Meghalaya celebrates 49th Statehood Day

SHILLONG: Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma while extending warm greetings to the people of the state on the 49th anniversary of Meghalaya Statehood Day called upon everyone to work together jointly with a positive attitude towards further development of the state.

The Chief Minister stressed on the need to improve various sectors of governance to propel the State forward towards excellence which includes health, education, tourism, youth , agriculture, farmers and preserving the natural resources.

.Addressing the gathering during the official function of the 49th Statehood day at the U Soso Tham Auditorium on Thursday the Chief Minister recollected the contribution and sacrifices made by the leaders of the State to achieve Statehood.

“As we celebrate this 49th anniversary of our statehood at the same time we should also feel proud and keep reminding ourselves about the sacrifices that were made by those great leaders and it must not go in vain .We must cherish it and we must keep reminding ourselves,” he said.

He said that many more years lies in front and as citizens everyone has a responsibility towards making it better.

“ I’ve seen many ups and downs it’s never a perfect journey there will always be challenges statehood life in itself will throw out many challenges to us but in spite of all these challenges the state has moved forward in many ways on the aspects of governance to development,” he said.

Reminding that the year 2022 marks the Golden Jubilee celebration of Statehood, he said, “It is important for us to realize that we will be celebrating 50 years and it’s important to keep in mind as the government and as citizens where do we see ourselves in the next one year in the next five years and even in the next 50 years”.

“I think the seeds of the future would need to be sown now to be able to give us a direction of where we’re going to move forward in the next 50 years,” he added.

Highlighting the area the State government will be focusing on, the Chief Minister said, “Infrastructure is key for any kind of development. For the future a number of projects from different schemes have been taken out with the PMGSY. All these will ensure that road connectivity to the rural areas as well as the main arteries and veins of our state the national highways all different projects will be taken up to ensure that the overall road and communication improves in the state”.

Stating that the Jaal Jeevan Yojna is another very important project , the Chief Minister said that 4900 crores is being laid out for it in the next three years and though the rest of the country will be completing it by 2024 the state government has been given the task to finish it by December 2022 .

“Our team of officials from PHE is working tirelessly to be able to achieve this but we will need the community and society to work together with us to complete this ambitious project,” he said.

The Chief Minister asserted that in the sports sector the state Government is not leaving any stone unturned and are hoping that the national games will be coming to the state.

He however said that due to COVID-19 pandemic and other reasons and delays that have taken place in other states the state government is yet to know whether it will be able to host it on the 50th year which is what was planned.

“In spite of the uncertainty, the state government and the sports department will ensure that the facilities and infrastructure required for the national games is completed on time,” he added.

The Chief Minister said that in the Health sector in terms of infrastructure the State government have been ensuring that continuous improvement takes place specially in the last one year because of COVID.

“659 health centers that we have throughout the state will also be upgraded in the coming years through different sources like externally aided projects from the World Bank,” he said.

On education, the Chief Minister said, “We’ve also realized that education infrastructure is important and hence there is a very massive move to upgrade the infrastructure in the lower primary schools, upper primary schools, secondary higher secondary and even in the colleges that are there in our state”.

“Within this financial year close to 250 LP school will be upgraded and we will continue this program to make close to 800 LP schools with brand new buildings is what we plan to do for the education,” he said.

He said, “Similarly for the other sectors also we’re going to ensure that investment is made to ensure that proper infrastructure is available for the education of actually in the rural sector”.

The Chief Minister also informed that this year in spite of the COVID-19 challenge they we will be spending the highest amount in the MGNREGA scheme and this scheme which was approximately about 607 hundred crores of expenditure about few years back, in this financial year they will be touching a record of 1600 cruise in terms of expenditure.

“I’m happy to inform you this also puts us as one of the best performing states when it comes to the MNREGA scheme in the entire country,” he said.

Pointing out that the farmers today in the state are still practicing the systems that have been followed earlier, the Chief Minister said that there needs to be intervention in the farming sector and the agriculture sector.

“Farmers have been left on their own to be able to find solutions at their own level and hence it is important that the government and different institutions take up this matter and ensure that we are able to change the course of the agriculture sector in the coming years,” he said.

He said that there is need to connect the farmers and have farmers producers groups to be formed so that when the farmers come together they’re able to negotiate better prices.

He informed that 1700 farmer groups have been formed and the State intends to form another 3000 farmer groups and as of now 25,000 farmers are in these groups and by the end when the State government achieves 5000 farmer producers groups they will be having close to one lakh farmers who will be part of this farmer producer group.

“In order to financially support them to be able to put up storage space, we are also ensuring that financial support is given to them and amount of 40 Crores has been earmarked to be able to give these loans to this farmer producer groups at interest free so these groups can take this money and use it to ensure that they can uplift the overall standards at the grassroot level,” he said.

He also said that but after the farmers are able to produce they need entrepreneurs to be able to market their products outside so therefore there needs to be a strong connection between the farmers and entrepreneurs and the State government has also created a corpus of 10 crores which will be given to different entrepreneurs who would wish to work with these farmers add value to it package it and market these products outside.

Pointing out that 30% of the population is between the age of 15 and 30 he said that it will be very important to be able to create an ecosystem for the youth of the state and in fact for the nation as a whole.

“ I’m happy to inform you the draft youth policy is almost ready and within weeks we will be putting it up in the public domain for different kinds of inputs from the society and other stakeholders in fact we have already started the process of communicating to different stakeholders to get their views,” he said.

Talking about the tourism sector, the Chief Minister said, “We need to realize that even in tourism we need to change our strategy based on the conditions that we face. There needs to be more avenues, more activities and more circuits and in the coming days months”.

“Next financial year we intend to have different kind of programs and avenues to bring in tourists into our state we intend to have art festivals we intend to continue a literature festival’s and we are very happy that the Delhi Shillong flight has started and we hope that this will ensure that more and more tourists from the capital of our country will be able to easily come and connect to the State,” he said.

He also pointed out that there are many parts of the state where there have not been any investment or tourists have not got an opportunity to go.

“Many districts like West Khasi Hills, Southwest Khasi Hills have huge potential when it comes to tourism. All these districts and many others have huge potential our objective will be to ensure that we get these circuits also within the map of the tourism sector in our state,” he said.

The Chief Minister also informed that more than 45% of villages in the State are unbanked.

Informing about the remedial measures initiated to tackle this, the Chief Minister said, “In order to overcome this challenge in the last one year we have tied up with cooperative bank and also have an understanding with the State Bank of India to come up with another 100 business correspondence”.

“We hope that within the next year we should be able to reduce the unbanked villages from 45% to 10% having said that friends,” he added.

The Chief Minister also stressed on the need to conserve and preserve the natural resources.

“ Our state have the highest rainfall in the world and we are still having difficulty in being able to give potable drinking water to many villages in our state and I strongly feel that if proper management systems are put in place we will be able to resolve these problems to a large extent therefore in the coming year we will focus on water as the base to ensure that we are able to touch all aspects of biodiversity and forest and go for a proper natural resource management,” he added.

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