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A toast to statehood

- Political freedom not enough for state, says governor

Shillong, Jan. 21: Citizens cannot live on political freedom alone. Emancipation from hunger and poverty is equally indispensable.

That was the message from Meghalaya Governor R.S. Mooshahary on the occasion of the 41st birthday of the hill state today.

Addressing a gathering at U Soso Tham auditorium here, Mooshahary said the struggle for the attainment of statehood, which was peacefully achieved, was the realisation of the dream and aspiration of the hill people.

“Political freedom is not enough. The fight for freedom from hunger and poverty should be a continuous effort not only by the government, but the citizens of the state,” he said.

Calling upon the citizens to fight against corruption, which hampers the progress and development of the state, Mooshahary urged them to judiciously utilise the Right to Information (RTI) Act to put a check against graft.

“I appeal to the NGOs of the state to use RTI to expose corrupt practices. If you tolerate corruption you are indirectly helping it,” he said.

Crimes against women: The governor also expressed concern over the rise in crimes against women. “It is distressing that the crime situation in the state has increased, especially crimes against women,” he said, adding that the increase in such crimes does not speak well of the culture of the people.

Boundary dispute: Touching on the state’s boundaries, he said the inter-state boundary dispute with Assam was an issue which can be resolved only through negotiation.

“There is some misunderstanding with Assam on the border front, but it can be solved through negotiations. We hope to solve it soon,” Mooshahary said.

There are 12 areas of differences between Assam and Meghalaya — Upper Tarabari, Gizang reserve forest, Hahim, Langpih, Borduar, Boklapara, Nongwah-Matamur, Khanapara-Pillangkata, Deshdemoreah, Block I and Block II, Khanduli-Psiar and Ratacherra.

These areas of differences are under West Khasi Hills, West Jaintia Hills and Ri Bhoi districts of Meghalaya.

The 12 areas of difference between Assam and Meghalaya cover around 2,700 square km, of which about 1,500 square km area is under Blocks I and II.

These two blocks had been transferred to the then United Mikir and North Cachar Hills district on April 13, 1951.

At the same time, he said 226km of the international border area with Bangladesh still remains unfenced and expressed optimism that the fencing would be completed in the coming year.

“We should feel secure once the border is fully fenced, since illegal migration from across the border is expected to end,” Mooshahary said.

Unscientific mining: Mooshahary said unscientific mining has led to environmental degradation in Meghalaya. He urged the citizens to transform the state into an environmental-friendly location.

On the occasion, he handed over the Meghalaya Day excellence award 2012 to 15 state government employees, which includes citation and cash award of Rs 10,000.

He also handed over certificates and cash prizes to the winners of Meghalaya Day Run, organised by the directorate of sports and youth affairs, while nine police personnel were decorated with the Governor’s Police Medal, 2013.