Open flow of narcotics in N-E posing threat to
Unrestrained supply of narcotics like ganja, heroin,
etc. to the North-east through the grey market is posing a serious threat
to the country at large. Facing difficult situations, investigating teams
of the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), recently recovered a
huge quantity of ganja in different parts of the state. In most cases,
destination of the trucks carrying ganja are either Bihar or Uttar Pradesh.
In a major breakthrough, the DRI officials seized about
12,000 kg. ganja worth Rs. 2.37 crore in the last couple of months. They
also arrested 15 persons and recovered 7 trucks. The price of one kg of
ganja is Rs. 2000 in the city and about Rs. 5000 in the international
market. The seizure is a massive blow to the operators of the grey market
in the far-flung region.
In the meantime, the DRI officials have also recovered
huge quantities of gold biscuits, foreign cigarettes, Emphindrin powder
during the last couple of months. Interestingly, the deadly narcotics
Emphindrin powder, which has a high demand in the international market,
goes directly to Burma as a raw material and its finished product,
Amphetamine tablets, is brought to India through North-east.
The small unit of DRI, North-east, could seize such a
huge quantity of ganja as its officials are working with a vision and
full-dedication. If all the concerned departments of the State and Central
Governments work properly in this sphere, open flow of deadly narcotics
can be checked easily.
In fact, ganja is supplied from the Okhrul district of
Manipur and Bhutan. In terms of demand both in the domestic and foreign
markets, Manipur's ganja is considered superior to the ganja of Bhutan.
Again, Bhutan's ganja is smuggled by different lobbies via Udalguri and
Rowta areas of Darrang district of Assam. The lobbies take the ganja
mainly by trucks carrying coal from the region, which pass through
Baxirhat and Srirampur Gates. Sometimes they also export ganja by trains.
In the meantime, the DRI officials have caught as many as 28 trucks
carrying ganja since the inception of the Guwahati office. Out of 28
trucks, two trucks were released on court order. On November 3, 2001, the
DRI officials caught one of the two trucks carrying about 2870.5 kg. ganja
at Rangia, which were released on court order about four years ago. The
number of the truck is AS 25 7067. Registering a case the DRI officials
arrested one person, seized 1862 kg. ganja worth Rs. 37 lakh and caught a
truck during the period between November 1997 and March 1998. They
arrested 9 persons, seized 8363 kg. of ganja worth Rs. 1.63 crore and
caught 5 trucks during the financial year 1998-1999. They arrested 9
persons, seized 8363 kg. of ganja worth Rs. 1.63 crore and caught 5 trucks
in 5 cases during the financial year 1998-1999. Registering 5 cases, they
arrested 6 persons, seized about 3000 kg. of ganja worth Rs. 68 lakh and
caught 4 trucks during the financial year 1999-2000. In the very next
financial year, the department registered two big cases, arrested 3
persons, seized about 4000 kg. of ganja worth Rs. 80 lakh and caught 4
It is worth noting that the DRI officials file cases
under Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985, for every
ganja seizure case. They also file cases against the culprits who smuggle
gold biscuits and foreign goods illegally under the Customs Act, 1962. The
concerned State Governments also execute other Acts which are considerably
offender-friendly. Moreover, it is reliably learnt that the department
destroys the recovered ganja in the isolated places in the presence of a
judge of the Session court, custom officials and others. Meanwhile, it has
destroyed a huge quantity of ganja in the city.
State struggling to curb adulteration of food items
While two ministries of the State Government are
fighting each other on the food poisoning issue, two parties of the
business communities dealing in mustard oil began their battle forming
conspiracy between them in the city. The State public analyst prepared a
report on 'deficiency in the quality' of a particular brand of mustard
oil, has the highest market share in the North-east. But this report is
subjected to be challenged by the company. In the eye of law, report
submitted by a public analyst is subject to challenge by defenders or
offenders. In that case, the report of the Central Food Laboratory,
Kolkata, will prevail. The judgment will be vitally based on the report of
the Central Food Laboratory.
Allegedly a certain lobby with vested interest is
trying to damage the leading company and its goodwill by misinforming the
people that the mustard oil has some poisonous chemical ingredients which
is not true.
The lobby wrongly said that, the company has been
supplying poisonous mustard oil for the last and half month. "If the
oil brand was poisonous then why there had been no report of casualty or
dropsy epidemic case in the State? " enquired a city-based market
strategist. The company supplies mustard oil, refine oil to the defence
camps in addition to the open market in the entire region.
"Very few samples were dropped by the public
analyst. Its a routine work. Cancellation or acceptance of samples is a
regular event. There are many cases against a number of leading companies
on sampling at the additional chief judicial magistrate," said the
In a sense, common people should not be misinformed and
misguided for earning mere profits by any lobby. Meanwhile, the State
government formed a three-member committee to review the 'panic
situation' arising out of contaminated gram deals in the State in the
recent past. In a high-level meeting at the Chief Minister's office, Dr.
Ardhendu Kumar Dey, Food & Civil Supplies Minister, and Dr. Bhumidhar
Barman, Health & Family Welfare, jointly took a resolution for
co-ordination between their respective ministries. The committee consists
of the DC, Kamrup; Joint director, Health Services; and Deputy Director,
Supply Department. Official sources said that, the arrested businessmen
were released on bail as they had been arrested under the Prevention of
food Adulteration Act. Had they been arrested on cognisable offences under
different Sections of the Indian Penal Code by the police, then they would
not have secured bail. Generally, the reports of the cases under the
Prevention of Food Adulteration Act are verified by the state public
"Report submitted by a public analyst is subject
to challenge by defenders or offenders. In that case, the report of the
Central Food Laboratory, Kolkata, will prevail. The judgment will be
vitally based on the report of the Central food Laboratory. On the other
hand, report submitted by the Forensic Science Department is also accepted
by the court. Thus, any arrest under the Prevention of Food Adulteration
Act is offender-friendly," the sources added.
Sources further stated that taking advantage of the
apathy of the State Government, businessmen have turned the State into a
dumping ground which should not be allowed for the greater interest of the
Certain officials offered approval orders to the
businessmen dealing in gram in the city even after finding 'Malathion
positive' cases in the packets of gram (Malathion is a pesticide which
is used for the preservation of food items). For this lapse on the part of
the State Government, food-poisoning incidents could take place in Nalbari,
Rangia, Tezpur and Baihata Chariali close on the heels of the incident in
Notably, a toxicologist of the State Forensic Science
Department and the Nalbari DC today held an important meeting on the
food-poisoning incident that took place in the district. The toxicologist
presented a detailed report about findings of the investigation on the
contaminated gram supplied to Nalbari. In the meantime, all the affected
district administrations sent a good number of sample packets to the State
Forensic Science Department for tests on the contaminated gram. According
to the Department sources, most of the cases have been found positive.
They said that the suppliers had mixed an excess quantity of Malathion and
hence the tragedies. A highly-placed official of the Food and Civil
Supplies Department said that, the food inspectors, who were suspected to
be involved in the issue of approval letters to the businessmen dealing in
gram, belonged to the Health Department. On the contrary, an official of
the Health Department said that, those officials involved in the
contaminated gram deals hailed from the Food and Civil Supplies
Meanwhile, the Chief Minister, Tarun Gogoi, reviewed
the status report on food poisoning in the State caused by edible oil and
grams at a meeting held at the Janata Bhawan today, a press release said.
The Minister of health and family welfare and minister of food and civil
supplies participated in the discussion and the following instructions
were suggested. (1) All whole- sellers and importers of edible oil and
grams shall obtain a certificate from the authorised State/ Central food
laboratory at source. (2) Immediately after the arrival of the
consignments they must submit an arrival report to the Director, food and
civil supplies and deputy commissioners, sub-divisional officers and joint
director health services of the district (3) Thereafter, the food
inspectors shall take the sample of edible oil/grams immediately and shall
obtain the certificate of public analyst. The expenditure for testing of
such sample will be borne by the importer/ whole seller. (4) only after
clearance from the public analyst the district authority will take
necessary action. (5) If the sample is found to be adulterated /
substandard / unfit for consumption, the Joint Director, health services
and Food Inspector shall take immediate action under provision of PF and A
Act. (6) During the intervening period from the date of arrival of the
stock of edible oil/grams and the date of receipt of the analysis report,
the importers /whole seller shall be directed by the food inspector not to
sell the stock. (7) The food and civil supplies department shall issue
instructions to all Deputy Commissioners/ sub-divisional officers to
submit a copy of the arrival report of edible oil/grams to the joint
director, health services for necessary information and action.
(8) Health and family welfare department will take
necessary steps for upgradation of regional food laboratories in the state
and also encourage establishment of private food testing laboratory in the
state. (9) There shall be a co-ordination committee in each district under
the chairmanship of Deputy Commissioner and Joint Director of Health
Services and Deputy Director, civil supplies, as member to monitor the
entire activity under the direction of the state government. Senior
officials of health and family welfare and food and civil supplies
departments also attended the meeting, the release added.
Urban development in Guwahati hit hard by fund
Not to speak of visitors, residents of Guwahati often
express shock and disgust at the terrible state of civic amenities and
communications here. Even major schemes undertaken for development of the
city are limping now.
Non-release of funds in time is adversely affecting
most of the development schemes of the city nowadays. Some of the schemes
are construction of Fly-overs at Ganeshguri, at Ulubari and at Athgaon,
construction of GS Road, construction of Express Highway and construction
of Sankardev Kalakshetra Road.
Out of these six schemes, Ulubari fly-over is the worst
affect. This project has been taken by M/s Amea Developers Pvt. Ltd.
Construction work of the project was started on September 9, 2000 and the
date of completion as per tender agreement is December 15 this year. The
revised date of completion is June 25, 2002. However, the project cannot
be completed by the revised month as only 30 percent of the construction
has been completed on September 27, 2001, i.e. in one full year. Total
estimated cost of the project was Rs. 1794.96 lakh while the tender value
(bridge proper) was Rs. 1107.59211 lakh. Its financial progress attains at
Rs. 332.80 lakh as on September 27, 2001. Apart from the financial
shortfall, the project is facing some other hardships like the existence
of Urban Ground Water Supply pipelines of GGC, PHE and Urban Water Supply
and Sewerage Board, non-shifting of electrical lines, poll etc. including
post and telegraph cables etc.
Likewise the construction of fly-over at Athgaon is
facing some key constraints for failure in timely release of funds by the
concerned authority. DD Sarma is the contractor of the project. The date
of issue of formal work order was October 26, 1999. However, its
construction work was started in December, 1999 and the date of completion
as per tender agreement was July this year. The revised date of completion
is July 2002. However, the construction cannot be completed by this month
as only 50 percent of the construction has been completed on September 27,
2001. The estimated value of the project is Rs. 15.00 crore while the
tender value (bridge proper) is Rs. 118432239.00. But the revised
estimated value is Rs. 22.22 crore. No payment has been made from August
2001, and hence the progress stalls.
According to a white paper of the State Government, the
construction of fly-over at Ganeshguri is facing a few impediments owing
to non-release of funds by the concerned authority. M/s L&T, is the
contractor of the project. The date of issue of formal work order was
February 22, 2000. However, its construction work was started on February
27, 2000 and the date of completion as per tender agreement was August 22
this year. The revised date of completion is fixed by this month. 95
percent of the construction has been completed on September 27, 2001. The
estimated value of the project is Rs. 2128.00 lakh while the tender value
(bridge proper) is Rs. 1387.80 lakh. But the revised estimated value is
yet to be submitted. No payment has been made from May 2001 and hence the
physical and financial progress has been hit, hard too.
The white paper also mentioned that the concerned of
Express Highway is facing a few obstacle because of non-release of funds
by the concerned authority. DN Chaudhury, Yough Construction, AK Jain and
Dilip Kumar Dutta are the contractors of the project. The date of issue of
formal work order was June 12, 2000 and February 2001. Its construction
work was started in June 1991, and balance work from June 2000. The date
of completion as per tender agreement was February 2001. The revised
targeted date of completion is March 2002. However, 72 percent of the
construction has been completed on September 27,2001. The estimated value
of the project is Rs. 3.38 crore while the tender value (bridge proper) is
Rs. 854.99 lakh. But the revised and re-revised estimated values are Rs.
7.57 crore and Rs. 16,82 crore respectively. Delay in payment and pending
LA cases have adversely affected the physical and financial progress of
The construction of Sankardev Kalakshetra Road is
reeling under fund crunch situation. Yough Construction (AK Jain) is the
contractor of the project. The date of issue of formal work order was May
29, 2000. Its construction work was started on the same day. The date of
completion as per tender agreement was November 29, 2000. The revised
targeted date of completion is March 31, 2001. However, 60 percent of the
construction has been completed on September 27, 2001. The estimated value
of the project is Rs. 2.40 crore while the tender value (bridge proper) is
Rs. 574.15 lakh. But the revised estimated value is Rs. 6.08 crore. Delay
in payment and pending LA cases have adversely affected the physical and
financial progress of the project.
Proxyvon addiction ?
Multinational companies take N-E as main
As many as eight multinational companies (MNCs),
dealing in proxyvon drugs, have reportedly captured the North-east as
their main market in the country. The MNCs occasionally hold meetings
among their medical representatives to widen the market share of the
proxyvon in 'seven-sister States'. Now time has come to strengthen the
monitoring system by concerned Department of Drugs Control in every State
with special reference to proxyvon sales and marketing.
Among the varied branch of proxyvon only two types are
popular among the drug-addicts of the North-east. These two categories are
Spasmo-proxyvon and Buta-proxyvon. They are, indeed, the pain-killer
drugs. Again, between these two drugs, Spasmo-proxyvon is the most popular
category among the drug-addicts of the city, said a pharmacist here today.
Official sources said that, all addicted girls and boys
of the North-east prefer low-priced proxyvons to heroine as the latter is
a costly drug. The price of one gram heroine is approximately Rs. 500 in
Imphal, and Rs. 2500 in Guwahati. The price of heroine is lower in Imphal
than any of the parts of the region, because Imphal gets cheaper drug
directly supplied by Burmese smugglers.
They also alleged that certain MNCs occasionally hold
meetings among the medical representatives in the city for the rapid
market development of proxyvon drugs. The MNCs are laying greater emphasis
on 'aggressive marketing' in the North-east keeping in mind, the
massive consumption of proxyvon pills by the drug-addict in the
Sources further claimed that, a drug-addict could
purchase proxyvon from certain shops in an around the city. However, he or
she should know the code number of the shops and 'the secrets of
approaching' for the purchase deal between a dealer and a drug-addict. A
pharmacist could earn a handsome income by selling proxyvon brands.
However, the State Department of drugs control is keeping a constant vigil
of the drugs transaction. Of late, the State Drugs Control department has
closed a particular pharmacy in the Fatashil Ambari area of the city.
"One may find the blank packets of proxyvon drugs
in the areas of Chandmari, specially in the isolated areas like
railway-lines, Lakhtokia, Bamunimaidan, Railway Stations etc.",
Though Mizoram is a State with highest literacy rate in
the region and the second highest in the entire country, it is suffering
the maximum number of deaths relating to drug-addiction. Most of the Mizo
drug-addicts prefer morphine to heroine, as the price of morphine is much
lower than that of heroine.
