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Challenges ahead for new government

- Meghalaya will need to focus on corruption, women’s safety and insurgency

Shillong, Jan. 1: Mal-governance, corruption, women’s safety and militancy are some of the major issues that will dominantly figure in this hill state this year.

The previous year ended without any concrete solution to these thorny issues.

With elections on the doorstep, these very issues will haunt the new dispensation which will take over the reins of governance in March.

“Corruption, influx, poverty and the inter-state boundary issues are the major concerns which will have to be comprehensively addressed this year,” Nongkrem legislator Ardent Miller Basaiawmoit told The Telegraph.

Basaiawmoit is leading a Clean Politics campaign to fight mal-governance and also a movement to press for settlement of the boundary dispute with Assam.

According to him, all government schemes require to be properly channelised to ensure that corruption is rooted out as it has been the main cause behind the poverty one sees all around.

He also pointed out that issues relating to land would also be highlighted.

Leader of Civil Society Women’s Organisation (CSWO), Agnes Kharshiing who is also a prominent right to information activist, warned politicians and bureaucrats that 2013 would be “worse” than 2012.

“We will go after all those public servants who are found to be indulging in corruption and abusing power. We have laws to guide us and we will apply them without being politicians ourselves,” Kharshiing said.

She said putting in place a strong Lokayukta law would be one of the foremost issues in the New Year.

The Assembly had passed a new Lokayukta bill last month, but it was dubbed incompatible and anti-people, which prompted activists to burn copies of the bill.

Kharshiing said the administration has to immediately address the rise in crimes against women, especially rape, by putting in place stronger laws.

“The problems relating to the public distribution system, health and child nutrition will also have to be addressed,” she said.

Like Basaiawmoit, Kharshiing said land would be a very important feature in 2013.

“In the name of development, indigenous people are being displaced from their land,” she said.

Besides those at the helm, even youngsters like Kormiyaki Lamarr, a schoolboy, expressed the wish that Meghalaya becomes a corruption-free state.

“I wish Meghalaya becomes a corruption-free state. Our leaders should pay more attention to the rural areas by setting up better schools and hospitals for the poor. The crime rate which is increasing needs attention and everyone should feel safe,” Lamarr, an avid photographer, said.

Wishing for peace in the state in the days ahead, Karen Diengdoh, a Class X student, appealed for more safety and protection of women and girls. She also underscored the need to educate the underprivileged children.

“I also want people to say no to plastic bags and I wish people use more of solar energy. We also need flyovers to reduce traffic congestion,” Karen said while hoping for more employment to be generated for the youth.

In the five districts of Garo hills, the government will have to tackle militancy where groups like the Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA) have been making their presence felt.

In the past year, there were achievements made by state police in counter-insurgency operations. The “arrest” of GNLA “chairman” Champion R. Sangma in July 2012 was one of those accomplishments.

The government will also have to provide attractive livelihood avenues for the youths of the region to ensure that they do not go astray or take up guns.