The Star Cement Limited which is operating from Jaintia Hills of Meghalaya is in the news, this time precisely for wrong reason.The company which is extracting 9 lakh tons of limestone annually is proposing to raise it to 25 lakh tons per year. For this purpose a public hearing was conducted by Meghalaya State Pollution Control Board and East Jaintia Hills Administrators in collaboration with Star Cement which was opposed by the Village, Headman and school children. Floating all the rules, the public hearing was held at campus of Star Cement at Lumshnong where it was difficult for the people to raise their concern about environmental degradation with such large scale extraction of limestone.
It may be noted that in Jaintia Hills, there are large number of caves which took thousands of years to form are already destroyed by various cement companies because of its location at the close proximity to caves in the region.
The National People’s Party (NPP) has launched its social media campaign to enlighten the electorates across Northeast on its agenda with the theme — “One Voice, One Northeast”. The party has prioritised rural economy, education, youth and employment, promoting Northeast, education, environment and health as its key focus in their campaign - “Agenda for Northeast 2019”.
The three point agenda of the campaign — (a) to commit to the cause of indigenous people, minorities and the marginalised; (b) to ensure that the indigenous people and the minorities assert their ‘political say’; (c) to push for a strong political voice from the region to safeguard the interest of the people of Northeast.
On rural economy, the party envisage on the potential that lies in the rural areas of the Northeast and would push for a holistic development of the rural economy with particular focus on agriculture, horticulture and allied sector. “There is a need to strengthen rural infrastructure in social sector including health and education and the party would continue to focus on the core priority and would work to create an enabling atmosphere to promote education and health care facilities in the rural areas of the region,” the campaign states.
On youth and employment, the party states that it would encourage investment in private sector in tourism, hospitality, agriculture and IT. It also says that the party will formulate an ambitious policy to empower youth with different business and livelihood opportunities linked to rich resources of the region. The priority of the party will be to engage educated youth and professionals to harness on the opportunities, which is ample in the region. “There is a need to push and leverage our youth with a positive mindset, so that they can look beyond government sector and engage in activities, which will make them employable as well as make them entrepreneurs by way of which they would create jobs for many others as well,” the campaign states.
On promoting Northeast, the party says that North East India is a kaleidoscope of cultural and linguistic diversity. Each state of the region has its distinctive heritage and tradition. It is a melting pot of indigenous communities and their faith. NPP envisages to promote and safeguard the interest of the indigenous people. To curb the economic disparity in the region with synergistic focus on development. The region shares its proximity with South East Asia and NPP envisages to promote cultural, business and economic ties.
On agriculture and logistics, the party would lay its importance and thrust on the indigenous agricultural practices, which are climate friendly and also replicate ideas and scientific interventions to boost agriculture. There is huge advancement in agriculture sector, however, a lot of intervention is required to link our producers and farmers of different agri-horti and allied sectors to the market.b In most North Eastern states, the agricultural produces are organic by nature and are sold in the nearest market directly from the farm. There is a need to create hope amongst our farmers, so that they are able to innovate their agriculture products and add value, which will result in better returns. There is also a need to tag and brand our farm produces, which would create stories of our products regionally, nationally and globally. Our commitment is very clear that agriculture sector would be an important area to propel development and ensure economic stability and food security. The core area of intervention will be – (a) Agriculture and Environment; (b) Animal Husbandry and Fishery; (c) Food Technology and Balancing Agricultural outputs; and (d) Marketing linkage and Economic Stability.
On education, the party said in its campaign that quality of education has posed a major hurdle for development. For want of better education many communities, particularly the indigenous people are left behind. NPP embarks upon a responsibility to touch the lives of the indigenous people in particular and the minorities of the country. If a nation has to grow, the education sector needs to be strengthened. There are several initiatives and intervention to improve the education scenario of the country. However, most of these schemes have not percolate down to the vulnerable and marginalized section of the society. NPP has taken up education as a core priority to reach out to the unreached and ensure an equitable opportunity for educating the indigenous people along with other communities. The party underlines the principle of ensuring holistic development of the society with emphasis on elementary, secondary to higher education vis-à-vis professional and vocational education system. Education is crucial for helping the indigenous people cope with national integration. Education will determine their prosperity, success and security in life.