Fresh stir by Customs and Central Excise
The joint action Committee of Central Board of Excise
and Customs has started a three-day long agitational programme in protest
against the proposed restructuring of pay and promotional package for the
employees here today.
In pursuance of agitational programme of Joint Action
Committee in Central Board of Excise and Customs against the restructuring
proposal in the present format, all the officers and staff in the grade of
Group - B, C ( Ministerial and Executive) and Group - D of Customs and
Central Excise, Guwahati, has been observing 'dharna' and 'lunch
hour' demonstration from October 17, at the divisional headquarters of
Customs and Central Excise, Guwahati. It continued upto October 19.
Officers and staff of the same grades at Shillong, also observed the same
agitational programme at Commissioner headquarters.
It may be recalled here that, Union Finance Ministry,
had come up with a restructuring plan of the said department. It is
broadly alleged that, the restructuring plans will benefit only group - A
officers in their service career. But the promotional and other service
prospects of the lower level officers Group - B, C and D were not
considered properly in the proposed restructuring plan in its present
The association is also demanding to create a
full-fledged Central Excise Commissioner and Customs Commissioner at
Guwahati, on the basis of revenue collection and better administration of
the Department out of four new Commissioners demanded for North-east. The
body is also demanding a chief Commissionerate office, at Guwahati, for
the North-east region.
The next phase of agitation is poster campaigning from
October 24 to November 18, 2001, following walk-out and strike on December
14. The source also added that, they will also go for further agitation
which will hamper export/import and the tax payer in manufacturing and
Afghan war : A major blow to tea industry
The tea industry's bottomline has been plummeted by
several notches in the wake of the US blitzkrieg on Afghanistan. Many
merchant ships carrying tea consignments could not resume voyage from
the coastal waters of Western Ghat to the Gulf countries as all shipping
routes have been closed for security reasons. Which means all
tea-related trading activities across the sub-continent have been
virtually freezed in view of the Afghan offensive.
Earlier, the sealing of trade activities along the
Indo-Pak border, after Kargil War, had steeply dropped both price and
sales turnover of different tea brands. As a result, the demand for both
Assam and Cachar tea witnessed a rapid fall.
According to a report of Contemporary Target Ltd.,
total tea exports from India to Afghanistan was 0.07 million kg during
the period between January to June 2000, and 0.08 million kg during the
period between January to June 2001. The total tea exports from India to
Pakistan was 1.73 million kg during the period between January to June
2000, and 0.17 million kg during the period between January to June
2001. Obviously, while Afghanistan increased tea import from India,
Pakistan decreased the same. Pakistan is importing tea from Kenya at a
higher price. Pakistan stopped the purchase of India brand for
diplomatic reasons. Pakistan can alone save Indian tea industry from the
current depressed conditions as its domestic consumption is around 200
million kg per annum. Though India gave Pakistan a status of Most
Favoured Nation, yet the latter is not smoothening trade ties with the
Prior to the Kargil War, many tea traders used to
smuggle tea from Amritsar, Punjab, to Afghanistan via Pakistan.
Interestingly, the traders used to send tea loaded trucks to Pakistan
which never came back. After the Kargil War, India banned all trade
activities along the Indo-Pak border and hence, the tea traders went to
the Pakistan bordering area of Gujrat. From Gujarat they used to smuggle
tea to Pakistan and from Pakistan tea brands were distributed in
Afghanistan. These were all unofficial sales. Though there is no record
of such sales, yet it is believed that a huge quantity of tea was
exported to Pakistan from India.
Pakistan and Afghanistan, usually consume orthodox
type tea, while, India consume CTC (crushed, teared and curled process)
tea. The cost of production of the orthodox tea is little higher than
the manufacturing cost of CTC tea. India produces about 820 million kg
tea in total per annum. Its domestic demand is around 600 million kg.
That is, India is going with an excess production of 220 million kg tea.
According to a report of Planters' Chronicle, the
per capita tea consumption of India is low compared to neighbouring
countries as it hovered around 645 gram per annum. This is very low
compared to Pakistan's 900 gram and Sri Lanka's 1,000 gram.
On condition of anonymity a few tea buyers, who
supply State tea brands to Punjab and the border areas of Gujarat, said
to this reporter that, they had been suffering huge losses for the
Unofficial business deals with Afghan traders via
Indo-Pak border is now completely closed down. We used to supply huge
quantity of tea brands, especially packet tea, to Afghanistan and other
It is worth mentioning that, a 10-member delegation
led by RS Jhawar, Chairman, of Indian Tea Association (ITA), visited
Pakistan with the 'key objective' of increasing exports in early
this year (2001). Mr. Jhawar was accompanied by leading members of the
A report of the Tea Time goes : "Export
of tea from India to Pakistan has remained at extremely low levels at
1-2 million kg against Pakistan's total requirement of 140 million kg.
The countries had earlier exchanged delegations in 1997, but since then,
while contact with the Pakistan Tea Association (PTA) has been
maintained, actual business has not shown any significant improvement.
The Indian team visited Karachi, Islamabad and Lahore and met the
members of the PTA and the tea trade. The main constraints towards the
development of tea trade was found to be the mind-set in the current
environment and lack of effort on both sides to change the situation.
There was also a perception among the Pakistan tea traders that was not
interested in catering to them due to their own large home consumption
and commitment to Russia. The problems in movement of tea by surface
transport particularly at the Wagha border, the sea route taking longer
and less frequency in availability of vessels was another area inimical
to free trade".
In fact, the tea industry of the country is currently
in a crisis. Rising production costs, plummeting prices and now imports,
have created a 'no-win situation' for all tea planters, producers,
brokers and buyers. Over dependence on Russia, a certain competence
regarding the massive domestic market and falling quality standards have
all been responsible for the present imbroglio. Accordingly, the Indian
tea traders are getting low price from Russia as the Rupee-Rubble rate
was fixed much earlier.
However, a few tea entrepreneurs still seem
optimists. Increasing orthodox tea production, adhering to quality
parameters and finding new markets for Indian brands are the solutions
to the depression in the tea market, according to many tea
professionals. A corpus fund of Rs. 6 crore has been created by the CCPA
and Tea Board for the generic promotion and advertising of health
properties of tea drinks. But this fund is not enough to complete with
the soft drink brand giants like Pepsi and Cocacola.
However, a few observers said that the local tea
market posted peak season, since September last. So, the aggregate sales
on the floor of the Guwahati Tea Auction (GTAC) witnessed an increasing
trend last week.
There was good demand for 1,15,045 (No sale) on offer. The best
varieties sold well following good enquiry from all sections and
generally sold at levels which were barely steady to around last. Medium
Rs. 2.00. fannigns & Bolder brokens of all descriptions continued to
meet limited enquiry and declined sharply over the previous week. The
major blender was active on the brighter teas whilst being selective on
the remainder. The other major packeteer operated on the exportable
fannigns and some medium sized brokens with others providing useful
support. Western India agents competed for the brighter teas on offer
whilst other internal sections preferred the clearer categories. There
was some CIS enquiry on the bolder brokens upto Rs. 68.00, while Poland
was restricted to levels between Rs. 38.00 to 45.00. It is worthwhile to
mention that, there are nine big broker-members of the GTAC. They are
Eastern Tea Brokers (P) Ltd., A.W. Figgis & Col Ltd., Contemporary
Targett Ltd., Carritt Moran & Co (P) Ltd., Tea Brokers (Guwahati)
(P) Ltd., Assam Tea Brokers (P) Ltd., Paramoun Tea Marketing (P) Ltd., J
Thomas & Co (P) Ltd. Out of them the last broker-member is the
largest one. They all participate in the auction of tea products in GTAC.
North-east has taken shape of 'cottage industry': Home Ministry
a 1. 170 common people
killed in Assam in militancy-related incidence during last three years.
a 2. 713 militants killed by
security forces in Assam in three years.
According to a report available from the Union Home
Ministry, insurgency has taken the shape of 'cottage industry' in
the North-eastern region. The report said that the various terrorist
organisations operating in the region, have the only aim of making money
and amassing wealth. Killings, abductions and extortions are being,
carried out with the sole aim of making money and the terrorist groups
have no specific ideology. It also said that economic development of the
States - Assam, Nagaland, Tripura and Manipur - has already suffered a
jolt and even the democratic system of these States is being affected.
The North-eastern part of India, comprising mainly
seven States - Assam, Manipur, Nagaland, Mizoram, Tripura, Arunachal and
Meghalaya, constitutes 8.6 percent of the total geographical territory
of India. The Central government by a notification earlier declared some
areas falling under the territory of Assam, Manipur, Nagaland, (Tirap
and Changlang districts of Arunachal Pradesh) and also 20 kms area
belonging to Assam- Arunachal Pradesh- West Bengal border as 'Disturbed
area' under the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act 1958. Tripura
Government, at the same time, declared 27 police stations as 'disturbed'.
The Home Ministry report informed that between
1997-2000, altogether 1,170 common people died in Assam in
militancy-related incidences. Militants killed in the hands of security
forces during the same period stood at 713. The number of abduction
cases reported, was 388. The number of militants surrendered before the
government was 2,279. 1,969 terrorists were arrested and 1,722
insurgency-related cases, were reported. The below tables will make
things more clear:
Militancy in Assam
From 1998 to 2000
Security Personnel killed
Arms Looted Incidence
Source: Home Ministry Report, Govt.
Terrorism in other North-east States
From 1998 to 2000
Source : Home Ministry
Report, Govt. of India
Security personnel killed
The Home Ministry report clearly clarified that the
condition of police forces in the North-eastern States is quite poor.
Many of the militant groups have far more modern arms and equipment that
the State Police. "The financial position of the State governments
in the North-east is also such that it has not been possible to equip
their forces with modern arms and equipments," the report stated.
The Home Ministry report also pointed out that due to
alarming rise in expenditure to meet the non-plan requirements like
payment of salaries etc., the State Governments of the North-eastern
region are diverting funds are given for developments, the same are not
properly utilized. Various reports of the Comptroller and Auditor
General of India, have pointed out that works are awarded by some
North-eastern States without inviting any tender, materials are procured
at exorbitant prices and money is fundamentally
withdrawn............large scale irregularities have been
Insurgency has so far affected highest number of
people in Assam. It has claimed more than 1,170 lives, highest figure in
the North-east. But, Tripura is also not lagging behind. In Tripura, 897
common people died in militancy-related cases in last three years.
Insurgency has affected the development process of
the North-east and Assam is perhaps the most worst victim. Alarm bell
has already ranged. United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA), National
Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB), People's Liberation Army of
Manipur, United National Liberation Front (UNLF), People's Liberation
Party of Kangleipak (Pripak) - are the main groups which are
spearheading violence in the North-east, the Home Ministry report
stated. These groups have already been declared as 'outlawed' by the
Govt. of India.
The table will indicate more :-
Area of Operation
United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA)
National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB)
People's Liberation Army (PLA)
United National Liberation Front (UNLF)
People's Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak
Kangleipak Communist Party
Kanglei Yuol Kanba Lup
Manipur People's Liberation Front (MPLF)
National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) (Isak-Muivah)
National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Khaplang)
All Tripura Tiger Force (ATTF)
National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT)
Achik National Volunteer Council
Hynmiewteep National Liberation Council
Arunachal Dragon Organisation
Bodo Liberation Tiger Force (BLT)
Bru National Liberation Front (BNLF)
Steps taken by the Government of India :
The Centre has already declared that for centrally
managed security forces like military and para-military arms send in
disturbed areas to fight terrorists, the expenditure will be borne by
the Central Government. But, only Assam has to pay 10% of the total
The Centre will also assist in creation of Indian
Reserve Batallion or Armed Police Force in North-eastern States by
giving long-term loans and financial supports. So far, 16 Armed Police
forces have been created in the North-east, and among these four are in
For modernisation of police forces, the 10th Finance
Commission has given Rs.114 crore to the North-eastern States. The 11th
Finance Commission has allotted Rs. 71 crore in this regard and Assam
will get Rs. 24 crore out of this.
The Central Home Ministry at present has been
spending Rs. 105 crore every year as an additional amount for the
North-east. The following table will show the financial assistance given
to the North-eastern States by the Central Government to control
Monetary Assistance from the Centre to control
militancy in Northeast
From 1998 to March 24, 2001
Amount ( in Rs.)
Special assistance Scheme
Assam at a glance
Amount (in Rs.)
Source : Home Ministry
Report & PIB
By: Kunal Kanti
Limitations of Right to Information Bill
Experts and analysis expressed mixed views on
"The Assam Right to Information Bill, 2001" which was
presented in Assam Legislative Assembly on September 28, 2001. The
much-awaited Bill has to ensure effective participation of people in the
administration making democracy more meaningful. Except, a handful of
subjects like security of the State, strategic, scientific and economic
interests of India and conduct of international relations, all other
subjects had been made open to public.
The Bill, which figured prominently in the Congress
manifesto, had made sweeping changes, bringing in complete transparency
in all government matters. Except, a handful of subjects like security
of the State, strategic, scientific and economic interests of India and
conduct of international relations, all other subjects had been made
open to public. Chief Minister, Tarun Gogoi, laid the Bill in the floor
of the House amidst applause.
The preamble of the Bill states: "Whereas it is
expedient to provide for right to information to the citizens so as to
promote openness, transparency and accountability in
administration." As regards the history of the Bill, it says,
"It is hereby enacted in the 52nd year of the Republic of India as
follows: (1) This Act may be called the Assam Right to Information Act,
2001. (2) It shall come into force on such date, as the State Government
may, by notification in the Official Gazette, appoint."
In order to make democracy meaningful and effective,
'Right to Information' is a necessity, subject to the safety,
security of the State and maintenance of good relations with non-hostile
countries. This Bill is an extension of the Fundamental Rights
guaranteed under the provision of Article 19, of the Constitution of
India. Article 19, is available against State action for the protection
of freedom enumerated in the Article. Some controversy existed in the
past as to whether the operation of this Article is ruled out where
Articles 21 and 22 apply, but the current trend is not to regard these
Articles as mutually explosive. Thus, to take one example, a person
whose freedom of movement has been taken away by imprisonment or
detention, does not thereby lose his freedom of expression or
information, so long as it is expressed within the valid conditions
relating to imprisonment or detection. Hence, a detinue cannot be
prevented from sending outside the jail for publication of matters,
which contain nothing prejudicial to the grounds for which he had been
detained. Let us now consider the test of reasonableness. In applying
this test (which is the most crucial consideration) the broad criterion
is whether the law strikes a proper balance between the social control
on the one hand, and the rights of the individual on the other hand. The
court has to take into account the following aspects: (a) nature of the
right; (b) underlying purposed of the policy restriction imposed; (c)
evils sought to be remedied by the law, its extent and urgency; (d) how
far the restriction is, or is not proportionate to the evil; and (e)
prevailing conditions at the time.
