Meghalaya Govt focused on delivery in health and education

March 21, 2023 by MT Bureau

Staff Reporter

Shillong, March 20: Governor Phagu Chauhan said the government is focused on enhancing the service delivery in health and education sectors and making larger investments in physical infrastructure such as roads, bridges, power and drinking water supply.

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Highlighting the key priorities of the MDA government in his address during the first day of the Assembly’s budget session today, Chauhan said, “Another critical focus is on improving rural livelihoods and promoting enterprises through mission mode interventions in the sectors of Agriculture, Horticulture, Fisheries and Animal Husbandry.”

Stating that it is the government’s responsibility to make collective efforts and strive towards socio-economic development and progress in all spheres, he said the government is making concerted efforts to improve the standard of living of the people of the state through better governance.

Speaking on the government’s effort on resource mobilization, the governor said, “I am happy to state that the taxation department has made significant progress in collecting revenue for the state. By the end of December 2022 Rs 1,078.25 crore and Rs 429.84 crore have been collected under GST and Non-GST components, for 2022-23. The departments of Excise, Registration and Stamps are also making efforts to increase the revenue collection.”

Informing that steps are being taken to start scientific mining, Chauhan said prospecting licenses have been allotted to 17 applicants out of which 4 have obtained the approval of the Ministry of Coal for the geological report for preparation of the mining plan adding it is expected that the mining leases will be granted soon.

He informed that the government has successfully executed the business correspondent model aimed at delivering banking services to the last mile. Through this, about 600 new business correspondents have been deployed, in addition to the 1,100 existing business correspondents, who are successfully providing banking services even in remote villages.

On implementation of the FOCUS and FOCUS+ under the Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare, Chauhan said, “The government endeavors to expand the reach of the program to all the 8 lakh urban and rural households within the next 5 years.”

He said till date, more than 3 lakh households have benefited with a support of over Rs 200 crore through FOCUS and FOCUS+.

Claiming that the state has made tremendous progress towards achieving universal health coverage and improving access to quality health care services, Chauhan said 109 health facilities are being renovated and 19 are being newly constructed to ensure the well-being of the people at the grassroots.

Apart from these, over 6,254 village health councils were formed, which will formalize the role of communities in addressing health issues.

He said the MOTHER program was launched to track and monitor pregnant mothers to tackle the challenge of high maternal mortality and infant mortality rates. Over 2.2 lakh mothers have been supported since its inception. The government has also launched the drone medicine delivery system to deliver medicines to the remotest locations of the state on time.

The government has also inaugurated the cancer wing of civil hospital, Shillong in December 2022 in view of the high cancer cases in the state.

Further, the governor said that his government has taken measures to comprehensively improve the educational infrastructure at the grass-root. Infrastructure upgradation of about 1,885 schools have been taken up on priority.

The government has also enhanced the salary of adhoc teachers by upto 50 per cent, benefitting about 10,000 teachers. This will have additional financial implication of Rs 81 crore annually.

The salary payments of the 12,500 Samagra Sikshya Abhiya  teachers are in the process of being streamlined.

Stating that providing drinking water to rural households has been a top priority of the government, the governor said when the JJM was launched in 2019 by the Ministry of Jal Shakti, the state had only 4,550 functional household tap connections. In less than four years, this has increased to more than 2.9 lakh households.

Further 1,422 villages now have 100 per cent household tap connections. “Meghalaya is now the second-best improved state in providing water connectivity,” he added.

Regarding urban development, the governor said under the smart city program, several projects are being implemented in Shillong City. The reconstruction of the Laitumkhrah market, Polo commercial complex, smart roads, integrated control and command centre, and automatic car parking facility at Motphran are progressing well.

He said that the government has taken a multi-pronged approach to decongest Shillong city. 30 buses have been procured and a shared school bus system is being introduced at a cost of Rs 10 crores. It is estimated that approximately 450 cars shall be removed from the street by this system during peak hours resulting in saving considerable time and cost.

The government has acquired about 807 acres of land in Mawpdang-Mawkhanu to expand the New Shillong Township. This will ease the burden on the existing city center and also help in urbanization in a sustainable manner.

Meanwhile, the governor also said that the government has taken up several measures to improve connectivity. Shillong Airport at Umroi has been made fully functional. Currently the airport is catering to about 10,000 passengers with 250 flights every month, connecting 9 cities.

SpiceJet Airlines now operates direct flights to New Delhi and more cities will be added soon. The Baljek Airport will also be operationalized by upgrading the existing infrastructure, he added.

Asserting the importance of reliable power supply, Chauhan said that the first phase of Ganol Mini Hydro Electric project, was inaugurated and commissioned in January 2023. With this, the state has a total installed capacity of 363.70 MW generating about 1,100 MU of energy annually.

He said works to strengthen and modernize the power distribution network and reduce technical and commercial losses are in progress. To diversify the energy mix, the government is exploring the development of solar power, he said while adding that the Meghalaya New and Renewable Energy Development Agency has undertaken various schemes to promote solar energy including installation of 1,500 solar street lights, 50 biogas plants and 200 solar pumps under the PM-KUSUM scheme, which are in different stages of implementation.

The governor also informed that the government is taking up road projects under various programmes. Under the World Bank funded Meghalaya Integrated Transport Project, critical roads like Shillong Diengpasoh road and Laitlyngkot-Pomlakrai-Laitkroh road are completed.

He said that the government is also committed to achieving the United Nation Sustainable Development Goals Agenda 2030. In the SDG India Index 3.0, the state has seen an improvement from the 25th position to the 22nd position overall in the ranking of states.