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Meghalaya Budget Session 2023: Govt highlights measures taken to improve education, potable water, connectivity and power supply

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Shillong, March 20: Governor Phagu Chauhan on Monday said his government has taken measures to comprehensively improve the educational infrastructure at the grass-root. Infrastructure upgradation of about 1,885 schools have been taken up on priority.

Addressing the first day of the Assembly’s budget session on Monday, Chauhan said the government has also enhanced the salary of adhoc teachers by upto 50%, benefitting about 10,000 teachers. This will have additional financial implication of Rs 81 crore annually.

The salary payments of the 12,500 Samagra Sikshya Abhiya teachers are in the process of being streamlined.

Stating that providing drinking water to rural households has been a top priority of the government, the governor said when the JJM was launched in 2019 by the Ministry of Jal Shakti, the state had only 4,550 functional household tap connections. In less than four years, this has increased to more than 2.9 lakh households.

Further 1,422 villages now have 100% household tap connections. “Meghalaya is now the second-best improved state in providing water connectivity,” he added.

Regarding urban development, the governor said under the smart city program, several projects are being implemented in Shillong City. The reconstruction of the Laitumkhrah market, Polo commercial complex, smart roads, integrated control and command centre, and automatic car parking facility at Motphran are progressing well.

He said that the government has taken a multi-pronged approach to decongest Shillong city. 30 buses have been procured and a shared school bus system is being introduced at a cost of Rs 10 crores. It is estimated that approximately 450 cars shall be removed from the street by this system during peak hours resulting in saving considerable time and cost.

The government has acquired about 807 acres of land in Mawpdang-Mawkhanu to expand the New Shillong Township. This will ease the burden on the existing city center and also help in urbanization in a sustainable manner.

Meanwhile, the governor also said that the government has taken up several measures to improve connectivity. Shillong Airport at Umroi has been made fully functional. Currently the airport is catering to about 10,000 passengers with 250 flights every month, connecting 9 cities.

SpiceJet Airlines now operates direct flights to New Delhi and more cities will be added soon. The Baljek Airport will also be operationalized by upgrading the existing infrastructure, he added.

Asserting the importance of reliable power supply, Chauhan said that the first phase of Ganol Mini Hydro Electric project, was inaugurated and commissioned in January 2023. With this, the state has a total installed capacity of 363.70 MW generating about 1,100 MU of energy annually.

He said works to strengthen and modernize the power distribution network and reduce technical and commercial losses are in progress. To diversify the energy mix, the government is exploring the development of solar power, he said while adding that the Meghalaya New and Renewable Energy Development Agency has undertaken various schemes to promote solar energy including installation of 1,500 solar street lights, 50 biogas plants and 200 solar pumps under the PM-KUSUM scheme, which are in different stages of implementation.

The governor also informed that the government is taking up road projects under various programmes. Under the World Bank funded Meghalaya Integrated Transport Project, critical roads like Shillong Diengpasoh road and Laitlyngkot-Pomlakrai-Laitkroh road are completed.

He said that the government is also committed to achieving the United Nation Sustainable Development Goals Agenda 2030. In the SDG India Index 3.0, the state has seen an improvement from the 25th position to the 22nd position overall in the ranking of states.

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