Archive for the ‘Meghalaya’ Category

Meghalaya Officials Meet Inside Cave

February 3, 2010

cave Shillong, Feb 3 : The Nepal cabinet met at Mt Everest and the Maldives government under water. Not to be left behind in their bid to promote the cause of environment, government officials in Meghalaya met in a cave.

The first-of its kind meeting held yesterday at the famous Syndai cave, about 90 km from here, was attended by officials of Jaintia Hills district including the Border Area Development Officer, District Tourism Officer, headmen of various villages and representatives from NGOs besides tour operators, members of the taxi association and others.

The 970-m long Syndai cave was used as a hideout during the wars between Jaintia kings and foreign intruders.

“We are focusing on tourism potential of the area and we are taking various steps to boost tourism in the whole of the sub-division,” Additional Deputy Commissioner (ADC) Balari Mawlong, who chaired the meeting, said.

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Meghalaya’s Political Mantra: Too Many ‘CMs’ To Keep Rebels at Bay

February 3, 2010

By Tilak Rai

lapang donkupar This is not the first time that the state has three politicians with CM status, even the previous Donkupar Roy government had three chairmen enjoying the status of chief minister. Rs 1 lakh-plus per month per CM-status is a small price to stave off threat to the present CM and keep ex-CMs in good humor.

Political exigency in Meghalaya props up unusual and sometimes strange solution that might be unheard off or even draw sniggers in other parts of the country. When in the late 1970’s Capt Williamson Sangma and B B Lyngdoh entered into a “gentleman’s agreement” to share the CM’s post for two-and-a-half years each, there were doubts within Meghalaya and outside if these arrangement would work.

But these two “politician gentlemen”, belonging to two different political parties, kept their promise and successfully shared the post for the designated period, which decades later Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mayawati tried to emulate in Uttar Pradesh, but failed.

The latest to draw such political curiosity outside Meghalaya is the elevation of the chairman of programme implementation Friday Lyngdoh, who is also the president of Meghalaya Pradesh Congress Committee, to the “status” of the Chief Minister. But hold on this is an old hat for Meghalaya as B B Lyngdoh, who waited for Sangma to finish his term as CM before taking over, had been accommodated as the chairman of the State Planning Board in 1978 with the “status of CM”.

However, the difference now is that instead of one politician there are three politicians who are holding the office of chairman of different organizations whose status and privileges have been equated with that of the CM.

Meghalaya Chief Minister D D Lapang has elevated former CMs Donkupar Roy and J D Rymbai who are chairman of State Planning Board and Meghalaya Economic Development Council, respectively. Besides Friday Lyngdoh, these two also enjoy the status and privileges of the CM.

J D Rymbai, who is also the parliamentary party leader of the United Democratic Party (UDP), which is part of the Congress-led Meghalaya United Alliance (MUA) coalition government, said: “As chairman with the status of CM, we get security cover and Rs 20,000 monthly salaries.”

However, as Secretariat Administrative Department Principal Secretary P Naik said: “Beside the salary, the CM and his equivalent in status also get other perks.”

These include house maintenance allowance of Rs 20,000, house rent of Rs 10,000, conveyance allowance of Rs 3000, Rs 1,000 for electricity bill, telephone both in office and residence, free medical facilities, a private secretary, one personnel assistant, maximum six casual peons, one government driver, one casual driver. If all this is included, the monthly expenditure of each of them comes to more than Rs 1 lakh per month.

With the downsizing, the Meghalaya Cabinet can have only 12 ministers. The strength of the present MUA is 46 in a House of 60 legislators. The crisis that engulfs Lapang is that he cannot accommodate most of the 34 Congress legislators into his Cabinet as he has given Cabinet berth to two of the eight UDP legislators, the lone Khun Hynniewtrep National Awakening Party (KHNAM) and two Independent legislators who are supporting his government.

Some of the Congress legislators who are hankering for Cabinet posts are demanding that as the Congress has 34 legislators in the Assembly, Lapang must drop the Independents and KHNAM legislators and accommodate them into the Cabinet.

Lapang, however, does not want to follow that line and to neutralize any threat to him he has elevated Friday Lyngdoh to the status of CM.

Of the 46 legislators in the MUA, Lapang has made 13 Parliamentary Secretaries with the status of Minister of State and the rest chairmen and deputy chairmen of different boards and corporations.

To be fair to Lapang even the previous Meghalaya Progressive Alliance (MPA) coalition government of Donkupar Roy had three chairmen with the status of the CM. Those who enjoyed the CM status were State Planning Board (SPB) chairman Purno A Sangma, Meghalaya Economic Development Council (MEDC) chairman J D Rymbai and State Development Reforms Commission chairman late E K Mawlong.

