermore, he said that the release of the 22.5 per cent remaining arrears during the current Financial Year 2020-21 would be considered, subject to the availability of fund.


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Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL)

Minister-in-charge Excise, Kyrmen Shylla laid out the different slabs of Excise Duty on the floor of the House. These include:

1.Regular Brand- 86 per cent of the cost price subject to a minimum of Rs. 500

2.General Brand- 85 per cent of the cost price subject to a minimum of Rs. 600

3.Deluxe Prestige Brand- 88 per cent of the cost price subject to a minimum of Rs. 810

4.Deluxe Premium Brand- 74 per cent of the cost price subject to a minimum of Rs. 910

5.Semi Premium Brand- 35 per cent of cost price subject to a minimum of Rs. 1,150

6.Premium Brand- 25 per cent of the cost price subject to a minimum of Rs. 1,350

7.Super Premium Brand- 12.2 per cent of the cost price subject to a minimum of Rs. 1,550

8.BIO Liquor/Wine- Special fee of Rs. 1,000 per case

9.BIO Beer- Special fee of Rs. 500 per case

10.Beer(Strong)- 25 per cent of the cost price subject to a minimum of Rs. 131

11.Beer(Light)- 15 per cent of the cost price subject to a minimum of Rs. 80.70

12.Wine- 14 per cent of the cost price subject to a minimum of Rs. 180

13.Home Made Wine- Rs. 100 per case

He also added that there is only one slab of rate under the Meghalaya Value Added Tax Act, 2003, for levy of tax on the sale of Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) products which are 40 per cent with effect from March 15, 2017, with 20 per cent concession rate on Rum sold in Central Defence Service Canteens to Defence personnel for own consumption.

Reacting to a question raised by Mawphlang MLA SK Sunn, Shylla informed that the Department is not contemplating to legalise the local brew, a local alcoholic beverage distilled from fermented rice.

"Rice is the staple food of the citizens of the State and is primarily used for food consumption purposes and Meghalaya, being a non-milling State, broken rice is not available in the State," he said.