Vehicles off the road in Assam

Guwahati: Life in Assam was affected on Tuesday as all kinds of public transport went off the road in response to a 24-hour bandh and general strike called by the All-India Road Transport Workers' Federation and the All-Assam Motor Transport Union, demanding immediate withdrawal of the hike in fuel prices.

The All-Assam Motor Transport Union has announced a 40 per cent hike in bus fares from July 1 if the Centre does not withdraw the fuel price hike or announce subsidies on the prices by Wednesday.

Animals flee flooded Kaziranga park

June 28 (IANS) Floodwaters of the mighty Brahmaputra Monday entered the Kaziranga National Park in Assam forcing scores of endangered animals to escape to safer areas, officials said.

'A vast stretch of the Kaziranga National Park is under water. Animals are migrating from the sanctuary to an adjoining hill for safety,' a park warden said.

As per the 2009 census report, 2,048 of the world's estimated 3,000 one-horned rhinos lumber around the swamps and grasslands of the 430 sq km park.

Heavy monsoon rains have sparked flash floods and submerged up to 400 villages, displacing more than 200,000 people in three districts of Assam in the past two days.

Meanwhile, the park authorities have ordered truckers to drive slowly as they pass a national highway that winds through the park.

'Special barricades have been put along the highway. Forest guards are asking drivers to drive under 40 km an hour as the animals use the highway to cross over to the hill to escape the floods,' the park warden said.

A large number of animals, including deer, get mowed down by speeding trucks while crossing the highway to escape the annual floods.

Park officials are now worried about poachers killing animals, especially rhinos and elephants, as they move from the sanctuary towards the hills.

'Poachers have a tendency to target animals taking advantage of the floods. We have put forest guards on alert in the hills where animals take refuge,' another park ranger said.

A Central Water Commission bulletin Monday said the Brahmaputra was flowing above the danger level in at least four places.

The regional meteorological centre in Guwahati has forecast more rains in Assam till July 1.

Five drug peddlers apprehended in Assam

GUWAHATI: Five drug peddlers have been apprehended by the police and brown sugar has been seized from their possession in Assam's Dibrugarh district today, official sources said here.

Acting on a tip-off, the police arrested the five peddlers from Kalibari area of the town and recovered 50 gms of brown sugar from their possession.

The arrested peddlers have been identified as Munna Khan, Abul Husain, Arman Ali, Uttam Dutta and Gordhan Ali, sources added.

Assam minister files defamation suit against daily, activist

Assam Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma Monday filed a criminal defamation suit against The Sentinel newspaper and farmers group leader, Akhil Gogoi for charges of falsely accusing him of receiving a car as gift from a scam accused now in jail.
'Earlier I said I would file a civil defamation case of Rs.30 million against Akhil Gogoi for falsely accusing me of having taken a car from R.H. Khan (charged of involvement in the multi-million-rupee financial scam in North Cachar Hills district and in jail), but since he (Gogoi) said he doesn't have money, so I opted for a criminal suit,' Sarma said.
Gogoi, leader of the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samity, a group fighting for the welfare of farmers, was last week quoted as saying that Khan gifted a luxury car to the minister and tried to involve his name in the financial scam currently being probed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
The minister said The Sentinel, an English daily from Guwahati, quoted Gogoi and carried the report in its front page last week.
'The court after hearing the minister issued summons to the editor, managing editor, and publisher of The Sentinel and Akhil Gogoi to appear before the court on July 27,' Debajit Saikia, the minister's legal counsel, said.
There are allegations by the opposition and Gogoi in recent weeks that at least seven ministers were named by the National Investigation Agency that earlier probed the financial scam in the NC Hills district.
'Let the opposition furnish documents regarding involvement of any ministers to the CBI. We shall take action if any ministers are found to be involved,' Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said.

KMSS dares Himanta for open debate

GUWAHATI, June 26 – Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) today dared Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma to make public the list of assets he has in his own name and in the names of his wife and other relatives. It has also called for arrangements to bring the call records of all the phones used by the Minister since 2001 under the purview of the CBI investigation on the multi-crore NC Hills scam.

It has also dared the Minister to take part in an open debate with its leaders at the Guwahati Press Club on the issues concerning the NC Hills scam and the assets of the Minister.

In a statement here, the voluntary organization also made it clear that its secretary Akhil Gogoi did never allege that Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma had accepted a gift from the NC Hills scam tainted officer RH Khan in the form of a luxury car.

The KMSS said that its secretary Gogoi had in fact demanded a clarification from the Minister on the allegation made by several quarters that he had accepted a luxury car from RH Khan.

It also reiterated the demand for expanding the scope of the CBI enquiry into the multi-crore NC Hills scam by allowing the investigating agency cover all the departments in its probe in to the gross financial irregularities in the autonomous council of the Hills district.

15 policemen arrested and remanded to judicial custody

NALBARI: Altogether 15 police personnel, including an assistant sub inspector, have been arrested for allegedly extorting money from truck drivers in Assam's Nalbari district, official sources said.

Acting on a tip-off, the policemen were arrested last night from Banekuchi area on National Highway 31 while they were extorting money from truck drivers and Rs 22,500 was recovered from their possession.

The 15 policemen were produced before Nalbari Chief Judicial Magistrate Nirupama Rajkumari who remanded them to judicial custody.

The arrested police personnel are Assistant Sub Inspector Pranab Kakati, constables Satya Barman, Dwijen Das, Abul Hussain, Bishnu Boro, Chandra Kanta Boro, Akbar Ali, Ranjit Boro, Abdul Latif and six constables from the Assam Police Battalion.

