Meghalaya: Legislators debate on several issues on third day of budget session

Meghalaya: Legislators debate on several issues on third day of budget session
16-03-2018.

By Our Reporter, TNT News | Shillong, March 20, 2018:

The legislators of the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly debated on a host of issues on the third day of the budget session on Tuesday.

As opposition members raised concerns in the floor of the house on the third day of the ongoing budget session on Tuesday on traffic congestion in the city, PWD minister Prestone Tynsong informed the Assembly that the work for Mawlai Bye-Pass which will help de-congest the city streets is 60 percent completed.

Replying to a query raised by Opposition chief whip and Congress legislator from Mawlai, PT Sawkmie on the status of the Mawlai-Bye Pass from Mawlai Mawtawar till Mawlai Mawiong during the question hour, Tynsong said that the physical progress is on and the work is 60 percent completed.

Tynsong informed the house that the work order for the project which was sanctioned way back on March 31, 2012 at a cost of Rs 20 crore, was only issued on March 10, 2015 due to several delays pertaining to land acquisition.

When asked about the running bill paid to the contractors involved in this project, the PWD minister said till, Rs 11.84 crore has been paid against the original sanction amount of Rs 20 crore.

"Instructions has been given to the officers to ensure that the project is completed in time. We are all aware that the Bye-pass is very necessary to ease traffic congestion," Tynsong said.

To a supplementary question raised by Congress leader Zenith Sangma on cost escalation of the project considering the fact that it has been 7 years since the project was sanctioned, Tynsong said "The department has called the contractors and during the interaction, the contractors are still willing to take up the work with original estimate. There is no revised estimate."

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Sangma also stated that since the time of completion of the project was earlier agreed for 24 months, the deadline has ended on 2017. He asked whether any penalty has been imposed on the contractors for not being able to finish the project in time. Giving his reply, the PWD minister said "No penalty has been ordered against the contractors as they have sought extension and the department has already considered it."

When asked about the delays in rolling out the project in time, Tynsong said even though the project was sanctioned in 2012, the department was faced with many hurdles leading to the delay in issuing the work order. He informed that when the project was sanctioned, the Thangkhiew Clan was unwilling to part with their land and the PWD had to convince them to which they later agreed. Furthermore, he stated that another instance which cost the department a lot of time was the fact that another family from the same clan had even gone to the District Council Court.

North Eastern Council Schemes

Meanwhile, the Opposition Chief Whip also raised a question on the total number of schemes that the NEC has sanctioned for the state during the last three years – 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16.

Replying to this query, Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma informed the house that in 2013-14, 16 schemes were sanctioned for the state at a total cost of Rs 68.94 crore, 2014-15, 7 schemes were sanctioned at a cost of Rs 3.95 crore and for 2015-16, 11 schemes were sanctioned at a cost of RS 36.4 crore.

Furthermore, the chief minister informed that in the year 2013-14, Rs 700 crore was sanctioned for the entire northeast region, in 2014-15, Rs 578 crore was sanctioned, in 2015-16, Rs 773 crore was sanctioned, in 2016-17, Rs 795 crore was sanctioned and in 2017-18, Rs 925 was sanctioned.

When asked about the criteria of getting the scheme from NEC, Conrad said that the state government has to submit the priority list to the NEC keeping in mind that the propose projects are regional in nature, project cost should not be above Rs 15 crore and land availability.

While admitting that there has been a dip in 2014-15 in the allocation of funds despite the number of schemes allocated was 7, Conrad said "It is correct that we a seen a dip in that year bit we have also seen a rise in fund allocation in the following years" adding that this could be due to various reasons like the inability to complete the projects cleared in the past or it could be linked to delay in submission of UGC certificate by the state governments.

To a supplementary question raised by East Shillong legislator Ampareen Lyngdoh on whether GST is linked to the process of execution of these schemes, the chief minister said that GST is applicable to every transaction while assuming that in all probability, GST is applicable in this case as well.

MUDA and building bye-laws

Calling the attention of the urban affairs ministers to the news reports on opposition to extension of MUDA authority, Mawlai MLA PT Sawkmie request the government to de-notify the non-municipal areas like Mawlai, Mawpat, Nongmynsong, Nongthymmai, Lawsohtun, Umplingm Nongkseh and others from falling under the ambit of MUDA.

Replying to this attention call, Urban Affairs minister Hamletson Dohling said assured the house that he will convene a meeting with the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC) and Synjuk ki Nongsynshar Shnong Ka Bri U Hynniewtrep (SNSBH) to find out a solution to this problem.

Below Poverty Line in the state

To a question raised by Mawlai MLA of the Congress, PT Sawkmie on whether the government is aware of the number of families below poverty line in the state who are left without ration card, Food Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs minister James P.K Sangma told the house that 50.87 per cent of the urban population and 77.79 per cent of the rural people in the state have been covered under the National Food Security Act and provided with ration cards.

Furthermore, the minister said that the identification of beneficiaries was done based on the Socio-Economic and Caste Census of 2011. He, however, informed that there was an ongoing exercise to include those who have been left out, adding that claims and objections in this regard were being taken into consideration and that a report in this regard has already been forwarded to the Union Government and the response was awaited.

He informed that under the NFSA, each beneficiary family was entitled to 35 kilograms of food-grain at the rate of three rupees per month. Each member of such family was entitled to 5 kilograms of food-grain at the same rate per month, he added.

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