In respect of the present Bill regarding Right to
Information in particular, the first factor to be considered is the
Press. Freedom of Press and its right to procure and publish Government
at information is not expressly mentioned in Article 19 of the
Constitution. It has been held to flow from the general Freedom of
Speech and Expression, guaranteed to all citizens. As judicially
construed, this freedom now includes not merely the freedom to publish
what the writer considers proper, (subject to reasonable restrictions
imposed by Law for specific purpose), but also the freedom to carry on
the business, that information may be collected and disseminated.
Excessive and prohibitive burden restricting circulation has to be
avoided, he stated.
The stupendous and obnoxious restrictions under the
Official Secret Act, are still there at large. If the government really
meant to enlarge the scope for interested public in general and the
Press in particular, to make the right to information really effective,
the restrictions ought to be made very few. Right to information ought
to be made easily available; the restrictions ought to be exceptions
matter than the rule. Only those matters which were absolutely necessary
for the safety and security of the country ought to be enlisted as
exceptions. As the courts have held in many cases that right to secrecy
of the citizens ought to be considered as a Fundamental Right, this also
could have been mentioned in the list of exceptions. The provision for
paying fee and waiting for a period of 30 days is a blatant negation of
the principle of the right to easy information. These ought to be
reasonably nominal and infitisnal. On the whole, in spite of many
weaknesses, the bill is a move in the right direction, said Mr.
To sum it up, the Right to Information Bill will
provide opportunities for the people to know how Government functions
and how the welfare schemes are implemented. This will, however, depend
on how the very Bill is implemented. If there is unnecessary delay in
providing information and if people have to pay for it then they will
not be benefitted by it. If properly implemented, it will help in
curbing corruption and wastage of public money. Transparency is welcomed
by all. But the bureaucrats have been conferred with discretionary to
withhold information on certain grounds. If the power is not exercised
judiciary then in that case the aggrieved party shall have to prefer and
appeal. It will be a time-consuming process and in that case, the whole
purpose of the Bill may be defeated.
Can Assam tea recover market slowdown ?
Good news: The Guwahati Tea Auction Centre (GTAC)
is going global directly with the aid of on-line tea auction system by
launching its own website portal. Bad news: Many un-organised tea
sellers, who never maintain records of their sales outside the State,
evade sales tax. As a result, the State Government has to incur a huge sum
Sad to say that the domestic tea industry is passing
through a 'critical phase' nowadays. It is the outgrowth of a rapid
fall in demand for packet tea, slump in exports and entry of soft drink
brands. Now a pertinent question arises here: Can the GTAC alone usher in
a new era in the tea industry of India today? At the State level, tea
economy has been the most organised private sector industry for long. It
is the mainstay as well as the backbone of the State economy.
To sell the tea products of the State in global market
directly, and also to commemorate the 31st Foundation Day of the Guwahati
Tea Auction Centre (GTAC), the first website portal on tea market and
industry of the world has been launched in Guwahati recently. The name of
the portal is assamteaexchange.com., which is a joint venture between the
tea producers and buyers or brokers. The tea producers of the State should
improve quality to complete with the tea brands of Sri Lanka and Kenya.
The tea industry giants of the State to start comprehensive research and
development activities in order to upgrade both flavour and quality of
Historically, the vision of establishing a tea auction
centre in Assam was conceived by far sighted personages, like Late BP
Chaliha, former Chief Minister, Late Dharmananda Das, former Chief
Secretary, Late RG Baruah, Shri Mahadeo Jalan, Shri HP Barooah and a host
of talented and dedicated tea professionals and others. The GTAC has come
a long way since the first lot was knocked down for sale in Guwahati on
September 25, 1970. The auctions were started in the Stadium Guest House
in a small way in the face of many difficulties and hurdles. The fledging
centre successfully overcame stiff opposition from vested interests which
did not want to see a successful auction system developed outside the then
existing centres. The sincerity, hard work and sacrifice of the pioneers
of the GTAC has yielded rich dividends by way of continuous growth of the
Guwahati auctions and development of enormous infrastructure and growth of
employment. Today, it is the largest auction centre in the country and the
third largest in the world.
All business barons of the tea sector of the State
should disclose voluntarily the exact data on un-organised sales made
outside the State as there are lacunae in the statistics of Assam Branch
of Indian Tea Association (ABITA). This will enhance revenue sources of
the State. Whatsoever, it is, the GTAC is only centre in India which has
been established with the active support of the State Government. It has
grown to its present stature through the struggle and hard work of all
those who have been committed to its development. The State Government has
been trying over the years to urge major tea corporate bodies to relocate
their head offices to the State. Motivated by the success of the GTAC
several major players have in recent years made large investments in
assets and infrastructure in the State. This has in large measure
contributed to the vibrant growth and success of the GTAC.
The sales turnover of the GTAC also increased
significantly. During the financial year 1970-71 the tea auction volume
was 9.1 million kg, valued at Rs. 5.17 crore and total tax collected by
the State Government was approximately Rs. 5 lakh. On the other hand,
during the financial year 2000-2001, the tea auction volume was 141.6
million kg, valued at Rs. 1019 crore and total tax collected by the State
Government was approximately Rs. 20 crore.
In fact, the GTAC has an unblemished record of
operating the auctions in a smooth and disciplined manner through national
calamities like war and natural disasters like floods and earthquakes.
With the advent of internet based commerce the GTAC rose to the challenge
and successfully took steps to leverage net technology to modernise and
strengthen its assets and preserve its unique selling point in the changed
global technology scenario. The GTAC correctly recognised that the
consequences of not taking urgent steps in this direction would be fraught
with grave risk and danger to the Assam Tea industry. Any adverse effect
on the GTAC would directly impact upon the huge infrastructure built up in
Guwahati and Assam through the growth and development of the centre. More
than eight thousand people are employed in the various organisations
working in the auction system.
The GTAC is of the best administered auction centre in
India where cost of sales is the least. A primary reason for this has been
the establishment of the GTAC by the government of Assam as an autonomous
auction committee with members from all the participating segments of the
tea trade and industry, viz. Producers, buyers, brokers and warehousemen.
The administration and functioning of the GTAC under the chairmanship of a
seniormost level appointee of the government of Assam has directly
contributed to its stature.
With the advent of internet based commerce the GTAC
rose to the challenge and successfully took steps to leverage net
technology to modernise and strengthen its assets and preserve its unique
selling point, in the changed global technology scenario. The GTAC
correctly recognised that the consequences of not taking urgent steps in
this direction would be fraught with grave risk and danger to the Assam
tea industry. Any adverse effect on the GTAC would directly impact upon
the huge infrastructure built up in Guwahati and Assam through the growth
and development of the centre. More than eight thousand people are
employed in the various organisations working in the auction system.
Thus, the launching of assamteaexchange.com symbolizes
a landmark achievement for the GTAC. The subsequent developments to the
web will provide total connectivity not only to all its registered members
but also to the growing number of small producers, sellers and buyers in
all parts of Assam and the country. The advantages of an efficient and
transparent online tea trading system that is administered with integrity,
are enormous. Prices of teas in the auctions provides the benchmarks for
all players in the trade and industry to assess their performance and
improve competitiveness which will benefit them, specially the small
producers and buyers. The growing legion of small tea growers in Assam
gauge the market trends from auction prices which in turn ensures that the
growers get a remunerative price for their green leaf.
The launching and management of assamteaexchange.com is
a unique venture that is equally supported by the producers, buyers,
warehousekeepers and brokers. The success of the website will take Assam's
tea to the world markets quickly and efficiently and give them an exposure
which they did not have in the past. This will directly help to sharpen
the competitiveness of the Assam tea industry which is presently
experiencing most trying times in the face of the unprecedented crisis
that has hit the industry.
To conclude, the tea industry can be said to be the
life and blood of Assam's economy, in the private sector. Its growth and
success is vital to the economic health of the State and its people. The
GTAC is determined and focused on re-inventing its operations and systems
with the objective of providing the best market platform for Assam teas in
the emerging global scenario.
How 500 pillars along Indo-Bangla border missing
It is a mystery that around 500 pillars are missing
along Indo-Bangla border, near the Korigram village of Bangladesh and
Sonarhat of Dhubri district, where a series of battles were fought between
Bangladesh Rifles and Border Security Force, in April this year. It has
also been alleged by certain quarters that the re-installation of missing
pillars remained a "far cry" due to the apathy of the State
Government and Centre.
In the meantime, Bangladesh invited the State
Government and Indian delegation, and held meetings several times during
the months of January and April in 2000, in Dhaka. Now it is the turn of
the State Government and the Centre to invite the Bangladesh counterpart
to hold meeting in India and draw a concrete conclusion on the issue. But
the State Government remained silence (?).
Talking to this reporter, a highly-placed official
close to the Land and Revenue Department, who was one of the members of
Indian delegation to survey the border areas and attend two meetings in
Dhaka, told that, missing pillars bearing numbers from 1001 to 1039,
inclusive of minor and subsidiary pillars numbering about 500 were
installed by the erstwhile British Government.
In fact, the pillars have been missing due to many
reasons. Some of them are -- natural calamities, mishandling, durability
exhorted, vested interest and so on.
"Both the Bangladeshi delegation and Indian
delegation, comprising some officials of the State Department of Land and
Revenue, conducted an extensive survey and sorted out the missing pillars
using a theologize machine (an equipment of survey). They covered the
areas bordering Korigram of Bangladesh and Sonarhat of Dhubri district.
It is reliably learnt that, there was a conference
between the Director General of Land records and Survey, Bangladesh and
the Directorate of Land Records, Assam (India), held in Dhaka in January,
Now the said sources ask, "What steps have been
taken by the State Government on the outcome of the conference ? What was
the outcome of joint-field inspection of international boundary in
Korigram-Dhubri sector during the month of April 2000? "
It also proposed that a joint-field inspection report
should be ratified in the second conference to be held in India (Assam).
This meeting has not been held till date.
"Are the State Government and the Centre
interested in protecting the international boundary? If it is so, why they
have not held meeting? " he inquired.
He further said, "Conference should be held at the
earliest. The Centre should make available fund for the construction of
pillars, since Bangladesh has already shown interest in releasing 50
percent fund for total expenditure. The detailed report is still lying
with the Revenue Department at Dispur."
With a view to preventing infiltration into India and
in pursuance of the Assam Accord, a project for construction of roads and
fence along the Indo-Bangladesh border in States of Assam, Meghalaya,
Mizoram, North-east and West Bengal has been taken up since 1987. During
his visit to Shillong, on January 22, 2000, the Prime Minister, AB
Vajpayee, announced the decision to fence the remaining portion of
Indo-Bangladesh border and construct border roads with a total outlay of
Rs. 1335 crore. The proposal for construction of additional roads or fence
along the remaining portion of Indo-Bangladesh border has also been okayed
by the Centre on June 12, 2000. These works are expected to be completed
by December 2007. With this, the entire Indo-Bangladesh border (where
technically feasible) will be fenced. The Technical Committee held three
meetings on August 17, 2000, September 15, 2000 and January 23, 2000, to
accord administrative approvals for the works. A High Level Expert
Committee under the chairmanship of the Home Secretary, in its meeting
held on November 20, 2000, decided to enhance the financial powers of DG,
Central Public Works Department from the present Rs. 5 crore to 15 crore.
This was stated in a report of Union Ministry of Home Affairs.
Grievances against Central employees' health-care
No prescribed rate of
reimbursement for card-holders in NE
A large number of card-holders of the Central
Government Health Scheme (CGHS) in the city have brought allegations
against the concerned officials of the Union Ministry for Health and
Family Welfare saying that, the mandatory scheme, for which there are
monthly deduction from their salaries, has not been of much help to them.
However, Dr. B Saikia, joint-director of the CGHS, refuted the allegations
against the officials by the card-holders, here today.
There are three dispensaries at Hengrabari, Narengi and
Bharalumukh. They have been rendering health-care services to over 8,500
card-holders and about 42,000 beneficiaries in the city since inception
(1996). There are 11 doctors in total. Each dispensary has 14 employees
including a nurse, a few general doctors, other employees and 4th grade
staff. The treatment period starts from 7.30 a.m. and continues up to 1.30
p.m. Since this scheme is a mandatory for all departments of the Central
Government hence the employees have to pay a monthly fee ranging from Rs.
15 to Rs. 150.
Mr. D Das, a card-holder, told this writer that there
is no clinical laboratory in any dispensary under the CGHS, creating acute
problems for Central employees.
"Though the doctors refer to the SkyLab for any
diagnostic test yet the cost is to be borne by the card-holders itself as
there is no prescribed rate of reimbursement for the North-east, like
other parts of the country. That is, the reimbursement is always lower
than cost," said Mr. Das.
"The rates of clinical tests are higher in
Guwahati than other cities or metros like Kolkata, Delhi and Mumbai.
Therefore, there should be special rate of reimbursement of the
north-eastern states. There is no specialist physicians too," said NC
Basumatary, another card-holder of CGHS.
"Confusion arises when the head of the department
allow to provide the expenses of clinical test but the auditors of the
accounts deny to give the same assigning clear-cut rule. There are a
number of examples here, the auditors oppose of the reimbursement from the
concerned departments of the card-holders," informed Mr. AK Dey, a
A highly-placed official of a particular Central
Government office said on condition of anonymity that, most of the
medicines prescribed are issued with indent.
"In many cases, it has been found that the doctors
give indents of certain medicines which should be accompanied by an
important medicine. For example, antibiotic medicines are generally
prescribed along with vitamin pills. However, one of them issued with
indent giving an authority letter in case of emergency patients which
adversely affect the health of the ailing person," he alleged.
He also asserted, "There are only two referral
hospitals viz. Guwahati Medical College Hospital (GMCH) and Mohendra Mohan
Choudhury Hospital (MMCH) for the CGHS beneficiaries."
A circular (No.A.60011/1/98-CGHS(GHY)/41 dated
19-7-2000) issued by Dr. Saikia goes : "Some Central Government
offices of Guwahati have raised queries (1) Neurological Research Centre,
Guwahati, (2) Sankardeva Nethralaya, Guwahati and (3) Satribari Christian
Hospital, Guwahati - stating that, these hospitals are not recognised
under CGHS and whether the heads of departments are authorised to permit
their employees for treatment in these hospitals. In this connection, it
is to say hereby that, CGHS is unable to comment on this matter, and
decisions on such cases have to be taken by the heads of departments.
Further, it is added that, CGHS doctors will refer to none other than GMCH
and MMCH for specialised treatment and opinion, as there are no recognised
private hospitals/diagnostic centres under CGHS, Guwahati."
At the present juncture, Dr. Saikia said that the
process of recognising a few reputed private hospitals like Down Town
Hospital and International Hospital as well as a few leading diagnostic
centres is going on. The process is hopefully completed by six months and
most of the grievances of the card-holders will be met soon, he quipped.
He further admitted that the dispensaries have been
suffering from irregular supply of medicines from the Central Medical
Stores, Guwahati, since the first half of 1999. To meet the demand-supply
gap of medicines four chemists have been appointed so far for two years,
Dr. Saikia said.
