The recent site visit by local groups of South West Khasi Hills and from Shillong, led by Wanbantei Bremley and his team has yet again exposed the hypocrisy of the authorities in the government and the district administration for not believing the facts on the dangers of a uranium waste seeping into the environment. For one, Wanbantei Bremley isn’t an apprentice in the field of environmental studies and research and his findings along with the group’s has exposed that politicians in the ruling government aren’t comfortable with the truth. They love the four walls of the Secretariat and have floor managers who would do the dirty work of a cover-up. The District Administration is no expert as rightly pointed by the Chief Minister himself but at least he should visit the area with experts and judge for himself if he is really concerned about this matter. The UDP has rightly raised the matter with the NPP and this issue deserves a thorough investigation.
Dominic Stadlin Wankhar
Why is Govt on denial mode
As a citizen of Meghalaya, I wish to express my concern at the lackadaisical response by the government on three key issues raised across sections of the media and by private citizens of the state.
The first is the issue of the radiation levels detected at Nongbah Jynrin by a delegation of the KSU along with Bremley WB Lyngdoh – whose findings were shared with the public on Youtube and social media, and have also been reported across leading news publications. The levels of radiation detected are a cause of concern for the people of this state. I urge my fellow citizens to refer to credible online sources that explain the bone-chilling consequences of the detected levels of 200 to 300 CPM (and even a report of 1000 CPM) on humans and the environment. Surprisingly, the Chief Minister’s response indicates a complete lack of urgency on the matter. Terming the delegation itself as ‘non-expert NGOs’ indicates a denial of the facts and an attempt at discrediting the brave and selfless work done by our fellow citizens. There are enough citizens in the state who are intelligent and highly educated and who are capable of interpreting facts.
The measurements were conducted with a standard instrument for measuring radiation – A ‘Geiger Counter’. As long as the instrument used is of an accepted international standards, one need not be an expert to simply take a reading and interpret the facts. I salute our fellow citizens who brought these facts to the public domain at great risk to their personal health. I would request the government to immediately set up an independent committee to verify the alarming findings by the recent delegation and take steps to contain any further nuclear contamination. There is no time to waste when it comes to nuclear consequences. The people of Meghalaya have lived in peace with nature since time immemorial. For most of us who do not have the option, or do not want to move out of this beautiful land – it is imperative that we strongly defend our right to a safe environment for us, as well as for our future generations.
The second issue is the various allegations and arrests centred around the illegal mining that has plagued the state for the past 6-7 years. While making no claims on who is responsible for illegal mining, it is an undeniable fact that this has been going on continuously since the NGT ruling. The ultimate losers of this entire illegal supply chain are the people of the state. As the saying goes, “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.” There are strong reasons for the NGT ruling, and I request my fellow citizens to accept it and to earn their livelihoods through legal means that do not harm their fellow citizens, current and future. If most of the state’s population can earn their livelihood without mining, then so can those who still indulge in illegal mining. Let us not be fooled by the few dozen rich and land-owning class of miners who selfishly exploit the earth for their selfish financial gains without any useful contribution to society.
It is a travesty to honest work when such people earn more than teachers and doctors by illegally digging up coal that belongs to all generations and to the earth; not just to them. However, it is understandable that many continue to flout the law since the mining ban has completely removed a major section of the state’s economy. I would urge the government to focus on the development of future income sources for the people of the state so that each of us can earn a dignified living. Regarding the role of the government in this web of illegal mining that persists, there are only two plausible conclusions – either the government is incompetent and is unable to discharge its basic duties even with the immense powers and resources at its command or the government is aiding and abetting the mining activities. Both of these conclusions reflect poorly on the current government as representatives of the people of Meghalaya. (Lest they forget, our MLAs exercise their power on behalf of the citizens, and are not kings or rulers of any sort).
The last issue is linked to the Covid-19 pandemic that has been ravaging the world since the start of 2020. While I appreciate the work done by countless government servants and health workers in containing the disease in Meghalaya, the cause for concern is the amount of public money spent. An amount of 399 crore rupees is a rather large amount given the number of cases in the state. The vague manner in which this amount has been presented to the public is also worrisome. Does the government believe that the public comprise of unsuspecting sheep who will be satisfied with a rough accounting under major heads? Is a detailed report of expenditure too much to ask? We should not need to file an RTI for information that every citizen of the state is entitled to. It is public money that is being spent here, and at the very least, the government should publicly release all details about the expenditures on its own initiative. Else, the public will respond in the next assembly elections.
Looking at the current state of things in our state, I can understand why 40% of the people do not even care to vote. The ruling party and the opposition seem to be playing games with the common citizen who ultimately pays for these games. I strongly request our MLAs to introspect and utilise the power of their constitutional office to make a positive difference for the people of the state.
In the words of the Stoic Roman emperor, Marcus Aurelius,“Just that you do the right thing. The rest doesn’t matter.” We, the citizens have entrusted you with our lives and that of our children as well. We hope you find the humanity in your heart to rise above the futile pursuit of power or money, and instead work to the best of your ability to improve the lives of the people of Meghalaya as per the oath that you have sworn.
Lastly, to the ruling party, the NPP, perhaps you can start focusing on the second word of your party’s name, and do what is RIGHT for the PEOPLE.
Union Minister of State Dr Jitendra Singh has disclosed that interview for jobs has been abolished in 23 States and 8 Union Territories of India. The abolition of interviews for Group-B (Non- Gazetted) and Group – C posts in the Central Government has happened since 2016. The step was initiated after the suggestion of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on August 15, 2015. This is a historic achievement and ensures a free and fair recruitment process. However, cases of manipulations have also been reported in writing examinations and online tests conducted for recruitment in some states. The need of the hour is that the center and all state governments must build up a strong mechanism for a transparent recruitment process and offer jobs only to the eligible candidates.
Amit Singh Kushwaha,