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The state of Meghalaya is bound on the north by Goalpara, Kamrup, Nagoan and Karbi Anglong districts of Assam State, and on the east by the Districts of Cachar and North Cachar Hills, also of the State of Assam. On the south and west is Bangladesh. Meghalaya lies between 25 o .1� N and 26o 5� latitude and 85o 49� E and 92o 52� E longitude.
�Meghalaya� derived from Sanskrit, means the �Abode of the Clouds�was declared as a full fledged 21st state of the Indian union on January 21st, 1972. Having an area of 22,429 sq. Km. and a population of 23.06 lakhs (2001 census), the higher ridges of the state lie in the coniferous belt, gradually sloping down to sub-tropical and tropical zones. Tucked away in the North -Eastern Region of India, it lies between the 250 10/ to 260 50/ North latitude and 890 45/ to 920 47/ east longitude. It is bounded on the North by Goalpara, Kamrup, Nagaon and Karbi Anglong districts of Assam state, and on the east by the districts of Cachar and North Cachar Hills , also of the state of Assam. On the south and west lies Bangladesh.
Prior to 1970, this state was an integral part of undivided Assam. The capital city Shillong was the capital of the Assam. On 2nd April 1970, Meghalaya was created as an autonomous state. Meghalaya got the full-fledged state status on January 21st 1972. The total area of the State is 22,429 square kilometer. The State is now divided into seven administrative districts. They are (1) Jaintia Hills District, created on February 22, 1972. (2) East Garo Hills District and (3) West Garo Hills District created on October 22, 1976. (4) East Khasi Hills District and (5) West Khasi Hills District created on October 28, 1976. (6) Ri Bhoi District created on June 4, 1992 and (7) South Garo Hills District created on June 18, 1992. They are predominantly inhabited by the Khasis, the Jaintias and the Garos. These tribal communities are the descendents of very ancient people having distinctive traits and ethnic origins. Meghalaya�s capital, Shillong and also the district headquarters of East Khasi Hills District is situated at an altitude of 1,496 meters above sea level. The capital city has a bracing climate throughout the year. This city has been the seat of Government since the consolidation of the British administration in this part of India, over a century ago. It has 60 seats of legislative assembly. The state is represented in the Lok Sabha by two members and one member in the Rajya Sabha.
The plateau comprises rocks of Achaean basement complex in the central and northern parts comprising gneiss, quartzite and schist. The basement rocks are overlain by Shillong group of rocks, occurring in the central and eastern part and comprises quartzite, schist, granite and conglomerate traversed by acid and basic intrusive in sung valley. The rocks of Gondwana in the western part of Garo Hills contain pebble beds, sandstone and shale. The volcanic eruption 200m year back in Jurassic time is spread over E-W trending narrow belt in southern part of Khasi Hills and is termed as Sylhet Traps which include basalt and rhyolites. These traps are overlain by the Cretaceous-Tertiary sediments in southern parts of the state. Main rock types belong to Khasi, Jaintia and Garo group which include conglomerate, sandstone shale, silt with coal seams and limestone. The quaternary deposits constituting thick alluvium overlay the Cretaceous -Tertiary sequence in separate patches and are composed of assorted pebbles, with thick coarse and sand and brown coloured clay. The newer alluvium lies in the river valleys of the northern and southern foothills of Garo and Khasi hills and along the western border of Garo hills comprising fine silty sand and light to dark coloured clay with sandy pockets.
The soils of the hills are derived from gneissic complex parent materials; they are dark brown to dark reddish-brown in colour, varying in depth from 50-200 cm. The texture of soils varies from loamy to fine loamy. The soils of the alluvial plains adjacent to the northwest and southern plateau are very deep, dark brown to reddish-brown in colour and sandy-loam to silty-clay in texture. Meghalaya soils are rich in organic carbon, which is a measure of nitrogen supplying potential of the soil, deficient in available phosphorous and medium to low in available potassium. The reaction of the soils varies from acidic (pH 5.0 to 6.0) to strongly acidic (pH 4.5 to 5.0). Most of the soils occurring on higher altitudes under high rainfall belt are strongly acidic due to intense leaching. Base saturation of these soils is less than 35 %. These soils are not suitable for intensive crop production. Regarding micronutrient status, it has been observed that almost all the acid soils of the NorthEastern region of the country are deficient in available Boron (B) and Molybdenum (Mo). Acid soils of Meghalaya are rated low in available B and Mo. Total Zinc, Copper and Manganese contents of these soils vary from 10.00 to 17.25, 17.00 to 71.00 and 110 to 770 ppm (parts per million), respectively and DIPA (Diethylene Triamine Penta Acetic Acid) extractable zinc, copper and manganese contents of these soils ranges from 0.72 to 3.20,n 0.6 to 2.8 and 3.0 to 162.0 ppm respectively.