Misuse of 'Red Cross' by private pharmacists,
veterinary doctors should be stopped
The large-scale misuse of the emblem of "Red
Cross" by private pharmacists and different un-authorized doctors
like veterinary surgeons should be stopped in India as well as elsewhere
in the entire world, soon. This was stated by Mr. James Reynolds, Deputy
Regional Delegate, a Delhi-based official of the International Committee
of the Red Cross (ICRC), in an exclusive interview with this reporter, on
According to the guidelines of an ICRC Convention, the
emblem can be used only by the authorised and government physicians; not
by the so-called RMP doctors, private pharmacists, veterinary surgeons
At this juncture, he advocated formulation and
implementation of proper policy parameters and rules by the local
government and other concerned authorities to regulate the large-scale
misuse of the emblem by RMP doctors, private pharmacists and veterinary
surgeons at the earliest.
It may be recalled that, a seminar on the ban of
misusing the Red Cross emblem, was held in association with the ICRC at
Jalukbari, in June this year.
The ICRC is facing a number of impediments in various
countries of the world with special reference to the Military Rules of the
When asked about the difference between the Indian Red
Cross Society (IRCS) and ICRC he averred that, the latter is an apex body
of all Red Cross Societies and the former IRCS was formed by an Act of
Parliament. Both IRCS and ICRC have their own constitutions and hence they
work as per their statute columns. The ICRC never controls and directs the
IRCS directly. However, it seeks proper reporting of the funds sanctioned
and released to the IRCS under different projects. There is no specific
guideline of the ICRC for auditing the IRCS accounts. The latter Amy audit
and scrutinise their accounts as per their own constitution.
Commenting on the role of the ICRC in India, Mr.
Reynolds quipped, "The ICRC co-operates with the Indian Red Cross
Society (IRCS) by providing support for its development in the fields of
tracing, dissemination, information and conflict preparedness. Various
workshops, seminars and training sessions are organised each year, in
order to create capacity within the IRCS so that it may independently
become active in these fields."
" In Assam, the IRCS is supporting State and
district branches on setting up a network of emergency first-aid teams.
The ICRC and the IRCS had planned to provide emergency first-aid training
in four States- namely Assam, Nagaland, Bihar and Jammu and Kashmir, in
2000. About 100 volunteers were imparted training in each State. For now,
the ICRC has some special projects for the North-east, which will be
implemented through Assam Unit of the IRCS and others, he stated.
As regards the ICRC he said, "The ICRC is an
impartial, neutral and independent organisation whose exclusive
humanitarian mission is to protect the lives and dignity of victims of war
and internal violence and to provide them with assistance. It also
endeavors to prevent suffering by promoting and strengthening humanitarian
law and universal humanitarian principles. Established in 1863, the ICRC
is at the origin of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent
"In order to prevent and alleviate human suffering
in situations of armed conflict and internal strife, the ICRC strives to
bring protection and assistance to victims of conflict by visiting
detainees, re-establishing family links and providing medical and material
assistance. It acts as a neutral intermediary between parties for strictly
humanitarian issues. It promotes understanding of International
Humanitarian Law, reminds parties to the conflict of their obligation to
respect it and works for the development of that law. It contributes to
the development of National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
Moreover, it acts as guardian of the fundamental principles of the Red
Cross and Red Crescent. Since the Red Cross and Red Crescent, work all
over the world in every different social, cultural and political
situations, it is necessary to have unified moral doctrine, like a
constitution, which can ensure coherence. They are vitally based on seven
fundamental principles such as humanity, impartiality, neutrality,
independence, voluntary service, unity and universality," he
Northeast Bleeding : Economic Backwardness
'Insurgency' has become a buzz word in the bazar as the latest
ceasefire extension move by the Centre for National Socialist Council of
Nagalim, Issac Muivah NSCN(I-M) faction, has developed a 'horrible
situation' in the Northeast especially in Manipur, Assam and parts of
Arunachal Pradesh. That is, the common life is adversely affected in the countryside
of these states. Congenial atmosphere for entrepreneurs seems to have been
evaporated from this far-flung region for good. Since violence is chasing
investors and businessmen away from the region. The insurgent groups have
shown a speedier mushrooming growth than that of industrialisation of the
Recent trends in the economic development of the region have triggered
a lively debate among the intelligentsia. Some argue it has been unable to
sustain a rate of rapid growth as the fruits of long term policies are
being eaten up by opportunists and the needy are being deprived of them.
But others dismiss this as sheer pessimism.
A stable law and order situation is vital for fostering both secular
change and gradual growth; also for tapping the NE's natural resources
and endowment. But the region lacks adequate entrepreneur-friendly
atmosphere in the prevalence of terrorism.
The Union Home Ministry published a report 'Bleeding Assam' (The
role of ULFA) in an apparent bid to mobilise public opinion against the
United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), giving a detailed account of the
activities of the banned outfit.
Says the report, 'had people thrived where militant section had taken
to gun? Apart from bringing death and distraction to the area, do such
movements achieve anything? There is a climate of uncertainty in the
region. The economy suffers. Investors become hesitant to plough back any
money into the area; transporters stop plying in the region ; economic
activity dwindles and people stop stirring out after sunset.'
In a sense, the report also states that the activities of the ULFA were
primarily responsible for the economic backwardness of the state as in
this clitoris of violence, the investors are scared of investing their
money in the state and the existing industries are struggling to survive
because of the extortions, killing, etc. The tea industry is also facing
crisis as senior officials of the industry are abducted or brutally killed
A Major chunk of the funds earmarked for development works also go to
the coffers of the rebels, the report says. Similar is the plight of the
banks and the oil industry.
The NGOs committed to the development of the state were also not spared
by the militants and the main reason for the killing of the AVARD-NE
general secretary Sanjoy Ghosh was money and not any ideological
Addressing a seminar in memory of noted journalist Rabijit Choudhury at
Gauri Sadan in Guwahati recently, Minister of State for Home, Pradyut
Bordoloi said it was the economic condition of an individual rather than
ideology which made him take up arms. The topic of the seminar was 'Roots
of insurgency, remedies'. There are over 19 lakh unemployed in the
Bordoloi said, 'After going through the interrogation reports of six
rebels hailing from different districts of Assam, it became clear to me
that they were not driven by any ideology to join either the NDFB or the
ULFA. It was their economic condition that compelled them to take-up arms.
Staring at an uncertain future, the boys found an escape in insurgency. We
cannot provide jobs to all, but we will try to create opportunities for
self-employment by implementing the economic agenda we have prepared over
the past three years. We will be concentrating on the agriculture sector,
on which over 70% our population depends, improve road connectivity and
storage facilities. It will not be easy, but we will have to try to wipe
out insurgency from the grassroots.'
Whatsoever, the government had failed to contain ethnic clashes in
Kokrajhar district, which were continuing for the past five years. It is,
indeed, difficult to bring the misguided youths into the mainstream. But
they should be made to realise that the state economy is being adversely
affected by their chosen field of activity.
An able administration and a stable political establishment are
preconditions for the progress of an economy. History shows us that the
growth of Britain, France, Germany, Japan and the US can be attributed to
their political stability and strong administration since the 19th
Nationally, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Delhi
and West Bengal could maintain their efficient administrative will and political
stability in the post-independence era. Such political stability
stimulates entrepreneurs, who boosts economic development in conjunction
with the necessary policy prescription, made by the governments over the
last five decades or so.
Even today Assam is considered a backward state like Bihar in the
economic sense despite its huge reserves of natural resources. It produces
around 50 % tea products and petro-products of the country.
However, soaring pressure of extremism on the state stalls the
developmental deeds in the infrastructure sector such as development of
energy sector, development of transport and communication systems,
improvement of health and Medicare, expansion of education and literacy
and empowerment of managerial skills that have remained a dream beyond the
reach of Assam.
Although the state has a vast potential for power generation, it has
lagged behind the rest of the country in generation and consumption of
power, mainly because of the dearth of investment in the energy sector
following the tense insurgency activities here. It has enough water
resources for hydel power projects and enough natural gas, coal and
petroleum for thermal power stations as well. Large amount of natural
resources, which can be utilised for generating power, are wasted
regularly in the state.
There is a vast potential to set up hydro-power stations across the
Brahmaputra and other tributaries of NE. Unfortunately the region has no
big hydel power station.
Pointing out the causes of backwardness of power sector of the entire
Northeast India, Dr M.R. Srinivasan a member of Planning Commission
(energy sector) after visiting the 'seven sister states' opined that
Northeast power sector was plagued by various problems like lack of power
infrastructure and the difficult terrain which increase the production
cost of power.
According to him, militancy, ethnic problems, overall law and order
situation have also affected the functioning of power sector organisations
like NEEPCO and other Power Grids in Assam.
On the front of road transport and communication, the state has made
little development since the inception of insurgency activities.
Assam tea industries are also fighting for survival. The tea barons
have virtually ruled their estates through remote control from Kolkata and
Even since Surendra Paul, owner of the Assam Frontier company and
brother of Lord Swaraj Paul, was gunned down, very few have the guts to
visit their tea gardens.
Many economic analysts feel that the tea production is mounting in
Assam and it is largely due to the local work force. Nonetheless, getting
good managerial talent is quite difficult as no one is willing to come to
Assam. Right now the families of executives working here live in a shadow
of constant fear.
Railway tracks are a soft target of the ultras in Assam, especially in
the Bodoland Autonomous Council areas. Destruction of bridges both by
ravaging floods and insurgent units damages the road transport system
carrying primary food articles to the state.
Owing to continuous threat from militants, many public sector units
have stopped their projects in Northeast. For example, the Oil and Natural
Gas Commission Ltd suspended its operations in Nagaland in April, 1994.
Till now, it has not been able to resume work there in wake of the threats
from the ultra units. Moreover, it has lost two rigs there.
In spite of grim economic situation following insurgency in few,
optimists even claim there is room to promote the growth process of the
state on many fronts. First and the foremost among them being development
of agriculture, which is the mainstay of Assam. The large number of
unemployed youth should employ themselves in cultivating unused
cultivatable land so as to promote productivity as well as to raise the
This should work, despite the shortage of working capital in NE. There
is paucity of literate cultivators and the educated unemployed youths
should modernise the agrarian output.
Investment in infrastructure, including investment in transport and
communication, power and energy; generation of saving, capital formation,
free entry of foreign direct investment etc. are essential to boost NE`s
Last year, the Prime Minister, Mr. Atal Bihari Vajpayee, unveiled a
massive economic package worth Rs. 10,271 crore to pump start the
socio-economic development of the Northeast. Everybody knew it. Every body
felt elated to hail the PM for announcing this "huge package".
However, critics raised a few thought-proving question: Did Mr. Vajpayee
really announced the mega package? Had he not ballooned the package adding
a part of the Ninth-Five Year Plan outlay to it? What is the exact amount
of the Package? Did the PM not took the masses for a ride?
The current package has, indeed, engineered some "food for
thought" with skepticism and apprehension. The reason is not far to
seek. During his visit Mr. Vajpayee openly stated that the package bears a
lion share of the Ninth Fifth-Year Plan outlay.
The crux of the matter came to the surface when he was briefing the media persons
in Shillong. Asked whether the economic package, he announced, was a part
of the Ninth Five-Year Plan outlay, the PM said; "It is only a part
of the outlay. The exact amount meant for the special package will be
worked out appropriately."
As on record, the North Eastern Council has brought Sikkim under its
umbrella and, hence, the region gets Sikkim as the youngest sister state.
And, Mr. Vajpayee tapped tactfully the advantage of widening the economic
package figure for the region as a whole "to please the people"
The erstwhile Prime Minister of the UF Government, Mr. H.D Deve Gowda,
also did come out with a massive economic package involving a total amount
of Rs.6,100 crore for the Northeast during his weeklong visit to the
region in October, 1996. Again, his successor Mr. I K Gujral raised the
Gowda package to Rs. 7,500 crore on August 1, 1997. However, the package
remained on the paper due to political instability at the centre. That is,
judging from the virtual non-implementation of the much media-covered Rs.
6,100 crore Deve Gowda package and - known Rs. 7,500 crore Gujral package
nobody can point to an iota of doubt that has been generated among the
think- tanks of the regions today.
It is worthwhile to recall that the high-powered committee headed by Mr
SP Shukla made many recommendations for removing the infrastructure
backlog and improving the basic minimum services to the Northeast region.
The Shukla panel prescribed an amount of Rs. 3,951.80 crore for gearing up
strides in basic minimum services and Rs. 4,492 crore for infrastructure
development programmes in the Ninth Five-Year Plan. All the economic
packages of three Pms tried to concentrate their grants on the basis of
the Shukla commission recommendation. Since to prioritised the improvement
of socio-economic overheads like roads, banking, commerce, health,
education, power etc. of the region.
Meanwhile, many economic analysts and business strategists nodded that
the PM`s latest package lacks time frame for its implementation. They are
also skeptical to note how far the state government translate the schemes
into action with their respective governance mechanism.
The focal point is that the centre is raising the outlay of every
Five-Year Plan for the North -East. For instance, the centre increased the
outlay of Ninth Five Year Plan for the region by Rs . 10,000 crore as its
total amount for the NE is Rs. 25,283.52 crore while the Eight Five-Year
Plan`s outlay was Rs. 15,438 crore. It is logical to aver that the center
does always work for balanced regional growth. Both the Deve Gowda`s and
Gujral`s, economic packages could not be streamlined on account of the
departure of UF Government at the center. Right now, every optimist may
look forward to realising the systematic implementation of Vajpayee`s
package as his government is more stable than UF`s one. Above all, the
centre should come out with better monitoring system and auditing in the
implementation process of NE package under the supervision of both North
Eastern Council and the Central Implementation Commission to avoid misuse
of central funds and other incentives. All the tainted persons lead the
underground guerrillas of the region for sustaining corruption which does
adversely effect the socio-economic welfare of the people and even
national integration of the country. This is undoubtedly the saddest part
of the story. However, CBI probe into the wheat scam, palmoline oil scam,
Nagaland lottery scam etc. Are quite mention worthy to caution the corrupt
dignitaries of this far-flung region, to check their credentials. To speak
in a wiser vein, the funds will reach the targeted groups subjected to
strict vigilance and proper audit.
Having said that the growing problem of unemployment in the
seven-sister states is primarily responsible for militancy which is the
catchword of the day. Only jobs can wean youths from violence. The
unemployed person loses both dignity and confidence. His stature, both in
society and at home, is hit hard. Massive unemployment disturbs the peace
and security of the community. It is sad commentary on planning that even
after five decades of Independence, the menace of " unemployment
trap" is still there throughout the nation. The Implementation
Commission, an integral part of the Planning Commission, should avail
various employment-generating schemes and other economic development
agendas in the insurgency-prone states of India as a whole. Otherwise the
grim economic condition of the underdeveloped NE states will be grimmer.
To sum it up, the ultras had forgotten country's independence in 1947
for the culture of AK-47. They should stop antinational activities
initiating peace parleys for the sake of regional economic development.
