Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Dev works in disputed areas underway: Sangma


Chief Minister Conrad Sangma on Monday said that development projects are underway in the areas of difference with Assam, even as he reiterated that engaging with Assam is the best way to bring an end to the suffering of the people residing in the areas of differences.
Replying on a Calling Attention motion moved by ruling United Democratic Party (UDP) legislator, Mayralborn Syiem on the safety and security of the people residing in the border areas, and the steps taken the government to ensure nothing untoward happens, Sangma assured that the government is leaving no stones unturned to ensure the safety and security of the people residing in areas of differences.
“There is an understanding with Assam that development works should not be stopped in such areas of differences, but in certain cases there are local issues that stall such work. However, both the governments are continuously engaging with each other so that development work isn’t affected,” the Chief Minister told the Assembly.
Sangma informed the Assembly that there are currently 26 central and state government schemes that are being implemented in Ri-Bhoi district alone and some of these are in the areas of difference due such understanding with Assam.
Moreover, he said that the government is engaging with various Assam officials to ensure there is no complications.
Assam at the Block Development Officer, Officer-in-Charge, Superintendent of Police, Deputy Commissioner and besides Chief Secretary and even at the Chief Minister’s level to ensure there are no complications in those areas and the developmental schemes are implemented without any interference from any side.
“Till the time both states find an amicable solution to the areas of difference there is also an understanding that the security and safety of the people of the area have to be protected at all cost. Moreover, adequate manpower is being posted in such areas to provide security,” he told the assembly.
Stating that many problems in these areas have been solved due to the continuous communication between the two states at various levels, the Chief Minister said, he and his Assam counterpart have something like a hot-line and they have both discussed issues both major and minor concerning the two states.
Replying to a short duration discussion moved by opposition Congress legislator, Charles Marngar on the tax collection by the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council from broom stick cultivators in the areas of difference in Block II, the Chief Minister said the issue was raised during talks between the Deputy Commissioners of Ri-Bhoi and West Karbi Anglong district.
He said the matter was raised in March 2022 in which four check gates have been collecting tax of Rs. 7 kg of broom stick from the cultivators in the area.
Sangma told the Assembly that the issue would be raised again during the proposed second phase of the boundary talks with Assam that is scheduled to begin after the current budget session of the assembly.
Informing the House that the state government has delisted broom stick as a forest product so that cultivators no longer need to pay tax, the Chief Minister said, the MDA-I government has now listed broom stick as an agro-forestry product.
Sangma further asked Marngar, who is also a member of the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC) to raise the issue of tax collection by the KHDAC from such cultivators so that the farmers could profit.
Countering opposition Voice of the People Party legislator, Ardent Basaiawmot, Sangma said, Meghalaya has not caved in to any kind pressure from Assam nor surrendered its claim over the areas of differences.
The Chief Minister said the state government is determined to go ahead with the present border talks which would help alleviate the plight of the people dwelling in such areas of differences.
“The border difference with Assam is complicated, but as elected representatives an effort has to be made to resolve the issue once and for all for the benefit of the people. Unless Meghalaya and Assam governments engage to find a solution, issues such as harassment and collection of taxes would crop up from time to time,” Sangma said.

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