SHILLONG, Mar 11: The opposition Congress in Meghalaya has expressed its apprehension over the issue of influx of outsiders into the state especially in the aftermath of updating the National Register (NRC) of Citizens in Assam last year.
Taking part in the debate on the Governor’s address during the Budget session of the Meghalaya Assembly, on Monday, Congress legislator from Mawlai Process T Sawkmie said, “There is a fear psychosis that those left out from the NRC process may sneak into the state.”
According to Sawkmie the fear is due to the fact that the indigenous people of the state are a minority and for them there is no other place to call home but Meghalaya.
The Congress MLA from Mawlai urged the state government to deliberate on which is the best mechanism to curb illegal immigration in the state.
“The government will have to exercise its mind on which is the best system to curb influx. Will it be the ILP (Inner Line Permit) of the Meghalaya Residents Safety and Security Act,” Sawkmie said.
According to him the government will have to give more teeth to the Meghalaya Residents Safety and Security Act before it is implemented in the state.
Another Congress legislator Himalaya M Shangpliang said that while Assam is already in the process of implementing the NRC the government in Meghalaya is yet to settle the land for the Entry/Exit point.
Shangpliang hoped that the site at Umling in Ri-Bhoi district which was recently inspected by Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma would be installed soon even as he pointed out that for it to be fully functional will take a couple of years.
“In the meantime what steps will the government take to curb influx?” he asked.
Meanwhile, on the issue of inter-state border dispute with Assam, Mawlai legislator-Sawkmie asked whether the state government was sincere in developing the villages along the Meghalaya boundary with the neighbouring state.
“Sometimes I think Assam is doing justice for its people living in the border areas by giving development, But why don’t the Meghalaya government take care of its people in the border?” even as he said that the government machinery of Meghalaya at times are mere spectators.
Sawkmie also expressed his reservation over the use of the words “unrepresented tribes” in the union cabinet’s landmark amendment to Article 280 and Sixth Schedule of the Constitution while increasing the number of seat of the territorial councils in the state.
It may be mentioned that the amendments propose to rename the existing autonomous councils in Meghalaya as Garo Hills Autonomous Territorial Council (GHATC), Khasi Hills Autonomous Territorial Council (KHATC) and Jaintia Hills Autonomous Territorial Council (JHATC) as the present jurisdiction of these councils extend to more than one districts.
There will also be increase in seats in GHATC (30 to 42), KHATC (30 to 40) and JHATC (30 to 34).
Sawkmie pointed out that as per the amendment approved by the union cabinet at least two members in the territorial councils of GHATC and KHATC will have two nominated members from the “unrepresented tribes”.
“We don’t know who are these unrepresented tribes,” he said.
Moreover, Mawsynram MLA – Shangpliang took serious note of the burning of the wooden bridge in Nonglait village under his constituency on Sunday.
While urging the government to book the miscreants involved in the arson, he also insisted on converting all the wooden bridges to RCC ones in Mawsynram.
Shangpliang also expressed his angst over the state government turning a blind eye to the plea of broomstick and bay leaves farmers to convert these items into agriculture produce from forest produce.
In the education sector, Shangpliang also regretted that the Residential School initiated by the previous government, its construction has come to a standstill – on the plea of lack of funds.
“We urge the government to restart their constructions to avoid price escalation,” the Mawsynram MLA said.
He also expressed concern over the mismanagement of Pine Mount School in Shillong.
The Congress legislator from Mawsynram cited the recent inspection report carried out by the State Commission for Protection of Child Rights in the school.
According to him as per the report there were discrepancies in the school both administratively and academically.
Shangpliang also pointed out that there were inconsistencies in the admission process of KG.
He informed the House that when the list was initially declared 179 students got admissions into class KG but subsequently the number of children rose to 192.
“How 13 more names were added to the list and whose names were added,” Shangpliang said.