SHILLONG, Jul 28: Meghalaya, Chief Minister, Conrad K Sangma said that the state has been suffering a double loss through the fourteenth Finance Commission period, given the National Green Tribunal’s ban on coal mining in the State from 2014, which resulted in an estimated revenue loss of about Rs. 4000 crores in the last five years.
“We have not been compensated for this loss by the fourteenth Finance Commission either through the revenue gap grant route or through increased weightage for eco-system services in the devolution formula,” Conrad said while addressing the conclave of the Himalayan States held at Mussoorie on Sunday.
The Chief Minister said that he appreciated the fourteenth Finance Commission giving a weightage of 7.5 percent for forest cover in the horizontal devolution formula, but this weightage should be substantially increased now.
Meghalaya Chief Minister pointed out that the 76 percent of the land is under forest cover and also receive abundant rainfall.
Conrad said that the forests have been well- managed by communities and there are fantastic examples of environmental protection like the sacred groves and living root bridges.
Meghalaya also has 3,810 villages with springs, which is the highest number of spring water sources in the Eastern Himalayan states.
“However, with growing population, urbanisation and changing life styles, there is increased pressure on both land and water resources,” he said.
He further said that the impact of climate change is being felt in multiple ways – rainfall pattern in the state has
become erratic and extreme weather events have become more frequent.
Conrad pointed out that all this has adversely impacted the livelihoods of people, which are intricately connected with forests and environment.
“Against this background, the state government has placed sustainability and environmental conservation at the centre of its development efforts,” the Chief Minister said.
He also pointed out that the state government is implementing the Integrated Natural Resource Management Planning in all the 6500 villages of the state.
Special emphasis is being laid on restoration of land and
rejuvenation of springs in the 400 most affected villages.
He also said that livelihoods linked to natural resources are being encouraged and protected in a significant way.
“We have launched mission mode programs to improve the production, productivity and marketability of products like Fish, Milk, Muga Silk, Lakadong Turmeric, Jack Fruit and Mushroom,” he said.
The Chief Minister also said that his government has launched the Meghalaya One Citizen One Tree
initiative and encouraged every citizen of the state to plant and take care of at least one tree.
Conrad also told the gathering that Meghalaya is the first in the country to formulate a State Water Policy.