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‘A’ for effort but MDA leaves lot to be desired

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Six years of Conrad Sangma-led govt as MDA 2.0 completes a year in office

SHILLONG, March 6: The MDA 2.0 government completed its first year in office on Wednesday, and the Conrad Sangma-led government 6 years, but several burning issues continue to hang fire, and much is left to be done notwithstanding the fact that there is an effort, according to critics.
Some of the major demands and aspirations dogging the state government are ILP implementation, inclusion of Khasi and Garo language in the Eight Schedule of the Constitution, resumption of scientific coal mining in state and the interstate border dispute.
Insofar as ILP is concerned, the Centre appears to have been sitting on the matter.
The Meghalaya Assembly had passed a resolution in December, 2019, for implementation of the system. Several stakeholders including ministers have nudged the Centre from time to time since then, but the central government has not taken any step to pave for ILP implementation in the state.
A similar quagmire surrounds the case of recognition for Khasi and Garo languages.
The Assembly, some years ago, had also passed a resolution to urge Centre to include both languages in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution. The Centre is still considering the appeal.
Some Cabinet ministers and pressure groups had even staged protest at Jantar Mantar seeking fulfiment of this demand, but the Centre remained unmoved.
Resumption of scientific coal mining continues to hang fire albeit the process of obtaining clearances from the Centre by the miners has been going for some years now. The NGT in 2014 had imposed a ban on rat-hole mining in Meghalaya. The government had vented hope about resuming scientific mining, but it is yet to take off. However, purported instances of illegal coal mining and transportation have haunted the government in the last 6 years.
After successfully resolving the boundary dispute with Assam in 6 out of 12 areas of difference, the negotiations between both the states have somehow hit a roadblock since no meetings of the regional committees have taken place for quite some time.
To add to the woes, skirmishes along the disputed areas continue to be reported from time to time.
While almost capitals of almost all Northeastern states are on the verge of getting connected with railways, the state government has not shown keen interest in convincing the stakeholders, pressure groups and the general public on introduction of railway in Khasi Hills.
After the snub in the Khasi Hills region, the state government had mooted the idea of connecting Jaintia Hills with railways. But pressure groups, there too, have opposed it tooth and nail.
As far as the Shillong Airport at Umroi is concerned, the state’s only functional airport continues to be limited to only catering to ATR 72 flights. Meghalaya, although blessed with thriving tourism, has been unable to let bigger aircrafts land in Shillong.
In the latest development, a study is being conducted to find out the feasibility of operating bigger flights from the airport.
A long-sought-after aspiration of the state is to have its own medical college, but it seems it will take longer for people to witness this development.
Six years after laying the foundation stone for the 100-bed Shillong Medical College and Hospital, the state government had last month floated a request for proposal (RFP) for a design consultancy service to upgrade Ganesh Das Hospital, Civil Hospital, and Pasteur Institute into a consolidated teaching and medical college establishment.
In terms of road connectivity, a lot is left to be desired, albeit some important road projects have taken off in recent times.
On MDA’s sixth year in office, Chief Minister Conrad Sangma said his government has overcome challenges to bring the state’s economy on a stable and consistent growth.
“In the last 6 years, the foundations that have been laid are going to be important for the next level of growth we expect to achieve in coming years,” the Chief Minister said.
But others felt differently, especially BJP leader and former top cop, Mariahom Kharkrang, who rued that there was hardly anything substantial achieved on the ground.
“The people cannot see anything that can be said that the government has achieved something. Everything seems to be on the drawing boards only,” Kharkrang said.
He also lamented that the central schemes meant to uplift the economically weaker sections of society and women have not been implemented with vigour.
Leader of the Opposition, Ronnie V Lyngdoh gave the government the benefit of the doubt.
He said it would not be fair to pass any judgment on the MDA Government right now since it says many initiatives are incomplete.
The LO, however, lauded Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong for some important road projects that have finally kicked off.
Retired bureaucrat and social activist, Toki Blah said several promises have been made to better the future of the youth “but we are still waiting to see them being implemented on the ground”.
According to Blah, education sector still awaits a saviour and the roads coupled with traffic snarls continue to be a nightmare.
Civil Society Women’s Organisation (CSWO) president Agnes Kharshiing said that the government is trying to enshroud important cases like the ‘killing’ of Sub Inspector PJ Marbaniang case, land grabbing case in New Shillong Township and a case involving call centre that disappeared.
She also flagged the ‘wastage’ of public money through promotion of retired bureaucrats among other activities.

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