This is the need of the hour. Otherwise, the NE states will fail to catch
the bus of economic growth and to compete with other regions of the
country. Since it is the age of 'Competition' and the 'Survival of
'Applied peace' for Assam development
Peace means 'absence of violence'. It is the
freedom from civil disorder too. In a broad sense, the term 'peace'
may be defined as a psychological means of all social, economic,
political and ethical advancement in a state or country.
Though different analysts have defined 'peace'
differently from time to time, yet in the context of 'development'
of socio-economico and politico aspects, it can be better explained as a
'key' to the overall improvement of a poor economy like Assam. On
the other hand, the term 'development' denotes a few good words like
advancement, betterment, improvement, promotion and up gradation.
Prof. J. A. Schumpeter in his treatise 'The Theory
of Economic Development' writes, "Development is a discontinuous
and spontaneous change in the stationery state which forever alters and
displaces the equilibrium state previously existing, while growth is a
gradual and steady change in the long run, which comes about by a
general increase in the rate of savings and population".
In the book 'Economic Progress and Policy in
Developing Countries' Prof. A Maddison quips, "The raising of
income levels is generally called economic growth in the rich countries,
and in poor ones it is called economic development."
It follows from above, people knowingly or
unknowingly use the terms development for peace and peace through
development in Assam today. So to say, the two terms 'peace' and 'development'
are co-related. They are just like two sides of the same coin. In other
words, peace cannot be attained without development and development
cannot be sustained sans peace.
It is time, the Tarun Gogoi-led government of Assam
and the Assam State Congress committee started trying to translate into
reality, the massive "economic agenda" which they harped upon
before the assembly election. The Congress has come back to power in
Assam after a long interval and the new government has its long list of
promises in order to "restore peace".
While economists, investors, traders, entrepreneurs
and business barons for more than a decade have been insisting that,
"peace is the precondition" for development in the state, the
Congress has decided to shift the paradigm to "peace through
development". The party holds that, economic advancement alone can
usher in an era of permanent peace in Assam. It would be worth noting
that, the Prafulla Kumar Mahanta-led Asom Gana Parishad government had
also made similar promises before the Assembly Elections. However, it
had emphasized that peace was a pre-requisite to development. The AGP
and Congress, thus, differed in their agenda.
The Congress, in accordance with its claims, has to
promote development to curb insurgency and to balance the law and order
situation. Gogoi, has to remember that the defeat of the AGP ministers
in charge of key departments like education, transport, agriculture,
food and health indicates that the electorate expects his party to set
things right in these sectors.
Fiscal imbalance, large scale corruption,
backwardness of the rural sector, low private investment and the sinking
fortunes of the public sector units are just a few for the issues the
Congress will have to look into. In fact, the state is reeling under a
virtual debt-trap. In order to rescue it, the new government has to
fulfil its promises besides undertaking intelligent strategies and
tactics when confronted with the actual problems.
The fiscal health of Assam has gone from 'bad' to
'worse' given the failure of the AGP-led government to address the
issue. The situation has become precarious with the revenue deficit,
primary deficit, the growing interest burden - all indicators of fiscal
health- soaring to alarming levels. Though the underlying factors for
this dismal condition are largely structural in nature and cannot be
wished away by waving a magic wand, the Congress believes that it will
be able to achieve a turn-around by pursuing the right set of policies
and a proper ground plan for economic engineering. The Congress leaders
and economic analysts now have to take utmost care in implementing the
There are certain priorities that need to be looked
into right away to salvage Assam economically. One is reduction of
revenue deficit. The state government cannot depend on any gimmick to
better the fiscal health of the state. Fiscal responsibility involves
hard decisions and for this, the revenue deficit has to be reduced to
three percent of the state's gross domestic product by 2003. One
important constraint to this, is, the progressively mounting interest
expenditure. The public representatives will have to be educated about
the indispensability of reducing the revenue deficit.
The second area that needs urgent attention is
expenditure reforms. The government has to review all non-plan
expenditure and initiated effective expenditure reforms by slashing
avoidable public expenditure, that is, expenditure by the government
The third target should be a Zero-deficit budget. The
state has to undertake this kind of budgeting to finance development,
that is to see that cost-effective and proper resource allocation is
made in the desired areas. The government has to keep a record of the
gap in its attainments so that it is eventually easier to take decisions
on rational resource allocation.
The government also has to try adding new dimensions
to resource mobilization. The resource potential of the state has to be
re-assessed, covering all directions, for a "thorough"
rationalization and expansion of the revenue base.
Administrative reforms in revenue collection
departments, is another target. The government departments involved in
the collection of various forms of revenue will have to be reviewed
before reforms are undertaken for a more efficient revenue collection
and the plugging of all possible leakages. One has to remember that a
large proportion of the sales within Assam are not accounted for. There
should not be any complacency in this regard. Even by conservative
estimates, the revenue collection should be Rs. 5,625 crore for a
population of 2.7 crore in the state. Assuming that 50 percent of the
expenditure is on non-taxable items, the total turnover should approach
the figure of Rs. 2,812 crore. However, figures of the total sales tax
revenue collection taken from the Commissioner of Taxes, Assam, for the
financial year 1999-2000, put it at Rs. 950 crore.
Reforms in public sector units are a must. The
government has to review the management policy of the weak 46 PSUs out
of 48 PSUs to encourage professionalism. Only the Assam Petrochemical
and Assam Gas Company are making profits. It should also look into the
functioning of all PSUs and try to make them commercially viable.
There should also be development appraisal and
monitoring. All government expenditure on development projects should be
brought under an effective system of appraisal and monitoring with the
onus of accountability fixed on the executives.
More emphasis should be laid on trade and commerce.
Major contributions to the state exchequer have always been through the
sales tax. That the total revenue from sales tax amounts to close a
thousand crore in 1999-2000, only shows that the state's economic
strength lies in better trade and commerce. The government must adopt a
policy to encourage consumers to spend, making Assam the hub of trade
and commercial activities in the North-east.
At the same time, it should be kept in mind that
there is a huge gap between tax realization and its actual potential.
Tax rates are different in different northeastern states. Consignments
from outside the region are booked for the state where tax rates are
low. Most of the consignments are off-loaded and sold off in Assam.
Moreover, consignments are booked for other north-eastern states which
charge at Central sales tax rates, which is much lower than the Assam
sales tax rates. These consignments are also off-loaded and sold within
Assam and for this, traders often do not maintain records. This modus
operandi causes huge revenue loss to Assam.
Apart from the above mentioned tasks, the new
government has to chalk out a comprehensive plan for tackling large
scale corruption and malpractices by police officials, particularly for
those, posted at the gates. A truck driver has to pay over Rs. 10,000 to
reach Guwahati from Srirampur or Bauxirhat as he has to pay the amount
both to the police and goons on the national highways.
The new government has to create a congenial air for
business entrepreneurship in order to boost economic growth. More
employment opportunities for the educated unemployed should also be
made. The infrastructure also has to be paid proper attention. For one,
drinking water supply schemes should be revived.
Underdevelopment and unemployment are the root causes
of militancy in the state. The Gogoi-led Congress government has to
douse the fires. Gogoi means while he has announced that a comprehensive
plan would be drawn and implemented to cope with insurgency in the
state. But until and unless the government minimizes corruption and
nepotism in the administration, which includes both the bureaucracy and
the political leadership, all issues on their agenda will remain on
To conclude with the North-east Chamber of Commerce
and Industry: "Economic stagnation distorts social equilibrium. It
results in chaos and also anarchy at all levels of society. For breaking
the economic impasse a stable and also sustainable economic
re-engineering process is urgently called for. On the success of the
ground plan, only Assam could think in terms of a take-off to an
accelerating growth process. These States of North-east have a cherished
vision for the future. It has also got a great mission to integrate the
whole of India with South-East Asia, East Asia and Asia Pacific. All
these regions are historically and also geographically the allies of
India. It is a mandate of the time on Assam to fulfill its great
mission, thereby transform itself into a leading player in global
economy and business."
Flood freezes Assam economy
Thomas Robert Malthus, a pioneer Cambridge economist, rightly said
long back that over population leads to natural clamities. So is the
case of India today. Indian states occasionally face natural calamities
like earthquake (Gujarat), cyclone (Orissa), hailstone, famine and flood
(Assam). These can be considered as the outcomes of population explosion
and nothing else.
People have been so distressed and upset by the annual ravages of
flood leading to increasing loss of lives and massive destruction of
crops and properly that they had long been demanding an integrated
scheme for controlling the river system - the Brahmaputra and the Barak-besides
drawing other benefits like irrigation and power generation for economic
welfare. That is, devastating floods have become a regular feature
during the monsoon months damaging the standing crops and bringing
untold misery to the masses of Assam every year. The recurring floods
cause a crippling effect on the agrarian state economy. Prolonged and
heavy rains do too adversely affect industries by limiting the physical
construction period to few months in the winter season.
The Brahmaputra river is braided and unstable in its entire Assam
Valley except for a few places. The instability of the river is
attributed to high sediment charge, steep slope and transverse gradient.
Apart from these, the entire area is aseismic zone and recieves
earthquake shocks of moderate to severe intensity from time to time. The
problem of siltation has been further aggravated due to landslides
caused by high rainfall. Some man-made avoidable actions in the form of
shifting cultivation and non-scientific commercial exploitation of
forests etc. Have also accelerated the process of soil erosion in the
catchment. The slit brought in the process gets deposited as the river
descends into the plains with sudden reduction in slope, with the
consequent reduction in the flow velocity and its sediment has also
given rise to braiding and meandering pattern in the alignment of the
river system. The world's largest river island "Majuli" in
upper Assam withan area of about 900 sq.km.lies in the river. The left
bank tributaries of the river Brahmaputra pass through stable reaches
with flat slopes and carry lower sediment load of finer size. By
hypsometric analysis of the tributaries, it has been confirmed that the
hypsometric curve with a plateau in case of the right bank tributaries
indicates relatively young stage while the basins of the left bank
tributaries indicate a mature state. This has given rise to inherent
tendency of river Brahmaputra to shift its course towards south and the
river flows by the side of hills at many places along its bank.
But what is the genesis of the Barak Valley economy? The river Barak
is an important arm of the Ganga-Brahmaputra-Meghna system and is the
second largest river of the N.E. region having eight major tributaries.
The Barak is joined by a number of hill streams on both its banks. The
flood occurs frequently in this valley causing extensive damage to lives
and properties. In order to manage the problem of flood, erosion and
drainage congestion, various measures have been taken from time to time
by way of construction of embankments, bank protection and drainage
improvement works etc. These measures have provided adequate protection
to the people of the valley against low and medium floods. In case of
high floods, the embankments are not able to withstand heavy pressure,
consequently number of breaches occur which cause devastating flood in
the valley. In order to deal with the problems of flood, bank erosion
drainage congestion etc., the Brahmaputra Board, a statutory body of
Union Ministry of Water Resources has prepared a Master Plan for the
That is, the chronic flood and erosion problem in thsi state has
washed out all colours from public lives which shattered basic economy
of the state. Harins, said taht, the unprecendented flood havoc has
caused expensive damage to human lives, livestock, standing crops,
homestead land, engineering structures, communication net-work besides
entailing untold misery and suffering to the people at large.
The state flood havoc, as has been explained by the experts, is due
to the following reasons : the mysterious behaviour of South-West
monsoon and most unwarranted hydro-metrological situation; continuous,
incessant and heavy rainfall in the hilly catchment areas of Arunachal
Pradesh, Bhutan and Nagaland; synchronization of flood both in
Brahmaputra and its tributaries is creating acute drainage congestion
for a very long duration; and the flashy and heavy silt-carrying river
debauching from Arunachal Pradesh caused the country's worst flood
havoc in the districts of Dhemaji, North Lakhimpur and Sonitpur.
The main crops grown in the Brahmaputra valley are paddy, jute,
mustard, pulses, wheat and sugarcane. Paddy and jute are mainly grown
and harvested during monsoon period. Out of four types of paddy crops
viz. Ahu, Sali, Bao and Boro which constitute about 92% of the cropped
area, the first two namely Ahu and Sali are substantially affected by
In fact, flood in Assam occurs from May to September. It affects an
area of about 3 to 5 lakh hectares of land under cultivation depending
on magnitude. The year 1999 was marked by an unusual drought like
situation which prevailed from November, 1998 till 3rd week of April,
1999. The unusual drought like situation spread over a period of almost
6 months, damaged standing crops and drastically reduced the yield to
40% to 50% of Rabi Summer/Pre Kharif crops. Total area affected was
2,35,775 ha. Covering 3,48,206 farm families. This drought like
situation was followed by the regular feature of flood affecting
1,09,878 ha. Of crop area and also by the attack of Rice Hispa in Kharif
paddy affecting 72,727 ha. In this financial year (2001-2002) too, the
state is witnessing a drought as the monsoon rain delayed and the
farmers failed to transplant seedling by July 10.
During the year 2000-2001, the state experienced three waves of
flood. The first wave of flood came in the middle of June 2000, 2nd wave
was in the later part of July and last wave was in the early part of
September 2000. During Kharif 2000 total cropped area affected was,
92,903 ha. And total family affected was 6,36,102. The similar situation
is now prevailing in the current yea5r 2001-2002. Loss of standing
Kharif crops both early and late flood is apprehended.
FLOOD DAMAGE OF LAST FIVE YEARS IN ASSAM
Year Crop area affected (in ha.) Farm family affected (in nos.)
The flash floods are most common in the districts of Dhemaji,
Lakhimpur, Gohpur Sub-division of Sonitpur district, Majuli Sub-division
of Jorhat District. In recent times these districts are also facing
acute problems of sand deposition converting fertile land to barren land
over night. Heavy river bank erosion is also causing concern to the
large numbers of farmers.
The preliminary assessment of flood-loss is worth more than RS.1000
crore in the state. There is no doubt the fact that flood management
measures so far created by the deptt. Are not capable to withstand such
a natural disaster. As a result, there had been breaches in embankments
causing damage of the protracted areas.
Every government of the state persuades Centre to recognize this
complex, colossal and gigantic flood problem of Assam as a
"National Problem" and also pressing the concerned Union
ministry to implement the multi-purpose mega projects which will
substantially reduce the flood havoc if required by arranging funds from
the international financial institutions. The former prime minister H.
D. Deve Gowda, announced that all flood control works in the state would
be on Central grant and also declared a special package for the
development of the North East with Rs 500 Crore for flood control sector
during the 9th five year plan . That is , the Assam government has been
urging Centre to recognise the flood and erosion problems of the state
as a "national problem" for long. It is still now urging the
Central government to extend liberal financial assistance to implement
short term and long term flood management measures. The nature of the
flood problem is so gigantic that the state government is unable to
tackle it on its own. Meanwhile, New Delhi, has agreed to provide grants
for Central sector Flood Management Schemes to the tune of Rs. 20 crore
each year for the remaining two years of the Ninth Five year plan.
