Questions on COVID expenses

Editor,
The state government has recently given an outline of its expenses during the COVID pandemic amounting to Rs 400 crore ( I have deliberately made it Rs 400 and not Rs 399! For, a crore here or there makes no difference!). Going by the public reaction, I haven’t seen anybody endorsing the figures dished out by the Government. Most people believe that at least 25% of the expenses could be seriously questioned. I know when the RTI reports are made available our worst fears will come true. I am not one of those who would pass judgment without factual base. Truth is that right now we have no evidence of avoidable expenses.

However, I am a little intrigued by one expenditure provided by the government relating to support to labour force and the daily wage earners. The figure quoted is Rs 51 crore. This looks incredible. We know for a fact that the State Government had decided to pay an ex-gratia of Rs 700 per beneficiary. It was also officially stated that only those who are registered with the Labour Department would be eligible. As far as I know, there are no more than 30,000 labourers who are registered with the Department. Therefore, the expenditure on this head should logically be Rs 2.10 crore. If the figure quoted is genuine, then there should be 1.75 lakh beneficiaries to account for Rs 51 crore.
Therefore, the question arises whether the figure of Rs 51 crore is a typographical error or genuine.

I would request the government to clarify the following : 1) How many labourers received the ex-gratia? 2) Whether only registered labourers were the beneficiaries? 3) If not, why was this deviation from the earlier stated position? 4) At what rate was the ex-gratia disbursed? 5) Whether unregistered labourers were also included? 6) If yes, then on what basis were they selected? 7) Whether the coal mine workers were included or not?

I don’t know whether the Labour Department will be kind enough to respond to these queries. If they have nothing to hide, I hope they will. I shall eagerly look forward to it.
Yours etc.,
Donbok Pohrmen,
Jowai-5.

II

Editor,
The Shillong Times reported on October 17, “Corona Centres No More Free”. While I welcome the move, I feel that this should have been imposed a long time back. Be that as it may, now that the Government has fixed Rs 380 for a day’s meal, including breakfast, lunch and dinner, for everybody who is admitted to corona care centres run by the Government, I am wondering whether the rate fixed earlier for the same food supplied by private suppliers is justified. According to some reliable sources, the rate fixed so long was Rs 650 per head per day. If this is true, then how come the rate has suddenly been slashed? Has the menu changed drastically or has the Government decided to lessen the burden on the users of the corona care centres by subsiding the cost? For all I know, no supplier can bring down the cost by Rs 270 per head, unless the menu is different or Government subsidies are available. You may do a bit of investigative journalism, in case the authorities do not respond to this letter.

Yours etc.,
Deliancy Syiemlieh,
Via email.

Corruption charges won’t stick

Editor,

I am sure Chief Minister Conrad Sangma is tired of rebutting the corruption charges leveled on his Government by the BJP. Time has come to drop the BJP from the coalition. The NPP can survive quite well without the support of the BJP with just two MLAs. Someone has rightly pointed out that if the BJP really cares about corruption it should just take the matter to court on behalf of the GHADC. Why wait for the “caged parrot” called the CBI which the BJP in Uttar Pradesh has been merrily using to save Republic TV from the TRP scam? When BJP alleges that the NPP is corrupt it is only tainting itself since the Party is still part of the coalition. In 2023, people will judge the BJP, NPP, UDP, HSPDP, PDF with the same yardstick that they judge the NPP. None of the coalition partners can get away by saying they were not part of the grand scheme of corruption. By association all of these parties are tainted because they are tacitly supporting the illegal transportation of coal since the MDA took over the reins of the state. So the NPP need not fear about the next election. The Congress Party is in disarray; the BJP will never be accepted in Meghalaya, not especially after how the Party is hounding minorities and now the 83-year old Fr. Stan Swamy who is booked under the NIA. The regional parties will never come together under a single umbrella but will have to support one or other national party. So as far as NPP is concerned it can safely win the 2023 elections. The Party controls the purse strings of Meghalaya and he who pays the piper calls the tune. So Conrad Sangma and his family should not worry too much!

Yours etc.,

D A Sangma,

Via email

Accept Stammering

Editor,

International Stammering Awareness Day (ISAD) is celebrated on October 22 worldwide. The day is designated to bring public awareness on the issues faced by millions of people – one percent of the world’s population – who stammer. In India too, millions of people are confronting the challenge of stammering. It creates trouble for education, interpersonal relationships, social activities, and finding employment. Our society recognizes that every individual must speak fluently. Stammers are isolated and many times judged incapable of jobs and marriage. Community is giving advice to people who stammer to speak slowly, breathe repeatedly, and to develop self-confidence. This kind of advice does not assist them and makes their life more complicated. The need of the hour is that people should accept stammering as a human diversity and accept it graciously. If you come across anyone who stammers, listen to him/her patiently, give the person time to speak, and do not make any assumptions about anything on the basis of stammering. Exclusively equal opportunities and full participation may empower people who stammer in society. At the same time, the people who stammer should frankly accept stammering and talk to more people and remove the fear of stammering.

Yours etc.,

Amit Singh Kushwaha,

Satna (M.P.)

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