Shillong, Jan. 8: The Meghalaya cabinet today approved the proposed settlement agreement to be inked with the Achik National Volunteers’ Council (ANVC). This will also have an impact on Khasi and Jaintia Hills, apart from Garo hills region.
The settlement with the outfit proposes to grant more powers and financial resources to the existing Garo Hills Autonomous District Council (GHADC). But the agreement will also pave the way for empowering the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC) and the Jaintia Hills Autonomous District Council (JHADC), an issue which groups in the Khasi-Jaintia hills have been raising ever since the tripartite meeting.
The decision was made when chief minister Mukul Sangma chaired a cabinet meeting to discuss the text of the agreement for settlement, which was finalised here on Saturday at a tripartite meeting between the Centre, the state government and the ANVC. It is now up to the Manmohan Singh cabinet to decide whether the proposed settlement agreement merits approval.
“In the context of the democratic system and the emerging assertiveness of the people, it is only appropriate to further empower the district councils. The whole settlement revolves around the empowerment of the district council in the context of the GHADC,” Sangma told reporters. However, he pointed out that in the long run, the KHADC and the JHADC will also be empowered. “You cannot have different benchmarks for different district councils,” Sangma said.
He said there would be much more flow of funds and some empowerment by providing more responsibilities to the council, which are considered “implementable” by the GHADC. However, the whole text of the agreement, which was found to be “implementable”, was kept confidential as the Union cabinet’s approval is pending.
On the proposal to increase the number of seats in the GHADC, the chief minister said the same has to be determined according to the area and population. The ANVC has demanded that the strength of the GHADC should be increased to 40 members from the current 30 seats. The cabinet has also constituted a committee, which will comprise state government and district council representatives, Union home ministry officials, and representatives from the ANVC to go into the finer points of the proposed agreement.
Sangma said the proposed settlement has made room for the complete rehabilitation of the ANVC cadres, but ruled out granting them general amnesty.