Garbage collection in most parts of the city has become verirregular. The frequency of collection needs to be increased as garbage dumps have started springing up all over the city again. It is a shame that what started off as a popular initiative has fizzled out with a whimper. Can you blame the citizens for throwing rubbish by the roadside when the garbage vans do not arrive for days? Do the authorities expect people to live with mountains of garbage in their homes? We need an answer from Kong Ampareen Lyngdoh.
Preserving just 5% of Meghalaya forests
It is amusing to read the contents of your front page news ite highlighting remarks made by Chief Minister, Dr. Mukul Sangma “Should Meghalaya go on mining forever” (Shillong Times – September 2). I quote – “Forests are important, that is why they are manned by people from a particular service. Such a huge department should have responded to the Act with urgency otherwise the very purpose of the Act is defeated”. How true. He is apparently referring to the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forests Rights) Act. 2006. Five years later, it appears that the Government is yet to formulate the Rules for implementation of this Act. It is not quite clear what the CM means by “Particular Service.” No doubt he is referring to the State Forest Service? This State Forest Department from all reports is responsible for less than 5% of the States forest cover. Even this responsibility they are unable to shoulder. I understand 95% of the state’s forests are under the control of the Traditional Institutions, District Councils etc. who seem to be accountable to no one and do exactly as they please. The State Forest Department is impotent to do anything to control or regulate this devastation of forests, resulting in massive environmental degradation and the resultant climate change.
Dr. Sangma is absolutely right when he talks of a “huge department”. A look at the sign board in front of the Office building “Sylvan House” in Lower Lachumiere, Shillong says it all. Only last week another state corporation, namely the Meghalaya State Forest Development Corporation has been set up headed by the Chief Secretary. In addition to all this there are numerous other offices of the Forest Department in Shillong and spread all over the Districts of Meghalaya, needless to say, paid for from the Indian taxpayers money. These are supposedly responsible for only 5% of the State’s Forest Cover – an activity they perform most inefficiently. A drive around the outskirts of the capital, Shillong or Jowai are proof thereof. Even in the forested area in Oakland, European Ward, recently a large plot of land has been decimated – over a 110 large pine trees have been felled. It will not be long before there are no forests left in Shillong – leave alone Meghalaya. What with happen to plans for “Tara Ghar” etc. The State PCCF – Mr. Nautiyal himself admits that there has been decrease of 70 Sq.Km. of forest cover in the East Khasi Hills District alone. In my residential compound in New Delhi, I have planted a number of trees. Even to cut one of my own trees in my own compound, I have to take approval from the State Forest Department. Unless the laws of the land are applied and implemented in Meghalaya, it is most unlikely that projects like Shillong bypass, four laning portions of the NH 40, Airport etc. will ever be completed.