Union Ministers’ visits to Meghalaya
In 2015 the Modi-led NDA Government took an important decision that Union ministers would visit one of the eight north eastern states every fortnight to ensure speedy implementation of the Centre’s social and economic programmes. The tour programme was planned on the express directions of Prime Minister Modi who has taken pains to bring the region in to focus. During such visits the ministers don’t just confine themselves to the state capitals but travel to the villages and inform themselves of the ground situation after interacting with communities everywhere they go.
During these tours, the visiting ministers review the implementation of central schemes related to their respective departments apart from taking part in important events in the region. Unfortunately, the present Minister for Coal and Mines, Pralhad Joshi has not yet visited Meghalaya despite being questioned twice over by none other than the BJP Rajya Sabha MP, Rakesh Sinha, on the status of coal mining in the State and providing answers that are far from the truth. Several other ministers in charge of other departments have visited Meghalaya and met with communities. This is something creditable that the Modi Government has initiated and it is hoped that the tradition continues. In the past, Union Ministers would only come on invitation as special guests and hardly spent a day in the state. Now under the Modi government these ministers have to spend adequate time because they also monitor the central schemes in a detailed manner and give a report of their visits.
Rajya Sabha MP, Rakesh Sinha who had adopted Kongthong Village and has now extended his reach to nearby villages has been mobilising resources for developing tourism and health care in Kongthong and the surrounding areas. He travels to the village quite often to monitor what’s happening there. On a single day Sinha travelled from Kongthong to East Jaintia Hills to meet with the teacher and social entrepreneur, Trinity Saioo who has mobilised the turmeric farmers into progressive self help groups. The BJP ministers and MPs have visited villages that the local MLAs and MPs have not set foot in. That’s the travesty of the so-called ‘elected leaders’ of Meghalaya, many of whom do not know their own state and nor do they understand the problems faced by the destitute section that have no access to healthcare and other basic facilities. Union Minister for Tribal Affairs and Water Resources, Bishweswar Tudu, a tribal from Odisha is presently in Meghalaya to oversee the Jal Jeevan Mission. In the past no monitoring was ever done of central schemes, hence states defaulted on submission of utilisation certificates. Central funds were not judiciously used and money remained unutilised and was returned to the Centre. It is precisely to find out why schemes don’t take off or are delayed, that the union ministers are visiting the states regularly.