There will be 300 project will be inaugurate in the yearlong golden jubilee celebration: Conrad

Shillong, Jan 21: Meghalaya Chief Minister Mr. Conrad K Sangma in his address to the state on the Golden Jubilee Celebration of 50th Years of Meghalaya statehood said that their will be 300 project that will be inaugurating in this yearlong Meghalaya Golden Jubilee Celebration.

The Chief Minister Mr. Conrad  remember, with fondness and gratitude, the founding fathers of the State, Captain Williamson Sangma, Shri D.D. Pugh, Shri B.B. Lyngdoh and all the other leaders of the Hill State Movement. On this very special occasion,  thank  the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi  for conveying warmest greetings and best wishes to all of us.

The Chief Minister pointed out that in the last 50 years it has been a momentous journey for all Meghalayan as at both individual and collective levels, the state has the population of 38 lakh in the country of 138 cores people, Meghalaya and it citizens havr made a mark in the national and global stages.

Meghalaya is known for our natural heritage like living root bridges and sacred groves; for our cultural heritage embodied in the practices of the Khasi, Jaintia and Garo people and the other tribes; for our music and musicians.

For the unique horticultural produce like lakadong turmeric that our farmers grow; for the beautiful eri silk fabrics that our women weave and for our community level governance institutions. The geological age in which we live is referred to as the Meghalayan Age.

In the last 5 decades, significant progress has been achieved on several fronts. The literacy rates have gone up from 29% to 80%. The length of National Highway in the State is more than 1,100 Km today which was around 150 Km in 1972.

The installed power generation capacity in the State has also gone up by almost 10 times, from 60 MW in 1972 to 620 MW today. Further, as of today, all the 6,500 census villages in the State are electrified while at the time of statehood only about 180 villages had electricity supply.

The overall law and order situation is peaceful, and militancy has been brought under control over the years. Given the peaceful environment, tourism and businesses have been thriving. The pandemic has disrupted some of this progress in the last two years, but I am optimistic that economic momentum will continue to be on the upward trajectory.

To Capitalizing on our status as an education hub, we have been able to set up several central institutions in the State. The North Eastern Hill University was set up in 1973.

Today it has vibrant campuses at both Shillong and Tura and has students not just from the region, but also from across the country. Further, the IIM Shillong, the NIT Meghalaya, NIFT Shillong and NEIGRIHMS are other institutions, which are a matter of pride for the State.

The achievements of the State and its people over the last 50 years  twenty eminent daughters and sons of the State have received the Padma awards – one Padma Vibhushan, two Padma Bhushans and 17 Padma Shris. The Chief Minister remember Shri Clifford Nongrum who achieved martyrdom during the Kargil War and was awarded the Mahavir Chakra posthumously.

There Several of our athletes, artists, entrepreneurs, educationalists and leaders in public life have brought recognition and credit to the State. I salute them all. I would also like to remember Neil Nongkynrih, founder of the Shillong Chamber Choir who brought global recognition to our music.

The Chief Minister also salute the many unsung heroes who toil everyday for the well being of their families and communities, particularly our farmers, our entrepreneurs and the daily wage earners.

He also want to acknowledge our children and the youth, whose energy and passion will transform Meghalaya in the years to come. He would also like to congratulate the Meghalaya Day award winners Shri Benedict Skhemlang Hynniewta, Father Charles Sangma and Shri Halen Nongtdu.

Golden Jubilee is a once in a lifetime opportunity for all of us. Today’s celebration is the beginning of the year-long festivities that will happen across the State. I urge everyone to be a part of these celebrations. Let us take inspiration and contribute to the State’s advancement in the coming years.

Friends, today, on 21st of January 2022, we stand at a critical juncture in our journey. There is immense potential for achieving sustainable development and well-being of the 38 lakhs Meghalayans. I believe that if we all work together, we can become one of the top 10 States in the country by 2030.

In the year 2020, as we started the new decade, where He made a promise that we will make our State top 10 in 10 and that we will make this decade the Meghalayan decade. My government and I have been working systematically to achieve this goal over the last four years.

Despite the disruptions caused by the pandemic, we have been able to build roads, provide tapped water supply to households, increase children’s immunization, decrease maternal and infant mortality, and build infrastructure at an unprecedented pace.