The State enjoys a temperate climate. It is directly influenced by the South-West Monsoon and the northeast winter wind. The four seasons of Meghalaya are: Spring - March and April, summer (Monsoon) - May to September, Autumn -October and November and Winter - December to February. The Monsoon usually starts by the third week of May and continues right to the end of September and sometimes well into the middle of October. Maximum rainfall occurs over the southern slopes of the Khasi Hills, i.e. over the Sohra and the Mawsynram platform, which receives the heaviest rainfall in the world. The average rainfall in the State is 12,000 mm.
Meghalaya literally meaning the dwelling of clouds. Hills reaching to the clouds, waterfalls, crystal clear lakes, caves and forests are the nature's signatures on the land of Meghalaya. The far Indian state spreads over about a small area of 20000 kilometer square. There are only about 100 people living in a kilometer square of area in Meghalaya, making it a low density region. Approximately 30 lakhs of population reside in the naturally gifted land, which makes the state of Meghalaya one of the states in India with lowest population. In spite of the low density and population of Meghalaya, it is worth noticing that, the state has a rapid population growth rate, and has the third fastest growing population in India, according to the Census 2011.
POPULATION FEATURE : The state of Meghalaya has a population of 23.06 lakhs with almost 19.65 percent of the population living in the urban sector . Though the population density of the state is 103 per sq km. but the distribution is grossly concentrated in the districts of East Khasi Hills (123 per sq km) and West Garo Hills (139 per sqkm). Almost 51 per cent of the state population is concentrated in the districts of East Khasi Hills & West Garo Hills districts.
AGRICULTURE : Meghalaya is basically an agricultural state with about 80 per cent of its population depending entirely on agriculture for their livelihood. The hilly terrain and land conditions of the state do not offer much scope in bringing additional area under wet cultivation, but the state has vast potential for developing horticulture . The agro-climatic variations within the state offers much scope for cultivation of temperate as well as tropical fruits & vegetables. The state is known for its horticultural fruits like orange ( Khasi Mandarin variety - gets the name from the place of origin ), lemon, pineapple, guava, banana, jack fruit, arecanut, betelvine and temperate fruits such as plum, pear, peach etc. potato, ginger, turmeric, cauliflower, cabbage, radish, carrot are the important vegetables grown in the state.
MINERALS : Meghalaya is rich in mineral wealth .The state produces coal, limestone , fire-clay, white clay, kaolin, Dolomite, quartz and glass sand. The state has a deposit of coal (estimated reserves of 562 million tonnes), lime stone (4500 million tonnes), fire clay (6 million tonnes) which have remained virtually untapped so far
DISASTER RISK PROFILE
Disasters in Meghalaya The State of Meghalaya is prone to disasters like earthquake, floods, storms, etc. The State witnessed a major earthquake in 1897 and a number of subsequent earthquakes thereafter. Floods, fire, landslides and storm damages are recurrent phenomena. It is therefore clear that the state is in need of a Disaster Management Policy and Plan to guide all aspects of disaster management (including pre-disaster preparedness, post-disaster, response, short and mediumterm physical reconstruction social rehabilitation and long-term disaster mitigation).
Revenue Department coordinates all disaster management activities as it has been the Nodal Department for same since the inception of the State. It will be strengthened by merging of Relief & Rehabilitation Department and will be renamed as Revenue & Disaster Management Department. The Deputy Commissioners and Block Development Officers are either directly or indirectly under its control in so far as their relief/disaster management functions are concerned. They are the key officials in relief/disaster management.
State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA)
The State Disaster Management Authority was established in the State under the Chairmanship of the Chief Minister with 8 other members under section 14 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005 by a Government notification dated 26th June, 2008. It is the apex body for disaster management in the State. The State Executive Committee headed by the Chief Secretary with 4 other Secretaries as members was also set up to assist the State Disaster Management Authority in the performance of its functions.
