Umroi MLA George B Lyngdoh today decried Assam’s alleged harassment of Meghalaya villagers living along the disputed border, saying that the neighbouring state had the audacity to pester Meghalayans because the state government had not augmented the budget for border development.
“They are being harassed. The audacity of Assam to harass the citizens (of the state) is an outcome of the government of Meghalaya not to augment the budget for Inter State Border Area Development,” the Congress legislator said.
Earlier, Border Area Development Minister Lahkmen Rymbui informed that there has been no allocation of funds for his department for the last two financial years (2019-20 and 2020-2021). However, he said that the border regions were not ignored as they had received funds through other departments.
“Though there is a provision in the budget, sanctioning depends on the availability of funds,” Rymbui said during Question Hour even as he added that the government will sanction an amount this year.
In response, Lyngdoh said that if the budget is passed it is a commitment to the people of the state.
“For two years this programme has been suspended due to non-release of funds. They (border residents) feel orphaned and exploited,” he said.
Since the inception of the state in 1972, Rs 39.59 crore has been sanctioned for a variety of schemes through this department.
Stating that providing development in border areas is a multi-pronged approach, Rymbui said, “More funds have been sanctioned through other line departments.”
He informed that the amount sanctioned for the development of interstate border villages under the Inter State Border Area Development Programme during the year 2018-19 was Rs 100 lakh.
The district-wise allocation for that year was – Ri-Bhoi Rs 38.58 lakh, South West Garo Hills Rs 2.84 lakh, West Garo Hills Rs 9.84 lakh, West Jaiñtia Hills Rs 8.16 lakh, East Jaiñtia Hills Rs 11.07 lakh, West Khasi Hills Rs 6.17 lakh, North Garo Hills Rs 11.34 lakh.
Rymbui also informed that the total number of villages in Ri-Bhoi district enlisted under ISBADP is 117 and in Nongpoh constituency there are 13.