Governor Address - 2000
ADDRESS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, THE GOVERNOR OF MANIPUR, SHRI VED PRAKASH MARWAH TO THE MANIPUR LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY ON 13-03-2000 .
Hon'ble Speaker and Hon'ble Members of the Legislative Assembly,
It is with a sense of fulfillment and happiness that I welcome you to the first and Budget Session of the 7th Manipur Legislative Assembly.
The people of Manipur have demonstrated exemplary maturity and commitment to democracy during the just concluded Assembly Election. The successful conclusion of the polls, notwithstanding vitiating propaganda and intimidation by the vested interests on the eve of the Polls and the painful incidents of violence occurred in some areas during the polls resulting in the death of Songlienthang Songate, a candidate for Tipaimukh Assembly Constituency, and security personnel on duty, is a forceful vindication of the democratic aspirations of the Manipuris. I pay homage to the departed souls. The electorate has given a decisive mandate to my Government. I sincerely extend my felicitations to the people of Manipur who have contributed their mite in the collective endeavour to uphold the democratic spirit enshrined in the Constitution.
Hon'ble Members, as this is the first Assembly Session in the New Millennium, I take the privilege to wish you and the people of Manipur a very happy, peaceful and prosperous year ahead. At the same time, I would like to urge this august House to use such occasions for introspection and review. A retrospect of the five decades since independence would reveal that we have erred somewhere, whether in fulfilling the basic needs or in providing primary healthcare, education and basic infrastructure. We should not, however, be disillusioned by the missed opportunities. We must rather look at our future with hope and confidence. Let us, therefore, resolve to use our collective strength to make a progressive and prosperous Manipur in which even the poorest and the weakest shall live with a sense of both security and dignity; a peaceful Manipur in which all communities shall live in harmony.
On the 26th January, 2000 , while celebrating the 50th anniversary of the creation of the Indian Republic , the nation pledged to preserve the freedom and integrity of the motherland. In the same breath, my Government has resolved to strive for preservation of the integrity of Manipur and the solidarity of the Manipuris at any cost. The entire Indian nation stood as one and demonstrated such determination when armed aggression in Kargil posed a grave challenge to the integrity of our country. We pay tribute to the martyrs and heroes of Kargil. While drawing inspiration from their bravery and sacrifice, it is incumbent upon each one of us to contain all disruptive activities and maintain vigil on all fronts.
While peace is a prerequisite to progress, violence constitutes the greatest threat to our future. Violence is not a means of conflict resolution either. Today the humankind is harping on the ideals of one world. In the emerging international scenario, even the legitimacy of nationalism could be debated when it turns into an aggressive feeling towards others. I, therefore, appeal to all sections of the society, especially the youths, to eschew violence. My Government has exhibited unflagging commitment to peaceful resolution of conflicts by following an open-door policy for dialogue with the insurgents. My Government is also actively pursuing liberalised policy of rehabilitation of surrendered insurgents. I sincerely appeal to the youths, who are today following the path of violence, to come forward for meaningful dialogue.
With the twin objective of maintaining law and order and instilling in the minds of the common men a sense of security, the State Police is being strengthened and modernised in large measures.
A National Highway Security Scheme has been implemented in order to ensure public safety and smooth movement of goods along the National Highways-39 and 53. A 3rd India Reserve Battalion (IRB) is being raised in order to reduce the State's reliance on the army and the para military forces. With the Central Government's assistance, we are launching a comprehensive modernisation and welfare plan envisaging better mobility, weaponry, telecommunication and housing facilities. We have earmarked 362 houses at the National Games Village , Langol, Imphal as part of the package. The net result of the combination of measures is evident from the fact that the state Police whose morale is much higher is now playing an active role in maintaining law and order and the incidence of crime has shown a downward trend. My Government is grateful to the Central Government for their unstinted support and cooperation.
