Meghalaya autonomous councils oppose PR ministrys proposals

Shillong, May 31 : The three autonomous district councils in Meghalaya today opposed the Panchayati Raj ministry's proposal to introduce village councils in the state.

Members of the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council, Garo Hills Autonomous District Council and Jaintia Hills Autonomous District Council also opposed the proposed amendment to Assam and Meghalaya Autonomous Districts (Constitution of District Councils) Rules, 1951.

''All the members of the three autonomous district councils have opposed the governments move to amend the district council rules and to create village councils as it is against the spirit of the formation of the district councils,'' Chief Executive Member of Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council PN Syiem told reporters.

He said the councils would also submit a joint memorandum to the inter-ministerial team of the Union Ministry of Panchayati Raj, which is visiting the state on June 1.

The inter- ministerial team is scheduled to meet Chief Minister Mukul Sangma, Deputy Chief Minister Bindo M Lanong and District Council Affairs minister HDR Lyngdoh during the visit.

Since Meghalaya comes under the sixth schedule of the Constitution, the state is exempted from the Panchayati Raj system of grassroots governance.

'' The formation of village councils will affect the age old traditional practices of the Khasi, Jaintia and Garo tribes,'' Mr Syiem said.

On the proposed amendment to the District Council rules, the KHADC Chief said the proposed amendment to the district council rules will give more powers to the state government as through a gazette notification, the councils can be dissolved.

The autonomous councils are also objecting to introduce additional clause of 94-A in the proposed amendment which says, ''nothing in these rules shall prevent the state government from constituting elected municipalities or urban locoal bodies by whatever name called and village councils and transfer functions, powers and assets to such a body.'' Meanwhile, members of the three autonoumous councils has decided to form a Meghalaya Autonomous Council Forum consisting representatives of the three autonomous district councils to discuss ways and means to further strengthen the councils.