2012 yearender: Meghalaya rocked by scams


The government's failure to curb militancy, major scams and depleting green cover dominated headlines in 2012 in Meghalaya, which is gearing up for polls early next year.

The job scam, unearthed by CBI, allegedly involved cabinet ministers, legislators and top-notch politicians. Another scam that hit the headlines during the year was the alleged violation of the Forest Act 1980 by cement companies in limestone-rich Jaintia Hills district.

A high powered committee of the state government headed by J P Prakash had, in its report to the state government, "confirmed" that there was ample evidences to indicate that the cement plants were set up in forest areas in the district.

While the government tried to define the term forest area, Opposition Nationalist People's Party and pro-environment NGOs demanded the cement companies in the state pay compensation in line with what Lafarge pays for limestone they mine in Shella area for their plant in Chattak in Bangladesh.

The Integrated Child Development Scheme, aimed at reducing child malnutrition and abysmal maternal health, incurred wasteful expenditure of over Rs 24 crore due to alleged supply of substandard, unhealthy nutritional supplements to children like pre-cooked instant noodles containing MSG, malted milk product and milk powder.

On the law and order front, five western Garo Hills districts were the worst affected due to mushrooming militant groups whose cadres tried to eke out a livelihood by extorting from coal barons, government officials and businessmen.

The attack on state minister Saleng Sangma and Congress working president Deborah Marak in November sent a strong message to the government that the armed militants are capable of striking at anytime. Notwithstanding the declaration of the GNLA as an outlawed organisation in January and having its 'chairman' Champion Sangma in police net since July, the home department was forced to re-assess the law-and-order situation in the affected districts ahead of the polls.

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