The Chief Minister mention that  some iconic infrastructure projects that we will be completing and inaugurating in the coming months as part of our Golden Jubilee celebrations. The State Assembly building at Mawdiangdiang is close to completion and will be inaugurated within the next six months.

Similar is the case with the Shillong International Centre for Performing Arts that will enable us to host international level music festivals and events. The Ganol Hydro Power project in West Garo Hills shall also be completed this year. Additionally, two five- star hotels- the Marriott and the Crowborough- will be operationalized this year.

This will create an additional 300 high-quality rooms in the city and transform the tourism sector. The Crowborough project in particular was started in 1986 and has been under construction since then. I am happy and proud that after almost 35 years of ups and downs, this government will be completing the project as part of the 50 year celebrations.

The construction of the PA Sangma football Stadium in Tura, the Wahaijer Stadium in West Jaintia Hills and the comprehensive upgradation of the JN Stadium in Shillong will all be completed in 2022. With this infrastructure we will be able to host national and international sporting events.

The IT park, which I will be inaugurating in a few days, will herald the beginning of setting up of BPO and IT businesses in the State. It will provide employment to almost 1,500 youth within the next few months. Several critical road projects will be completed and dedicated to the people of the State this year.

The most important ones include the Mairang Ranigodown Azra road, the Rongram Phulbari Hill road, the Dawki Bholaganj road, the Bajengdoba – Resubelpara Mendipathar – Damra road and the Pasiyah Garampani road. Water supply projects at Baghmara and Nongstoin will also be dedicated to the people of the State.

The Shillong Government College of Engineering and the College of Architecture and Urban Planning, Tura will be made operational this year. In addition to these iconic projects, about 300 projects relating to roads, schools, tourism, healthcare, agriculture and sports will be inaugurated throughout the year. This means that, on average, we will be inaugurating one project everyday as part of these celebrations.

In addition to completing projects, we are also starting a large number of new projects to mark the golden jubilee. The most important project for which the foundation is being laid today is the new administrative city at Mawpadang in the New Shillong township.

The city will be developed over the next decade into a futuristic smart city which will drive the growth of the State. Large road projects like the Umsning- Jagi Road and the Nongstoin -Maweit road will also be initiated. Construction of internal roads in the towns of Tura, Williamnagar, Jowai and Nongstoin will be started.

The iconic Shillong peak ropeway project and world class indoor stadium in the fifth ground of the JN complex here at Polo will also be started this year. Construction of a world class convention centre and an inspiring incubation centre cum skills park for the youth will be started at

Tura. Work on construction of modern district office complexes, block office complexes, police stations, entrepreneurship hubs and about 20 tourism resorts and complexes will begin. An additional 310 schools and 150 health facilities at the grassroots will be upgraded.

It is only appropriate that we make all these critical investments in this Golden Jubilee year. I feel a deep sense of satisfaction and thank everyone who worked towards making all this possible in just 4 years.

In addition to infrastructure, we have also been driving the social and human development agenda very aggressively. We are a rural State where agriculture and allied sectors continue to provide for almost 80% of our families. The prosperity of our State is closely tied with the growth of agriculture and increase in incomes of our farmers.

To bring relief to the farmers, Government  brought down the interest rates on the ‘Kisan Credit Card’ – the KCC loans to zero percent. This will directly benefit around 80,000 farmers in the State who no longer have to pay any interest on their loans. We have also strengthened the cooperative movement through the formation of about 300 cooperative societies with a membership of 50,000 farmers.

These Integrated Village Cooperative Societies have mobilized savings of about 18 crores in just two years. The government is also proving zero interest working capital loans and grants. With these, the farmer societies are being empowered to replace the middle men and undertake marketing of agricultural produce. For instance, the Ganga Awe IVCS located in Baghmara was able to process and supply 18 quintals of areca nut directly to institutional buyers.

The flagship program of my government, which is very close to my heart, is the FOCUS program. Under the program, we are providing a support of Rs. 5,000 to each and every farming household for undertaking agri related activities.

Till date, they have formed around 3,500 Producer Groups comprising farmers from 46,000 households. In this golden jubilee year, we will make every effort to reach all the 4.5 lakhs farming households of the State.

The Chief Minister mention that he was traveling all over the State and have met and spoken to hundreds of PGs over the last six months. I would specifically like to speak about the ‘Progressive Farmer Producer Group’ from Mawryngkneng block of East Khasi Hills.

