By Francis Khongwar
Shillong(Meghalaya), Sep 14 : Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma today told the ongoing Autumn Session of the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly that powers have been given to the Deputy Commissioners to enforce restrictions on the Covid-19 pandemic.
Replying to a question raised by Opposition member Mr Winnerson D Sangma during question hour the chief minister said the officers have been given the liberty to ensure safety of the people.
Observing that Covid was still around, the chief minister said there was a danger of cases going up and that there is talk about a possible third wave. Stating that there was no perfect solution to the pandemic, the chief minister said night curfew was being continued with in order to ensure that neither the government nor the public let their guards down.
On another issue, Meghalaya Home Minister Lakhmen Rymbui informed the house that there was an intelligence report of an IED blast in Shillong recently. He said the field units of the State police department had been alerted to take preventive measures immediately. In order to ensure that further recurrence of such incidents is averted, the field formations have been advised to gear up prior intelligence gathering, the home minister said in reply to a question raised by Opposition members Mr Mohendro Rapsang of the Congress.
The specialized branches of the police department are also undertaking various stringent security measures to ensure that such incidents do not occur in future and the law and order situation is being closely monitored from time to time, the home minister said. The home minister said a judicial inquiry has been instituted into the matter and the government would take action based on its report. The home minister also asserted that the police have no right to kill any person, but can only arrest any culprit for further investigation by the courts of law. He said that the HNLC had claimed responsibility for the IED blast in the Laitumkhrah market in Shillong. There were also intelligence reports that more IED blasts could take place during the intervening nights from August 12th to August 15th, he informed the house.
Replying to a zero-hour notice brought in by Opposition legislator Mr PT Sawkmie of the Congress, Minister in-charge forest and environment, James Sangma told the house that action was being taken against the operation of illegal coke factories in the East Jaintia Hills. The minister said that the activities of those factories which did not have Consent to Operate and Consent to Establish have been suspended. He pointed out that environmental clearance was required by coke factories, which produced over 25,000 metric tonnes annually. The minister also said that a committee would be formed to study the operation of coke factories in the State. The minister acknowledged the concern among people regarding the environmental pollution emanating from these factories.
Mr Sawkmie had stated that people in the Elaka Sutunga in the East Jaintia Hills have been demanding closure of all coke factories due to large-scale pollution and threat to public health.
Minister in-charge Animal Husbandry and Veterinary, Mr Sanbor Shullai informed the house that he had written a DO letter to the Assam chief minister on the 3rd of September, 2021 drawing attention towards Section 7 of the Cattle Preservation Act and sought his intervention. The Assam government has been requested to ensure hassle free passage for cattle to Meghalaya. The department of animal husbandry and veterinary is in the process of creating an administrative system to ensure legitimate import of cattle from outside the state and also check smuggling of cattle, the minister said. Rules in this regard would be framed very soon, the minister assured the house.
Mr Shullai informed that there was an 85 percent drop in the import of cattle and 45 percent drop in the import of pigs from outside due to the ongoing pandemic, in the wake of which restrictions in movement had been imposed across the country. He said there was a drop in import of poultry and mutton too, adding that the Assam Cattle Preservation Act has also deterred the local traders from resuming import of cattle. The minister said that the officers of the animal husbandry and veterinary department were in liaison with their Assam counterparts.
Mr Shullai said that the restriction on movement of cattle was an important issue that has been agitating the minds of the people in the State. It has also led to a hike in retail price of beef in the market, he said. The government is trying to increase local production of meat through various steps, including the Piggery Mission, Poultry Mission, Milk Mission and the National Livestock Mission, the minister mentioned.
Minister in-charge Taxation, Mr James PK Sangma introduced the Meghalaya Goods and Services (Amendment) Bill in the assembly. Chief Minister Conrad Sangma introduced the Contingency Fund of Meghalaya (Amendment) Bill, 2021.