Such elevation of the chairman to the status of CM is either done to stave off threat to the Chief Minister or because the incumbent is a former chief minister and to appease his ego needs to be given the same status as the CM.

Voters Being Reduced to Tradable Merchandise: Meghalaya Governor

February 2, 2010

By Manosh Das

Meghalaya-polls2 Shillong, Feb 2 : Lashing out at vote bank politics and the use of muscle and money power in elections, Meghalaya governor Ranjit Shekhar Mooshahary has said voters in the world’s largest democracy were being reduced to ‘‘tradable merchandise’’.

‘‘It is becoming difficult for common people to stay immune to the psychological and physical pressure tactics during elections, which turn them into tradable merchandise,’’ Mooshahary told presiding officers of legislative assemblies of the northeastern states on the concluding day of the 12th North-East Region Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (NERCPA) Conference in Shillong over the weekend.

He said criminalization and communalization of electoral practice were the two biggest threats to India’s democracy. The former chief of the NSG and BSF said, ‘‘Criminalisation is not merely about criminals contesting elections but also about political parties resorting to criminal methods to win polls. This includes using money and muscle power, threat, intimidation to sway voters.’’

‘Only One CM in Meghalaya, Other 3 Only Got The Rank’

February 1, 2010

lapang New Delhi, Feb 1 : Congress today expressed unhappiness over the arrangement of four leaders enjoying rank and status of chief minister in Meghalaya, dubbing it as “relatively unusual”, but defended the move citing political instability in the state.

At a media briefing, party spokesman Abhishek Singhvi also said there is only one Chief Minister in Meghalaya and the others have been given same perks and security but not the same decision-making power.

“I agree this is relatively unusual. But it is a small state and has political instability. We hope their (those who have taken the decision) shoulders are broad enough to bear political cost, if any,” he said.

The Congress-led government in Meghalaya resorted to a peculiar arrangement with the rank and status of Pradesh Congress Committee president Friday Lyngdoh being elevated to that of chief minister even as D D Lapang continues as the CM.

Meghalaya Has Two Chief Ministers Now

January 31, 2010

20030328007101606 Shillong, Jan 31 : Meghalaya now has two Chief Ministers: Congress leader D D Lapang and the party’s state unit chief Dr Friday Lyngdoh.

An official press release recently said the Meghalaya government has promoted Deputy Chief Minister Friday Lyngdoh to the rank of the chief minister.

Lyngdoh is the Meghalaya Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) president.

“The rank and status of Lyngdoh has been upgraded from the rank of deputy chief minister to that of chief minister. He shall continue to function as political advisor to the Chief Minister,” the official notification read.

“Lapang is the real chief minister, while Lyngdoh is chief minister without any power,” a senior Meghalaya minister loyal to Lapang was quoted by news agency as saying.

“In Meghalaya everything is possible. You are with one party at lunch, have dinner with a different party and are with a third party for breakfast. That is why there is so much instability in the state,” said A Lyngdoh, a tribal community leader.

Congress spokesman Manish Tiwari told a TV channel, “I don’t think constitutionally it is impermissible. There is a chief minister and another has been given the rank of chief minister.”

Meghalaya Prisoners Reveal Politician-Criminal Nexus

January 28, 2010

police-neta-nexus313 Guwahati, Jan 28 : Less than a year after he scripted a dramatic jailbreak, the ghost of slain gangster Fullmoon Dhar has returned to embarrass the Congress in Meghalaya. And this time, it’s the turn of a Lok Sabha member to be uneasy.

Seven under-trial prisoners (UTPs) including Dhar had on May 31 last year escaped from Shillong Jail. Police gunned down Dhar – a hired killer for coal barons and wanted for at least 10 rapes and murders – while the others were rearrested within a fortnight.

The incident left DD Lapang’s Congress-led coalition government red-faced after the party’s Jaintia Hills Autonomous District Council member Thomas Nongtdu was arrested on June 3 last year on charges of funding the jailbreak.

He was released later, but complicated matters earlier this month by saying he had given money to Dhar’s girlfriend Ibatiplang Kharkongor for the aid of an ailing friend.

If that were not enough, two recaptured UTPs stated before the Justice (retired) D Biswas Commission last week that a Congress Lok Sabha candidate was in constant touch with Dhar before the jailbreak. The Commission is probing the jailbreak case.

Though UTPs Synsharlang Thongni and Khrawborlang Marbaniang did not name the candidate, insinuations made Union Minister of State for Water Resources Vincent Pala deny any links with Dhar.

