Shillong/Tura, Jan. 21: Meghalaya today celebrated its 42nd birthday amidst a renewed call to restore peace and ensure development of the remote corners of the state.
In Shillong, deputy chief minister Roytre Christopher Laloo told a gathering at U Soso Tham auditorium about the progress Meghalaya has made in the last 42 years and the need to do more to bring the state on a par with others.
“The destiny of Meghalaya was put in its people’s hands when it was declared a full-fledged state 42 years ago. These 42 years have witnessed indelible moments crucial to the genesis of Meghalaya as we know today,” Laloo said. On development, he said the state has recorded “many achievements”, be it in industry, agriculture, health, tourism, education or infrastructure. At the same time, the deputy chief minister said improving connectivity was crucial for the future of Meghalaya.
On power generation, he said Meghalaya’s hydropower potential was around 3,000MW, second only to Arunachal Pradesh among the northeastern states. To meet the power deficit, he said there were ongoing projects, while other schemes were in the pipeline.
On agriculture, he said the initiatives taken by the government in propagating low-volume high-value crops have brought about positive changes in the farmers’ lives.
Laloo said the government has been working to ensure the benefits of flagship programmes like Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, National Rural Health Mission, Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana, Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission, Total Sanitation Campaign and National Rural Employment Generation Scheme to reach to the remotest corners and the poorest beneficiaries.
“As we celebrate the progress of the state in the past 42 years, let us remind ourselves that we are a part of the process that will shape the future of Meghalaya,” he added.
Laloo also distributed the Meghalaya Day Excellence Awards to 15 government employees, while two localities of Shillong — Jaiaw Shyiap Lumpyllon and Cleve Colony — were awarded the Clean and Green Locality Award.
Meghalaya additional chief secretary Barkos Warjri said the challenge before the state was to ensure peace because in some pockets it was still elusive.
Amid a festive atmosphere, Tura in West Garo Hills also commemorated the momentous occasion where people from various walks of life participated.
Reverend Waterfield Marak of the Baptist Church led a prayer urging peace and harmony in Garo hills. This was followed by a song dedication called Guilty Conscience by upcoming band Taste of Flavour.
During the celebration, singer and composer Beckington D. Shira was awarded posthumously for his outstanding contribution to A’chik literature, folk music and social services. Another noted personality, Llewellyn Beaconsfield Rangsa Marak, was awarded for making similar contributions.
Member of the Garo Hills Autonomous District Council, Locksley Robinhood Ch. Momin and Shammy Momin, enthralled the gathering by giving a befitting tribute to Beckington D. Shira.
North Tura legislator Noverfield R. Marak recalled the pre-statehood era when Meghalaya was part of undivided Assam. He stated that Meghalaya has come a long way in terms of development.
West Garo Hills deputy commissioner Pravin Bakshi termed the present situation as a passing phase of disturbance. He urged the people to forget their differences and work together for the development of the state. He emphasised the need for youths to come together in creating a peaceful and conducive atmosphere.
In Tura, the Clean and Green Locality Award was given to Upper Chandmari and RC Road localities.
Llewellyn Marak, who was part of the statehood movement, said, “Meghalaya was carved out of Assam without any bloodshed. It was a peaceful protest. We should imbibe the principles of politicians like late Captain Williamson A. Sangma and Modi Marak who had a long term vision for Meghalaya.”
He opined that today’s politicians were mostly self-centred, which hampered growth and development. Urging militant groups to shun violence and imbibe peace, Marak said, “Youths should not be misguided. They are our future.”
Retired IPS officer and leader of the Nokma (village head) council, Skylance G. Momin said, “In the last 42 years, Meghalaya has grown to be a mature state. In undivided Assam, hill areas could not develop as officers considered their postings as ‘punishment’. However, now indigenous people have ensured that growth is accelerated. Needless to say, more effort and dedication is required.”
Similar celebrations were held in Baghmara in South Garo Hills, Ampati in South West Garo Hills, Dadenggre civil subdivision in West Garo Hills, Mawkyrwat in South West Khasi Hills, among others.