Assam

  • State lifts ban on poultry imports

    The State Government has lifted the ban on the import of poultry and poultry products from the rest of the country, barring West Bengal. The Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Commissioner and Secretary Shyam Lal Mewara signed the order to this effect yesterday. The State Government imposed the ban on the import of poultry and poultry products from the rest of the country through two orders on January 18 and 22 last, following outbreak of the dreaded bird flu in West Bengal and its spread to some of the North Indian states.

  • Forest cover loss in NE alarming

    Notwithstanding tall claims by the north-eastern States, the region has recorded huge losses of forest cover, with the Forest Commission calling for an end to nexus between politician, bureaucrat and contractor in Assam and three other States. If the nexus between politician, bureaucrat and contractor goes on developing, as is the case in Assam, Uttaranchal, Himachal and Kashmir, then any attempt of development will be diminished and then the exploited tribal people will try to take revenge, the Commission warned.

  • Landless farmers vs industrial workers

    Land Policy Is the Asom Government violating its own land policy resolutions by taking up a policy of giving settlement of Government khas agricultural and ceiling surplus lands to the industrial workers ignoring the interest of the indigenous people of the State? By our Staff Reporter GUWAHATI, Feb 21: This question has been raised by the Purbanchal Nagarik Samity (PNS), an apex body of various citizens' fora of upper Asom. The PNS is of the view that such a calculated step on the part of the State Government to deprive the indigenous agricultural workers has been motivated by its desire to appease the tea garden workers so as to get their support. Even though Asom has 69 lakh acres of agricultural land and 1.35 lakh acres of ceiling surplus land acquired till 1975, about 2.29 lakh agrarian families are completely landless and homeless, while 1.8 lakh families are with less than eight bighas of land and 2.86 lakh families are with less than five bighas of land till September, 1969. This was stated in the resolution of the Government Land Policy, 1972 published on July 21, 1972. According to the citizens' bodies, the State Government itself admitted in its policy paper in 1975 that the problem of landless cultivators was increasing day by day, while in the Government Land Policy of 1989 the Government lamented that during the last 16 years land settlement could not be given to genuine beneficiaries. Thus the Government has recommended for settlement of ceiling surplus lands to agriculturists expeditiously, they pointed out. "Although the State Government, in its 1989 Land Policy, banned the transfer of agricultural lands to non-agriculturists and industries, the Government itself has with impunity been violating its own land policy resolutions and taken up a policy of allotting Government khas agricultural and ceiling surplus lands to the industrial labourers since 2001,' the PNS resolution said. It also said that to expedite such settlement of land, the Government had also formed high-power committees in each district in March, 2007. "However, the poor indigenous agriculturists are left at the mercy of God even during calamities, with more than two lakh families being landless and homeless, and their number increasing every passing day,' said the resolution adopted at a meeting of the PNS in Dibrugarh. Though the land policy of 1968 itself declared a ban on transfer of agricultural lands to non-agriculturists, which was also repeated in the Land Policy Document of 1972, the Government officials have started issuing circulars to allot land to ex-tea garden workers, said Ajoy Baruah, joint secretary of the PNS and general secretary of the Dibrugarh Nagarik Sangha, while talking to The Sentinel. In this regard, Baruah pointed out the land policy adopted by the State Government in 1989 (published in the Assam Gazette on August 23, 1989), where it has been clearly stated: "All allotment of land for ordinary cultivation will be made with the indigenous landless cultivators, that is the persons who actually cultivate the land themselves.' The PNS further said the industrial labourers, who are neither contributors nor beneficiaries, and not residents of revenue villages, have been injudiciously included in the Panchayati Raj system. The PNS is of the opinion that such a step has further complicated the very concept of the Panchayati Raj. The apex body of the upper Asom citizens' fora, in an initiative to mobilize public opinion against the alleged injudicious policy adopted by the State Government, has taken a move to hold a State-level convention in association with the Asom Jatiya Mahasabha and the Senior Citizens' Council of Guwahati.

  • Call for prompt steps to protect rhinos

    Following the repeated killing of rhinos at the world heritage site Kaziranga, the AASU organised a citizens' meet on the premises of Kaziranga Convention Centre on Sunday. The meet was chaired by Jatin Bora, the vice-president of AASU and was attended by over a thousand people. In the meeting AASU adviser Dr Sammujjal Bhattacharyya opined that the State government must save Kaziranga by any means. Taking part in the meet, Saumayadeep Dutta of Natures Beckon said that the Forest department authorities were not up to their task in regard to protection of the fauna. On the other hand, several speakers urged for quick action to save Kaziranga. The other speakers were Arup Kr Dutta, Dr Umesh Deka, Dr Biren Barthakur, Arun Goswami, Nava Thakuria, AASU general secretary Tapan Kr Gohain etc. The speakers urged the Forest department to take immediate action to save the rhinos.

