Meghalaya Assembly’s Budget Session begins with Governor’s address
The Budget Session of the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly began on Friday, March 5, at Brookside in Shillong, with an address by Governor Satya Pal Malik.
In his address, the Governor highlighted the developmental projects and schemes being proposed and implemented in the State.
Law and Order
Malik said that in 2020, the overall law and order situation in the State was peaceful.
“There were a few agitations by NGOs on issues concerning implementing the Inner Line Permit (ILP) and protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019. However, these agitations were effectively dealt with by the State Government,” the Governor said.
“Law and order situation along the Assam-Meghalaya interstate border is by large normal. The District Administration and District Police, who are regularly in touch with their counterparts in Assam, resolved the issues amicably,” Malik said.
“The State is committed to complete the balance border fencing work, expeditiously,” he added.
Meghalaya shares an international border of 444.8 km with Bangladesh, out of which fencing has been erected over 329.7 km.
“The State Government remains committed to containing illegal migration, trans-borer movement and activities of militants and anti-national elements,” the Governor said.
Malik said the North Eastern Council (NEC) had sanctioned two projects for Meghalaya under the North East Road Sector Development Scheme during 2020-21 at Rs.142 crore for improving the roads along the inter-state border between Assam and Meghalaya.
“At present, there are 37 ongoing Non-Lapsable Central Pool of Resources projects with a total project cost of Rs. 773.25 crore. The Ministry of DoNER has released Rs. 400.86 crore for undertaking various projects,” he stated.
Under the North East Special Infrastructure Development Scheme, the Ministry of DonER sanctioned eight projects at a total cost of Rs. 186.44 crore.
“Sanctions have been obtained from the Ministry of Tribal Affairs for setting up 40 Eklavya Model Residential Schools in all the blocks of the State. An amount of Rs. 57.66 crore has been approved under Article 275(I) of the Constitution of India and Special Central Assistance to Tribal Sub-Scheme for the same,” he said.
The State Government is also undertaking the ‘Meghalaya Integrated Transport Project,’ funded by the World Bank at Rs. 768 crore.
“The project will improve about 500 km of strategic road segments and standalone bridges by using innovative, climate-resilient and nature-based solutions,” Malik said.
The Governor said the State is upgrading the infrastructure of Government schools from the primary level to the Higher Secondary level.
They have identified two hundred elementary and eight secondary and higher secondary schools for this purpose.
“Further, additional classrooms in 110 schools have been upgraded under funding from the Ministry of Tribal Affairs. The ‘Supporting Human Capital Development’ project has been complete at all the 117 identified schools,” Malik said.
During 2020-21, 11,803 schools were covered, and 5.95 lakh children were enrolled for the mid-day meal program.
Health & Family Welfare
Malik applauded the State Government in its effort to “effectively” contain the spread of COVID-19.
“Despite the pandemic, the Government remained focused on the need to strengthen the capacity of the health systems and improve the quality and access to health care services,” he said.
In 2020, the State topped the list in reducing malaria cases by 59 per cent in the country to the previous year.
The State, with an immunisation coverage of 90 per cent in 2020, ranked second in the nation-wide immunisation coverage alongside Kerala, Malik informed.
“Along with the rest of the country, the State has begun vaccination against COVID-19 for its healthcare and frontline workers. The State is fully prepared to undertake mass vaccination of its citizens despite certain challenges in terms of cold chains preparedness, operational planning, communication planning, and strategies for expected State-specific challenges in terms of geographical terrain, network connectivity, hard to reach areas etc.,” he said.
Agriculture & Horticulture
Over 86,000 farmers are expected to benefit from the Kisan Credit Card crop loan with an interest subvention of 2 per cent. 1,72,598 farmer beneficiary households had been registered under the PM Kisan income support scheme, said the Governor.
“2.16 lakh Soil Health Cards were distributed to farmers during 2017-19 with 100 per cent achievement. A new Agriculture Infrastructure Fund for creation of post-harvest infrastructures and community farming assets was launched to provide a financial facility to Agripreneurs, Startups, Self-Help Groups, Farmers Producer Organisations,” he said.
Implementing the Meghalaya State Aquaculture Mission 1.0 has benefited 26,278 fish farmers in the State. The Fish and Fish seed production had increased to 14,128 MT and 13.23 MT in 2019-20, Malik informed.
“To date, 5,009 fish farmers received training at the Meghalaya State Fisheries Research and Training Institute, Mawpun in various aspects of scientific fish farming and hands-on experiment learning,” he said.
Forest and Environment
“To ensure participation of communities in the conservation of forests and biodiversity and to expand Protected Area Network in the State, 73 biodiversity-rich forest areas have been notified as Community Reserves,” the Governor said.