On environment, the campaign says that climate change poses a real challenge to our society, our economy and our national security. We are committed to combat climate change, which affect our children, our future and us. We are committed to promote clean and sustainable energy and provide alternative livelihood opportunities to our people, particular those dependent on jhum and other forms of traditional agricultural practices, which poses threat to our ecosystem. Our endeavour will be to mitigate climate change and protect the rich natural resources, and ensure that the quality of our air, water, and land for current and future generations. From investing in clean energy to protecting our ecosystems, NPP as a party is working to address the biggest environmental challenges, paving the way to a sustainable India.
On healthcare, The prevailing scenario of healthcare facilities in India is a major challenge for the people, especially those living below the poverty line and the marginalized section. For want of medical attention many people in rural areas and unreached hilly region of our country die due to different life threatening diseases. We as party are very much concerned and aware of the issues that affects everyone. We believe that by putting our thrust on this very important subject, we will be able to address the concern of our people, particularly those who are not able to afford high cost of medical treatment.
Will the ensuing Lok Sabha elections favour the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance this time, too, like in 2014? So, the opinion polls say, without an iota of doubt.Initially, some of them predicted that the ruling party and its allies will end up with 232 to 252 seats, thereby ruling out an absolute majority for the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his team. However, after the government’s successful operation at Balakot in Pakistan, a few opinion polls predicted about 280 to 300 seats out of 542 for the BJP and its allies making it crystal clear that the incumbent Modi and his team need not have to hunt around for support from Independents and other parties, apart from fringe outfits after the pronouncement of verdict in the middle of May, this year.
The BJP, however, realises that complacency will mar its prospects, similar to the one faced by the Vajpayee government in 2004. So far, the party has stitched its alliance formations in a comprehensive manner. The Congress-led United Progressive Alliance, on the other hand is in a prisoner of indecision-mind on the alliance issue, following the confusion that occurred over the party’s Prime Ministerial candidate. The BJP had no hassles in naming Modi as their candidate to Mann the nation, whereas the Opposition is undecided over the naming of Rahul Gandhi as the prime ministerial candidate. For instance, when the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam working President M.K. Stalin had announced before Rahul that he was the unanimous choice of the Opposition to lead the nation in a meeting organised for the DMK-led allies and the Congress in Chennai, Stalin was under the impression that other opposition parties would follow his steps.
Governor Tathagata Roy assured to take necessary action into the demand for setting up of National Eligibility Test (NET) examination centres in Meghalaya for the interest and welfare of post graduate students.
The assurance was made before a delegation of the North Eastern Hill University Students’ Union (NEHUSU) led by its President Genuica Majaw who met the Governor at the Raj Bhavan here requesting for his intervention into the matter.
Majaw told reporters that the decision to approach the governor, who is also the Visitor of the University, was after the state government has delay in taking any step to address the grievances faced by the students’ community in the state. She said the Union had met the chief minister Conrad K Sangma on February 19 earlier this year for his intervention into the need to set up of Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR-NET) and University Grants Commission (UGC-NET) centres in the state.
Unlike other states, she said the state for the past many years has no CSIR-NET centre except only one UGC-NET centre at Qualapaty, Shillong which cannot cater to the need of students who are aspiring to appear for such examination, especially after it was made a computerized test.
At present, students who wanted to appear for the CSIR-NET exams have to go to Guwahati in the absence of such centre in the state. This has created a lot of problem in term of travelling expenses and stress to find the location of the centre, Majaw added.
The Meghalaya football team will leave for Ludhiana, Punjab to take part in the Santosh Trophy final round, which will begin on 8th April and run until 21st April. The Meghalaya team will once again be led by experienced coach Khlain Pyrkhat Syiemlieh. The team was bid farewell by Meghalaya Football Association Senior Cell Committee member L. Darlong who encourage the players to “grab their opportunity”. Meghalaya have been drawn with Odisha, Goa, Delhi and Services in Group A of the final round. Meghalaya will first play Delhi on 8th April, followed by Odisha on 10th April, Services on 14th and Goa 16th April.