Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma travelled to New Delhi with a large cabinet delegation in tow to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi over several big issues. Speaker of the Assembly Thomas Sangma also tagged along.
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi heard our concerns and assured us to look into it (the memorandum the Meghalaya delegation submitted),” Conrad said, while highlighting the issues that were discussed.
On the Inner Line Permit (ILP), the delegation highlighted the resolution passed by the Meghalaya Assembly in December 2019, focusing on the need for ILP implementation. The delegation sought Modi’s intervention as the state government continues to await a response from the Union Ministry of Home Affairs regarding the consideration of ILP.
On the Assam-Meghalaya area of differences, the CM sought the support of the PM for the ongoing resolution of the remaining six out of 12 disputed areas between the two states.
Conrad briefed the Prime Minister on the reconstitution of three regional committees to assess the current status of the remaining six disputed areas.
Six areas of difference were resolved in March 2022, with an agreement signed in the presence of Union Home Minister Amit Shah. A joint survey by both states is currently underway to demarcate boundaries in these resolved areas.
On externally aided projects (EAPs), Modi was told that Meghalaya has embarked on the goal of becoming a $10 billion economy within the next five years and, to achieve this target, the state requires to double the size of its economy through investment in physical and social infrastructure.
However, there continue to remain “inherent challenges” related to land tenure systems, remoteness and rugged terrain that have constrained private investment. “Therefore, public investments, including those from EAPs, are crucial to boost the state’s economy. These projects, which account for around 72 percent of the project cost as grants from the government of India to the North Eastern and hill states, form a pivotal component of the investment portfolio,” the Chief Minister said.
He also informed that the state government has successfully posed and received approvals for several projects. Presently, eight projects worth Rs 5,855 crore (loan component Rs 4,266 crore) are being implemented, while another ten projects in the preparatory phase hold an estimated project cost of Rs 5,721 crore (loan component Rs 4,610 crore). The total project cost of ongoing and posed projects stands at approximately Rs 11,576 crore, covering sectors such as roads, tourism, power distribution, agriculture marketing, skill development, healthcare, water harvesting and climate resilience.
The CM also apprised Modi on the inclusion of the Khasi and Garo languages in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution. He emphasized the eligibility of Khasi and Garo languages for inclusion and noted that a resolution to this effect was passed by the Meghalaya Assembly in November 2018 and the matter is currently pending with the Government of India.
The PM was also informed about the ongoing peace talks with the outlawed Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC), which, Sangma said, has expressed its readiness for unconditional talks with the Centre and State within the framework of the Constitution and without any preconditions.
The CM also told Modi that the state is against the 125th Amendment to the Constitution insofar as it proposes nominating unrepresented tribes to autonomous district councils. The state government decided against this nomination after extensive consultations with various stakeholders, given concerns of unequal opportunity among tribes.
The memorandum expressed apprehensions that this disproportionate allocation might lead to inequality of opportunity among different tribes, potentially endangering the unity and fraternity they share. Additionally, Meghalaya emphasized that there is no reservation for seats filled by universal adult suffrage, and no ban on any tribe/sub-tribe participating in the election process – be it contesting or voting. Therefore, after extensive consultations with various stakeholders, the state government opted against the nomination of un-represented tribes to the ADCs.