Mathur urges ultras to shun violence

GUWAHATI, Jan 28 – Assam Governor Shiv Charan Mathur, in his Republic Day address, appealed to those involved in insurgency and militancy to shun the path of violence and get involved in a negotiation process within the ambit of the Constitution. “We are committed to bring peace to Assam and shall keep our doors open for dialogue but we will not leave any stone unturned to fight anti-national forces,” he declared.

The Governor in his address at Latasil playground after hoisting the National Flag then spoke on the State’s preparedness to confront extremist violence. He mentioned that 9,000 posts of constables and 256 Sub-Inspectors in the Assam Police have been filled recently, while 45 new police stations have been notified. A new battalion, the 23rd AP (IR), has been raised and another sanctioned, he added.

With reference to the Assam Accord, Mathur, asserted that the Government was committed to its implementation “without causing any harassment to any genuine Indian citizen”. He revealed that the implementation of the NRC was going on and data entry of electoral rolls will soon be completed.

On expected lines the Governor’s address then went to dwell on a string of achievements of the State Government. A revenue surplus of Rs 2,581 crore and a fiscal surplus of Rs 554 crore in 2007-08, he said, indicated better financial consolidation. The annual plan for the current year witnessed increase of Rs 1,200 crore over the previous year that he reasoned would accelerate development.

On the crucial livelihood providing agriculture sector, Mathur alluded to the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana that seeks to rejuvenate agriculture and help achieve a growth rate of 2 per cent by the end of the 11th plan. He also stated that 25,000 ha of additional land have been brought under horticultural crops and there is a proposal to build a storage capacity of 62,000 MT to support horticultural activities.

As in the years before, floods and efforts to mitigate its effects did find mention in the Governor’s speech. He said, “While most of the schemes started for this purpose have been completed, 29 schemes under different sources are nearing completion. With the completion of these schemes, more than 35,000 ha of affected agriculture land will be protected.

Cooperatives and Panchayati Raj Institutions figured in the Governor’s speech along with the status of Self Help Groups. He pointed out that during the current year 15,867 SHGs were formed of which 5,624 were provided with subsidies and bank loans. This has increased the number of SHGs to 1.68 lakh in the Assam.

On the employment front, he stated his government’s efforts in the form of NREGA, Mukhya Mantrir Swaniyojan Achani and Kalpataru scheme. The Government has taken steps to fill up to 64,800 posts of different categories in the Government sector.

The State Government’s efforts in education found place in his speech to some extent. Sarva Siksha Abhiyan, he noted, aims at providing 10,758 additional class rooms and 2,799 girls’ toilets for elementary schools in the State. While new job-oriented courses will be introduced, infrastructure of universities and colleges is being improved, Mathur claimed.

On the area of environment and forests, the State Governor said, “Forest and wildlife are our precious heritage. The population of rhinos in the State has risen consistently to around 2,000 making this a conservation success. We are committed to protect and preserve our natural heritage.”

He informed that the Government has taken measures to improve the power scenario, which include the proposed commissioning of the 37 MW Lakwa Waste Heat Recovery Project this year. Two new thermal power plants of 250 MW capacity each are in the proposal stages, he added.

Commenting that health and welfare of women and children were among the priorities, Mathur said, “institutional delivery and immunisation programmes are our thrust areas”. Over 26,000 Accredited Social Activists (ASHA) have been mobilised towards this end. For the welfare of children, the number of Anganbadi centres in the State will be increased to 50,000.

Regarding the welfare of ST and other backward classes, he revealed that six new development councils for Ahoms, Muttucks, Morans, Koch Rajbongshis, Chutias and Adivasis are being set up, and another for the Gorkhas would follow.

Earlier at 9 am on a cold, cloud-covered day, the Governor unfurled the Tricolour in the presence of dignitaries including Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, and senior police and Army officials. He took the salute from several contingents of Assam Police, CRPF, NCC, scouts and guides. Ganesh Thapa, a deputy superintendent of the Assam Police commanded the Republic day parade.