The team headed by joint director Pankaj Kumar, department of cooperation, Union ministry of agriculture also includes Sarvan Kumar, director, planning commission, JO Sharma, assistant director, ministry of finance, Subhas Singh, assistant commissioner, ministry of rural development, Dr Biswas, director of agriculture and cooperation as well as GP Pandey, ex-director NEFCI.
Pankaj Kumar while speaking to some local journalists before the team’s departure from the district headquarter today morning said, “We are to make an assessment of the magnitude of crops destroyed by the rodent menace.”
Stating that NREGS was one of the most effective means to deal with the people affected by the rodent menace after mass bamboo flowering, he emphasized on the proper implementation of the scheme.
Reiterating that they had come to make an assessment of the situation and requirement of the people, Pankaj said additional funds would be provided after they submitted reports which would be based on their findings to the ministry of home affairs.
He also hinted at a relief package for the people and some other measures to sustain life and to support them till the next harvest after the assessment.
As far as famine was concerned, the problem faced in Manipur and Mizoram were similar, he observed.
In Manipur, the Churachandpur and Tamenglong districts were the hardest hit by the mautam although Chandel district was also affected to some extent. Churachandpur district was the most affected by rodent menace.
Mention may be made that since mass bamboo flowering occurred in two eastern districts of the state the Manipur government has implemented various programmes to overcome the rodent menace mostly under sponsorship of the Central government.
No spectacular damage to human life and economy was encountered in the district by the bamboo flowering, but there was loss of bamboos because of the flowering. Once the bamboo flowers it dies normally, the report of the district information officer said.
House unanimous in passing resolution for Legislative Council
IMPHAL, Apr 3: The additional sitting of the third session of the state legislative Assembly today unanimously passed a motion for the constitution of a Legislative Council for the State of Manipur. This is the third time that such a move has been made in the House but the approval has not been forthcoming from the Parliament in earlier attempts to get it passed.
The motion on the constitution of Legislative Council was moved in the form of a private members resolution in the House today jointly by Opposition MLAs led by O Joy, Dr. Ng Bijoy Singh, Dr. Ibohalbi and RK Anand.
Senior MLA O Joy while moving the motion mentioned that with the increasing complexities of maintaining democratic forces in the state and also to strengthen the administration in the state, there was immediate necessity for a Legislative Council to accomodate existing experts and eminent personalities of the state in the affairs of legislation in the state.
O Joy further said that a similar resolution had been passed twice by the state legislative Assembly on September 14, 1989, during the chief ministership of late RK Joychandra and again on April 24, 2005. The matter was forwarded to the Centre for enactment in the Parliament, but the Parliament had failed to implement it till today.
O Joy further observed that constitution of the state Legislative Council would help not only involve the experts and eminent personalities but also enable the representatives from various sections of the society to take part in the affairs of the state legislations.
Later, MLA Dr. Ng Bijoy in his observation mentioned that considering the existing demographic patterns of the state, the existing 60 MLAs of the state could not many time fulfill the desires of all sections.
Hence, such a council would be certainly able to create a consolidtated platform for the nominated representatives from various sections of the society to work for the welfare of the people.
On the other, MLA I Ibohalbi mentioned that due to the emergence of a very complex system such a council in the state would help ease the problems arising from time to time and correct the errors in legislations in better interest of the people.
Later, MLA RK Anand said that creating of a Legislative Council would enable a perfect and full democratic process in the state and keep a balance in administration by taking into account the viewpoints of various experts and eminent persons and representatives from the society who will be opted as members.
The state law and legislative affairs’ minister Th Debendra, appreciating the move mentioned that in the present context of the state formation of a Legislative Council had become a must.
The minister further said the state government also felt the need for a State Legislative Council for accuracy in legislation and to allow direct participation in the affairs of the state to the leading men in the state.
He said creation of a Legislative Council was a Constitutional right given to the state Assemblies of the country and the council could be created by two-thirds majority in the House. He also felt the need to pressurise the Central ministers for getting the approval of the Parliament in the matter.
Scam in Power Dept rocks Assembly, Opp piles up the heat on Tonsing
IMPHAL, Apr 3 : Taking a serious note of the report that Rs 17.2 crores have been misappropriated in the Power Department, Opposition MLAs today deman- ded the resignation of Power Minister Phungza-thang Tonsing for mislea- ding the House earlier by furnishing ‘wrong reports’.
Rising to the demand of the Opposition, Chief Minister O Ibobi, who also holds the Finance portfolio informed the House that the High Powered Committee led by the Chief Secretary has started an inquiry into the allegations.
In a bid to pacify the agitated Opposition members, the Chief Minister assured that if the inquiry pins down anyone, then fitting action would be taken up under the Manipur Public Servants Personal Liability Act.
