Only the Sound of Silence from the MDA government

By H H Mohrmen

Gradually the Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA) and the National People’s Party (NPP) which is leading the coalition are losing their sheen. This came to the fore in the recent political developments in the state. But the most awkward development is while the government is forthright on some issues, it is maintaining a stoic silence on certain issues that it has encountered. While both the government and the party are quick to respond and act in cases such as the imbroglio in the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council, they maintain a mute silence on some other very important issues.

The government did try to influence the Governor’s decision with regards to the KHADC issue by advising him to put the Council under Administrative Rule and the NPP was quick to take action against Pynshngain N. Syiem for his anti party activities but it is looking the other way when it comes to other illegal activities perpetrated by some very influence lobby in the state.

The MDA government is also quick to respond to the issue of some government LP schools and absolves itself on the causes of very low enrolment in these schools, but decided to keep mum on other important issues. Few months back the education Minister Lahkmen Rymbui visited the schools in Delhi and attended the happy hours in these schools, but he did not try to understand what the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) did with the schools in Delhi and the government schools in particular. The government should have conducted a study first to understand why enrolment in these government run LP schools is decreasing while on the other hand there is a stiff competition for admission to privately run schools in the same village?

Why blame the schools for the decreasing number of students in the Government LP schools when almost all the school buildings in the villages are in a dilapidated condition? How do we expect students to enjoy learning or even get attracted to such schools when the classrooms are a little better than cow sheds? Or schools with leaked roofs in which it is difficult if not impossible for the teacher to conduct classes in summer? More often than not, classes have to be stopped because of the noisy sound from the corrugated tin roof. How do we expect government schools to attract students when the latrines are not functioning because there is no water supply to the schools? Forget repairing the school buildings, the Government does not even have funds for repairing the latrines  and that is why the buildings are in a decrepit condition.

The Government should ask itself why in the same village the students throng to privately owned schools, while the government run schools do not attract as much students. The fault is with the government and it should have admitted to the fact that it has failed in its duty to educate the children of the state. If the Government goes ahead with its plans of closing these schools rather than improving their condition, then it implies that the government is inadvertently pushing for privatisation of LP school education and hence denying poor people their right to primary education. And because of the very fact that the government LP schools cater to the needs of poor sections of the population, does this then imply that the MDA government is trying to wash its hands over its responsibility to provide primary education to children up to 14 years of age as mandated by the Constitution?

When it comes to school buildings, SSA schools are one shade better than the government LP schools and perhaps this is because the buildings are quite new. But surprisingly the Government is maintaining silence on some very important issues. The first and the most important issue is the illegal transportation of coal from the state. Few months back there were reports about trucks which illegally exported coal to Bangladesh via Tamabil. The question is – what happened to the trucks which were caught exporting coal illegally to Bangladesh at Tamabil Dawki? Why is the Government maintaining a deafening silence on the issue? The people have the right to know because this tantamounts to contempt of court order.

Again very recently it was reported in the press that the police apprehended trucks loaded with coal. The question again is what happened to the trucks caught transporting coal illegally by the Police of East Jaiñtia Hills? It was also reported that the BDO Thadlaskeiñ had recently apprehended coal laden trucks abandoned on the road side, so who is responsible for this illegal trade of coal? If one travels on the Jowai- Shillong road and particularly the Shillong bypass one would see hundreds of trucks parking at any available space. Everybody knows that these are coal laden trucks, but why is the Government maintaining a mute silence in the issue? Coal laden trucks are not only found parking along the national highway but even in the villages near the highway. So who is facilitating this? Where is the police? How this can happen?

The other pertinent question is, why does it take the Government so long to decide on the auction of the extracted coal by the Coal India Limited? Is the delaying tactic a ploy by the Government to allow illegally transportation of extracted coal, thereby denying Coal India the opportunity to auction the coal? And the most important question is, does this not amount to contempt of the Supreme Court order?  And then the million dollar question is why does it take the Government so long to comply with the apex court’s order and come up with proper mechanisms to allow mining to start in the state? Is the delaying tactic another plan by the Government to go back to rat-hole mining which has caused damage to the environment and was declared to be illegal activity?

When it comes to mining and environment protection, the Chief Minister is found to be making all the politically correct statements in public but nothing happens on the ground. In fact, with regards to coal mining, in reality nothing has moved after the top court had given its verdict. Rather the only thing that moves is the illegal transportation of coal from the state. But sad to say that very often we hear local people justifying the illegal transportation of coal. These are the same people who were also found talking about the need to protect the Jaidbynriew, but what Jaidbynriew is one talking about when one denies the cardinal principle of the Jaidbynriew which is ‘ban kamai ïa ka hok (to earn by righteous means)?”

The NPP like its big brother the BJP is losing its grip on power and it is going down the ladder. This is obvious from the recent developments in all the three ADCs in the state. Control of the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council has changed hands from the NPP-led to the Congress-led coalition. This should be reason to worry for the Party and the Government. Similarly in the Garo Hills Autonomous District Council too, the NPP-led Garo hills Progressive Alliance was reduced to a minority when the alliance candidate to the office of Deputy Speaker was defeated. In the Jaiñtia Hills Autonomous District Council, the NPP-led coalition has made a mess of the Council affairs which led to the intervention by the High Court intervention. The NPP MDCs in the JHADC treat the Council like a local dorbar as due procedure was not followed when the Chairman was elected. And another embarrassing situation in the council is when it’s last winter session lasted for one minute only, because the Deputy Chairman was confused with the court order. It is perhaps a record of sorts that any public council of assembly would meet for one minute only.

The Government is in a terrible mess and if it is unable to clear its hurdles then the future of the MDA and the NPP is at stake.

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