Meghalaya seeks Rs.3,120 crore special package

Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma has sought a Rs.3,120 crore special package from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for developmental projects, an official said Wednesday.

In a memorandum submitted to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday, Sangma requested the Centre to consider granting a "special package" to finance seven projects, on a 100 percent central funding basis, over and above the plan outlays of the state.

"This would undoubtedly be recognised by the people of the state as the noblest gesture on the part of the Centre towards realising their genuine aspirations," Sangma said.

The projects include setting up of the International Centre for Performing Arts and Culture at an estimated cost of Rs.350 crore, constructing the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly building, also at an estimated expenditure of Rs.350 crore and establishment of the State Medical College at Tura in West Garo Hills, at a cost of Rs.160 crore.

The other projects outlined by Sangma include setting up the Integrated Ganol Drinking Water Supply and Irrigation Project in Garo hills at a cost of Rs.350 crore, establishment of the New Shillong Township at an estimated expenditure of Rs.350 crore, construction of a State Technical University at a cost of Rs.60 crore and Rs.1,500 crore for the Integrated Basin Development and Livelihood Promotion Programme.

"These projects are of critical importance because they address two aspects of our economy which are vital to sustain growth. First these will help fill a crucial infrastructure deficit thereby creating ambient conditions for improving the quality of life of our people as well as accelerating the pace of socio-economic growth and well-being," Sangma said.

Moreover, he said the projects are aimed to create a cadre of dedicated professionals in neglected areas of health and technology.

"All the above projects have the potential to change the face of the state and capture the imagination of the people. These can change the entire discourse for the state and the region from backwardness, insurgency and alienation to a pulsating and vibrant community of education, music and culture with socio economic infrastructure that provides sustenance and support," he said.

At the same time, Sangma said Meghalaya was well behind the national average in terms of many socio-economic parameters and the "gap has been widening". To arrest this trend, he said the state government had taken a lot of steps and this has "resulted in a far better performance during the Eleventh Plan period".

"The overall economic growth rate of the state has been comparable with national trends. This needs to be sustained over the ongoing and the future plan periods. As stated earlier, we could use our annual plan outlays for the projects outlined above but in that case, we must be prepared to pay the cost," Sangma said.