There is need for a collective endeavour to safe-guard freedoms that democracy implies. In the same vein, we ought to address the issue of rights not only in terms of protection from encroachment of the State, but also in terms of sustaining a strategic partnership between the government and the people against other kinds of infringement in order to facilitate human development in a conducive environment. I am happy to note that the Manipur Human Rights Commission, which has become fully functional, reaffirms my Government's faith in the principles of democracy.
Hon'ble Members, despite many solid achievements through the Five Year Plans, majority of our people, particularly in rural areas, are still to be provided with clean drinking water, basic health services, primary education and roads. The challenge is to achieve “Faster Growth”, fast enough to eradicate poverty and unemployment. Keeping this challenge in view, the strategy of development during the Annual Plan 2000-2001 will focus on self-sufficiency in food grains, completion of ongoing irrigation projects, power generation, roads & communication, basic minimum services and creation of employment opportunities. We have submitted an ambitious Annual Plan 2000-2001 proposing an outlay of Rs. 681.95 crores to the Planning Commission, although a tentative outlay of Rs. 475.00 crores at the current year's level has been indicated in the budget Estimate 2000-2001. Manipur merged with the Union of India in the year 1949, historically, on other considerations than economic. Unfortunately, the years of militancy dealt a severe blow to the already weak resource base of the State. In the face of resource crunch, development activities slowed down and the State lagged behind. Whilst the people lived between hope and despair for five decades since the merger, we continued to dialogue with the Government of India about the infrastructural deficits and the developmental needs of the State lest the consequential socio-economic problems persist. The Government of India's sensitivity to our problems is demonstrated by their reoriented development strategy for the North Eastern Region. Planning Commission has sanctioned Rs. 92.00 crores for implementation of Heavy Fuel Power Project, augmentation of Imphal Water Supply, installation of Power Sub-station at Moreh and Basic Minimum Services, over and above Rs. 475.00 crores outlay for Annual Plan 1999-2000. Planning Commission has also agreed to allocate Rs. 42.35 crores during the current year, for development of educational infrastructure, Heavy Fuel Power Project and Senapati – Phaibung road from Non-lapsable Central Pool of resources. We are grateful to the Prime Minister for a special development package for the North-East announced in the Conference of Governors and Chief Ministers held at Shillong during January, 2000. We are also catering to infrastructural needs of the people along the Indo-Myanmar border under the Border Area Development Programme of the Government of India. An ambitious urban infrastructure development plan “Vision 2020” will be formulated. We shall take urgent steps to meet the urban and rural housing needs.
Financial health of the State Government remains a cause of concern during the current financial year which opened with a deficit of Rs 115.72 crores. To make the challenge more daunting, Government was required to clear spill over liabilities on account of the infrastructure created for conducting the V National Games. In spite of the difficult financial situation, my Government has taken steps to significantly improve the service conditions of the employees on the pattern of the Central Fifth Pay Commission. To stabilise the ways and means position of the State, we have taken steps to improve expenditure management.
My Government has also evolved a programme for increasing revenues through Additional Resource Mobilisation measures, introduction of Floor Rate of Sales Tax and rationalisation of User Charges. These measures will be further strengthened during the coming financial year so that we can sustain the welfare measures and generate resources for investments in the priority sectors. In his address to Parliament on 25 October, 1999 , the President of India mentioned: “Harmonious Centre-State relations are fundamental to a healthy federal polity and to achieve balanced socio-economic development”. Towards this objective, my Government will continue to interact with the Government of India for greater devolution of financial and administrative powers. There is already a national consensus for providing constitutional safeguards against misuse of the Article 356. To further protect and promote the interests of the states, the Articles 3 & 4 should be amended so as to make the consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned mandatory while altering the boundaries or diminishing the areas of any State. The Centre's initiative to review the Constitution should address these issues towards promotion of harmonious Centre-State relations and meeting the aspirations of the States.
