Shillong, Aug. 27: Meghalaya today demanded more than Rs 3,000 crore from the Centre to initiate seven projects in the state.
In a memorandum submitted to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, chief minister Mukul Manda Sangma requested the Centre to consider granting a “special package” to finance seven projects, on a 100 per cent central funding basis, over and above the plan outlays of the state.
“This would undoubtedly be recognised by the people of the state as the noblest gesture on the part of the Centre towards realising their genuine aspirations,” Sangma said in the memorandum.
The projects include setting up of the International Centre for Performing Arts and Culture at an estimated cost of Rs 350 crore, constructing the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly building, also at an estimated expenditure of Rs 350 crore and establishment of the State Medical College at Tura in West Garo Hills, at a cost of Rs 160 crore.
The other projects outlined by Sangma include setting up the Integrated Ganol Drinking Water Supply and Irrigation Project in Garo hills at a cost of Rs 350 crore, establishment of the New Shillong Township at an estimated expenditure of Rs. 350 crore, construction of a State Technical University at a cost of Rs 60 crore and Rs 1,500 crore for the Integrated Basin Development and Livelihood Promotion Programme.
“All the above projects have the potential to change the face of the state and capture the imagination of the people. These can change the entire discourse for the state and the region from backwardness, insurgency and alienation to a pulsating and vibrant community of education, music and culture with socio economic infrastructure that provides sustenance and support,” the chief minister told the Prime Minister.
At the same time, Sangma said Meghalaya was well behind the national average in terms of many socio-economic parameters and the “gap has been widening”.
To arrest this trend, he said the state government had taken a lot of steps and this has “resulted in a far better performance during the Eleventh Plan period”.
“The overall economic growth rate of the state has been comparable with national trends. This needs to be sustained over the ongoing and the future plan periods. As stated earlier, we could use our annual plan outlays for the projects outlined above but in that case, we must be prepared to pay the cost,” Sangma said.
On the law and order scenario in the state, the chief minister told Singh that the agreed text with the ANVC and its breakaway factions had been finalised and was now awaiting the Centre’s nod.
Intensive counter-insurgency operations against other militant groups, such as the GNLA, have put pressure on these outfits, he said, adding that lately “they have been making overtures about entering into a dialogue with the government”.
Sangma said a large number of GNLA cadres, including its chairman, had been arrested, and steps to identify their overground sympathisers were having a positive effect.
Pressure has also been exerted by civil society organisations and public opinion today is perceptively against militancy and for peace and stability, he said.
“Our experience suggests that peace and stability become vulnerable if development does not keep pace with aspirations. The development programmes of our government have, therefore, focussed on promotion of livelihood opportunities and employment prospects, leveraging local resources in a sustainable manner,” Sangma said.