It was provided with a support of Rs. 85,000 through the FOCUS program. This group comprises 17 members who are all engaged in cultivation of vegetables.

The group had traditionally faced issues in procurement and transportation of pesticides and manure, which led to losses in productivity. With this fund, the group purchased the required inputs at a cheaper rate and also did fencing around their fields and are expecting a rich harvest in the coming season.

In the agri and allied sectors we are giving special attention to our strengths. Under the Lakadong mission, we have added an additional area of 1,075 hectares in the last three years.

Further, the production has also increased from 6,500 metric tons to 11,300 metric tons. We are working with 15 farmer groups in Laskein and Thadlaskein blocks for setting up processing units which will start functioning within the next two months.

The Government  will also be holding a Lakadong festival to increase awareness and interaction with institutional buyers. We have also decided to set up curcumin extraction units. With these interventions, he  expect the incomes of our 10,000 farming households cultivating lakadong turmeric to double in another two years.

Under the Mushroom mission, the production of Mushroom has increased from 88 metric tons in 2018-19 to 133 metric tons today. The State of the art, spawn production unit for button and oyster mushrooms is ready for inauguration at Upper Shillong. With this, we will be able to provide subsidized, good quality spawn to about 1,500 mushroom growers.

Under the Piggery mission, support has already been provided to 900 individuals for pig breeding and 2,400 individuals for pig fattening. Under the milk mission, almost 470 new cattle have been inducted. Through all these mission mode projects, we will reach out to about 50,000 farmers in this Golden Jubilee year.

Keeping collectivization at the core, we are also supporting the SHG movement to economically and socially empower the women in our State. In just over three years, we have formed about 28,000 SHGs which is a five fold jump from the 5,500 SHGs that we had in 2018.

Today, several of our SHGs like the Nangshuwa Textile and K.S Weaving units from Ri Bhoi are able to make an annual turnover of more than Rs. 10 lakhs by producing Eri silk shawls, jainsem and bags. Similarly, in West Garo Hills, the Chokchimsa VO, which manufactures sanitary napkins, is able to generate an additional income.

There are several such models of women leadership emerging in the State. The government is further promoting women leadership by providing 50% reservation for women in the Village Employment Councils.

In addition to the economic and social empowerment of women through SHGs, we are also laying great emphasis on their health and nutrition aspects through the MOTHER program. Under the program, the government is able to monitor the health of each and every pregnant woman in the State.

The ASHA workers make timely visits to check the conditions of pregnant women and provide the required support. Through deployment of technology and commitment from our health workers, the program has benefitted almost 1.13 lakh women over the last three years.

The Chief Minister bring to the attention the immense progress that we have made in immunization. In 2018, when my government took over, only about 57% of the children were fully immunized. Today, almost 91% of the children in the State are fully immunized.

A third key focus group for my government along with farmers and women is the youth. Over 70% of our population is less than 35 years of age. This, he believe, is our biggest strength.

The Government have been striving to ensure that the youth in our State get the best of facilities and opportunity for growth. The health, education and sports infrastructure that we are building will precisely provide such opportunities for the youth.

He was very happy that the cabinet has passed the ‘State Youth Policy’ which lays out the vision for the youth. As part of the policy, we are prioritizing youth engagement and skilling. Despite the pandemic we have conducted skill development programs in hospitality, construction and agri related sectors.

A large youth engagement program, where about 10,000 youth will be trained in skills and talents, is being launched as part of the golden jubilee celebrations. The youth will be trained in life skills, employment skills and public speaking. Additionally, they will also be trained in One Skill and One Talent of their choosing.

Mr Conrad said that his government has also been providing means to the youth to become job creators. The PRIME program was launched exactly two years ago, and I can proudly say that over 500 entrepreneurs have benefited from the program. We have created incubation hubs and institutionalized a flexible funding system.

Beneficiaries such as Savourit Foods in Shillong and Chachakrim Industries in Tura have been provided zero interest loans of Rs. 25 lakhs and Rs. 17 lakhs respectively. With support from the Government the entrepreneurs are doing well both within and outside the State.

Recently, the ‘Na Kper’ brand from Shangpung in West Jaintia Hills bagged the Silver Innovations Award for their Lakadong Turmeric at the SIAL India Innovations award.

The State has also been providing platforms to the youth to get more exposure and representation. They played a key role in organizing the Cherry Blossom and the Me.Gong festivals and got the opportunity to learn from various national and international icons.

