Thursday, June 13, 2024
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Nothing distracts me from pursuing devp progs: CM

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From CK Nayak

New Delhi: After emerging from the challenge to his leadership, Chief Minister Mukul Sangma on Sunday said that single minded devotion to development of the Hill State will continue to be his sole objective despite the continued upheavals to displace him.

“Nothing distracts me from pursuing developmental programmes in the underdeveloped Meghalaya,” Sangma told The Shillong Times in Meghalaya House, the first reaction after the nearly month-long crisis in his Government.

MPCC President DD Lapang, former Chief Minister Salseng Marak, two cabinet ministers and some legislators had raised the banner of revolt against him by meeting party president Sonia Gandhi and demanding his removal before the visit of AICC general secretary Luizinho Faleiro who attempted to resolve the leadership issue.

“In Meghalaya we face a unique challenge of high expectations from the people not only because of underdevelopment but also because of the promise we made to the people in our manifesto and the record mandate, we received in the Assembly polls,” the Chief Minster said. Accordingly the Government and the Party keep the interests of the State as the topmost priority before any personal agenda or interest, he added.

“There is a big challenge before the Congress party and the Government. In the absence of opportunities in agriculture and industry, the youths have to be absorbed in skilled or semi-skilled jobs,” he said.

“It is a huge task to absorb large numbers of school drop outs and high school pass outs who can be lured by the anti-national and anti-social elements in the sensitive border state,” he said.

The present Government is trying its best to engage such youths in various ways both within the state and outside considering the geo-political situation of the hill state, he said. “When we are deeply engrossed in meeting this gigantic task within a limited time span we cannot afford instability at this critical juncture,” he said without mentioning any leader or group.

When asked if he would effect a reshuffle in his cabinet which was long rumoured, the Chief Minster said that even this exercise whenever done would cater to the goals of the Government to reach its achievement targets.

There were reports that Sangma plans to drop two cabinet ministers-Prestone Tynsong and HDR Lyngdoh who openly revolted against him.

Talking about the overall law and order situation in the state particularly in the Garo Hills, the Chief Minister said that slowly but steadily things are coming under control and the Government’s sincere efforts have started showing results on the ground. The Government has appointed an interlocutor and given an open invitation to the insurgents to abjure violence and come to the negotiating table so that such misguided youths can become productive citizens.

One of the main reasons for the spurt in insurgency and crime in the North East and particularly in Meghalaya is the easy availability of small arms, a concerned Sangma said. This issue has to be addressed by the ministry of home affairs in consultation with the neighbouring countries of the region, he said.

Even underground members of GNLA which the Centre has declared as a banned outfit can come for talks and adopt a normal life if they can come individually, Dr Sangma said. Talks are on with the HNLC outfit and the state is waiting for the last word on peace agreement with ANVC, he said.

Speaking about another burning issue in the wake of the ban on coal mining, Sangma reiterated that his Government has taken both long and short term measures to effectively deal with the situation. “I have already asked the concerned officials to find out how many people of the state have been affected by the ban so that they can be given alternative sources of livelihood and to begin with more PDS and job work,” the Chief Minister said.

As long term step the state Government is working out with the Centre to change the relevant laws or to bring suitable amendments to avoid a clash between the central law and customary laws as far as mining is concerned, he said. Plans are also on for massive forestry which will not only address the environmental issues but also provide succour to the local tribals for all time to come, he said.

The mine owners also have to come out with strategies on how to carry on scientific mining to ensure safety and meet the environmental concerns, Sangma said.

He is leaving for Shillong on Monday morning.

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