SHILLONG: Chief Minister Mukul M. Sangma received the award for the Most Improved State (small states category) in Education and the Best State Award in environment (small states) at ITC Maurya in New Delhi at the India Today States of the States Conclave. An official statement said the annual India Today ‘State of the States’ is the country’s most extensive and thorough study to ascertain which states are leadingin terms of governance, education, agriculture, infrastructure, economy, environment, cleanliness and inclusive development. “Started in 2003, the annual State of the States relies on objective data sourced from the central government, state governments and others creating a robust and reliable barometer of growth and development,” the statement said.
Keeping with the spirit of cooperative and competitive federalism, India Today has evaluated the states under two categories of Best Performing and Most Improved considering performance records of 2013-14 for Best Performing and the records of 2012-13 and 2013-14 for Most Improved.
Participating in the Panel Discussion of chief ministers on what works and what does not work for the State, Sangma said a new benchmark has been set for Meghalaya and the potential of tourism is increasing as the government has been able to create a turnaround in terms of perception of the State as a conflict zone.
Sangma said forestry is a major sector where Meghalaya has grown by utilising the resources available in the State. He also informed that the government is focusing on making living in rural areas attractive and remunerative to mitigate the challenges of urban migration.
Answering to questions on violence and crime in the State, the chief minister said the complexities here need to be understood whereby the State shares an international border that is porous and becomes a passage for illegal activities. He, however, said the North East region is collectively taking up the issue with the Centre and the State has been able to contain crime.
The SO2 (sulphur dioxide) concentration is at 2ug/m3 making it one of the lowest in the country and 3 per cent of the geographical area in Meghalaya has green cover, the statement said.
The social forestry and environment department has brought over 300 sq km area under plantations through the national afforestation programme transforming barren lands into lush green forests with the management and involvement of communities.
In terms of education, the state has increased its spending per 6-15 age group population by 325 per cent from 2015 to 2016, the statement added.
The programme was also attended by Union Minister of Finance and Corporate Affairs Arun Jaitley who later gave the awards in different categories. Chief Ministers, Ministers and representatives and officials from various states of the country were also present at the conclave.
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