Earlier, three MPP MLAs O Joy, Dr Ibohalbi and Dr Ng Bijoy raised a call attention motion seeking the attention of the Power Minister over the charges that of the Rs 22 crores released for the Power Department, Rs 17.2 crores have been misappropriated.
O Joy quizzed the Power Minister why the High Powered Committee has started an inquiry into the allegations of misappropriating the sum of Rs 17.2 crores when the Power Minister himself had dismissed the allegations as baseless in the House on March 12.
The fiery MPP leader demanded to know why the Power Minister tried to mislead the House, when in fact the question of misappropriating the sum of Rs 17.2 had already come to the notice of the Government.
The Power Minister should gracefully step down for trying to mislead the House, advised Joy. Since the High Powered Committee has already recorded the statement of the then Chief Minister of the Power Department that he was forced to sign a draft proposal to divert the Rs 17.2 crore fund from the Plan heads to Non-Plan heads, the Power Minister too should come under the Manipur Public Servants Liability Act, demanded Joy and added that he should also be answerable to the Committee.
The misappropriated amount is not anyone’s private asset but belongs to the people, said the MLA and added that the inquiry of the High Powered Committee should go to its logical conclusion. Demanding that the Government should recover the misappropriated amount, Joy said that the report of the High Powered Committee as well as the Chief Secretary be called to the House so that they may be examined.
The Minister should not take the members of the House for a ride by furnishing doctored statements, thundered Joy.
Joining in, MLA Dr I Ibohalbi questioned how such a huge amount of Rs 17.2 crore was misappropriated despite the assurance of the Chief Minister that the Government would strictly stick to financial discipline. The MLA also questioned how the money was diverted from the Plan heads to SPAs and schemes not approved by the Government without the concurrence of the Finance Department. Dubbing the statements of the Power Minister a lie, the MLA said that on the one hand the Minister has maintained that there is no misappropriation of money while on the other, the High Powered Committee has been asked to investigate the case. This is contradictory, he noted. It is a shame that while the Power Department has been crying hoarse and urging the people to pay their power tariff or else their connection would be snapped, on the other hand such a huge amount has been misappropriated, said Ibohalbi.
Demanding stringent action, the MLA suggested that a House Committee be entrusted with the task of inves- tigating the case. Responding to the call attention motion, Chief Minis- ter O Ibobi informed the House that since suspicions were raised that the amount could have been misappropriated the High Powered Committee led by the Chief Secretary was asked to probe the matter. Those involved the case will be known once the report is submitted, he explain- ed and added that it is unreasonable to demand the doc- ument before the inquiry is finalised. Giving his version, Phung -zathang Tonsing said that the question of misappropriating the amount does not arise. Phungzathang said that inquiry can always be ordered against Power Depart- ment and added the he does not know how much has been misappropriated. If any wrongs are detected, it would be rectified, he assured the House.
The Power Minister said that a sum of Rs 21.87 was released as normal fund by the Finance Department following a proposal from the Power Department. For SPA the amount released was Rs 93.7 crores. The first proposal prepared by the Power Depart- ment had certain flaws in sub-allocation, said the Power Minister and added that a second proposal was drafted which was passed. The Power Minister stuck to his stand that no amount has been misappropriated. He also claimed that he never met the Chief Engineer as reported and added that it is not only the Power Department which is under the scanner of the High Powered Committee but also other Departments. It is just that the cases of the other Departments have not been reported in the newspapers.
ADC Bill floored in Assembly
IMPHAL, Apr 3 : The manipur Hill Areas Autonomous District Council Bill 2008 has been withdrawn even though same was placed before the special session of the Assembly today. With the consent of the SPF Government the highly disputed Bill was tabled on the floor of the House by Tribal Development Minis-ter DD Thaisii at the previous Assembly se-ssion on March 6 with the same referred to the Hill Areas Committee on the same day without any deliberation by the members of the House.
Inspite of the HAC reviewing the Bill in all its perspectives to rectify flaws, if any and add new clauses before it was re-introduced to the House, objections raised by the members led to the same being referred again to the Select Committee of the Assembly for further scrutiny. However, members of the House pointed out certain flaws in the Bill which consumed two days of revision by the Select Committee as well as inconclusive contents in the report of the HAC that ultimately resulted in an understanding between the HAC and State Cabinet for its withdrawal from the Assembly.
Highlight of today’s brief session also included HAC Chairman Thangminlen Kipgen tabling a report on the Bill and the TD & Hills Minister DD Thaisii moving a motion for its withdrawal which was approved by members of the House. –TSE
Balm for Mautam affected people
S Singlianmang Guite
Lamka, Apr 3: The inter-ministerial central team deputed for a ‘quick assessment of the immediate relief needs of the Mautaam affected area’ today practically rubs shoulder with the people devastated by it and listen to their accounts.
