Who will regulate the taxi fares?
Quoting from the report from The Shillong Times dated 22/05/2022 “Centre’s move to slash excise duty on fuel to offer the public respite from inflation, the price of the petrol in the city has gone down to Rs 95.14/litre while diesel now costs Rs 83.13/litre” Since 2021 the taxi fares have doubled up on the plea that they were following Covid protocols. Later the protocol was relaxed by the Government while the fares remained the same. The public has to suffer no matter how much they are being charged. It may be a small issue for our Government but it does cause a lot of problems for the general public. The taxi fare from Garikhana to Police Bazar was raised from Rs. 10 to Rs 30. The fare from Garikhana to Umiam was raised from Rs 30 to Rs 50. Some drivers even charge Rs 60 per person with full capacity. Why does the Transport Department neglect these problems faced by the public? Kindly look into the matter and solve the problem immediately so that the general public will escape from this plight.
Lack of accountability of ADCs
The news item which appeared prominently in The Shillong Times of June 13, 2022 under the caption, “Opposition plea for tightening belt after CAG missive” and subsequent reports connected with the subject in question where it was reported that the Governor has sought the intervention of the Chief Minister on the non- maintenance of accounts by the three District Councils of Jaintia Hills, Khasi-Jaintia Hills and Garo Hills is indicative of the lack of accountability of the ADCs. This has led to the habitual undeterred, rampant embezzlement of public funds by these constitutional bodies. In this connection I am tempted to openly ask this question from the public of Meghalaya as to who is responsible for electing the MDCs and why the CAG of Meghalaya which is constitutionally mandated to keep a tab of the incomes and expenditures of these bodies by auditing their accounts from time to time is not taking penal action on the “embezzlement of public funds for so long ? Why are they not made accountable to anyone for the huge amounts they collect by way of taxes, shares of taxes from State government, royalties, tolls, fees etc., and huge grants under article 275 and special grant assistance from Finance Commission? All these yearly revenues amount to several crores of rupees. It is a fact that not only do the ADCs not maintain their accounts timely but they also do it irregularly and haphazardly because there are no proper systems of accounting.
What is urgently required is to overhaul the whole system of maintenance of accounts by inducting financial experts in accountancy so that everything is up to date. More importantly is to ensure by bringing in place a complete system of financial responsibility, accountability and transparency in these bodies. What was going on all these years was that money could be drawn and utilised at will based on the whims and fancies of those in authority in the Executive Committees. It was really a great puzzle to witness that in the name of some schemes how the ADCs’ funds were embezzled left and right without any qualms of conscience by those in authority and without in the least caring to think that the funds belong to the public and is not their fathers’ hard- earned money.
It must also be admitted that the CAG has failed many times in the past to prepare timely Audit Reports because we came across that the CAG issued audit reports pertaining to old financial years. It may not be out of place to suggest to the CAG that he may depute experts to impart intensive trainings to the ADC personnel who are dealing with the day to day accounts so that accounts keeping records are correct and in order in all respects keeping in view the CAG standards. This will also facilitate timely submission of accounts by the ADCs and make the job of the CAG easy.
Let us, from now on, hope that the ADCs here in our state will deliver good governance (which we doubt) and live up to the goals for which they are mandated by the Constitution and that the public funds entrusted to them are in safe hands. We are tired of the repeated bad news of defalcation and corruption by these constitutional bodies who are duty bound to safeguard, preserve and protect the land, identities, culture etc of the tribals here in Meghalaya.
CUET & its implications
Recently, the only public university of Meghalaya- NEHU, has published that all PG programs fall under the ambit of CUET on its website. With this, there should be a relook into why NEHU was established in the North East(NE). Bearing the tag of being neglected, NE, was way behind other states, when it came to education and health care facilities. The then government at the Centre thought it would be wise to set up a central university in a region where the tribal population was in the majority and the terrain limited movement. Hence, it was decided that a university should be established which would cater to the needs and aspirations of the young minds of this part of the country. Looking at it now, all the vision of the previous regime seems to have gone into dust. Meghalaya can never be in the same playing field as that of a UP or Delhi in terms of coaching and other facilities which facilitate the success of an arduous entrance examination. What the Vice-Chancellor should be conveying to his seniors at the centre is more seats, reservation and priority to tribal candidates in the region and especially to those from Meghalaya. There are reservations for SC students as well, however, the state has a maximum ST population and ways and means should be devised so that the brightest and most deserving minds do not fall prey to the “experimentation” and whimsical trials and tribulations of implementing the National Education Policy (NEP) at the cost of tribal students.
Many students even barely manage to pay their UG course fees, so one can imagine when people from other parts of the country come and flock to NEHU through CUET under the same ‘ST’ category, where shall our very own children go? Private colleges elsewhere that charge gargantuan fees? NEHU and it’s stakeholders should seriously sit down and deliberate if the ‘diktats’ are really meant to be implemented or be bold enough to be a policy maker of change in their own rights to preserve and maintain the tribal culture of our region which is diminishing day by day. Only God knows what would happen ten years down the line where one may witness zero students from Meghalaya studying in PG courses at NEHU and the entire vision of setting up a varsity falls into the doldrums. Hopefully the administrators, especially the Vice-Chancellor and student bodies can foresee the future which looks unfortunately pretty dark.