SHILLONG, FEB 4: The opposition Congress on Saturday referred to the NPP as a ‘Non Performing Party’ as it has failed on all fronts.
Addressing media persons, AICC media coordinator Mathew Anthony has also termed the NPP People’s Document as a “manifesto of lies”.
He said that the NPP had claimed in its manifesto that it will work towards timely sanction of development funds to minimise the delay in implementation of projects but the reality is that according to CAG report at the close of March 2021, 215 Utilization Certificates amounting to ₹ 1765.86 crore remained outstanding in the books of the Accountant General. 62 projects in the state of Meghalaya are piled up without achieving completion. He said Meghalaya government has suffered a loss of Rs 1166.89 Cr because of cost escalation due to delay in completing the project.
On the NPP’s claim to formulate an economic development policy, Mathew said that the economy of the state is in doldrums and Meghalaya is in a debt trap.
As per CAG’s report, in absolute monetary terms, the overall debt of State of Meghalaya has increased by 51.60 per cent from Rs 8983.50 crore during 2016-17 to Rs 13,618.74 crore during 2020-21.
“As a percentage of GSDP, the overall debt was 32.74 per cent in 2016-17, but has increased considerably by almost eight-percentage points to 40.73 per cent in 2020-21. State failed to achieve the target of 28 per cent (Total Outstanding Liabilities to GSDP ratio) as set by the MFRBM Act, 2006 during the period 2016-17 to 2020-21,” he said.
Referring to the claim of the NPPP to streamline the system of revenue collection to minimise revenue loss, the Congress leader said that reality is that the Meghalaya High Court had appointed retired Gauhati High Court Judge BP Kayakey, who in his report stated that “13 lakh metric tonnes of coal was illegally mined, transported and discovered which the state sought to pass off as coal mined prior to the imposition of the ban”. The report was scathing in its observation that the illegal mining and transportation of Coal from Meghalaya could not have happened without “state participation and even encouragement”.
“According to our calculations, the loss to the state exchequer from the illegal mining and transportation of coal is an estimated Rs 650 crores. Just imagine how many welfare schemes could have been funded from this money,” he said adding “This proves the Congress party’s charge, that there has been a huge scam in illegal mining and transportation of coal to the tune of hundreds of crores and this ill-gotten money is being used by NPP and all the constituent partners of MDA, to fund their luxurious campaigns and “purchase” MLAs of other parties.”
Also slamming the NPP-led government over the alleged Covid scam, Mathew said that the Health Minister James Sangma has replied in the Assembly during the last session in September 2022 that Rs 816 Cr was spent by the government for 96785 confirmed covid cases and 1624 covid deaths.
“If we deduct the ex-gratia payment of Rs 50,000 which the govt had promised to the relatives who had died of covid, then an amount of 8.12 Cr would have been disbursed. There is no information furnished by this govt of the status of the ex-gratia relief,” he said.
He further added, “Now compare this with Manipur which had more covid cases (1.4 lakh) and deaths (2149) deaths than Meghalaya and spent a measly amount of only Rs 78 Cr. So Meghalaya expenditure for lesser number of covid cases and deaths was more than 10 times than that of Manipur. In rupee terms, Meghalaya spent Rs 83,484 per person suffering from covid as against Rs 4803 per person spent by Manipur.”
“The Director of Health Services, Dr Aman War under whose watch the covid scam happened is now contesting as an UDP candidate from Shillong North constituency. We would like the people of Meghalaya to draw their own conclusions,” he alleged.
On the other hand, Congress leader and MDC Ronnie V Lyngdoh said under the MDA government, Meghalaya’s school dropout rates have deteriorated to one of the highest in the country.
He said according to data published by the Union Education Ministry, Meghalaya’s dropout rate in primary standard (Classes 1 to 5) has deteriorated from 7.4 percent in 2020-21 to 9.8 percent in 2021-22. Meghalaya’s dropout rates at secondary school level is even dismal at 21.68 percent against the national average of 12.61 percent.
“Seeing such a dismal state of education in our state, the Congress party proposes a State University for job oriented and market ready courses such as IOT (Internet of Things), Block Chain Technology, IT and ITES,” he said.
Lyngdoh said to give a fillip to the tourism sector in Meghalaya, especially the service industry, our party will also develop a comprehensive plan through which local youths can be trained in a vocation of their choice, as per their educational and professional qualifications.
“They would be the backbone of the entire service industry requirement which would involve getting youths trained in short-term courses such as basic service techniques (waiters/waitresses etc), cooking techniques (train novices to become trainee chefs/cooks), office executives, guest relations executives, housekeeping executives etc,” he said.
According to him, there is a huge dearth of such professionals which is why the tourism potential of Meghalaya has not been realised.
The Congress party will elaborate on all these in our Manifesto which will be released shortly, he added.