Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma is veritably synonymous with Meghalaya. Both are markedly young, suave, down-to-earth, impeccable in realising the need for the state to be front-ranking state in the country. Both are intensely, immediately, seriously looking forward to be main players in India like all other states therein. Sangma is bubbling with practical yet repertoire of innovative ideas to make Meghalaya among the countrymen a sought-after (in terms of tourism) state in the country in the nearest coming days. To turn it into a reality, he has a whole lot of India and Indians-appealing ideas. For many of these, he of course needs the Centre’s support (in all senses), patronage, guidance and even, the crucial green signal for many of his projects because after all, Meghalaya is a sensitive border state of the country and is prone to all kinds of interference from foreign countries which are constantly interested to destabilise the country from its border areas and border states. With this in background, the suave, cogent, equanimous Chief Minister was in Delhi to “interact” with so many personalities in New Delhi. When LOK PANCHAYAT met him at his suite in New Delhi based Meghalaya House, he gave an exclusive interview which turned out to be a monologue (his concept being so clear complete with clarity) ranging from what he wants to do for Meghalaya and what are the various glitches in the state. From his fluent flow of cogent monologue/s, it was clear that he really wants to see Meghalaya as a front-ranking state in the country.
How to bring Meghalaya in to the mainstream of the country and how to assimilate the state’s people into the country?
I assumed (Chief minister’s) office in April last year. That was on 20 April. On the first day after assuming office, I assured and promised the people of Meghalaya that there would be a change and the change would be for the better. Our governance would be constantly prone to accountability, the governance would be transparent, and it will be efficient delivery system with the spirit of positive politics. In that direction, we have taken some positive initiatives. Development of all infrastructural areas and proper and adequate investments towards that direction. Communication sector, health and all other social sectors, education…we will also focus on all software development process. In other words, we will develop human face of developments so that there will be plethora of opportunities for all in the state and all denizens will easily and conveniently take them for their use(s). This will apply to all sections of the people particularly the marginal farmers, youths, women and, all the people who for years have been recognised as deprived, oppressed, denied, denied. The nerve centre of the state is youth. We are ensuring that we channelise the youths in the right direction for their overall benefits and for the overall developments of the state. They are considered the main strength of the state. Their all round and overall development would clearly mean the state itself is on the progress positively in all sectors. We would like to provide them with adequate platform so that they find it easy and effortless to perform for the overall growth of the state as also for their own all round prosperity. All types of constructive programmes would be provided to them so that find it handy for their future betterment in all ways. This way, they will be empowered. They will become responsible and positive-thinking (which they are now also). This is most important because all over the country, we are talking of youth restlessness, unemployment, tension, uneasiness et al. In that view, Meghalaya is also part and parcel of it. To ‘ease’ and provide comfort zone to the youths of Meghalaya, we have drawn up all practical schemes for the overall development of the youths. We want, the youths of Meghalaya to be ‘comfortable’, ‘peaceful’, ‘prosperous’, ‘ambitious’, ‘self-sufficient’. We are doing everything possible for providing adequate knowledge along with providing adequate opportunities to the youths so that they find it extremely convenient and are always at ease in the Meghalaya state and are involved in ‘improving-Meghalaya’ further. All these programmes are sponsored by the Government of India. Then we have initiated programmes which will be integrated into natural resources of the state. For example, we have considered water and river basin basin as one of the natural components. We are developing these natural resources. Like water harvesting programmes, water bodies etc. As we all know there is a lot of depletion of ground water level. They need to be recharged. Creation of water bodies could be linked to eco-tourism, rural tourism and other revenue-earning resources. Then, there would be fish production, flora culture etc all of which will be linked with the livelihood. Eco-friendly irrigation would be used where power will not be needed. Yet, irrigation would be directly linked with the farming. This would help so many people in their livelihood. The idea is to enable the people to go for a scientific approach and yet be comfortable without any worries. Their will be a smile in their faces. If they are worriless naturally they will be satisfied and would work more resultwise, the state itself would progress. We are doing proper utilisation of land and water for the multi-faceted development of the people and the state state as a whole. Today, the