Information Technology (IT) in India is on the threshold. Across the country, the public sector, private sector and academia are increasingly relying on Information Technology. To overcome the constraints of geographical distance and time, we will formulate, in consultation with the Ministry of Information Technology and National Informatics Centre, an action plan to promote IT education and to make governance electronic and intenet-based. We are also working closely with the Centre for setting up of 34 Community Information Centres at all Block Head Quarters in Manipur to provide Internet connectivity.
We have taken measures to promote tourism with greater focus on expansion of tourist facilities. Private investments in this sector will be encouraged. My Government will continue to urge the Government of India to dispense with the Restricted Area Permit (RAP) regime and the Inner-line Permit System which have not only outlived their purpose but have also become avoidable psychological barriers for potential investors, tourists as well as the people of the State.
With a view to provide better accommodation facilities for the public and officials while visiting Delhi, Calcutta, Guwahati and Shillong, 2nd Manipur Bhavan at Chanakyapuri will be commissioned by June, 2000; new Bhavans will be constructed at Calcutta and Guwahati. A plot of land has been purchased at Ulubari, Guwahati. The Rest House at Shillong will be made fully functional in the near future.
There is urgent need for conservation and efficient management of water to ensure that the present and future generations are not deprived of this life-sustaining resource. To meet the increasing demand from households, during the year, 59 villages in the rural areas have been provided safe drinking water, and a long term plan for generation of additional 16.50 million gallons per day (MGD) by the end of 11th Five Year Plan (i.e. 2012) for urban areas will be implemented. Singda Phase-II (2.0 MGD) which is taken up with French assistance is likely to be commissioned by August, 2000. Two new schemes namely, Potsangbam phase-II (1.5MGD) and Irilbung Water Supply Scheme (1.5 MGD) are in the pipe-line. Augmentation of Canchipur (1.5 MGD) will be taken up soon. Exploration of ground water for augmenting Imphal Water Supply is also being taken up with French assistance. The project is expected to be completed by June, 2001. French assisted Ground Water Exploration for 10 MGD water supply component of Thoubal Multipurpose Project is going on in full swing.
Since rural prosperity and employment generation depend on the growth of agricultural sector, Government will address issues such as irrigation, soil conservation, water-shed management, agriculture credit, promotion of horticulture and floriculture, and mechanised farming with greater concern. An action plan for completion of irrigation projects in a time-bound manner will be implemented with central assistance under Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme and Rural Infrastructure Development Fund.
Towards equitable distribution of irrigation water, Government has taken steps to complete the construction of field channels in the areas covered by Loktak Lift Irrigation Project, Sekmai Barrage Project, Imphal Barrage Project and Thoubal Multipurpose Project covering a total area of 1720 hectares under the Command Area Development Programme.
During the past one year, apart from the benefits provided under the extension programmes, seeds, fertilizer and pesticides were distributed to the farmers, and pump-sets were pressed into service to save 9,649 hectares of pre-khariff paddy from drought. Under the Water Development Project in Shifting Cultivation Area (WDPSCA) scheme being taken up with 100% Central Assistance, 24 project areas over 2584 hectares have been developed. Under National Watershed Development Project in Rain-fed Areas (WDPRA) a sum of Rs. 225 lakhs has been spent for 21 projects with a targeted area of 35,000 hectares.
Considering the need for the increase in the annual production of silk yarn in the State, my Government has implemented 13 Plan Sericulture Schemes with an outlay of Rs. 1140.55 lakhs. Till the end of February, 2000 an expenditure of Rs. 176.55 lakhs has been incurred with the production of 197 MT of silk yarn (worth Rs. 19.70 crores), and 18,193 families were given employment.
Research and Development (R&D) initiatives of the Fishery Research Centre, Khundrakpam have successfully induced breeding of L.bata (Ngaton). Apart from the programmes for replenishment of natural fish stocks, an ambitious Loktak Fisheries Development Project will be taken up. A strong health coverage base will be built up for augmenting production of livestock. Sustainable Development of Loktak Wetland, including the direct and indirect catchment areas will be given renewed thrust.
