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Synjuk gives one month for assent to VABs

By Our Reporter

SHILLONG: The Synjuk Ki Nongsynshar Shnong ka Bri U Hynniewtrep (SNSBH) on Thursday gave the State government a one month deadline to convince Governor V. Shanmuganathan to give his assent to the Village Administration Bills passed by both the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council and the Jaintia Hills Autonomous District Council.
The deadline was served during a meeting between a delegation of 30 traditional heads and Chief Minister Mukul Sangma and other Government functionaries to dilate upon the seven demands put forth by the traditional heads.
The State government sought to allay the fears and apprehensions of the traditional heads   and assured them of its firm commitment to expeditiously look into and fulfill the demands of the traditional heads, particularly the delay in getting the assent of the Governor on the VABs.
“There is overall commitment of the Government and there is no intention to delay the passage of the bill,” the chief minister said, adding that “the bill has hit the wall”.
The chief minister also assured the delegation that the Government will not institute any fresh proposal to institute any fresh law to empower the traditional bodies. “The ordinance has been allowed to lapse and also the committee constituted to draft fresh proposals to empower traditional institutions has been de-notified,” he added.
However, the president of the SNSBH cautioned the chief minister that if the VABs do not see the light of day, there will be more agitations.
Reacting to this, the chief minister said the traditional heads have to be prepared for the responses from the Governor on whether he gives his assent to the Bill or suggests amendment to the Bill.
On the notification to extend the MUDA jurisdiction beyond Municipal areas, the chief minister informed that the MUDA notification dated January 5, 2015 would be kept in abeyance for the time being and the same would only apply to the Municipal areas.
“The move to extend MUDA jurisdiction was from the perspective of the safety of the people and the need of the day,” the chief minister explained.
On the Prevention of Disqualification (Members of the Legislative Assembly of Meghalaya) Amendment Bill, 2015, the chief minister categorically stated that the amendment was made through valid constitutional procedures, and that the amendment of the  same  was necessitated after  a PIL was filed by civil society groups in the High Court regarding dual post holders. “The government has no intention to infringe upon the powers and functions of the ADCs,” he reiterated.
R.L. Blah, general secretary of the Synjuk, however, questioned the manner in which the bill was promptly passed mid-session.
“The MDCs should have been given time to complete their tenure till 2019,” Blah asserted.
Commenting on the issue the chief minister said, “The mid course correction was required as according to constitutional procedures after civil rights filed a PIL in the High Court. But it is up to the wisdom of the MLAs and MDCs to make their choice.”
The chief minister also assured the delegation that the government is serious on the matter of safeguarding the indigenous people’s rights over land and livelihood, adding that it is also seeking invocation of Para 12 A(b) of the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution to provide relief to the indigenous people’s rights on coal, sand, limestone mining; as well as other allied mining activities considering the NGT ban on the same.
On the difficulty faced by the people regarding non-issuance of certificates, Chief Secretary P.B.O. Warjri clarified that the KHADC rules under Section 21 of the United Khasi Jaintia Hills Autonomous District (Appointment and Succession of Chiefs and Headmen) act 1959, are not in accordance with the Act.
He added that the Act is intended only for the appointment and succession of Chiefs and Headmen and such related actions and does not include the issue of certificates.
The chief minister indicated that it is complicated to notify the offices to not issue residential certificates pointing out that the Hima have no specific laws pertaining to headmen except Hima Nongstoin and Hima Mylliem.
The delegation expressed confidence that the State government would use all its machineries to get the Governor’s assent to the VABs, saying the introduction of the Bill would be bring a lasting solution to the problems being faced by the people.

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