state still has a pressing problem of the people doing unscientific farming as a result, the output/s is/are minimal. Once they do farming in a scientific manner, the outputs will be far more, the revenue will also be more, hence, the people’s earning will also be more. The state as a whole will look progressive. … We want jhuming cultivation to be looked into. Today, because they lack a scientific approach, they waste a lot of land etc. The moment they adopt a scientific approach, they will not waste land; they will utilise the land in a far more better way; they will get more produce; they will thus get more revenues. We are addressing self-sufficiency in food production and also ensuring producing more than what we require so that they have enough surplus to generate more income. We have integrated all these in this way so that the people of all hues in the state of Meghalaya are self-sufficient. This way we will be able to cover at least 2 lac families in the five years. In all, we have 3 million population. Ours is a huge target. We have miles to go…the final target goal is fixed but it will take some time till the state of Meghalaya and its people become self-sufficient in every way. In this respect I must also say that we must see that the people’s approach to their livelihood is very important : Less investment but maximum output so that maximum revenues come to them. We are also involving the people to acclimitise the people to the climate change so that they do not get a shock or jerk because of disturbance in their normal routines and practices. They people should be prepared to digest newness in the climate change and utlise it in their favour rather than rejecting it and dumpling it. We are also sensitising the people so that they are completely involved in their new roles of evolving with the prevailing circumstances. In that view, we are coming up with social auditing. This we are doing through legislation in the assembly. Once that takes place, every scheme implemented — whether the scheme belongs to the Government of India or to the State Government — will be subjected to the constant scrutiny and there will be no loophole, slackness, delay or disorder in them. The schemes will be rightly implemented and the targeted people will be rightly and duly benefitted from them. The monitoring and evaluation will be done by the people themselves. This way, the people will be happy and satisfied because they will realise the schemes to be for them, by them, of them. They will be able to utilise the full benefits of the schemes. They will have the sense of the ownership of the programmes and that way, they will be more intensely interested in seeing the programmes being fully successful. … The militancy will also have no scope to spread its fans in the state. … The people will have full sense of responsibility in participating in these programmes with full gusto and fullest endeavour. Our goal is to share responsibility with the people. Each person will be a stake holder in every scheme. This will indeed help us in successful implementation of the programmes. This way all perceivable and non-perceivable corruption/s will be eliminated. The benefits of all programmes will reach at the right people at the right time and the people will also be happy and satisfied. The denial of benefits in a programme to the targeted people will be removed. … These are some of the issues which we are addressing with an immediate basis. … There are the boundary issues. For normal and smooth lives of the people, they need a perfect smooth and conducive atmosphere. The people in the state are in the habit of coexisting in a mutually conducive manner. They thus need a peaceful atmosphere. We are taking up these issues with our neighbouring states and are ensuring that they (neighbouring states) do the needful to let the people of the Meghalaya state stay in peace. Then we have the problem of unregulated mining activities. We need to regulate the mining policy. In that direction, we are ready with a mining policy so that all mining in the state become regulated. … We are promoting Meghalaya as tourist and education destination. We are designing policy (policies) to regulate these objectives. We have already notified a policy to promote Meghalaya as a tourism destination point. This itself will generate a lot of revenue for the state. And for the people as well. … We also have issues of militancy. We need to address it in proper perspective. Meghalaya is sandwiched between Bangladesh — 400 plus km porus border between Meghalaya and Bangladesh— and Assam. Now since Assam has militancy, Meghalaya also shares the militancy. Therefore, we need to look at this militancy issue with a holistic approach. We need to understand to root cause of this militancy problem. And then we need to address it in a holistic approach. We need to remove the disease from its roots. We have already started humbling beginnings towards that direction and we are sure that we will succeed in it. … Our effort is to generate hope among the people so that they do not get frustrated. The more they are not frustrated, the more they will turn their faces away from militancy and other anti-social activities. The situation is same with all states with porous borders in the country. we are ensuring to create opportunities in the state for all people so that they do not feel vacant and do not lose hope. Rather, they are always high-spirited, hopeful and constantly positive.