Meghalaya celebrates R-Day with a pomp; aims for 'Destination Meghalaya'

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Shillong, January 27: Celebrating the 66th Republic Day, Meghalaya chief minister Mukul Sangma and deputy chief minister RC Laloo hoisted the national flag in Tura and Shillong respectively.
On this ocasion,the chief minister announced the ambitious plan of the state government “Destination Meghalaya”, with a special thrust on education, health care, hospitality and investment on renewable natural resources to commensurate the potentialities of the State and its people.

Sangma addressed the gathering after hoisting the national flag as the chief guest at the 66th Republic Day celebration at the Dikki-Bandi stadium Tura, and also took the salute from 12 marching contingents consisting of 2nd MLP Bn, Home Guards, NCC and Scouts & Guides.
The chief minister said in order to achieve the plan, investment in relevant sectors would have to be up-scaled to develop strong human resources with special focus on skilled workforce and increased vegetative coverage across the state which would not only attract investment to generate employment but also help address the environmental concerns, news agency Oh Meghalaya reported.
While dwelling on the government’s initiatives in the education sector, the chief minister informed the gathering that the process for establishment of two Degree Engineering colleges have been initiated and that sanction for the permanent campus for the state’s technical university, “Captain Williamson Sangma University” was under process, adding that a project with ADB funding support has been taken up for human capital development. “Government will further encourage and support appropriate private investments to make Meghalaya an education destination” he added.
Stressing on health sector as an important sector not only to provide access to quality healthcare for the people but also provide opportunities for young students who aspire to be in medical and para-medical professions, the chief minister said that establishment of two medical colleges in the state and Nursing schools in all the districts was under progress, adding that establishment of super-speciality hospitals on PPP mode and promoting private investment in medical sector would help project Meghalaya as destination for healthcare facilities and medical education.
The chief minister also stressed on the need to promote hospitality sector where the state has inherent strength and there is huge potential for generating employment opportunities for the educated youth. He spoke about the number of initiatives taken to promote tourism on a mission-mode, stressing that “the salubrious climate, the natural beauty of the State, the unique and rich cultural heritage and the youth with strong command over languages, all need to be leveraged upon to promote Meghalaya as destination for high-end tourism”.
“However, there is a need to create a congenial peaceful environment to encourage the guests from outside to visit the state”, the chief minister said adding that the challenges of connectivity, too has to be addressed.
The “Destination Meghalaya” as a comprehensive and holistic development strategy will call for bigger investment for building quality roads, railways, inland water-ways and air connectivity, he said and informed that the Shillong-Nongstoin-Tura Road, four-laning of Guwahati-Shillong Road, Shillong by-pass, the ADB-funded Garobadha-Dalu Road and upgradation of State highways and major roads in the districts were some major visible investments in road infrastructure.
The chief minister also informed that alignment for NH-127(B) connecting Dhubri-Tura-Nongstoin, including the bridge Brahmaputra connecting Dhubri has been approved. He also reiterated on his government’s new approach to development and said that the Meghalaya Integrated Basin Development and Livelihood Promotion Programme (IBDLP) and many Missions under it have started yielding desired results.
These have the potential to become a game changer in the long term and investments under these Missions will continue in convergence with all other development initiatives of the government, he added.
The chief minister added that in consonance with Mission Organic under IBDLP, the government had initiated “Sustainable Agriculture” to usher in safe and healthy food production practices in the State.
While expressing government’s commitment to address long pending, contentious issues of inter-State boundary with Assam, influx and illegal immigration, the chief minister told the gathering about the launch of new initiative, “the Inter-State Border Area Development Programme” to address the developmental needs of the people along the border. He also added that a comprehensive mechanism to effectively deal with the issue of influx would soon be put in place.
Reiterating that sustained peace and order are prerequisites for development, the chief minister said that there is no issue that does not lend itself to solution through meaningful engagement and reconciliation.
As such, he said that in pursuance of the peace initiative of the government, the ANVC and ANVC(B) disbanded their outfits on December 15, last, adding that this peace initiative has encouraged other militant outfits also to come over ground and informed government interlocutors have been appointed to facilitate such misguided youth to join the main stream.
The chief minister also called upon the people of the state to join hands with the government on the path of growth and development and appealed to the parents and guardians to guide their children inculcating in them high moral, ethical and social values.
Other highlights of the Republic Day celebration in Tura include tableau display by 17 government departments and socio-cultural clubs, colourful cultural show, sports and games for children and peace concert by local bands later in the evening.
In Shillong Meghalaya deputy chief minister RC Laloo unfurled the tricolor and took the Rashtriya salute of the 14 march past contingents which comprise of Assam Regiment Centre, Border Security Force, Central Reserve Police Force, Indo-Tibetan Border Police, Meghalaya Armed Police, District Executive Force both Men & Women contingent, Border Wing Battalion of the Home Guards, National Cadet Corps Boys, National Cadet Corp Girls, Boys Sports Company, Scouts & Guides and Phudmuri Presbyterian Secondary School.
The marching contingents were led by Captain Vikash Thapa of the Assam Regimental Centre.
Later, in the presentation of tableaux, various Government departments and Agencies which include Social Welfare, Health and Family Welfare, Tourism, Animal Husbandry & Veterinary, District Rural Development Agency, East Khasi Hills, Forest and Environment, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, Meghalaya Aids Control Society, Soil and Water Conservation, Deputy Commissioner (Election) Office, Commerce and Industries, Public Health Engineering, Agriculture, Horticulture, District Police, East Khasi Hills and Deputy Commissioner Office, East Khasi Hills District participated. The Commerce and Industries department won the first prize in the tableau presentation. The second and third prizes were won by the District Police and the Deputy Commissioner Office, East Khasi Hills District respectively.

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