Importantly, 10 institutions are examining the ways and means to check
the recurrent floods in Assam. They are Central Water Commission,
Brahmaputra Board, Flood Control Department (Assam), PWD(Assam),
Concerned District Administration, Geological Survey of India, National
Institute of Hydrology, Guwahati University, Bureau of Soil (government
of India) and Central Water and Power Research Station, Pune. The centre
has promised to complete Pagladia Multi-purpose Dam completed, this
project will benefit vast areas of this district. So that experts say
the ultimate solution to this vexed problem would largely depend on the
construction of multi-purpose dam projects.
The short term floods management measures can only contain the flood
havoc to a reasonable degree and hence of the long term measures for a
permanent solution to this vexed problem is of utmost importance for the
overall economic development of this state.
HSLC candidates sue Assam Govt. to court
Ten examinees of HSLC (repeaters) examination of the
Sonitpur district have sued the State Government and some officials of the
Board of Secondary Education, Assam (SEBA), to the Gauhati High Court in
connection with a case relating to withholding of their results "due
to submission of false documents" here recently.
Talking to this reporter, sources alleged that, the
Lohitmukh centre head of HSLC (repeaters) examination-2001 "has
issued false documents along with application forms for appearing the
exam. Having verified latter on the matter came to light and hence their
results were withheld. Generally, the failed candidates appear for the
repeaters exam. Their previous admit cards are used in the examination.
Either knowingly or unknowingly, the exam centre head, made many mistakes
by putting one candidate's roll number to another. For instance, the
roll number of Mr. Pallab Baruah (R 7 304 No. 0103) has been used by
another examinee Mr. Nipen Baruah, whose result is withheld".
So, these candidates of the Lohitmukh Higher Secondary
School, Gohpur in the Sonitpur district, have sued the State Government
(represented by the Commissioner and Secretary to the Government of Assam,
Education Department), Chairman of SEBA, Controller of SEBA and the
Principal of Lohitmukh Higher Secondary School, Gohpur at the Gauhati High
Court in the Civil Extra-ordinary Jurisdiction, case vide WP (C) No.
5711/2001. A Petition under article 226 of the Constitution of India for
issuance of writ in the nature of Mandamus and or or directions of like
nature has been addressed to RS Mongia, Chief Justice (Acting), Gauhati
High Court recently. The writ petition mentioned the violation of Article
14 and 21 of the Constitution of India, violation of the principles of
natural justice and non-declaration of results of HSLC (repeaters)
examination 2001, in respect of the petitioners.
According to the writ petition, the petitioners
submitted their application forms appearing in the said examination which
was commenced from December 4, 2001.
"They filled up their forms at Lohitmukh Higher
Secondary School. The application forms of the petitioners, were duly sent
to the SEBA, Guwahati within the prescribed time period. They were issued
admit cards for the HSLC (R) examination 2001 which commenced from
December 4, 2000 on Monday," stated in the petition.
The petitioners have been represented by Mr. Mritunjay
Saikia, (an examinee bearing Roll R-7 304 No 0211, son of Kinaram Saikia
of Lohitmukh village, Gohpur). Other petitioners are Md Nakibuddin Ahmed,
Nabajyoti Konwar, Ms. Dipa Bhuyan, Golap Das, Nipen Baruah, Jun Borah,
Gangaram Das, Hirumoni Borah and Jadab Borah.
Human rights violation by CBI DIG alleged
Mr. Harikrishnan Yadav, a constable inducted in CBI, on
deputation from Arunachal Pradesh Police, has reportedly become the victim
of Mr. KC Kanungo, DIG, CBI, Guwahati. Violating human rights, Mr. Yadav
was forced to do the personal works viz. working in kitchen, cleaning
utensils and others, by the DIG, at his residence.
Sources close to Arunachal Pradesh police said that,
Mr. Yadav, was mentally depressed and therefore left his job and went to
his native village in Haryana.
He has intelligently sent a registered letter in INLAND
LETTER to the DIG elaborating that he was highly harassed by the
latter. He is unable to continue his job. The DIG was, thus, urged to
inform his parent department in Arunachal Pradesh and the SP office of CBI
at Sundarpur, Guwahati," sources said.
That is, the original letter, which has been written by
Harikrishan Yadav in Hindi and sent to the DIG/CBI/Guwahati, goes :
"I have been tortured mentally by your above order. Though I was
continuously present, yet, I was threatened to make absent from duty.
While ordering me to go to your residence, I had been ordered to clean
your dirty utensils, cook food, sweep your house and bring groceries from
market. These works do not fall within the ambit of normal duties in the
CBI. By your aforesaid order, you have attempted to take away my life, as
I am unable to have food in time. You must be aware that, lunch means
mid-day meal which cannot be had at 10 p.m. Further, you are also aware
that, I am staying here without family and after rising in the morning one
could finish cooking etc. not earlier than 8.30. However, you, by misusing
your office, ordered me to come to your residence for aforesaid job from
7.30 a.m. to 9 p.m. continuously."
In another letter addressed to the Chairman of the
National Human Rights Commission, New Delhi, concerned quarters of the
city said that, Mr. Yadav resigned his post for the 'alleged'
exploitation by Mr. Kanungo.
"Mental torture, violation of human rights and
dignity, misuse and abuse of official position in extraction of domestic
works, like cleaning of floor and utensil, washing of clothes, cooking,
sweeping etc. are under guise of security aid duty from constable of CBI
by Mr. Kanungo," the specific letter, which was sent to the Human
Rights Commission, stated.
"Constable Yadav came on deputation to CBI from
Arunachal Pradesh Police in July 2000, and was illegally and in blatant
misuse and abuse of official power, was deputed at the hired residence of
Mr. Kanungo to perform domestic works like cooking, cleaning of utensils,
sweeping of floor, washing clothes etc. from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. As
the timings of the said illegal duties severely hampered the victim's
meal timings, he requested for the change of duty or at least duty by
rotation with other constable, but the request was refused, and instead,
the victim was threatened with disciplinary proceedings and premature
repatriation to parent department with spoilt ACR," the letter
Why Assam Forensic Science Dept. lagging behind in
lab up-gradation race?
A section of school teachers, under plan category in
the state are demanding to the authorities concerned that they should be
absorbed under non-plan category. Ironically, the Science Department of
the State is on the other hand urging the State Government to convert
its non-plan budgetary expenditure into plan expenditure.
"The full-fledged office of the Forensic Science
Department, here is the only one of its kind in the entire North-east.
However, Manipur and Meghalaya are the other two states in the region
where offices of the department have been started recently. Thus, the
Forensic Science Department, an important wing of the State police
Department, has been playing an important role in investigating into
crimes in the investigation of about 1,500 crime cases per annum,"
said Dr Kamaleswar Goswami, former Director of the department.
At present, the office has ten departmental sections,
such as, General Chemical Analysis, Narcotic, Drugs & psychiatric,
Toxicology, Explosives, General Physics, Ballistics, Photography,
Instruments, Biology, Serology and Documentation.
"All white colour crimes, like signature
forgery, handwriting, figure addition etc. are being investigated by the
Documentation section of the Forensic Science Department. However, most
of the cases are related to the Documentation section," remarked Dr
Talking to this reporter he informed, "there was
a time when other states used to accept the Forensic Science Department
of the state as a model department for its modernisation drive.
Unfortunately, it has failed to cope up with the advancements in
forensic science compared to other states.
The laboratory equipments of the Forensic Science
Department, which are widely used in investigating crimes, have become
outdated nowadays. In fact, the forensic laboratory needs to be upgraded
and hence the department requires regular financial assistance."
"Generally, development funds for the department
comes from the Central Government in different ways. The State
Government keeps them under the head of plan budgetary expenditure. As a
result, the department does not get fund in time and fails to cope up
with the fast upgradation spree brought to other states like Andhra
Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu etc. The department, in
other states, is getting assistance under the head of plan expenditure
and hence their progress rate is faster than Assam," said the
former Director. He also quipped, "The equipments for Deoxy Driebo
Nucleic Acid (DNA) Test have been already installed in different states
of the country. But Assam could not install these equipments for DNA
Test due to fund crunch situation. However, the state is sending cases
to Kolkata of DNA Test. The cost of a DNA Test is about Rs. 15,000 to
Notably, the Centre directed the State governments to
decentralise the activities of the Forensic Science Department. The
Central Government has also asked the states to start mobilise unit of
the department in every district. The employees of the department are
urging both the State Government and Central Government to set up three
regional or zonal forensic science laboratories in Jorhat, Silchar and
Anti-Assam policy of public sector banks hits
industry captains hard
It is quite a routine for a general loan applicant to
face disappointment when he applies for a bank loan even with sufficient
collateral/guarantee. But applications submitted by a certain section of
loan aspirants on the North-east are generously approved without anybody
asking for any mortgage? This has thrown the banking business in the
region into complete disarray. It is widely alleged that bankers are not
coming forward to initiate 'adequate steps' for the speedy recovery
of doubtful debts in the hope that the Debts Recovery Tribunal (DRT)
will make all arrangements for recovering debts in cases involving
amounts of Rs. 10 lakh and above.
Sources said that in most cases the banks do not have
adequate collateral papers or the mortgage documents of the doubtful
Shockingly, in a number of cases the banks have not
even bothered to record the address of the defaulting loaners.
The DRT is reputedly fed up of sending notices to
such borrowers. Some loaners have taken loan from the same bank under
different names as well. This is one of the root cause that has
adversely affected the "loan advancing mechanism" of public
sector banks and allied financial institution.
Sources further pointed out, "When common man
approaches a banker for a loan, the latter observes many formalities
even after an employer issues a guarantee for government employee
applying for a loan, the banker refuses to grant the loan. But how a big
influential and man of lower integrity gets loan speedily. Everything is
fixed. This is the real scene."
Citing an example, the source averred that a
particular defaulting borrower has taken two loans of Rs.5 lakhs each
from the Uco Bank in Nagaon. The DRT was dealing the case last year. The
DRT could not find sufficient collateral against the loans. If the
defendant (loaner) runs away, the tribunal would not be able to recover
the doubtful debts.
Contradicting these allegations a senior banker of
the State Bank of India said that the management takes internal
disciplinary actions against officers found guilty of flouting norms
while sanctioning loans. But due to fear of disciplinary actions many
bankers do not sanction loan to genuine and honest borrowers and hence
the economy of the state has completely come to standstill. On the one
hand, there is no generation of employment, whereas, on the other hand
willing entrepreneurs and son of the soil are denied credit on one
pretext or other. everything lies in the mercy of the Branch Manager of
Whereas bankers say that the alarming increase of
Non-Performing assets (NPA) of Rs. 60,000 crore ( approx) has blocked
So to rescue the banks from the NPA burden, Union
Ministry of Finance set up the DRT in 1993. The NPA burden is the reason
for PSU banks imposing a "ban-type-bar" on advancing loans
ordinary loan applicants and closing their loan sanctions in certain
branches. Taking shelter of NPA and fear of disciplinary actions,
approach of the bankers in the State is completely negative and
Importantly, the entrepreneurs and industrial
captains of Northeast have already voiced their concerns about the
inadequate flow of funds from the banking institutions in the respective
States. The dismal performance of the banks in the N-E states is a cause
of concern for the government and people.
The bank deposits in Assam has shot up from Rs.3620
crore to Rs.9762 crore in the last six years. But the credit deposit
ratio( CD ratio) has unfortunately slide down to 33.09% from 37.88 %
during the same period.
The CD ratio is one of the important measuring rod to
assess the role of banking system in an economy. It is the difference
between quantum of credits and the quantum of deposits. Notably, a few
bankers claimed that the CD ratio is not the actual indicator of bank
performance in an economy. To assess the actual performance of the
banks, investments under different heads by the concerned banks should
be taken into account. Credit + investment : deposits ratio stood at
44.66% as in December 2000, again showing a decline of 1.42% over the
previous quarter. This was stated in a report of State Level Bankers
But they failed to explain what investment they have
done in Assam and other North-Eastern states. None of the big projects
coming under the North East Industrial Package are taken quickly. As a
result, the cost overburden due to delay in sanction and delay in
disbursement increased extremely and gave a death blow to the units.
Understanding from the Assam Financial Corporation
sources it is learnt that they have no money to lend as they depend on
the government for funds and annual collecting of Rs. 8 crore (approx)
from recovery of old dues is paid in salaries and establishment
expenditure. This fund is utilised for development activities in the
State which could have promoted industrialization and generate more
Having said that the CD ratio in Assam fares poorly
in comparison to all India average. Many think-tanks says the CD ratio
is down in the State due to poor recovery rate of the loans for the loaners.
On the whole, the Assam banking sector is heading
towards a bleak future.
India March 2000
India September 2000
Source : RBI Buletins
First Multipurpose Project Of North-East -
Rehabilitation Problem Hits Hard Pagladiya Project
The 100 % Central Government-sponsored Pagladiya Dam Project,
the first multipurpose Dam project in Northeast, is reeling under a
standstill situation as a certain section of people of the project site
has directly opposed the Centre's call to leave the villages in return
resettlement and rehabilitation (R & R) package. The Centre is ready
to pay Rs 47.89 crore under the R & R scheme to the 3,271 families
living in 26 villages of the project. Notably, 19 villages have been
fully affected and 7 villages have been partially affected. In fact,
majority section of the masses want to take the advantage of R & R
package and let the Centre to start the project work at the earliest. It
is only the section of few big landlords, who will not get the
compensation under the R & R scheme, is obstructing the work. These
landlords have also set up a body 'Pagladiya Prakalpar Khatigrastha
Alekar Sangram Samity' on the line of Medha Patekar's body on Kaveri
water dispute. This was stated by a highly-placed official of the
'The Project envisages construction of a 26.20 metre high rolled
fill earthen dam at Thalkuchi village, about 26 km north of Nalbari
district town of Assam. The total length of the project is 23 km. The catchments
area intercepted at the dam site is 570 square km of which 381
square km lies in the Bhutan territory. A concrete ogee shaped spillway
with 10 bays of 10 metre each will be provided with radial gates of size
10m*10.5m. The crest level of the spillway has been fixed at E1 77.00m,'
said the official.
Regarding the benefits of the dam plan, he averred the Pagladiya
River has been causing immense miseries to the people living in 190
villages of 5 revenue circles of the Nalbari district by inundating
about 40,000 hectare of cultivable land almost every year. The rail and
road communications are also snapped as a result of flood thereby
cutting off the entire Northeast from the rest of the country for days
together disrupting movement of essential commodities. On analysis of
the flood damage data available with the Brahmaputra Board for nearly 20
years, it reveals that the average annual direct flood damage is of the
order of Rs 16.42 crore at 1999 price level. The losses are mainly crop
damage, damage to private property and loss of livestock etc. With the
Pagladiya Dam in position, the entire area of 40,000 hectare land is
likely to be provided protection against chronic flood problem of the
The existing irrigation schemes in the right bank of the Pagladiya
are inadequate and the area is badly in the need of assured irrigation.
The project will create an additional irrigation potential of 54,160
hectare. About 22,000 households in 149 villages in the Nalbari district
will be benefited. The average annual extra cereal production would be
1,39,858 metric tonnes. In economic terms, an additional output if Rs
83.27 crore is expected, said the official.
