Meghalaya adopts new developmental initiatives

Chief Minister Mukul Manda Sangma Monday said that the government has adopted a new paradigm of developmental initiatives to bring in rapid socio-economic transformative changes in Meghalaya.

"We have adopted a new paradigm in developmental initiatives to bring in rapid socio-economic transformative changes to generate new opportunities for sustainable livelihood and uplift the living standard of our people," Sangma said after unfurling the Indian flag at a parade in Tura, the district headquarters of the west Garo Hills in Meghalaya.

The chief minister admitted that the security situation in certain pockets of Meghalaya was still a matter of concern but said that the government is determined to maintain peace at all costs.

In Meghalaya's capital Shillong, Deputy Chief Minister Roytre Christopher Laloo unfurled the flag at the Polo Grounds in the presence of thousands of people, who defied the Republic Day boycott call of the separatist Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council.

Sangma said that there has been a significant increase in the growth rate of Meghalaya's economy over the last few years and the state was rated as one of the fastest growing states in India.

"Seven years from now, we will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of our statehood. Given the aspirations and expectations of the people and commensurating to the potentialities of our people and the state as a whole, we are embarking upon an ambitious plan, 'Destination Meghalaya', with a special thrust on education, health care, hospitality and investment on renewable natural resources."

Stating that the "Planning Commission" had indicated a plan size of Rs.5,350 crore for 2014-15 that included assistance provided under the centrally sponsored schemes amounting to Rs.1883.16 crore, Sangma stressed the need to increase investment in relevant sectors to develop strong human resources with a special focus on skilled workforce professionals and increased vegetative cover across the state that would not only attract investment to generate employment but also help address environmental concerns.

He said sustained peace and order are the pre-requisites for development.

"Certain misguided elements (militants) have adopted the path of violence to pursue their nefarious objectives, and in the process, they have caused immense hardship to the people whose interest they profess to be working for," he added.

"Violence can never be an option for providing solution to grievances, whether genuine or perceived."

Sangma lauded the security forces for their achievements in the fight against militants and criminal elements in recent months.

Recalling that the creation of the state of Meghalaya was achieved through peaceful and democratic means, the chief minister appealed to the citizens to hold steadfastly to the ideals of democracy, to progress through discussion and negotiation as they proceed to realise their developmental goals.

The signing of the memorandum of settlement with the two factions of the A'chik National Volunteers Council has created a congenial environment in the Garo Hills region, Sangma said.

"The congenial environment created after the signing of the peace pact has encouraged some outfits to join the mainstream. Government interlocutors have been appointed to facilitate such misguided youth to join the mainstream," he said.

Sangma said the government also stands committed to address and resolve the long pending, contentious issues, related to the inter-state boundary it shares with Assam, such as influx and illegal immigration.

A new initiative, the "Inter-State Border Area Development Programme" has been launched to address the developmental needs of the people along the border.

He said the government has assigned top priority to resolving these problems.