Visiting more than a dozen interior villages, dependent mainly on jhum the team confides that Mautam or rat menace has indeed really affected the crops, and in many places where they interviewed the farmers it is amply clear that more than 50% of the crop were damaged.
In most of the cases, farmers have to either save their meagre harvest or purchased paddy from the market even for sowing. Women folk, who were interviewed most by the team also confessed their concern as rats were still prevalent in their unsoiled jhum fields.
The team while interacting with the media commented on the effectiveness of the new employment programme NREGS, yet most of the farmers sustaining with a subsistence level of income, according to Pankaj Kumar the team leader they need assistance atleast before their next harvest.
Upon enquiring what difference would the central team bring about, ‘we hope that the visit will result in a kind of package, a relief package for the people of the district and we will provide them some sustenance till the next crop is harvested,’ he said adding, ‘we certainly would like to expedite it as much as we can’ so that any form of relief reaches the people before the onset of monsoon.
Pandey nevertheless claimed that his team was still in the process of determining the magnitude of devastation in the state of Manipur and therefore it would be premature to say how much assistance would be needed to sustain the farmers until their next harvest.
Apart from the minor variations, the central team has maintain that the basic nature of the problem in Mizoram were similar to that of the state.
A prominent Church body the Evangelical Baptist Convention, which has set aside Rs. 7 lakhs for relief fund in 2008-2009 and had already exhaust another 20 lakhs in the preceding years, PCI (R), MPC, Civil Pensioners and numerous other civil societies have also presented memoranda to the visiting central team today.
The inter-ministerial team would further access the situation in other district affected by Mautaam tomorrow. –TSE
House nods to Legislative Council
IMPHAL, Apr 3 : The State Assembly today unanimously decided to pave the way for the formation of Legislative Council under Article 169 of the Constitution of India.
This decision was passed following a private member resolution bill introduced by the MPP during the session held today.
To implement the decision, it was also decided to send representatives to Delhi and present the decision of the State Assembly to the Prime Minister and others concerned.
Moving a private member resolution to set up a Legislative Council in the State, MPP MLA O Joy recalled that on September 14, 1987, the then Chief Minister late RK Jaichandra introduced a resolution to set up a Legislative Council in Manipur it was passed. Then again on June 24, 2005, when TN Haokip was the Speaker, the same matter was introduced in the House and passed, added Joy. Explaining his stand, the MPP veteran said that considering the constraints faced by the Government on many fronts, it is necessary that a
Legislative Council be set up in the State.
The Constitution has given the right to set up the Council to the State Assemblies and if it comes up in Manipur, it would be a 40 member strong Council. Joy said that the Council will be an asset to the State as it will give room to many eminent personalities of the State, who cannot make it to the Assembly but can contribute for the welfare of the people. Such personalities may include experts in their respective fields. Community leaders, social activists may make their way to the Council, observed O Joy.
Inclusion of renowned personalities will not only stren- gthen democracy but also add a new facet to it, said Joy and urged for a unanimous resolution to this effect.
Supporting the private member resolution bill, MPP MLAs, Dr Ng Bijoy, Dr I Ibohalbi and RK Anand said that the Council will give room to people of different communities to come and share their ideas and opinions. They also backed the opinion of Joy that such a Council is necessary in the present political and social realities of the State.
Expressing his support to the proposal to set up the Council, Law and Legislative Affairs Minister Th Debendra said that given the situation in Manipur, it is necessary to tap the ideas and opinions of experts and renowned people in the State.
Since there are many sections of people, who do not have adequate representatives in the State Assembly, the proposed Council can fill up this void, opined Deben-dra and added that this is also the wish of the Government.
Though the resolution to set up the Council has been passed by the State Assembly thrice, it has never been honoured by the Centre. As such today’s session decided that representatives will be sent to Delhi to urge them to respect the resolutions of the State Assembly. – TSE
[Note for readers: Legislative Council – Legislative Council (Vidhan Parishad) of a state comprises not more than one-third of total number of members in legislative assembly of the state and in no case less than 40 members (Legislative Council of Jammu and Kashmir has 36 members vide Section 50 of the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir). About one-third of members of the council are elected by members of legislative assembly from amongst persons who are not its members, one-third by electorates consisting of members of municipalities, district boards and other local authorities in the state, one-twelfth by electorate consisting of persons who have been, for at least three years, engaged in teaching in educational institutions within the state not lower in standard than secondary school and a further one-twelfth by registered graduates of more than three years standing. Remaining members are nominated by Governor from among those who have distinguished themselves in literature, science, art, cooperative movement and social service. Legislative councils are not subject to dissolution but one-third of their members retire every second year. ]