The Meghalaya government is taking all steps possible to mitigate the distress wrought by the Covid-19 pandemic, Chief Minister Conrad Sangma said today.
He also said that the government has launched the ‘Restart Mission’ to revive and give a push to the different development activities that were brought to a standstill during the last 18 months.
“As part of the mission and other initiatives, several steps have been undertaken to alleviate the hardships of the farmers and the youth of the state over the last year,” Sangma said in his reply to the short duration discussion initiated during the autumn session of the Assembly today.
Farmers, businesses, traders, daily wagers and the youth have all experienced severe economic disruption due to the arrival of the coronavirus.
Nevertheless, the CM said, the government’s schemes and actions have been working towards alleviating some of this distress.
In the agriculture sector, 300 tonnes of high yield and improved varieties of rice were distributed to farmers in 2020 and 2021 under the state’s Rice Scheme. Agriculture Department interventions are also supporting farmers engaged in turmeric and mushroom cultivation, he said, and the government will start providing interest-free loans of up to Rs 50,000 for mushroom farmers in the coming months.
In the tourism sector, Sangma told the house that his government has used many hotels as accommodation for frontline workers in the fight against Covid as well as quarantine centres, thereby preventing job losses. Rs 24 crore has been released to such hotels as of yet.
Initiating the discussion, opposition legislator and Mawsynram MLA, Himalaya Shangpliang, pointed to perceived failings on the part of the administration.
Farmers were caught between a rock and a hard place in terms of the lockdown, curfews and sudden surges of Covid.
Braving the pandemic, many farmers came out to harvest their crops and tried to transport them to Shillong since they were no markets in the suburbs, as had been promised by the government, Shangpliang stated, adding, “The farmers were stopped and harassed by the police for transporting crops without permits. It was really a nightmare for them.”