In the Forest & Environment sector, during the year, emphasis was laid on restocking of the Reserve Forests of the State with valuable tree species while under Social Forestry Scheme emphasis was laid on meeting the requirement of firewood and fodder requirement of the rural-people by planting trees in degraded forests. Total outlay for these two schemes was Rs. 86.90 lakhs and Rs. 111.60 lakhs. For the protection and conservation of Wild Life in the State, Government has notified five more areas namely, Zeilad, Bunning, Kailam, Siroy and Jiri-Makru for constituting them into Wild-Life Sanctuary. In order to improve the environment and ecological awareness, the Government has established 13 Ecological Development Demonstration Parks in Schools/Colleges in all districts and one State Botanical Garden at Khonghampat.
The Government has been making every effort to nurture the rich cultural heritage and arts of Manipur. I am glad to mention that construction of an auditorium with Art Gallery and Artists' Workshop-cum-Dormitory has been started under the award of the 10th Finance Commission at Palace Ground, Imphal. The Government has also declared 30 historical & archaeological sites as state protected monuments under the Manipur Ancient & Historical and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1976. Conservation of Kangla Fort in collaboration with the Archaeological Survey of India is also being taken up. A State Cultural Policy is being formulated. To promote Manipuri Language, we will urge the Government of India to include Manipuri Language in Meitei Script as one of the scheduled languages printed on the currency notes of India .
My Government is committed to safeguard the interests of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Backward Classes and Minorities through various measures focussing on education and socio-economic empowerment. The Directorate of Minorities and Other Backward Classes will be strengthened. During the year, we have taken up construction of 98 Schools under the District Councils under the Basic Minimum Services, 392 Scheduled Caste families and 2675 Scheduled Tribe families below the poverty line have been assisted under different Family Oriented Schemes, and assistance in kind worth Rs. 100.00 lakhs were given to 578 Scheduled Tribe and 44 Scheduled Caste families for housing under the Basic Minimum Services Scheme. Under the Centrally Sponsored Scheme for award of post-matric scholarship, Rs. 139.00 lakhs have been awarded to eligible ST/SC students up to the end of January, 2000.
Public Distribution System (PDS) will be revamped in order to meet the legitimate expectations of people. Vigilance Committees will monitor its implementation to ensure that the benefits reach the families Below Poverty Line. We are working with the Centre for importing Myanmar rice through Moreh to overcome the difficulties of induction of food grains through National Highways-39 and 53.
In the absence of railways and inland waterways, Manipur continues to depend solely on road transport. We will, therefore, accord priority to up-gradation of the national and state highways and increasing rural connectivity. An action plan for construction of circular state highways connecting all the district headquarters will be formulated. The target is to increase road density from 34 kms per 100 Sq.Km as on date to 42 kms per 100 Sq.Km by the end of the 9th Plan period. Inter-alia, the Imphal-Ukhrul Road (84 kms) is being taken up under Indo-French Protocol at an estimated cost of Rs. 4.60 crores. World Bank is going to provide assistance for financing of the Manipur Highways Project and a team of consultants is already conducting strategic-option-study for about 3500 kms of road.
In the power sector, emphasis will be given to implementation of new power projects and strengthening of transmission and distribution system. Towards this objective, the State is working closely with the Central Government for commissioning of the (6 x 6 MW) Heavy Fuel Based Power Project at Leimakhong by December, 2000; implementation of the Loktak Down Stream Hydro Electric Project as a Central Sector Project is underway. With the concurrence of the State Legislative Assembly, Revised Project Report for the ( 6 x 250 MW), Tipaimukh (Multipurpose) Project is being prepared by NEEPCO. Implementation of these projects, especially Tipaimukh Project, will make Manipur self-sufficient in power and economically progressive. A strong regulatory mechanism will be devised to make transmission and distribution cost effective and to improve collection of tariff.