Meghalaya Administrative Training Institute (MATI)
The MATI was set up with the prime aim of providing Institutional Training for officers of the State Administrative Service. It also conducts in-service trainings, refresher trainings programmes short duration training programmes for various senior and middle level officers of the State Government. The MATI has been sanctioned a Faculty on Disaster Management, under the Central Plan Scheme in order to build up the training capability of the MATI in different aspects of disaster management. The facilities and the faculty positions in the MATI will be further strengthened and link with the Revenue Department further reinforced.
State Institute of Rural Development (SIRD)
The State Institute of Rural Development located at Nongsder is the apex Training Institute under the Community & Rural Development Department, Government of Meghalaya for imparting training in rural development. The main objective of the Institute is to train various categories of people on rural development through training courses, seminars, workshops etc. The Institute is organizing training for grass root & middle level officials and NGOs working in the field of rural development. The Institute has established linkages with other Government Departments like Soil and Water Conservation Department, Social Welfare Department, ICAR, etc and NGOs like Bosco Reach Out, KJP Synod, World Vision etc. The SIRD is also coordinating its efforts with the Department of Continuing Education from 2004 - 2005. Of late, the SIRD has also prepared training modules for Department of Co-operation for imparting training a capacity building of Co-operative Officers and leaders of Co-operative Societies. The Institute has the capacity for undertaking Disaster Management Training also for rural development officials/ NGOs/CBOs/Co-operators and volunteers which will be further strengthened.
NE Remote Sensing Application Centre (NESAC)
The North Eastern Space Applications Centre (NESAC) is an agency under Department of Space, Govt. of India providing space technology support such as remote sensing applications, satellite communications and space science research. The Agency implements the Disaster Management Support Programme using space technology for the entire NE Region. It has facilities for monitoring disaster affected areas, mapping of disaster prone areas, and providing satellite based emergency communication systems. NESAC is also installing a Telemedicine network and the Transportable VSAT System of NESAC can work as a backup communication network for post disaster rescue/relief operations. NESAC has the potential of providing critical knowledge management support to Revenue Department by providing inputs like creation of GIS based Road Network Map, Disaster vulnerability map, emergency communication etc., in critical disaster management operations. Institutional linkages between NESAC and Revenue Department will be strengthened.
Information Technology Department (IT)
The IT Department is the computer application, development & training agency of the Government of Meghalaya. Its main activities include development of computer related plans and policies in the government, providing total solutions for computerization in the government and PSUs, development of appropriate software organizing training programmes for the government employees. IT Department has contributed to the steady growth of computerization in Meghalaya. IT Department can play a promotional role to develop appropriate software, database and systems development for various departments and personnel involved in disaster management activities in the State and district levels including extending professional training and allied support to strengthen the IT network in disaster management related activities.
Community Information Centres (CICs)
Community Information Centres are Centres at Block Head quarters which have been provided with Personal Computers having internet connectivity and a TV Set which is connected through a Satellite based reception. Internet connectivity for the PCs is provided through a VSAT terminal of NlC. Each CICs has to trained operators.
National Informatics Centre (NIC)
The National Informatics Centre has facilities like VSAT-based video conferencing, Internet connections. It has district centres functional at headquarters of 7 districts with VSAT facility. It also has district informatics officer attached to Deputy Commissioners. The services of NIC will be harnessed to strengthen the communication and information database systems related to disaster management at the State and district levels.
Search and Rescue Team
The first 72 hours are most crucial for saving lives in any emergency situation. Therefore the role of SAR is paramount in any disaster management plan. SAR Team has been carved out of the existing State Armed Police Force. Civil Defence and Fire Services & Medical professionals. SAR Team members will be trained in specialized rescue and search operations and provided with equipments and communication facilities. They will be under control of the DC/HG and CD. It can be mobilized to any emergency situation. Logistics support is to be provided by the local administration
At present there are three civil defence offices in the State with trained volunteers and emergency equipments. The Civil Defence Units impart training to its members on self-defence, provide protection to any person or property against any hostile attack, rescue trapped and incapacitated persons using improvised techniques, search for survivors after an incident, etc. State government can utilize the services of civil defence, including trained civil defence volunteers, during natural calamities.
