Thursday, April 18, 2024

Concerns on the perpetuation of VIP culture in Meghalaya


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I hope this letter finds space in your esteemed publication to shed light on an issue that has been a source of frustration for many commuters in Meghalaya. I am writing to express my concerns regarding the prevalent VIP culture, particularly evident during my daily travels across the Umiam Bridge.
It is disheartening to witness so-called VIP vehicles blatantly overtaking from both sides with apparent impunity. The dedicated police personnel, who should be empowered to maintain order on the roads, seem powerless to stop or even address this behaviour. Some vehicles even sport sirens, yet they often lack any VIP presence, and the sole occupant is the driver. It seems that the mere sound of a siren grants these vehicles the authority to manoeuvre as they please.
What is even more distressing is the lack of uniformity in the enforcement of rules and regulations within the state. On one side of the bridge, vehicles are allowed to pass within a reasonable time frame, while on the other side, the delay can extend up to 20 minutes. Such inconsistencies only add to the frustration of commuters who are left wondering about the fairness and transparency of the system.
Additionally, the absence of police patrolling in critical areas allows reckless drivers to overtake repeatedly, posing a danger to everyone on the road. This lack of enforcement not only jeopardizes public safety but also erodes the trust citizens place in the authorities to ensure a smooth and orderly traffic flow.
It is my sincere hope that this letter catalyzes change. I urge the concerned authorities to address these issues promptly and instill a sense of responsibility and accountability in all road users. Only through consistent enforcement of traffic rules and regulations can we hope to curb the VIP culture that seems to have taken roots in our state.
I trust that with collective efforts, we can create a safer and more disciplined road environment for all residents of Meghalaya.
Yours etc.,
A Sarki,

On the Khasi Mandarin Oranges

The article, “Much ado about Khasi Mandarin” by H.H.Mohrmen, ( ST January 8, 2024) made interesting reading. According to the study by S.Passah and A.K.Tripathi titled “Economics of Khasi mandarin cultivation in Meghalaya: Analysis of economic feasibility and constraint faced by farmers during its cultivation,” which appeared in the Indian Journal of Hill Farming, December 2020, Volume 33 page 267-279, it is reported that the total area of Khasi mandarin in Meghalaya is 9.26 thousand hectares and production is 44.02 thousand MT (which is today equivalent to Rs 447 crore as on January 8, 2024 prices or 1 percent of the State’s GDP). It is cultivated in all the eleven districts of Meghalaya with East Khasi Hills and West Khasi Hills districts contributing about 59.74 per cent of the total area and 67.77 per cent of the total production of mandarin in the state (GoM, 2019). Seasonality and localized to favourable agro-climatic conditions coupled with the perishability of mandarins produced pose several problems for the growers. Most of the growers lack knowledge on standard packaging practices. The incidence of pests and diseases, poor orchard management (Hangsing et al., 2014) and poor access to extension personnel or exposure to training programmes (Thamizhselvan and Murugan, 2012) are major problems. The high cost of cultivation, especially initial investment (Alipour et al., 2013) and planting material, labour wage and unavailability of credit pose problems to farmers (Rymbai, 2012).
Several constraints such as lack of transportation, communication, weak cooperative organizations and storage facilities in the rural areas also cause problems for the farmers (Mahanta and Konwar, 2014). The study was conducted in 4 selected villages which include Mawphu and Umblai villages from Shella Bholaganj block of East Khasi Hills and Nongnah and Keniong villages from Ranikor block of West Khasi Hills districts of Meghalaya. The selection was based on the highest area, production and productivity of Khasi mandarin. The study observed that the district wise area and production of Khasi mandarin in Meghalaya has clearly shown a positive and significant growth rate (Porwal, 2014) except in Jaintia Hills. The study also inferred that commercialisation had touched the mandarin farm of the selected households but did not take its position in increasing trends. The study also points out that the reason for the reduction in the number of household growers in the region was mainly because of the decline in production of the fruits as a result of disease and pest such as citrus trunk borers, scales, aphids and leaf miners (Lakshman, 2017) and also the change in climate which deteriorated the production of orchards (Abobatta, 2019). Lack of knowledge on management of the orchards such as rejuvenation, pest and disease control, nutrient and water management make farmers lose interest for further cultivation and thus forces them to shift or cultivate different crops such as broom stick to avoid losses as reported by the farmers in the study area. The authors of this study have rightly suggested that, “effort should be taken up by the state government and concerned authorities to provide immediate support for development of better road facility and marketing infrastructure such as cold storage or small processing unit in those areas so that they can increase their productivity on a large scale and better marketing of their produce.
The policy implications suggested, if properly implemented, may result in increased revenue of the farmers in particular and the state in general. Thus, it enhances the livelihoods and income opportunities of the farmers”.
Yours etc.,
VK Lyngdoh,
Via email


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