Besides this, he informed that with help from the Central Government, a project on ‘Recovery of Clouded Leopard’, the State animal of Meghalaya was launched.
Community and Rural Development
“Meghalaya is among the top three states in the country in terms of implementation of MGNREGS. So far, 20 Community and Rural Development Blocks have achieved 100 per cent Direct Benefit Transfer in wage payment,” Malik said.
District Council Affairs
During 2019-20, an amount of Rs. 111.5 crore sanctioned by the Government of India, for areas not covered under Part IV and IX (A) of the Constitution of India, was released to the three Autonomous District Councils, for various development programmes, he said.
The total road network in the State is about 10,577 km. Works are in progress for the two National Highway projects – “Two-lane roads from Tura-Dalu of NH-51” covering a total length of 54 km at Rs. 553.41 crore and “Improvement of NH-40” between Shillong and Dawki and construction of the Dawki bridge covering a length of 80 km at a tentative cost of Rs 1,300 crore.
The Governor said that under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana, the Central Government had sanctioned 971 schemes covering a length of 4,309.7 km at Rs. 3,012.2 crore and targeting to connect 608 habitations.
“As of January 2021, we have connected 441 habitations, covering a length of 2,071.7 km,” he added.
The work for up-gradation of the 9th Mile (on East-West Corridor in Assam) to Umsen via Killing, Pilliangkata, Gambalbari and Pynker under Ri Bhoi district, covering a length of 37.64 km and sanctioned at Rs. 84.01 crore, has started.
“During 2020-21, the State Government has sanctioned 41 projects for construction of new roads and bridges and up-gradation/improvement of existing roads at different locations in the State covering a length of 118.12 km at a total financial outlay of Rs. 125.44 crore under the Rural Infrastructure Development Fund,” Malik said.
Public Health Engineering
The Government of India has launched the Jal Jeevan Mission to provide “Functional Household Tap Connection,” to every rural household by 2024.
“The Meghalaya State Government has advanced the target date by two years and set an ambitious target and achieving the same by December 2022,” he said.
Malik stated that the Department is proactively engaging with the Central Government to operationalise the Baljek Airport in Tura at the earliest.
Two heliports are proposed to be set up in Shillong and Tura, for which land has already been earmarked, he said.
The Governor said that recently, the Meghalaya Power Distribution Corporation Limited (MePDCL) availed a special Atma Nirbhar Loan of Rs. 1,345 crore to pay off all the liabilities of central generation and transmission companies.
“Apart from the ongoing One-time Settlement scheme to recover long outstanding dues, several steps are also being taken for reducing the Aggregate Technical & Commercial and the Transmission & Distribution losses,” he added.
The State Government is prioritising tourism and the key components of the tourism strategy include expanding high-value accommodation, opening new circuits in unexplored areas like West Khasi Hills, South West Khasi Hills and Garo Hills, upskilling the tourism stakeholders, creating a calendar of events including a literature festival, art festival and ballooning festival, and development of new tourism products, Malik said.
“The Government of India has sanctioned Rs. 85 crore under the Swadesh Darshan Scheme and another Rs. 39 crore under the PRASAD Scheme for development of Tourism in the State,” he said.
Sports & Youth Affairs
As part of the Youth Policy, the State Government is coming up with many programmes, the most critical of which is a voucher-based skilling programme.
“This program will enable large scale and systematic skilling of our youth, both in life skills an in skills for jobs,” he said.
The Governor opined that to put Meghalaya on the national and international sporting maps, the construction of sports infrastructure is being prioritised.
“The construction of PA Sangma Integrated Sports Complex at Tura, at Rs. 125 crore, has begun. Works at the JN Stadium in Shillong, being done at Rs. 150 crores will begin soon,” Malik said.
A football stadium at Wahiajer shall also be built at Rs. 24 crores. The Government has started creating durable rural sports infrastructure across the State, with an investment of about Rs. 75 crore.
Mining & Geology
The State Government has been implementing the action plan for restoration of the environment affected by coal mining in the State, Malik said.
“A pilot project on the treatment of Acid Mine Drainage by using locally available limestone has been completed,” he added.
“The Central Institute of Mining and Fuel Research, Dhanbad is developing a technology for treating Acid Mine Drainage generated from coal mines,” the Governor said, adding that another pilot project on restoration of streams affected by acidic water in East Jaintia Hills is under implementation and showing “promising” results.
Commerce & Industries
The Department has provided financial help to 208 prospective entrepreneurs with margin money of Rs. 3.29 crore under the Prime Minister Employment Generation Programme.
Information Technology & Communication
The IT Park at New Shillong is in the ultimate stages of completion and would be operational this current year, the Governor informed.
“Under the National Broadband Mission, the Department has taken steps to improve digital connectivity to cover all uncovered villages in the State,” he added.
(Edited by Iban Mawrie)