Voluntary Agencies and Community Based Organizations (CBOs):
The existing network of Community Based Organizations and voluntary agencies in Meghalaya will be utilized in disaster management. These include the Indian Red Cross, the traditional authorities, the religious welfare organizations, youth organizations, etc. The SRC will act as an interface between the Govt. agencies and the NGOs. Coordination meetings will be held at the Slate, District and Block levels by SRC, Deputy Commissioners and Block Development Officers respectively
The Army and Air Force have a significant presence in the State. HQ 101 Area comprising of Assam Regimental Centre, 58 Gorkha Training Centre and 241h Mountain brigade and Mountain Division is located at Shillong. The Eastern Air Command is also located at Shillong. Both Army and Air Force have well laid out disaster management scheme for Meghalaya and would come to the aid of civil authorities in an emergency particularly in performing disaster management tasks relating to response and restoration. Every effort will be made to strengthen the institutional linkage between the State Govt. and the Armed forces.
Indian Meteorological Department (IMD)
The basic function of the Central Seismological Observatory (C.S.O.), IMD, Upper Shillong is to monitor the seismic activity in the country, in particular the NE Region. In the event of a significant earthquake shock occurring in the region or in the state C.S.O. IMD, Upper Shillong can pass the information to the concerned decision making Government bodies for planning, relief and evacuation operations. This information can contain parameters such as epicenter, magnitude, intensity etc.
Geological Survey of India
Geological Survey of India is a prime National Organization entrusted with the task of studying various geological aspects of the earth. However for past one decade it has expanded its activities to include study of the Geological Hazards specifically as its thrust areas of activities. The Organization, therefore, has initiated geological studies pertaining to the areas susceptible to hazards from earthquake and landslides and bring out thematic maps on various scales to be utilized by different agencies.
District Disaster Management Authority (DDMA)
The District Disaster Management Authorities under the Chairmanship of the Deputy Commissioners and Chief Executive Members of the District Councils as Co-Chairmen with 5 District Officials as members were also set up for the better management of disasters in the Districts. Similarly at the Block and Village levels Block Disaster Management Committees and the Village Disaster Management Committees were set up headed by the respective Block Development Officers and the Village Headmen .The State Disaster Management Authority, has set up the State Disaster Management Secretariat in 2011 which is located in the Office of the Director of Land Records and Surveys, Lower Lachumere, Shillong. The day to day functioning of the SDMA is looked after by the Executive Officer of the Secretariat who is assisted by the Nodal Officer.
State Disaster Management Committee:
The State Committee headed by the Chief Secretary reviews the arrangement of agencies (Government and non-government), reviews the status of preparedness, reconstruction and restoration for disasters. The State Committee shall review the arrangements under the State Disaster Management Plan at least once annually along with the review of the status of other agencies having roles or responsibilities in relation to the response to emergencies and overall aspects of coordination of various agencies at the State and district levels. The committee will also review on an annual basis the mitigation sub-plans under the state and district disaster management plans to ensure coordinate planning and management of disaster recovery
District Disaster Management Committee:
The Committee will be headed by the Deputy Commissioner and will co-ordinate all activities relating to preparedness, response and recovery measures. It will prepare and review the District Disaster Management Plan and ensure their updation on a half yearly basis. The Committee will be composed of representatives of all line Departments engage in Disaster Management, public representatives and NGOs/CBOs. The Committee will be assisted by the District Project Officer and Assistant District Project Officer incharge of Disaster Management.
Block Disaster Management Committee:
The Committee will be headed by the B.D.O. and will co-ordinate all response and recovery measures in the event of emergency. It win prepare and review the Block Disaster Management Plan and ensure their apdation on a half yearly basis. The Committee will be composed of representatives of all line Departments engage in Disaster Management, public representatives and NGOs/CBOs, Self Help Groups and NaRM (Natural Resources Management).
Village Disaster Management Committee: The Committee will be headed by the headman/traditional authority/ local influential person. It will prepare and review the Village Disaster Management Plan/Community Contingency Plan. The functions of the Committee would be to coordinate with Govt. agencies in all disaster management works and to arrange volunteers for various teams/task force performing disaster relief tasks.