Another avenue that can generate employment at a large scale, especially in the rural areas, is tourism. Our cultural and natural heritage is already recognized globally. To add to this, recently the residents of Kongthong, composed a special tune for the Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, which was well received and acknowledged by him.

He even mentioned the pristine Umngot river in his ‘Mann ki Baat’ program. Further, to create employment and to improve tourism in such areas, we are constructing good quality accommodation and other associated infrastructure.

The  Government is making big investments in each of the villages of Kongthong, Mawlyngot, Umkrem, Nongjrong, Mawlam, Umden, Mawrah, Kudengrim, Darrang, Bansamgre, Kemragre and Siju. Large resorts and tourism amenities are being constructed at Sakaladuma in West Garo Hills and at Shnongpdeng in West Jaintia Hills.

New resorts will also be built in Sohra in East Khasi Hills, Mawlyndep and Nongmahir in Ribhoi, Nongkhnum in West Khasi Hills, Thadlaskien in West Jaintia Hills and at Pelgawari in South West Garo Hills. These investments will create almost 4,000 jobs over the next three 3 to 4 years and will give a huge thrust to tourism across the State.

The Chief Minister  have explained about the key priorities of infrastructure and interventions for farmers, youth and women. Now I want to talk about governance, which I believe is the most important ingredient for growth.

The Chief Minister  believe in a decentralized and decisive model of governance that prioritizes the long term benefits of the State. He said that  that every decision that he make and every step that he  take as your elected Chief Minister should have a bearing on the long term wellbeing of the citizens.

In several of our programs and initiatives we have put immense faith in our communities and followed a decentralized approach. The communities worked together with the Government in the last two years and we successfully managed the pandemic.

Almost 1,500 Community Quarantine Centres were set up and Community Covid Management Teams were active across the State. I want to thank the dorbar shnongs, Nokomas, community leaders, and church leaders who have contributed in the fight against COVID, alongside our doctors, healthworkers, front line sanitation workers, police personnel and the district administration teams.

The Communities are also at the forefront in Natural Resource Management and program implementation. Our Village Employment Councils are now recognized nationally for the effective work that they are doing through building roads, bridges and other infrastructure.

The Chief Minsiter said that recently created the Village Health Councils which will work in a decentralized manner towards improving the health of our citizens. The ongoing city beautification programs in Shillong, Tura and Jowai are also being completely led by the communities in a decentralized way.

He was very happy that the localities are actively participating in the program. I also joined the beautification program of the Mawlai Kynton Massar in Shillong and interacted with many of the locality committees recently in Tura town. Being decisive has been another forte of my government.

For instance, we had long standing issues in the power sector with the Government of India power generating units and our own State distribution company.

Hundreds of crores of pending liabilities had accumulated over the years because of non-payment. We took decisions and mobilized the resources to resolve all these challenges. Thanks to this decisiveness, there is a visible change in the power sector.

Another area where my government showed decisiveness is in resolving the long pending border issues with the State of Assam. Working under the guidance of the Union Home Minister, Shri Amit Shah Ji and in collaboration with the Government of Assam, we have come to a resolution in 6 out of the 12 areas of difference.

The areas where we have received a resolution are Tarabari (Nonglang) area, Gizang (Nonglang), Hahim (Nongriangsih- Jyrngam), Boklapara area, Khanapara – Pillangkata area and South –Eastern Portion of the Boundary (Ratacherra) Area.

The operationalization of the Umroi airport soon after this government came to power is another instance of decisiveness and quick decision making. As of today, we have direct air connectivity to seven different cities and this has the potential to change the entire economic dynamics of the State.

The Government  are also focussing on sustainability and the long term well being of our natural resources, our environment and our people. For instance, on the issue of coal mining, we took the bold decision to challenge the ban on coal mining in the State.

The Government  went all the way to the Supreme Court and got a landmark judgment in our favour in July 2019. As part of the judgment, the Supreme Court upheld the ownership rights of private and community land owners over both the surface and sub-surface minerals in the State of Meghalaya.

Consequently, we have initiated the process of undertaking sustainable mining operations. Already 10 applicants have gotten prior approval from the Government of India for undertaking prospecting operations.

These prospecting operations are going on and very soon we expect to get the prior approval for mining leases and start legal mining in the State. We are also taking up various measures for the reclamation of land and water resources that have been degraded by coal mining.

