Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma, on Wednesday, said his government has laid the foundation for the state to become one of the top 10 states in the country in the next 10 years. Unfurling the Tricolour on the occasion of the 73rd Republic Day at the Polo ground, he said the state with 3.8 million people need to grow together with the rest of the North-Eastern states and present to the world one North East market like the European Union.
“We (the state government) have laid the foundation and it will become one of the top 10 states in the country in the next 10 years. We will do it. We need to realise the importance as a society to move positively in the direction that we have set,” the chief minister said. He said 3.8 million people (Meghalaya's population) is a small number in global markets and, if Meghalaya has to grow, it has to grow as one of the entities of the North-Eastern market.
“I am happy to inform you that today the state's expenditure is touching close to Rs 14,000 crore. This is possible because of tapping of external agencies, timely implementation of projects and running central schemes in an efficient manner,” he said. Sangma said the state has mobilised Rs 7,500 crore from external agencies, a big jump from Rs 2,500 crore in 2018.
“Funds from these agencies support projects in tourism, water catchment area, road construction, integrated transport system, early childhood development programme besides others,” he said. Highlighting the roadmap for the development of the state, the chief minister said there is a need for more administrative expansion, especially at the block level to help ease of doing business for the common man.
“We have come to realise that 70 per cent of the services that the people need is through blocks. There are still villages where people have to travel more than 2 hours just to get their old age pension or to see the NREGA wages. We have taken steps to improve this and create more administrative units at the grassroots level,” he said.
Expressing regret, Sangma said some block offices have never been painted for the past 30 years. “Our Police Stations are not renovated in the past 30 years and lower primary(LP) schools don't have doors and windows, chairs and tables,” he said. He informed that the government has mobilised over Rs 1,300 crore through a programme under NABARD.
“Over Rs 120 crore has been earmarked for improvement of all 40 blocks (rest 6 blocks work is going on). Rs 100 crore earmarked to different PS to upgrade. Health centres projects are going on as we speak. We have over 2000 lower primary (LP) schools in dilapidated conditions. We have renovated close to 600 of them already. Another 200-300 schools will be renovated this year itself,” he assured.
“Today close to 3.5 lakh women are part of 38,000 Self Help Groups, a big jump of over 1000 per cent when it was just 30,000 women in Self Help Groups in 2018,” he said. He also highlighted the Prime Minister's congratulatory message to the government for providing direct piped water to over 2 lakh families in about 4 years as compared to only 4,000 such families in 2019. “This has improved and touched the lives of about 12 lakh individuals in the state through the Jal Jeevan Mission,” he said.
The chief minister also informed that the IT Park, conceptualised in 2008 and the best in the entire North-Eastern region, will be inaugurated this February and this would provide jobs to 1500 youths.“This is the beginning. We have 80 acres of land and we will expand the IT Park as there is a huge demand from IT companies who wants to come and start their business from here considering the availability of manpower,” he said.
Sangma said the government has procured 800 acres of land in New Shillong Township to decongest the old city by setting up a new administrative city there. “In last 50 years, we have functioned from the same administrative set up in Shillong. Shillong has grown and become populated. We need to think big. Let this administrative city be the best in the country and we will do it,” he said.
On the vexed interstate border with Assam, the chief minister said that soon six areas of difference between the two states will be resolved based on the interests and ethnicity of the actual people living in the affected areas. “We will work to ensure that the rest six areas of differences are also followed with,” he said.
Sangma also informed that Rs 300 crore from World Bank will be utilised in a comprehensive programme for the young people of the state.“We have a youth policy. We are working on promoting entrepreneurship as we are aware that 50,000 youths are entering the market every year,” he said. The CM also announced that a Curcumin extraction plant will be set up in the Lakadong area of Jaintia Hills, besides 15 more processing plants that are in the process of implementation. Lakadong turmeric is known for its highest curcumin content.
“We have 10,000 farmers engaged in the production of Lakadong turmeric. The value of processed Lakadong will sell Rs 6000 per litres and this will benefit our farmers,” he said. The chief minister said that Meghalaya should be presented as one of the regional producers and, for this global value chains have to be created. He also said that connectivity in the state has improved considerably during the four-year rule of his government.
“There was a time when there was no flight from Shillong. ILS did not work... I am happy to inform that today seven flights come here from different cities and over 300 passengers come in everyday. This will only increase as connectivity is very important,” he said.
With PTI inputs.