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Garo council term extended

Shillong, Aug. 1: The Meghalaya government today extended the tenure of the Garo Hills Autonomous District Council (GHADC) by another six months at a time it is awaiting approval from the Centre on the peace pact with ANVC.

The central government had only approved the “agreed text for settlement”, which was arrived at with the outfit in January last year, while the signing of the “memorandum of settlement” is pending. The breakaway faction of the ANVC was also a part of the settlement.

The tenure of the council was first extended for six months with effect from February 18 this year. It is scheduled to expire on August 17. Since elections cannot be held in a short span of time, the Mukul Sangma cabinet decided to extend its tenure by another six months.

“The government wanted to complete the peace process and the Centre has indicated that the peace process would be completed very soon,” Sangma told reporters after a cabinet meeting.

Before the Lok Sabha polls, the contours of the final agreement to be signed with the ANVC had been approved. These relate to the political, organisational and development aspects.

As far as the political aspect is concerned, Parliament needs to amend the Sixth Schedule to accommodate the demands put forth by the outfit.

The outfit had demanded more powers and seats for the council. It had proposed that the seats should be enhanced from the existing 30 to 40 (35 directly elected members and five nominated members).

Sangma said the issue relating to the increase in the number of seats would also be extended to the two other autonomous district councils in Khasi and Jaintia Hills.

“The amendments to the Sixth Schedule would be left to the Centre for approval by Parliament while the other aspects would move ahead once the settlement agreement is signed,” he said.

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