The incidental hydropower generation of the project is 3 MW at 50 %
load factor. The annual energy generation will be of the order of 8.64
Gwh. The revenue from the incidental hydel power is expected to be about
Rs 2.94 crore per annum, he remarked.
The project will also cater direct and indirect jobs arising out of a
rise in the cropping intensity. The total employment generation will be
around 215 lakh man-days. The R&R package is also to provide for
training and institutional finance for the 'Project Affected People
(PAP), which will also be provided with better accommodation with all
necessary infrastructures in the R&R sites, which is likely to
improve their overall socio-economic health. In short, the
implementation of the first ever multipurpose project will bring
all-round development in the entire sub-basin, claimed the official.
Having said that the project stands in 26 villages of two circles of
Nalbari district. They are Polokata, Uparcharia, Barbhera, Roumari,
Kadanga, No.1 Darangapar, Charan Jungle, Kandulimari, Namchariya,
Simlabari, No. 2 Darangapor, Ambari Sarubhera, Katahbari, Paddapara,
Matangapar, Kumar Para, Kuhipar, Borkajuli and Sirishghutu under
Tamulpur circle. The Baska circle comprises Gerua, Thalkuchi, Adla,
Borikadanga, Madaltana, Simlabari and Uttarpara. The Brahmaputra Board
has also chalked out a model village at Angarakata for rehabilitation of
Importantly, the Union Cabinet (Cabinet Committees on Economic
Affairs) has already approved the project at a cost of Rs 542.90 crore
for implementation by the Brahmaputra Board.
The Board officials approached the Congress Government of the state
for extending adequate support to execute the project. Meanwhile, Chief
Minister Tarun Gogoi hinted at positive response to the proposal of the
Board in execution of the project soon.
Public-private debate bugs bank
workers in North-east 'Non-repayment of bank loans by
surrendered militants of NE is becoming a matter of concern'
Going private or remaining nationalized? The opinions
are sharply divided. While the Union government is a strong advocate of
privatization, the employees are dead against it.
The employees in the North-east, especially Assam,
too apparently hold the same view. They are also of the view, that the
North-east itself will be a great loser, not to speak of the employees.
Talking to Vedanti.com, General Secretary of the
Assam Provincial Bank Employees Association, Ajanta Bordoloi said, the
main motto of private companies is profit maximization and they will
cater only those areas which are already developed. Social consideration
of extending banking facilities in rural areas, will have to take a
back-seat. More and more branches in backward areas will be closed down,
deposits will be diverted and the North-east, because of its
geographical and economic isolation, will be deprived of banking
benefits, he said.
The credit deposit ratio (CDR) in the North-eastern
region, will decline further if liquidation of government stake in the
banking sector is approved, Bordoloi, feared.
He said the CDR, in backward States has already
fallen and regional imbalances are increasingly becoming visible, during
the last three years due to liberalized policies of the government. The
States in the North-eastern region, received lesser credit from the
It may be mentioned here, that in 1997, the CDR in
the North-east was 32.1 percent, while in 2000, it came down to 27.7
percent. In comparison, the CDR for Northern region which was 48.4
percent during 1997, which went up to 58 percent during 2000. The
western part also recorded a higher growth rate- from 67.2 percent in
1997, to 74.1 percent in the year 2000.
In this year's Union Budget, Union finance Minister
Yashwant Sinha, spelt out the government policy on public sector
banks-first, the reduction of government share to 33 percent and second,
restructuring of identified weak banks as per recommendations of the
Verma Committee report.
Though the finance Minister, assured that even after
reduction of government equity to 33 percent, the public sector
character of the banks will be maintained, yet the most of the 13 lakh
employees think the step will be a disastrous one and at the same time
will be misleading the people of the country.
The United Forum of Bank Unions, in a memorandum
submitted to the President of India, earlier, has opposed privatization
on the ground that giving multinational companies substantial access to
domestic savings and selective privatization, where there is
"privatization of profits and nationalisation of losses" ,
will ultimately weaken the ability of the State to efficiently intervene
in the economy in favour of vast majority of the people.
Reducing government equity in public sector banks to
33 percent will virtually transform the present 27 nationalised banks
into private banking companies and in that case the very purpose of
banks' nationalization will be defeated, the memorandum pointed out.
The memorandum also said that, privatization will
deprive the poor and down-trodden of the banking services. It alleged
that, the depositors are being driven out in a calculated manner to
other profitable investment avenues like mutual funds, share market etc.
By reducing the interest rates on various deposits.
Bordoloi alleged that, the bank deposits are being
increasingly diverted from backward areas and invested for more profits
in lucrative areas, which have improved infrastructure facilities and
as a result the regional disparities are rising.
To a question as to why are some nationalised banks
suffering losses, Bordoloi said, the major defaulters of loans are the
industrialists and big businessmen. Non-performing assets (NPA) of the
public sector banks were around Rs. 53,000 crore, as on March, 2000. Of
this about Rs. 35,000 crore are owned by big borrowers and large
corporate houses. They have the capacity to repay but are not repaying.
If the amount is recovered the public sector banks in India will not
suffer shortage of capital and will be healthier, he said.
He said the private sector which contributes only 3.6
percent of the bank deposits enjoy more than 50 percent of the banks
advance. "If banks are privatised they can assume absolute control
over the deposits of nationalised banks".
It may be mentioned that, 69.2 percent of the bank
deposits are contributed by household sector, comprising individuals and
small depositors. Out of Rs. 7,37,310 crore, total deposits of the
nationalised banks as on March 2000, the household sector contributed Rs.
5,10,000 crore whereas, the share of private corporate sector was only
Rs. 26,000 crore.
Bordoloi said, for recovery of non-performing assets
and to check indiscipline and favoritism in disbursing loans, the United
Forum of Bank Unions, has proposed setting up a 'national audit
commission' for independent audit system. But the government has paid
no heed to this.
On the loans recovery rate in Assam, he said like in
other States of the country, the non-recovery of loans here mainly lies
with the big businessmen. But, in recent years, the non-repayment of
bank loans by the surrendered militants of the North-east, whom loans
were given as part of rehabilitation package and where the State
Governments stood as guarantor, is becoming a matter of concern.
Bordoloi said, there can be no parallel to public
sector banking as it is the lifeline of our economy and a symbol of
faith and confidence of common masses. "We cannot think of Indian
economy without public sector banking just we can't think of Indian
agriculture without Ganga, Godavari, Krishna and Kaveri."
He went on to add that the two main reasons for
preparing the nationalised banks for ultimate sell-off-- to cleanse the
balance sheets of the burden of non-performing assets and to reduce
Refuting the allegations, that a section of bank
employees are apathetic to customers and rude in their behavior,
Bordoloi, replied that his union has accorded utmost priority to
customer-services and asked all employees to improve services to
He said as number of bank employees is being reduced
day by day and with no further recruitment, the work pressure has
increased manifold and it has also become difficult to render timely
services to the customers at counters.
On computerization of banking services, Bordoloi,
said his union is not against computerization, but it should be done in
a rational manner. Massive computerization will render thousands of
employees as surplus and the scope for expansion of banking services to
non-banking areas will be hampered, he pointed out.
Ex- ATC CMD misused NABARD loan
The annual production of the tea estates of Assam Tea
Corporation has been decreasing since 1996. According to ATC records, the
annual sales turn over of the ATC was 68.53 lac Kg in 1996, 63.49 lac Kg
in 1997, 67.88 lac Kg in 1998, 60.98 lac Kg in 1999, 52.55 lac Kg in 2000,
and 10.80 lac Kg upto the first week of August, 2001. The average auction
rate per Kg of the ATC tea is also not encouraging. The average price of
ATC tea per Kg was Rs.51.30 in 1996, Rs.74.93 in 1997, Rs.71.62 in 1998,
Rs. 75.27 in 1999, Rs. 62.49 in 2000, and Rs.70.14 upto the first week of
It is quite unfortunate that the ATC has to store about
12 lac Kg of tea in the garden as it could not purchase jute bags for
packaging, due to present fund crunch situation. The ATC is seeking Rs. 15
crore for new plantation in the unused plots of land in 15 tea estates as
a long term measure.
The ATC Employees Union has alleged that Mr. Abani
Bargohain, the former Chairman-cum Managing Director of the ATC had
misused a major share of the NABARD loan of Rs. 13 crore during the period
from 1993 to 1996.
"Actually, the NABARD granted the loan for
plantation purpose. But Mr. Bargohain diverted a major part of the loan in
purchasing cars, buying land, constructing building etc. As a result, the
liabilities of the ATC has gone up to over Rs. 54 crore, to date. The ATC
was in a better position in a rented house at Housefed, where the monthly
maintenance expenditure was only Rs. 14,000. The present building has been
constructed, in such a way that its maintenance charge shot up to Rs.
22,000 per month. This is the root cause of present financial crisis of
ATC," claimed Mr. Tirthanath Das, General Secretary and Mr. Robin
Das, vice-president of the ATC Union.
Even though, the employees of the ATC has not yet
received salaries since last six months, still, they are struggling to
work hard in association with Mr. Lakhinath Tamuly, Managing Director of
ATC, who has already initiated a set of drastic measures recently, in
order to revive the loss making PSU (Public Sector Unit).
"There are many loopholes in the ATC. Currently
there is a greater share of unused plots of land in fifteen tea estates of
the PSU. Tea plantation can be widened to these plots of land in order to
raise the total production. However, there is no flow of fund. The ATC is
still to obtain Rs.2 crore from the State Government. Again, most of the
tea plants are over hundred years old. The corporation failed to meet the
increasing requirements of inputs like fertilizers of the tea estates.
That is, the production as well as the quality of the tea gardens are
decreasing day by day, due to inadequate supply of inputs to them. Owing
to the overcrowded nature of the ATC gardens, the cost of production of
per kilogram of tea, at present, is higher than the output of private tea
estates in the state. The production cost of per kg of tea is Rs. 75-80 in
ATC tea estates and Rs. 55-60 in private tea estates. There is 20% leakage
of ATC fund towards the labour and wages too. Above all, the ATC has to
buy inputs at a higher prices on account of previous debt liabilities.
That is, the companies charge higher prices including the invisible
interest on the outstanding debt. In plain language, both the quality and
output of the ATC gardens have fallen and hence the prices for finished
tea products also declined," they informed.
"In the meantime, the Managing Director has
initiated a set of drastic measures relating to a reduction in the
unnecessary expenditure on the heads of fuel expenditure, outgoes for
servants, entertainment and contributions towards provident funds. This
has led to a significant reduction in expenditure. Mr. Tamuly is all set
to utilise the staff in marketing. These are out and out commendable steps
for reviving the ATC. We will also co-operate him in the future. We have
already urged the Chief Minister, Tarun Gogoi, to keep him as a full time
MD for four years,"stated, the Union leaders.
Job plan of ex-CM likely to be dropped
The much-publicised Chief Minister Swaniyojan Yojana for 2000-2002 on
generation of self-employment for unemployed youth, is likely to be
dropped by bank officials in the State soon. On the eve of last Assembly
polls, former Chief Minister, P.K Mahanta, launched it in the hope to
generate 39,409 direct employment opportunities in the state. The
financial involvement of the scheme was to be to the tune of Rs. 161.79
crore. For the balance amount assistance from the Central Government would
have been sought.
Since a few nationalised banks, like the Central Bank of India, have
decided not to participate in the scheme, as they did not receive any
approval from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). Some senior bank officials
told this reporter that, the previous State Government introduced the job
without the consent of the Central Government and the RBI. As a result,
the bankers think it is better to drop the scheme as it contains many
Sources close to the RBI said that the apex bank wrote to the
Commissioner of Planning Department of Assam, seeking a few requirements
like the consent of the Central Government about the scheme.
" Since the scheme has no consent of the Central Government, hence
we could not write to our head office in Mumbai. That is, the Central
Office of the RBI will not give approval to the scheme until and unless
the Planning Commission has reply to our queries. Therefore, the scheme
may die between announcement and implementation of the same. Launch does
not mean implementation," sources remarked.
They also informed, " The state-level Bankers' Committee meeting
which was held on June 29, decided to reject the self-employment scheme on
the ground of some shortfalls. According to bankers, the scheme does not
depict the maximum limit (or monetary ceiling) of a particular loan. It
does not focus on how the beneficiaries will be identified. A clear-cut
picture on the share of margin money or seed money by the State Government
has not been spelt out. The Central Bank of India, has decided not to
participate in the absence of the RBI. The recovery rate of the loans
under rehabilitation of the misguided youth is almost nil. Considering
these limitation, the bankers declined to participate in the proposed
Another bank official said that the scheme has no new
impetus in it as all sub-clauses of the scheme could be better realised in
the PMRY, SHGs, SJGSY and so on.
Mahanta played with graft games with tribal fund: Tribal Sangha
The leaders of All Assam Tribal Sangha (AATS) have severely lambasted
at P.K Mahanta, former Chief minister of Assam alleging that his government
had misappropriated a huge amount of funds allotted for the socio-economic
upliftment of the tribal areas during the last three financial years.
Talking to this reporter Mr. Aditya Khaklari, general secretary of the
AATS said, " It has been observed that during the past three years
crores of rupees meant for the development of tribal sub-plain (TSP) areas
have been misappropriated or not utilized."
He said that the previous government had carried a large scale
misappropriation of funds meant for TSP development.
"The amount meant for infrastructure and socio-economic
development of the TSP villages was Rs. 40,978.94 lack during the
financial years 1997-98, 1998-99 and 1999-20. Although, an amount of Rs.
33,925.89 lack was shown to have been spent for development works, no
significant and mentionable development can be seen in these areas. On the
other hand, there is no mention of the un-spent balance, amounting to Rs.
7,053.05 lacks in the utilisation reports. The integrated Tribal
Development Project (ITDP) being the sole implementing agency for TSP
areas development schemes, these schemes have not been successfully
implemented due to administrative and ministerial callousness and
intervention. Therefore, improper utilisation of these schemes has lead to
massive stagnation of any development works in the tribal area," he
" It has become a practice of the State Government to integrate
Special Central Assistance (SCA) funds into the State Plan Budget, thereby
diverting these funds towards other departments or refund entire allotted
amounts to the central Government unutilised. Lastly, the State Government
has not released the SCA money to various implementing agencies (viz.
Assam Plains Tribes Development Corporation, Assam Tribal Development
Authority, Welfare of Plain Tribes & Backward Classes) amounting to Rs.
1,627.00 lack meant for 2000-2002," he remarked.
A team of delegates of the Co-ordination Committee of Tribal
Organisations of Assam will leave for New Delhi tomorrow, to discuss and
take up matters concerning : withdrawal of office memorandum No. 2011/1/96
Estt (D) dt. 30/01/97 regarding discrepancy in promotion and seniority of
ST & SC Government employees ; to demand a special recruitment drive
for ST & SC to normalise back-log position ; to demand high-level
inquiries to investigate misuse/misappropriation of SCA and TSP funds ; to
urge for immediate solutions to various long-standing socio-economic and
development problems," Mr. Khaklari added.
