Tura, February 17 : The Planning, Sustainable Development & Investment Promotion Department, under the dynamic leadership of the Chief Minister, Conrad K. Sangma, launched a series of transformative initiatives aimed at fostering development, connectivity, and sustainable practices at Ballonggre, Tura.

Alongside the Chief Minister, Conrad K Sangma, other esteemed dignitaries included, MP, Smti Agatha Sangma, Speaker, Meghalaya Legislative Assembly, Thomas A. Sangma, Minister of Public Health Engineering (PHE), Marcuise N. Marak, amongst others.

The day’s highlights included the much-anticipated launch of CM Connect by the Chief Minister, Conrad K. Sangma. After the launch of the CM Connect at Shillong, on the 15th of February 2024, this initiative’s launch in Tura, will continue to foster stronger connections between the government and the community, promoting seamless communication for efficient governance. As stated in the earlier launch, the CM Connect has two channels – the CM Helpline ‘1971’ or ‘1800 3456 851’ and a WhatsApp channel – ‘9436394363’, with a dedicated Call Centre Team in the local languages – 13 Khasi, 8 Garo and 4 Pnar. The CM Connect has 100 officers in 40 departments, 11 districts and 46 blocks.

The Chief Minister, Conrad K Sangma while addressing the gathering stated, “In our relentless pursuit of economic growth and development, increasing Meghalaya’s GDP from the current 45 thousand crores to an ambitious 10 billion crores or doubling it to 90 thousand crores demands an annual economic growth rate of at least 13.5%. Achieving this monumental feat necessitates heightened government investment and intensified developmental efforts across all departments. Noteworthy progress has already been made, exemplified by the remarkable expansion of JJM connections from a mere 4500 in 2019 to an impressive 4 Lakh 80 thousand today, positioning Meghalaya as one of the leading states in JJM implementation in India.

The dedicated efforts of our officers have played a pivotal role in realizing this success. The allocation of 3000 crores for JJM, overseen by the PHE department, has facilitated substantial growth. Similarly, PMGSY has witnessed more than double the construction compared to the past 15 years, showcasing the effectiveness of the scheme. The MGNRGS 2017 budget has increased from 500 crores to a commendable 2000 crores this year, while PMAY has seen a significant boost from 200/300 crore schemes in previous years to the current implementation of 1800 crores worth of housing projects, with 1 lakh 40 thousand PMAY houses slated for construction this year. FOCUS is distributing 3 crores worth of cheques today, and YES Meghalaya is providing 5 crores in financial aid to various groups across the state.

The Bulk Water Supply Scheme, a nearly 100 crores initiative, is transforming the Ganol Catchment areas with the construction of diverse water reservoirs, enabling versatile usage including fisheries, tourism, and irrigation.”

Minister of Public Health Engineering (PHE), Marcuise N. Marak added, “The government can give water connections to the people, however, if we do not preserve and protect the water sources, there will come a time we face water crisis, and taking this opportunity Our Govt. is taking a step to preserve and protect the water sources. MegARISE is being launched and we also have PES ( Payment for Ecosystem), Soil, and Water Conservation have a Climate Adaptive Program. All these are the steps being taken to preserve our water sources like streams etc. So I request every parent, community leaders, and church leaders to take these steps.”
The Protection of Vulnerable Catchment Areas in Meghalaya or MeARISE Project was also launched today. The Project, which focuses on safeguarding the critical Umiew catchment in East Khasi Hills district and the essential Ganol catchment in West Garo Hills district is a groundbreaking move of the Government of Meghalaya in collaboration with German Development Bank, KfW to enact its Water Policy. The Project will be implemented for a period of 7 years with a total financial outlay of Rs 344 crore and will be executed by the Meghalaya Basin Development Authority (MBDA). The target groups of the Project are the communities from 71 villages in the 13 micro-watersheds in Umiew catchment and 35 villages from 26 micro-watersheds in Ganol catchment in Meghalaya.

In line with the state’s commitment to ensuring ample water supply for its citizens, the Government has introduced a new scheme called the ‘Bulk Water Supply to Adjoining Rural Villages of Tura Town’. This scheme aims to guarantee adequate water provision to the neighbouring rural villages without compromising the Tura Urban Water Supply. Currently, 41 villages receive water from the Tura Urban Water Supply Scheme, necessitating functional household tap connections following the launch of the Jal Jeevan Mission. However, due to budget constraints within the JJM, these villages have had to rely on the Tura Urban Water Supply, impacting the Tura area. Approximately 2 million litres per day are being channelled from Tura Urban Water Supply to these rapidly growing adjoining villages, leading to insufficient water distribution in these regions. The proposed solution is the Bulk Water Supply Scheme, a river pumping initiative from the Ganol river, with an estimated completion time of two years and a funding allocation of Rs. 97.76 crores. The successful implementation of this scheme will alleviate water shortages in the adjoining villages and enhance water supply to the urban area of Tura Town.

The event witnessed the virtual inauguration of 13 Processing Units. This initiative aligns with the broader vision of promoting agro-processing industries, contributing to economic growth, and ensuring the overall well-being of the agricultural sector. Rs. 50 lakh each were sanctioned to different IVCS and Rs. 6 crores were sanctioned to build these Processing Units. The Chief Minister also pressed on the need of the community to work together with the government for every initiative to be successful.

In a significant development, cheques were also disbursed in connection with the FOCUS Program, Green Meghalaya PES, and YESS Meghalaya initiatives. Under the FOCUS PG Cheque distribution, a total of Rs. 2.80 crores have been allocated for 5518 members of 435 PGs, across the five districts in Garo Hills, namely West Garo Hills, East Garo Hills, South West Garo Hills, North Garo Hills, and South Garo Hills. The YESS Meghalaya 1st Tranche has been granted to Homeland Integrated Co-Operative Society, Tura, and Hills District Club, Selsella, both receiving Rs. 20,000. The 2nd tranche has been distributed among five societies in West Garo Hills district, totaling Rs. 1 lakh bringing today’s distribution to Rs. 1.20 lakhs. Furthermore, Green Meghalaya PES Cheques have been distributed, out of a total Rs. 48.95 crore, today’s distribution amounting to a substantial sum of Rs. 12.43 crores. Notably, a special cheque distribution has been earmarked for the Pilot Project of Ganol Catchment, benefitting 18 PES Committees with a total amount of Rs. 65 lakhs. This initiative reflects the government’s commitment to supporting various programs for the welfare and development of the community.