Governor Satya Pal Malik today said that the Meghalaya government is particularly focused on enhancing the service delivery in the health and education sectors and to making larger investments in physical infrastructure, such as roads, bridges, power and drinking water supply.
“Another critical focus is on improving rural livelihoods and promoting enterprises through mission mode interventions in the sectors of agriculture, horticulture, fisheries and animal husbandry,” Malik said while addressing the Assembly on the first day of the Budget Session.
The Governor told the house that out of the 444.8 kilometres of Meghalaya-Bangladesh border, fencing has been erected on 329.7km.
“The state is committed to complete the balance of border fencing work expeditiously,” he said. Malik also said that the state government remains committed to effectively contain illegal migration, trans-border movement and activities of militants and anti-national elements.
He also said that the North Eastern Council has sanctioned two projects for Meghalaya under the North East Road Sector Development Scheme during 2020-21 for improving roads along the inter-state border with Assam at a cost of Rs 142 crore.
According to the Governor, at present, there are 37 ongoing non-lapsable central pool of resources projects with a total project cost of Rs 773.25 crore. The Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) has released Rs 400.86 crore for undertaking various projects. Malik informed that under the North East Special Infrastructure Development Scheme, the DoNER Ministry has sanctioned eight projects at a total cost of Rs 186.44 crore.
He also informed that the state government is also undertaking the “Meghalaya Integrated Transport Project”, funded by the World Bank at a cost of Rs 768 crore.
“The project will improve about 500km of strategic road segments and standalone bridges by using innovative, climate resilient and nature-based solutions,” the Governor said.
Malik said that the project will help the state harness its growth potential for high-value tourism and agriculture and also enable the state to take advantage of its strategic location to emerge as a major connecting hub for trade with neighbouring countries.
Meanwhile, the Governor informed that the state government has advanced the target by two years to provide functional household tap connections to every rural household by December 2022.
He also informed that a pilot project on the treatment of acid mine drainage by using locally available limestone has been completed. He said the Central Institute of Mining and Fuel Research, Dhanbad, is developing technology to treat acid mine drainage generated from coal mines.
Malik further informed that another pilot project on restoration of streams affected by acidic water in East Jaiñtia Hills is being implemented and is showing promising results.
The department is planning for reclamation and greening of coal mining-affected lands through reforestation work in the current year, he said.
On tourism, the Governor said that it is an important sector for Meghalaya and it employs close to 50,000 people and has a huge multiplier effect.
“Consequently, the state government is prioritizing tourism and the key components of the tourism strategy include expanding high-value accommodation, opening new circuits in unexplored areas, upskilling tourism stakeholders, creating a calendar of events, including a literature festival, arts festival and ballooning festival and development of new tourism products like glamping and caravans,” Malik said. An externally-aided project, funded by the New Development Bank, has been approved for this.