Landmark Judgment against CBI
In a significant move, the Central Administrative
Tribunal (CAT), Guwahati bench, passed an order directing the Central
Investigating Bureau (CBI) to pay salary for the month of October 1999
to Mr Suresh Pal Singh Yadav, an inspector on deputation from the Uttar
Pradesh Police in connection with a case vied 'Original Application
' No. 137 of 2000, recently. The court has also ordered the nodal
investigating agency to pay a sum of Rs. 1,000 as cost to Mr Yadav. The
order was passed by justice D.N. Choudhury, vice-chairman of CAT and Mr
K.K. Sharma, an administration member of the court. The suit was moved
by advocates Mr B.K. Sharmah, MR P.K. Tiwari and Mr S Sarmah for Mr
Yadav. Contrariwise, Mr B. C. Pathak pleaded for the respondents (of
CBI). The respondents include the Union of India through the secretary
to the government of India, Ministry of Personnel and Training, New
Delhi, Director, CBI, New Delhi, deputy inspector general (DIG), CBI,
Guwahati; superintendent of police, CBI, Anti-Corruption Branch,
Guwahati and administrative officer (East), CBI, Government of India,
administrative division, New Delhi.
The only controversy included in this application
pertains to the payment of salary of the applicant for October 1999. The
applicant served as an inspector of police under the respondents on
deputation. On completion of his deputation, the applicant was
repatriated to his parent department, which was a subject matter of a
separate original application since disposed of. By this application,
the applicant has moved this tribunal for a direction for payment of his
salary for the period from October 1, 1999 to October 28 1999. In the
application, it was inter alia stated that on September 30, 1999 at late
night the applicant felt severe chest pain and irritation. The nearest
CGHS dispensary from the applicant's residence at Guwahati was located
at a distance of 7 to 8 km. It has also been stated that the applicant
was not registered in any of the CGHS dispensary and, therefore he was
taken to the nearest available doctor of Guwahati Medical College
Hospital (GMCH), who stayed very close to the applicant's residence.
He continued to be under treatment, and on being declared medically fit,
he joined duty on October 29, 1999. He submitted his joining report on
October 27, 1999 along with necessary documents and the medical papers
requesting the respondent authority to grant him 28 days medical leave.
Since the respondents didn't respond to it and salary for the
aforesaid period was not paid, the applicant moved this OA for
appropriate remedy," said the order.
However, the respondents including the CBI DIG,
Gawahati, K.C Kunango, contested the case and disputed the claim of the
applicant. According to the respondents, the leave of the applicant was
unauthorized and, therefore, the respondent did not commit any
irregularity. The respondent also contested the admissibility of medical
leave for the aforesaid period.
"We thought that this matter could be sorted out
by the authority, more so, in view of the fact that the applicant is now
repatriated to his parent department and the matter should have been
amicably resolved by the department. The respondent on the other hand,
took a very obdurate stand and stated that the claim for medical leave
was not permissible since the applicant did not submit any authorised
medical certificate", remarks Justice Choudhary in the order.
According to the respondents, the leave was not
permissible under the (C.C.S) Rule, 1972. Admittedly, these rules are
not applicable so far as deputationist is concerned and deputationist
are guided by the parent department. The very C.C.S leave rules, on
which the respondents relied upon also indicate that leave can be
granted on medical certificate made by a non-gazette government servant
accompanied by a medical certificate in form 4 given by an authorised
medical attendant or a registered medical practitioner (RMP).
"Admittedly, the applicant was examined and
treated in the GMCH and also by one doctor Mrs. Rupali Baruah, an
assistant professor of GMCH. Instead of relying on the medical
certificate issued by the aforesaid assistant professor who treated the
applicant, the respondents made certain queries and took time
investigating the matter and obtaining a report from Dr. B.K Baruah, the
superintendent of GMCH as to the credentials of Dr. Rupali Baruah. The
communication dated May 4, 2000 sent by Dr. B.K Baruah to the SP of CBI
also indicated that Dr. Rupali Baruah was an officer of the rank of
assistant professor, GMCH and therefore, the medical certificate issued
by her to the applicant was not related with the GMCH. The report,
however, did not indicate that Dr. Rupali Baruah was not a registered
practitioner. The respondents instead of engaging themselves to other
important issues, were more confined to some irrelevant and extraneous
issues", the order stated.
"On hearing Mr. R.K Tiwari, learned counsel of
Mr. Yadav and Mr. B.C Pathak, learned additional CGSC, the respondents
are directed to take necessary steps for payment of salary of the
applicant on the basis of the medical certificate submitted by Mr. Yadav
without insisting for any other certificate from CGHS. The respondents
are directed to take necessary steps for payments of salary of the
applicant for the aforesaid period within two weeks from the date of
receipt of the order", it read.
The court further added that the suit is accordingly
allowed and the respondents are directed to pay cost of Rs. 1000 to the
applicant. It was thus a landmark judgment against CBI.
Smugglers smuggling timber through goods trains, security
problem hits hard Rly tracks before Aug 15
Rangia: Mobile employees of the Indian Railways working in the BAC area
are passing through a uncertain life as the 15th August is fast nearing in
these days. They are, indeed, suffering from "fear psychosis"
that the ultras may explode bombs in the railway tracks before the
celebration of ensuing Independence Day on August 15th next. Most of the
employees coming from other states, especially from Delhi on the
four-day-long duty in the Rajdhani Express, hesitate to come in this route
before January 26 and August 15.
A mobile official told this reporter on the condition of anonymity that
all the mobile staff of the Rajdhani Express belongs to the Northern
"Since the railway tracks in the BAC area has become a soft target
of the Bodo ultras, hence no staff intends to come to Assam. Generally,
the staff decline to join their duties, especially on the eve of
Independence Day and Republic Day. 'Though, we are passing through hard
days yet we are bound to come to Assam. Our Company is running pilot
engines just ahead of the train in between Fakiragram and Guwahati for
safety. As a result, the Railways had to afford a huge expenditure,"
said the official.
He also added that most of the employees seek leave just before the
I-Day and R-Day to avoid a possible attack on the railway tracks in the
According to him, the Railways beef up security coverage when a major
incident takes place, but lifts the security coverage a few days later.
"This is not good for the safety of the passengers and for us
too," he remarked.
Regarding the smuggling in between Rangiya and Rangapara (from
Mishamari to Goreshwar) a senior officer of the Government Railway Police
Force (GRPF) said that it has been declined by adopting adequate security
"The smugglers can no more smuggle timber logs in the passenger
trains. The SPs of the respective districts had been instructed to
initiate steps to curb this problem and hence it is on the decline. However,
they smuggle through the goods train by disconnecting the air vacuum (hose
pipe) of the train concerned," the GRPF official added.
In fact, the smugglers open a vacuum of the goods train and the train
stops. Then they load the timber logs on the wagons, they then connect the
vacuum pipes so the driver can run it. Interestingly, neither the driver
nor the guard comes down from the train fearing attack bid by
heavily-armed smugglers. Earlier, they used to smuggle even through the
passengers trains too.
AIDS Assuming an Alarming Shape In North-East
Uleka Begam, a 21-year old sex-worker was not keeping well for the last
days. Dressed in a synthetic sari and loud make-up, she was looking for a
lady doctor around the streets of Paltan Bazar area in the city.
Fortunately, she met a lady doctor and informed her about the physical
problems she was facing. The doctor examined and found she was 'HIV
positive'. The story is just an example of a dusky bane on human
life-AIDS. There are many like painful stories occurring everyday which we
donot come across.
According to a report of Assam AIDS Control Society, the number of AIDS
cases reported in Assam stands at 95. So far, among the North-Eastern
States, Manipur has highest number of AIDS cases 732. The next in Nagaland
with 80 cases; Mizoram 16 cases; Meghalaya 9 cases; and Sikkim 2 cases.
Arunachal Pradesh and Tripura, till last year, officially have not
reported any case. But unofficially, there are at least 25 number of cases
confirmed in both the states.
AIDS cases in North-East (As on September 30, 2000)
(Source : Assam AIDS Control Society)
It is interesting to note that more than 31% are infected through
sexual intercourse, which is the main area of focus for AIDS prevention
and Control programme. In Manipur, 80% are affected due to inductive drug
use, though the national figure in this case is 4.34%. In Nagaland also,
the incidence of drug abuse is much higher. Transmission through blood and
blood products came down from around 8% in 1990 to 5% in 2000. This may be
due to increasing efforts of screening of blood.
Assam AIDS Control Society's assistant director Dr. H.C. Barman says,
earlier the disease was almost limited within particular group of people
like- commercial sex workers, injecting drug users, men having sex with
men, patients with sexually transmitted diseases (STD), homo-sexual,
heterosexual etc. 'Trend of HIV infection is now percolating towards
general population. Transmission from mother of child is increasing, says
It may be mentioned here, in Manipur, 2% pregnant women and in
Maharashtra around 4%, are found HIV positive. AIDS is now called as a
social disease because its transmission is associated with the biological
process of human life like, sexual acts, child birth and life saving
measures blood transmission and treatment.
According to doctors, HIV virus which causes AIDS is transmitted
through direct contract of blood and body fluids. This may happen in
sexual intercourse, contaminated blood transmission, use of unsterilised
needles and other instruments and from infected mother to child. As point
out by a city-based doctor M.K. Dutta 'the spread of HIV in North-East
is mainly due to sexual intercourse without using condom. However,
efficacy of transmission is also high in men having sex with men (MSM).
Here, the receptive partner is more likely to get infection because of
injuries and larger exposure of rectal mucous membrane'.
The disease, Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) was first
identified in 1981. The first indication was observed at Los Angeles among
five healthy homosexual male with profound fall of body's defense
mechanism. In 1982, cases among recipient of blood and few heterosexuals,
was discovered in Zaire. Various scientific studies have shown that the
disease is of African origin and it started spreading to America, Western
Europe, Australia and lastly to South-East Asia. At present, 122 countries
have reported HIV infected and AIDS cases.
Surveillance of HIV infection cases in North-East ( Source : Assam AIDS
( As on November 2000)
Rate per 1000
According to an estimate , over 34.3 million people in the world are
HIV/AIDS affected of which 95 percent live in developing world. The first
HIV positive case was detected in India in 1985 in Tamil Nadu. The very
next year, 18 AIDS cases were diagnosed in Mumbai. It is now estimated
that over 3.5 million people in India are HIV/AIDS patient.
Surveillance of AIDS cases in India (As on September 2000)
(Source : National AIDS Control Organisation Bulletin)
The North-Eastern region is slowly being engulfed by the tentacles of
deadly disease 'AIDS'. According to sources in the State AIDS Control
Society, it proper plans and programmes are not chalked out immediately,
the disease will assume an alarming proportions in the years to come.
Wake-up calls come only when a disaster strikes. North-East being
dominated by tribal population is already prone to subversive activities
like, drug abuse, trafficking, injecting etc. With Western living style
present largely among different sections, 'free sex' is not very much
uncommon here. What is therefore needed, is consciousness among the
growing youngsters. It is also a high time for the government to recognize
AIDS as a potential public health problem.
Kunal Kanti Bhattacharjee
Brahmaputra Board To Tap More Water Resources In North East
The Northeast is known as the storehouse of water resources. It has the
highest hydel power generation development potential in India. Since
agriculture is the mainstay of the region, there is ample scope for
improving irrigation facilities as well. The Brahmaputra valley,Barak
valley and a few riversides of Tripura are highly flood-prone areas. Like
every year, in this rainy season too, the relevance of countervailing
checks is gaining ground in these days. The Brahmaputra Board has to play
a vital role in these 'three' areas of this far-flung region. That is,
the Board is to tap country's maximum hydroelectricity here in this
region, curb flood havoc and improve irrigation system for an overall
development in the agrarian economy.
The Board has been working on Surveys, investigations and data
collection, preparation of master plan and project reports for
multipurpose development of water resources and drainage works since its
inception in 1982.
'However, the execution of these projects was not taken up. Of late,
development of infrastructure in the Northeast has been receiving
considerable attention of the Central Government. Consequently, the
expectation of the people of the region in regard to such projects have
increased considerably,' said A D Mohile, former Chairman of the
The Brahmaputra Board, an autonomous statutory body was set up under an
Act of Parliament i.e. Brahmaputra Board Act 1980 (46 of 1980) under the
Ministry of Irrigation (Now renamed as Ministry of Water Resources). The
jurisdiction of the Board includes both the Brahmaputra and Barak valley
and covers all states of the North Eastern Region either in full or in
part. The Board consists of 21 members out of which 4 are full time
members and 17 are part time members representing seven states of the
North Eastern, North Eastern Council, concerned ministries, viz. Ministry
of Water Resources, Agriculture, Finance, Power and Surface Transport and
few Departments of Government of India viz. Central Water Commission,
Geological Survey of India, India Meteorological Department and Central
A high powered Review Board to oversee the work of Brahmaputra Board
was constituted with the Union Minister of Water Resources as the Chairman
and Chief Ministers of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya,
Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura and Union Minister/Ministers of state for
Finance, Transport, Power, Agriculture, Water Resources, Secretary
Ministry of Water Resources, Chairman, Central Water Commission as members
and Chairman, Brahmaputra Board as member-secretary.
Thus the Board has to perform a number of functions such as :
(I) To carry out survey and investigations in Brahmaputra valley and to
prepare Master Plan for the control of floods, bank erosion and
improvement of drainage in the Brahmaputra valley.
(II) To prepare the Master Plan in part with reference to different
areas of the Brahmaputra valley or with reference to different matters
relating to such areas and may as often as, it considers necessary so to
do, review the Master Plan or any part thereof.
(III) To prepare Master Plan on development and utilization of water
resources of the Brahmaputra valley for irrigation, Hydro-power,
navigation and other beneficial purposes.
(IV) To submit Master Plan/revised Master Plan to Central Government
after consultation with State Governments concerned to approve the same,
subject to such modification as it may deem fit.
(V) To prepare detailed project report and estimates in respect of dams
and other projects in the Master Plan approved by the Central Government
and indicate in each case the cost attributable to different purposes or
(VI) To draw up standards and specifications for construction,
operation and maintenance of such dams and other projects.
(VII) To construct with the approval of the Central Government,
multipurpose dams and works connected there with proposed in the Master
Plan as approved by Central Govt. And maintain and operate such dams and
(VIII) To prepare in consultation with State Govt. Concerned, a phased
programme for the construction by the State Govt. Concerned, a phased
programme of all dams and other projects in the Master Plan as approved by
the Central Govt. Other than those referred in (VII) above.
(IX) The Board may maintain and operate any dam or project for so long
as it seems necessary to do so.
(X) To perform such other functions as are supple mental, incidental or
consequential to the functions as specified above.
AD Mohile : " Diversification of Board activities will play an
increasingly important role in the next few years. The basic functions of
investigation and planning requires strengthening. There is also a need
for Board officials to specialise in the modern contract management
concepts. Expertise in micro level planning for irrigation and drainage
would have to be developed. Some persons would have to be specialised in
hydraulic and material research in order to manage the North Eastern
Hydraulic and Allied Research Institute (NEHARI) of the Board. These will
present challenging task for the personnel of the Board.'