“I never saw him (Dhar) and I came to know about him only through his photographs,” Pala said, slamming the Steering Committee Against Murder of Democracy (SCAMOD) for being politically motivated. SCAMOD, headed by Agnes Kharshiing, had moved RTI to underscore the Congress-criminal nexus. The UTPs also revealed there was more to Dhar’s jailbreak than met the eye.

They said Dhar and his accomplices virtually walked out of prison, and the jail staff did not even make a faint attempt to stop them.

The two further stated Dhar had a steady inflow of cash which he freely distributed to the jail staff for favours rendered, such as the smuggling of firearms into the prison.

Promising to cleanse the affairs of the jail administration, Meghalaya director-general of police (prisons) Kulbir Krishan said that reports and confessions of recaptured UTPs pointed to the fact that the inmates had free access to money, special food and liquor in violation of existing rules.

A Western Classical Concert to Promote Cultural Exchange in Meghalaya

January 28, 2010

By D. Henpilen

andi Shillong, Jan 28 : Music has become synonymous with Shillong, which recently got a double treat in the form of a western classical concert and dance performance by a Swiss group.

A 17-member musical group from Switzerland presented western classical baroque music and dance at U Soso tham auditorium in the heart of Shillong.

It was a joint venture spearheaded by Indian council for cultural relation and Embassy of Switzerland in association with Department of Art and culture, Government of Shillong.

“Music in Europe like in India is an expression of soul. We use different instruments, different techniques but music is international and we want to give this to audience.” Giuseppe Lo Sardo, an artist

“I think it was pretty amazing. The music played out and everything else. You really don’t need to know the story but you hear it from the music and when you see the visuals, everything is set out there.” Vianca Laloo, an audience.

European music was much appreciated by the audience.

The universal language of music united and bonded the people of Shillong and the artists, who got a chance to enrich their knowledge of a new culture.

TCS to implement SWAN in Meghalaya

January 24, 2010

Shillong, Jan 24 : Tata Consultancy Service (TCS) will be implementing State Wide Area Network (SWAN) in Meghalaya, a project that is expected to cost around Rs 25 crore.

The project will be commissioned in phases, official sources said.

TCS was given the preliminary clearance and sources in state IT department said the project was now pending approval of the state finance department.

SWAN is a national level initiative where government offices and key agencies will be networked for providing data, voice and video services across the state.

SWAN, when completed, is expected to ensure efficient and reliable communication network, improved information flows among various levels and officials, reduce communication gaps, improve quality and speedy decision-making and better implementation of government schemes.

Meghalaya CM Assures to Omit Clause Against Media

January 18, 2010

Shillong, Jan 18 : Meghalaya Chief Minister D D Lapang today agreed to omit the clause from its notification whereby the media was restricted from reporting bandhs, strikes and ‘hartals’, in face of pressure from various quarters.

”The government has decided that the media should have the freedom to report on bandhs, strikes and hartals,” Deputy Chief Minister In-charge Law Bindo M Lanong said.

The State Cabinet approved a notification declaring bandhs, strikes and ‘hartals’ ”illegal” in the state and even banned the media from disseminating information on such agitations in Meghalaya.

The notification would bar a person or group of persons, political parties and organisations from holding bandh or any form of agitational programmes.

”Violators will be dealt as per provisions of law and are bound to pay the causes of damage due to bandh as per the amended Meghalaya Maintenance Public Order Act, 1953,” Mr Lanong said.

The fourth estate was also warned of punitive action if it carried reports of agitations.

However, the media took exception to the proposed notification, stating that the clause was means to ”gag the press”.

Meanwhile, the Meghalaya Editors and Publishers Association (MEPA) met the Deputy Chief Minister and expressed their objection in this regard.

”I have spoken to the Chief Minister and he has agreed to omit the clause from the notification banning media from reporting such bandhs, strikes and hartals,” Mr Lanong assured.

Meghalaya Govt Bans Strikes

January 17, 2010

Shillong, Jan 17 : Meghalaya government today banned calling of any bandh, picketing or hartal which affects normal life of the people.

The move comes a week after the Gauhati High Court declared as illegal all bandhs in Assam and Meghalaya, saying it is a violation of the fundamental rights of the citizens.

“Bandh is not in the interest of the nation. We cannot ignore the destruction of public and private property when bandhs are called by any outfit or organisation,” Deputy Chief Minister B M Lanong told reporters here after a cabinet meeting.

“The state cannot shed its responsibility of taking step to recoup the loss from the sponsors and organisers of such bandhs. In the spirit of the Gauhati High Court order, the cabinet today approved the notification,” he said.