• 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.

  • Micro-irrigation in Assam (Editorial)

    Irrigation is specifically meant for increasing agriculture production.

  • Gogoi presents Rs 2,819-cr deficit Budget

    Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, who is also holding the Finance portfolio, today placed before the State Assembly a deficit Budget of Rs 2,819.23 crore.

  • VAT on foodgrains abolished

    Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, while presenting his Budget for 2008-09 today proposed abolition of Value Added Tax (VAT) from rice, pulses, atta, maida, suji and besan.

  • Assam Budget: an evaluation (Editorial)

    In the backdrop of a populist Union Budget, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi had limited options of being harsh on the people.

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