This approach of my government based on decisiveness, decentralization and with a focus on sustainability is already showing results. Today, our State is among the better performing states in the implementation of critical central government programs. We have built over 1,200 km of rural roads under PMGSY over the past three years. In the last one year, we built an average of 60 km of roads every month.

Similar is the case in providing water supply at the household level. While in 2019, only about 4,500 households had access to tapped water supply, today the coverage has increased to over 2 lakhs households.

We are the second most improved State in India and we are striving to cover all the remaining households by the end of this year. Due to our efforts, thousands of women and children in our State do not have to go through the drudgery of fetching water from far off places.

In MGNREGS, Meghalaya today ranks 3rd nationally in demand-based employment generation. Last year we successfully transferred Rs. 14,500 to every rural household because of the effective implementation of this program. Thanks to the additional cash flows in the rural areas, people are able to spend money on education, nutrition and overall well being.

In addition to the Government of India schemes, in our own State scheme – the Chief Minister Social Assistance Programme, we have been providing timely monthly pensions to over 63,000 senior citizens.

This scheme is very close to my heart because prior to becoming the Chief Minister, when I used to visit the villages, the first issue that the elderly used to raise was the delays they faced in receiving the pensions.

One of the first steps that I took after becoming the Chief Minister was to put in place a system that would ensure timely payment of pensions. I am very pleased that as we celebrate 50 years of statehood we have achieved something for the people who played the most significant role in building our State.

With this aggressive pace of project implementation over the last four years, I wanted to demonstrate to all of us, to the national audiences, to international investors that this State has the ability to absorb investments, achieve results and get the job done.

And it is testimony to our efforts that Meghalaya has become the preferred investment destination of external funding agencies. The Chief Ministr  would like to highlight that in 2018 when this government took over, we were implementing 4 projects worth Rs. 2,300 crores. Whereas today we are implementing 12 projects worth Rs. 7,000 crores.

In the last two years itself, the New Development Bank has decided to invest Rs. 730 crores for tourism. The Asian Development Bank has decided to invest Rs. 740 crores to build around 2,000 water reservoirs all over the State. They are also investing an additional Rs. 1,200 Cr for making improvements in the power distribution sector.

The World bank too has partnered with the State and is investing Rs. 1,100 crores for building major district roads. They are also funding a Rs. 350 crores project for the upgradation of the health facilities.

Apart from these, the Japanese International Cooperation Agency has also been brought onboard for a 700 crores project related to tourism. All this is testimony to the government’s ability to perform and to our ability in making last mile delivery of services to the citizens.

The Chief Minister pay homage to the great leaders and citizens who have built the State over 50 years. I also want to compliment and thank all the health care and frontline workers who have worked untiringly over the last two years to fight the pandemic.

The Chief Minister sincerely hope that we will be able to return to normalcy this year. However, this would require all of us to get vaccinated and I urge everyone to get vaccinated at the earliest. I also request all the citizens to continue following the COVID protocols.

My government is committed to making this the Meghalayan decade and achieving the vision of being amongst the top 10 states in the next 10 years. But what does it mean to be a top performing State ? To me it means that every infant in the State has access to quality nutrition and parental care.

That there is an enabling ecosystem where their cognitive development happens, and they can achieve their potential as adults to the fullest. To me it means that every child goes to a school where learning is joy, and where the building blocks of them becoming innovators and achievers in the society is built.

To Him it means that every young adult has access to the opportunities to realize their potential, whether it is in becoming an artist, a musician, a scientist or a sportsperson.

To me it means that every mother has access to the best healthcare at every step, right from conception, to pre and postnatal stages. That even in the remotest of areas, the citizens are able to access quality and affordable healthcare. Where elderly get the best of the social support and health facilities.

It also means that there are roads and internet connectivity in every village, that there is uninterrupted and reliable electricity and water supply to every village so that enterprises and other facilities can be set up even in the rural areas.

Where all the towns are smart towns powered by technology and sustainable systems, and they become hubs for businesses, education and health facilities. Where every farmer is able to get a fair price and market their produce to national and international markets without exploitation.

This is the Meghalaya that me and my government want to build. And I believe that we have laid a strong foundation for this in the last 4 years. I would like to thank all the citizens for giving us this opportunity to serve the State. God bless us all. God bless Meghalaya.

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