MDA Govt taking the state on a downhill slide  

By H H Mohrmen

The MDA alliance is a marriage of convenience where many political parties with different principles and ideologies have joined together to form a government. The alliance which comprises of regional parties and two national parties of diverse ideologies joining hands to form a government just for the sake of it is bound to hit hurdles from the word go. It is a classic testimony to the fact that politics is the art of the possible with the sole objective of obtaining power no matter what. The government of such incongruities is not surprisingly found acting against the interests of the very public they are supposed to serve or even contradicting itself.

No matter how much the government tries to deny that coal mining and transportation of the mineral is happening, evidence keeps coming up to the embarrassment of those in power. It is also ironic that while the state government has itself filed 254 cases on illegal coal mining and transportation of coal only in the year 2019 to 2021, the central minister for coal Pralhad Joshi on February 12, had to lie on the floor of the Parliaments on behalf of the State Government. It looks as if this government will go to any extent to protect those involved in these activities. But how can the government deny these cases which were filed by none other but the different agencies of the same government?

Obviously this government does not respect the rule of law not only in the illegal mining and transportation of coal but the way it runs the transport check gates and weighbridges too is a blatant disrespect of the law. In the West Jañtia Hills for best reason known only to the Meghalaya State Transport, the weighbridge was shifted from Ynñawmer (7 mile) to the new Jowai bypass. The new Weighbridge does not have any government signage and it is alleged that it is being run by person(s) who run the Transport department in the present government. Not only that the weighbridge is allegedly run by someone in the government but the people call it by the name of a person who heads the department.

To the common man’s new weighbridge is even known as ‘ka kata u ma …’ or the weighbridge of the person who heads the department and not that of the government. As if the weighbridge is a private property of the person in charge. On a lighter note the two words ‘ka kata’ in Pnar parlance also means ‘pocket’ and of course no explanation is needed as to how this coincidence happens.

The point is that in this government even public offices like (in this case) a government weighbridge is known by the person’s name instead of by the department’s name. Hence the question is – where is the government? The two questions that arise from this abuse of power by those in authority is whether the government in the first place called for tenders to allot to any bidder the responsibility to run these government weighbridges? Or on the other hand how can the government allow any entity to run these weighbridges or check gates without floating a tender? Is it not a case of abuse of power if a person or relative of one close to power is allotted to run the same without floating any tender?

It is an open secret that the economy of the state is in a bad shape and the ban on mining and transportation of coal is blamed for this sad state of affairs, but the question is what has the government done to improve the economy of the state? Since the government is complaining about the revenue shortfall after the mining ban and now the reducing of the tax on petrol products is being implemented, the public have the right to know how much the government has collected from these weighbridges monthly/annually?

In the current government dispensation, various departments are fast becoming like ministers’ individual fiefdom. No why do the ministers treat the government agencies as their private businesses. If this is true and it continues, the question is whether Meghalaya is on the verge of becoming a despotic state?

Just few months after lockdown and as the state was  gradually limping back to normalcy, all of a sudden the drivers of the commercial vehicles in the state went on an indefinite strike against the increase of price on petroleum products in the state. While it is within the taxi drivers’ right to protest, why did it take the government so long to address the issue? Why didn’t the government immediately invite the protestors to the negotiating table but instead took its own time to resolve the issue? At end of the day any kind of protest or strike and whatever the cause may be ultimately, it is common public that are being affected the most and have to bear the brunt.

The people of the state may have breathed a sigh of relief after the owners and drivers of all the commercial vehicles’ have finally withdrawn their indefinite strike, but unfortunately it happened after a prolonged strike of more than ten days. The manner in which this government handled the strike called by the drivers and owners of commercial vehicles, left much to be desired. Isn’t this a clear case of unprofessionalism on the part of this government in handling this very critical issue which is a matter of life and death for the common people of the state?

After the government had succumbed to the pressure of the organisation of commercial vehicles and reduced the price of petrol and diesel in the state, the public were left in the lurch as the government has not immediately announced the new taxi fares in the entire state. The taxi organisation took advantage of the situation and in spite of the fact that the price of petrol and diesels was reduced, they continued with the old fare which was an extraordinary arrangement to address the post COVID 19 lockdown period.

As if the issue of illegal mining and transportation of coal to the strike by the different taxi’ associations was not enough, the people of the state had to undergo an unexplainable ordeal of an unusual load shedding which went on for 7-8 hours a day.  Thank goodness the issue was resolved sooner than later, but the question is for how long? The money the government borrowed from the market may be sufficient just to repay the pending dues of the distributors and the generators of electricity, but what next?  How will the government ensure that load shedding will not happen again? Who did not pay their electrical dues? Surely not the public, because if a public household do not pay their bills, the Corporation is quick in disconnecting their electrical supply, so the question that the public needs to know is who did not pay their dues? Hopefully the government will come up with strategy to see that the dues are paid regularly and on time, to ensure that load shedding does not happen again in the state in the future.

The state government recently announced that it encourages the people of the state to install solar panel on their rooftops, which of course will help in reducing the household need of electricity from the grid but it is yet to know if this is effective. The MDA government has completed more than half of its journey in serving the state and its people yet there is not much to talk about its achievements. Like someone rightly said the MDA is now becoming the government of only Minimum Development Achieved (MDA) so far.

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