CM recalls sacrifices in wish for excellence

SHILLONG, Jan 21: Chief Minister Conrad Sangma on Thursday stressed on the need to improve various sectors, including health, education, tourism, agriculture etc, to push the state forward towards excellence.
Addressing a gathering on the occasion of 49th Statehood Day, he recalled the contributions and sacrifices made by the leaders which led to the attainment of statehood.
“As we celebrate the 49th anniversary of our state, we should feel proud. We should keep reminding ourselves of the sacrifices made by those great leaders. The sacrifices must not go in vain,” the CM said.
He said everyone has a responsibility to make the state better.
“I’ve seen many ups and downs and it has never been a perfect journey. Despite challenges, the state has moved on, from governance to development. It is important to keep in mind where we want to see ourselves in the next one year or five years or 50 years. I think the seeds of the future need to be sown now,” Sangma said.
He said development of infrastructure and road connectivity would be the government’s focused areas. Stating that Jal Jeevan Yojana is a key project, he said Rs 4,900 crore is being laid out for it over the next three years. The rest of the country will complete the project by 2024 but Meghalaya has been asked to do it by December 2022, he said.
“Our team of officials from the Public Health Engineering department is working tirelessly to achieve the goal but we will need the communities to work together with us,” he said.
Talking about the sports sector, he said the government is hopeful about holding the National Games although the COVID-19 pandemic wasted precious times.
“Despite the uncertainty, the state government will ensure that the facilities and infrastructure, required for National Games, are put in place on time,” he said.
He also said that following the outbreak of the pandemic, the government ensured continuous improvement in the health sector.
“All the 659 healthcare centers that we have
throughout the state will be upgraded through different sources including externally-aided projects from the World Bank,” he said.
Talking about the education sector, Sangma said the government is initiating a massive step to upgrade infrastructure in lower primary, upper primary, secondary and higher secondary schools besides colleges.
“Within this financial year, close to 250 LP schools will be upgraded. Some 800 LP schools will get makeover with brand new buildings. That is our plan,” he said.
Sangma said the government would spend the highest amount in MGNREGA scheme. It was about Rs 847 crore in 2018-19 but the scheme in the current fiscal will touch Rs 1,600 crore.
“I’m happy to inform you that this (MNREGA) puts us as one of the best-performing states in the country,” he said.
He also said that there needs to be an intervention in the farming sector as the farmers are still practicing traditional methods of farming.
“The farmers have been left to fend for themselves 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,” Sangma said.
He said an amount of Rs 40 crore has been earmarked and the farmer producer groups will be given interest-free loans. He also said that the state government has created a corpus of Rs 10 crore which will be given to different entrepreneurs who will work with these farmers, add value to produce, package it and market it outside.
Talking about youth, he said, “I’m happy to inform you that the draft youth policy is almost ready and within weeks, we will put it up in the public domain to get views from the society and other stakeholders. We have, in fact, already started the process of communicating to different stakeholders.”
On the tourism sector, the CM 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, activities and circuits.”
He said the government intends to organise art and literary festivals to attract tourists. He was hopeful that more and more people from the national capital will visit the state as there is the Delhi-Shillong flight service. He said in many parts of the state, there have not been any investments and the tourists also did not get an opportunity to visit the places.
Sangma said that more than 45% of the villages in the state are unbanked.
“In order to overcome this challenge, we have tied up with cooperative bank and also have an understanding with the State Bank of India. We hope that we should be able to reduce the unbanked villages from 45% to 10% within the next year,” he said.
Stressing on the need to conserve natural resources, the CM said, “Our state records the highest rainfall in the world and we are still having difficulties in being able to give potable water to many villages. I strongly feel that if proper management systems are put in place, we will be able to resolve the problem to a large extent.”

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