  • Rs 16,447-cr Budget allocation for NE

    Riding on the back of a populist Budget, Finance Minister, P. Chidambaram today reiterated UPA Government's commitment for economic uplift of the north eastern region (NER), announcing a hike of Rs 2082 crore in Central allocation. The NER will continue to receive special attention and enhanced allocations. "I propose to provide Rs.1,455 crore to the Ministry, Development of the North Eastern Region (DoNER),' said the Union Finance Minister. The total Budget allocation for NER, spread over different Ministries and departments, will increase from Rs 14, 365 crore in 2007-08 to Rs 16, 447 crore in 2008-09, he announced. Although the Finance Minister spoke of special interest for development of NER, his words did not match the allocations. For instance, he announced a special centenary grant of Rs 20 crore to the Tocklai Experimental Station at Jorhat. The demand was for Rs 100 crore grant. The Tocklai Station at Jorhat of the Tea Research Association will celebrate its centenary in 2010. It is in the process of upgrading its facilities and expanding its activities to cover the NER, North Bengal and Darjeeling. A visibly agitated BPPF MP, SK Bwismutiary sought to interrupt Chidambaram on a couple of occasions, protesting meagre allocation for BTAD areas. The Finance Minister has also proposed to set up centres for development as mega clusters in handloom sector. The Government proposes to invest about Rs 70 crore in developing each cluster. An initial amount of Rs 100 crore was earmarked. Incidentally, both the projects are in Union Minister for State for Fertilizer and Chemicals, Bijoy Krishna Hendique's Parliamentary constituency. Meanwhile, the Special Purpose Tea Fund set up last year for re-plantation and rejuvenation has been earmarked Rs 40 crore. The fund popularly called the tea package was envisaged to bail out the sick tea industry. The NER and, especially, Arunachal Pradesh and the border areas face special problems that cannot be tackled in the usual course or through normal schemes. Hence, Government proposes to identify the urgent needs of these areas and address them through a special mechanism, he said, acknowledging the problems faced by the border State. "In order to jumpstart the process, I propose to set apart a sum of Rs.500 crore in a fund dedicated for the purpose,' said the Minister. The ambitious SARDP-NE, a programme envisaging development of road infrastructure, has been set a target of 300 km. Last fiscal, 180 km of road had been constructed. The Finance Minister also declared a special focus on saving the tigers. The number 1,411 should ring the alarm bells. "The tiger is under grave threat. In order to redouble our effort to protect the tiger, I propose to make a one time grant of Rs.50 crore to the National Tiger Conservation Authority. The bulk of the grant will be used to raise, arm and deploy a special Tiger Protection Force,' Chidambaram said. The National Aids Control Programme will be provided Rs.993 crore. Studies have shown that the prevalence rate of HIV and AIDS has come down from 0.9 per cent to 0.36 per cent, which is a matter of some satisfaction, he said. Meanwhile, allocation for flood control projects for the NER and Sikkim has been hiked to Rs 114.20 crore from Rs 58.39 crore. While there was no mention of the Majuli Protection Scheme, Pagladiya Project has been earmarked Rs 2 crore, a rise from Rs 1.29 crore. However, allocation for Indo-Bangladesh border works has gone down to Rs 484.23 crore from Rs 560.97 crore.

  • Asom land encroached: Over 7 lakh bighas by sister States, 32 lakh bighas by locals

    Over seven lakh bighas of Asom land have been encroached by four neighouring States

  • Black fever afflicts 22 persons in State

    In all, 22 persons have been found suffering from black fever in the State and the disease has been dealt with utmost care and hence has not spread beyond Chapaidong locality of Panikhaiti area in the city. Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma stated this in the State Assembly today. The Minister was replying to a motion moved by Dr Aditya Langthasa (AUDF) during the Zero Hour. He also expressed the apprehension that the re-appearance of the disease might have some links with the migrant labours from North Indian states like Bihar. The outbreak of the disease in Chapaidong locality was reported on February 13 last and the patients were taken to the Gauhati Medical College Hospital on February 14 and 15. But they fled the hospital when they were told that bone marrow substance test was needed to be conducted on them to confirm the type of their fever, he said. However, with the help of the test kits brought by a team of doctors from the Assam Medical College (AMC) the type of the fever could be determined. Black fever was found afflicting 13 of the 19 patients tested for confirmation. By this time, another team of doctors from Patna also arrived in the city, said the minister. Following this, mosquito nets were distributed and DDT also sprayed in the locality. Injections have been administered to the affected people and doctors with vans have also been deployed in the area for treating the patients. The Health Department has by now procured the test kits The doctors from Patna have also expressed satisfaction over the measures taken by the State Health Department to tackle the situation, he said. The Minister said that new areas were seemed to be vulnerable to diseases, which were eradicated in the State long back. This is may have some links with the people migrating to the State from other parts of the region and country. For, black fever and polio were eradicated from the State long back. But outbreak of these diseases has now been reported from some parts of the State. Recently two cases of polio were reported from Karimganj district. Even malaria, which was brought under control in the State resurfaced with 50 of the State's people who went to the neighbouring states to work as miners returning diseased and they died of the disease. In the case of black fever also, it is feared that the sand fly might have come to Chapaidong locality with the seasonal labours coming from Bihar, he said. State Government is making communications with the Governments of the neighbouring states on matters related to malaria and directed the Health Department to keep strict vigilance on the areas where the habitations of the seasonal labours are located, the minister said.

  • New water supply schemes initiated at Udalguri

    The Public Health Engineering (PHE) Department has initiated many water supply schemes in and around Udalguri district recently.

  • Gogoi presents 2,819-crore deficit budget for 2008-09

    Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi on Monday presented a Rs. 2819 crore deficit budget for the 2008-09 fiscal and announced a number of sops and projects to be undertaken by his government during the year.

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