As maternal and infant mortality continue to be a major challenge in Meghalaya, chief minister Conrad K Sangma on Thursday said in the coming years the most important vision and task for the state government would be to save every mother and every child in the state.
In an address to mark the 49th anniversary of Meghalaya’s statehood, Sangma revealed that at least five mothers and more than 30 children are dying every week in the state due to various reasons.
Stating that the situation needs to change, the CM said the government has started many programmes to monitor the situation in a very detailed manner. “We are keeping track of every mother who is pregnant and every child who is born,” he added.
“This is an exercise where the government will play its role but family and society also have to be part of the entire exercise if they really want to make a difference. I strongly feel in the coming year that this should be one of the most important objectives, vision and tasks for our government which is to save the life of every mother and every child in the state,” Sangma further stated.
The chief minister also informed that Meghalaya is one of the first states in the country to come out with an early childhood education programme.
“We have budgeted, sanctioned and released Rs 10 crore in this financial year itself to start this programme where we’ve made different ICDS (Integrated Child Development Services) centres as early childhood education centres,” he said.
Also launching Meghalaya's vision for the road to the 50th year of statehood, which focuses on infrastructure development, entrepreneurship, tourism and other things, the chief minister said it is important to keep in mind "where do we see the state in the next one year or fifty years".
Sangma informed that a committee, which consists of leaders from different political parties, officials and stakeholders from different walks of life, will be notified on Friday to look into the 50th year of statehood celebrations.
According to him, this committee would also analyse the vision of the state for the next 10-15 years as well as the next 50 years. He said a group under the chairmanship of Prof David Syiemlieh is also on the job to document the history of the statehood in the form of a book, to be released next year.
Stating that infrastructure is key for development in the state, the chief minister said during the last one year, Rs 2,000 crore was sanctioned under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana
(PMGSY), Rs 1,100 crore funded by World Bank and Rs 600 crore under state schemes to improve road connectivity in the state.
He informed that Rs 4,900 crore was also sanctioned for implementation of the Jal Jeevan Mission over the next three years.
“Though the rest of the country will be completing it by 2024, our state has been given the task to finish it by December 2022. Our team from the PHE (public health engineering department) are working tirelessly to be able to achieve this but we need the community to work together so that this ambitious project is completed,” he said.
Regarding the sports sector, Sangma said the state government is not leaving any stone unturned and it is hoping that the National Games will be coming to Meghalaya, but due to Covid and other reasons, delays have taken place in other states.
“We are yet to know whether we will be able to host it in the 50th year of statehood, which we had planned. In spite of the uncertainty, the state government and the sports department will ensure that the facility and infrastructure required for the national games is completed on time,” he said
As far as the health sector is concerned, the chief minister said 649 health centres across the state will be upgraded in the coming years.
Also focusing on the development of the rural sector, the chief minister said despite the Covid challenges, the state government will be spending the highest amount in the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS).
“In this financial year, we will touch a record of Rs 1,600 crore in terms of expenditure and this also puts us as one of the best performing states when it comes to MGNREGS in the entire country,” he said.
Sangma also informed that the state has been able to form more than 30,000 self-help groups (SHGs). “This is an increase from 4,000 in 2018 to 30,000 in a matter of two and a half years,” he said.
Terming youth development as a crucial sector, the chief minister also informed that the draft youth policy is almost ready.
“Within weeks, we will be putting it up in the public domain for the different kinds of inputs from the society and stakeholders,” he said.
There are two aspects, said the CM , what does the government want from this youth policy to take the youth forward, and what is it the youth expect from this policy– adding that if both these factors are not part of the policy then the policy will be incomplete.
Meanwhile, the state government is also giving much emphasis on the welfare of farmers.
According to the chief minister, over 1,700 farmer producer groups (FPGs) have been formed during the last one year and steps are being taken to form another 3,000 FPGs.
“As of now 25,000 farmers are in these groups and by the end when we achieve 5,000 FPGs, we will be having close to 1 lakh farmers who will be part of the FPGs. In order to financially support them and put up storage spaces, a number of Rs 40 crore has been earmarked to give loan to these FPGs, interest-free,” he said.
“There is a need to have a strong connection between the farmers and the entrepreneurs. Therefore, we have also created a corpus of Rs 10 crore which is again an interest-free amount which will be given to different entrepreneurs who would wish to work with these farmers and add value and market their products outside the state,” he said, adding that the government’s goal is to double the farmers’ income.
On the occasion, the chief minister also felicitated the recipients of the Meghalaya Day Excellence Award 2020.