Through the infrastructure initiatives, we will lay a firm foundation for the revival and expansion of Manipur's industrial base Special attention will be given to small scale industries, handloom & handicrafts, food processing, electronics, rural craftsmen and artisans. Policy changes will be made to facilitate the growth of selected industries which have greater potential for exports and employment generation. Government will play the role of a catalyst towards meeting the multiple needs of the SSI sector such as credit support, marketing, technological up-gradation and skill improvement. To improve border trade, we will develop Moreh town with central funds being provided at the Prime Minister's initiative – Rs. 95.00 lakhs advance has already been sanctioned for roads and yard lighting.
Youth force being crucial to nation-building, we expect them to aspire and to excel. We owe our young people and education to enable them to acquire zest for nation-building. Through the youth programmes, we will encourage the youth and students organisations in the State to participate in constructive activities, sports, arts and culture. The main objective is to strengthen national integration, rekindle the spirit of sacrifice, imbibe the culture of voluntary service, and to achieve excellence. Keeping in mind the message of ”Catch Them Young”, the young sportsmen and sportswomen will be encouraged to make use of the excellent infrastructure created during the V National Games. To preserve and promote indigenous games, my Government will declare Manipuri Polo as State Game. A scheme for employment of meritorious sports persons has been implemented.
Decentralisation being the hallmark of democracy, it will be my Government's endeavour to strengthen the urban and rural local bodies with greater devolution of powers and functions. The main aim will be to empower the people from the grass-root level and to ensure their participation in planning and development programmes. Through a process of decentralisation taken up during the past two years, we have been able to bring revenue administration closer to the people. In the same vein, we will impress upon the Centre to introduce the provisions of 6th Schedule in the hill areas of Manipur. Greater devolution of powers and functions to the District Councils is under consideration.
In the field of education, there is need to give greater thrust to universalisation of primary education and quality improvement. It will be the joint endeavour of my Government and the Centre to make provision of primary school buildings for all unserved habitations in a time-bound manner. A broad consensus already exists on the need for extensive reforms in our educational system to enhance its relevance and quality. The situation in Manipur demands a fresh approach, to nurture scientific temper and problem-solving attitude. To start with, consolidation of existing institutions including the College of Technology will be given precedence over opening or adoption of new ones. Manipur Science Centre is being set up at Imphal with the support of the National Council for Science Museums. Our University should be a centre of excellence. To this end, we will urge the Government of India to convert Manipur University into a Central University. Towards empowerment of women, female literacy will be given a new thrust, and setting up of a State Women's Commission is under consideration. To meet the new challenges, educational administration will be made transparent and effective.
Hon'ble Members, my Government will evolve a programme for achieving health for all and stabilisation of population. The State has achieved the national norm for establishment of Primary Health Sub-Centres, Primary Health Centres and Community Health Centres in both the rural and hill areas. About 40% of doctors in the Health Department are deployed in the rural and hill areas to provide uniform health coverage. Reproductive and Child health (RCH) services and HIV & AIDS control programmes will be strengthened by ensuring greater community participation. Programmes for the welfare of the disabled and the aged will be given renewed thrust. Private sector participation in tertiary health services, including speciality hospitals and diagnostic centres will be encouraged.
Hon'ble members, I have placed before you some of the important policy perspectives and programmes concerning peace and progress of the State which my Government has implemented and is going to implement. The task before you, on the threshold of the new Millennium, is highly challenging, but equally rewarding. The people of Manipur have high expectations from all of you. I sincerely hope that in keeping with the best traditions of democracy and also the people's mandate for coherent coalition, the deliberations and proceedings in the 7th Assembly will be marked by cooperation and consensus among all members, cutting across party lines.
I convey my best wishes to all of you and now I leave you, to your deliberations which, I am sure, will be extremely fruitful.