Border issues with Assam to be resolved in 6 areas soon: Meghalaya guv

Shillong: Meghalaya Governor Satya Pal Malik on Friday expressed hope that the state’s border problem with Assam will be resolved soon in at least six areas of differences.

Addressing the assembly on the first day of the budget session, Malik said the state government is focused on enhancing services delivery in health and education sectors.

We are confident and hopeful the border issue in six areas of difference will be resolved soon. My government is committed to resolve the long pending border dispute between Assam and Meghalaya to usher peace and development for our citizens living in border areas, he said.

He said Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma and his Assam counterpart Himanta Biswa Sarma have had several meetings on the issue in the last six months and they have agreed to resolve the dispute in six locations – Tarabari, Gizang, Hahim, Boklapara, Khanapara-Pillangkata and Ratacherra – in the first phase.

A memorandum of understanding in this regard was signed by both the chief ministers on January 29 last in Guwahati, and it was sent to the Ministry of Home Affairs for further examination, the governor said,

Meghalaya was carved out of Assam as a separate state in 1972 and it had challenged the Assam Reorganisation Act, 1971, leading to disputes related to 12 areas in different parts of the shared 884.9 km long border.

In his address, the governor said his government is focused on enhancing the service delivery in health and education sectors and making investments in physical infrastructure such as roads, bridges, power and drinking water.

He, however, mentioned that the critical focus of the state government is on improving rural livelihoods and promoting enterprises in the sectors of agriculture, horticulture, fisheries and animal husbandry.

Asserting that the overall law and order situation in the state was peaceful in the past one year, Malik said the police quickly arrested the culprits involved in a few incidents of IED blasts.

He also informed the assembly that the outlawed militant outfit Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC) has written to the state government expressing its willingness for unconditional talks within the framework of the Indian Constitution.

The state government welcomes this move and has written to the Ministry of Home Affairs to take this process forward. This is a major development towards bringing about lasting peace in the state and my government is committed to ensure that the peace talk reaches its logical conclusion, he said.

Malik said the state government has also initiated the Meghalaya Health Systems Strengthening Project funded by the World Bank with the aim to infuse around USD 40 million (4 crore) within five years to strengthen the overall health system.

With an objective to improve management capacity, quality, and utilization of health services in Meghalaya, Malik said that till date works worth Rs 45 crore has been awarded for strengthening the infrastructure of health facilities across the state.

Stating that the scheme, Farmers’ Collectivisation for Upscaling of Production and Marketing Systems, addresses the key challenges of production, productivity, and value chain enhancement by bringing the farmers together.

Under the scheme, the government is providing support of Rs 5,000 to each farming household for undertaking agriculture related activities.

The governor said the state government has taken up programmes to promote the production of turmeric, mushroom and jackfruit.

He also said that the implementation of second phase of the Meghalaya State Aquaculture Mission launched in 2018 to further address the gaps in the fisheries sector is on, catapulting fish production from 12,330 Metric Tonnes in 2016-17 to 16,123 Metric Tonnes in 2020-21.

For COVID-19 related expenses, the governor said the Chief Minister’s Secretariat had spent Rs 29.24 crore in 2021-22 which included an assistance of Rs 50,000 as a one-time ex-gratia payment to the next of kin of those who died.

Noting that air connectivity is crucial for the overall development of the state, the governor said the Shillong Airport at Umroi has seen a great increase in passengers and Shillong is now connected to eight cities – Kolkata, Guwahati, Dimapur, Dibrugarh, Lengpui, Agartala, Imphal and Silchar.

More flights are likely to be introduced in the coming year connecting other regions, he said.

The Meghalaya Eco Tourism Infrastructure Development Project, an externally aided project under New Development Bank for a cost of Rs 750 crore has also been initiated in the state to create iconic infrastructure at some of the key tourist destinations like Sohra, Shillong, Tura and accommodation units in villages like Kongthong,” Malik said.

He also informed the House that the government aims to construct 500 homestays in the coming financial year under the Meghalaya Homestays Scheme in convergence with the Prime Minister Employment Generation Programme.

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