Sonia Gandhi positive on ULFA talks

New Delhi/Guwahati, June 24 UPA president Sonia Gandhi gave a positive response for ULFA-Govt peace talks, said Hiren Gohain, member of a delegation of civil society of Assam.

"We (six-member delegation of ‘Sanmilita Jatiya Abhibartan’ of Assam) got a positive signal in terms of holding peace talks with ULFA after meeting UPA president at her 10th Janapath residence in New Delhi," Dr Gohain told media on Wednesday, when asked about Sonia's reaction on settlement of insurgency problem in Assam.

“The forum of civil society of Assam are satisfied with the discussion with Sonia Gandhi and hope that, the pro ULFA-Govt talks will restore peace in Assam and the central government will be positive on the major issue," he added.

The delegation will meet Union home minister P Chidambaram on Wednesday evening in New Delhi.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh too has given a positive signal for talks with ULFA and releasing leaders of the outfit from jail after the discussion with the peace brokers’ delegation of Assam held on Monday.

On other hand , ULFA Commander-in-Chief Paresh Barua demanded clarification from Hiren Gohain on his comment to media that stated “the ULFA will compromise on the issue of sovereignty and Paresh Barua would be marginalized in peace talks with the government”.

Sending a email to media, Barua said, “Following the six-member delegation of National Convention discussion with the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh on June 21, some of Assam State media reported on the next day that, ULFA would come to compromise on the issue of sovereignty if the negotiations be held. By quoting Dr Gohain, media also reported that, Paresh Baruah will have to quit the ULFA if he opposes the resolutions, which passed by the central committee leaders of the outfit”.

On the basis of these reports ULFA Commander-in-Chief Paresh Baruah asked Gohain to clarify his comments whether he made the statement or not.

Barua also slammed the state media for not following the standards of 'true journalism'.

Woman files harassment complaint against officials

MORIGAON (Assam): A woman employee of the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) today lodged an FIR against two senior officers for alleged physical and mental harassment at work place in Assam's Morigaon district.

The woman, designated as 'assistant', lodged the FIR with the Morigaon police station against NRHM's District Project Manager Arup Jyoti Kalita and District Medical Expert Pranam Dutta Mazumdar for the harassment in office for the last three months, police said.

Both the officers are absconding. Meanwhile, members of several social and students' organisations gheraoed for several hours the NRHM's district office here protesting against the alleged harassment of the woman.

Assam plans law for private hospitals

Guwahati: If Assam government has its way poor patients in the state will get emergency medical services at specialised private hospitals. The state government is planning to enact a law making it mandatory for private sector hospitals to provide emergency services to the poor and needy.

Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi recently said government would soon introduce a bill making it mandatory for private hospitals so that no people are deprived of medical attention due to poor financial condition. Gogoi, while inaugurating a new private hospital recently said the private hospitals in the state should treat a certain percentage of poor patients at subsidized expense to extend much needed medical care to these needy individuals.

A state health department official said government was working out a detailed guideline to be followed by private hospitals, nursing homes and clinics while treating patients belonging to poor financial background. “The step has been taken as we have received several complaints where poor patients admitted at private nursing homes and hospitals during medical emergencies were denied medical support as they are unable to pay the fee. So government wants to make it mandatory for private hospitals at least to provide the emergency medical and life support aid irrespective of their financial background,” the official said.

The state, particularly the capital city Guwahati is witnessing boom in private healthcare sector with many private speciality hospitals opening business here which have emerged as a trade and business hub of Northeast India. Hundreds of patients from other Northeastern states are visiting Guwahati everyday for treatment and diagnosis.

The official said the state government will create provisions directing all private nursing homes to take into consideration the financial condition of poor patients and make some concession in the medical fee being charged.

“Healthcare system in the state has improved a lot due to the combined efforts of health professionals of both government and private hospitals and people now can avail quality treatment and diagnosis facility in the state itself. But private hospitals have to help the government initiative further,” the official said.

“The rich can travel abroad to get treated, but the poor have to struggle continuously even for the basic medical facilities. Many individuals often have to sell their property in order to meet the escalating medical expense. We have to take care that rising medical expense does not hinder in a sick getting health care,” the official said.

70 oil tankers untraced in Assam

Imphal, June 23 : Seventy state oil tankers which left Imphal to procure fuel from Assam were missing.

State home department is under process to intimate Assam Government to help in tracing out the missing tankers, said Consumers Affairs and Food and Public Distribution Minister Yumkham Erabot today.

Addressing a press conference held in his office chamber at New Secretariat building today, the minister also informed that the sate is having rice stock for one month and petrol for three days.

The minister informed that a total of 70 oil tankers transporting petroleum products from Assam went missing in Assam.

The sate home department has been asked to take up necessary action to take helps from the government of Assam in finding out the missing oil tankers.

Around 100 oil tankers are utilizing for procuring petroleum products like petrol, high speed diesel oil and ATF as per registration in the Imphal IOC office.

The missing 70 oil tankers were out of them.

Due to missing of the tankers, the state is facing problems in procuring vehicular fuels, the minister said.

Asserting that there is shortage of petrol and diesel in the state, the minister revealed the present stock position of petrol at 443 kilolitres and said that for normal distribution to the public, 75 kilolitres of petrol is required and the stock will last for three days, he added.

The present stock of diesel is 1203 kilolitres and the total requirement for normal daily distribution is 220 kilolitre per day.

So, the present stock of diesel will last for 5 days.

Further speaking to reporters, the minister also said that at present a total of 1.7 lakh quantal of rice is in the stock of the department's godown against the monthly requirement of 88,000 quantal.

The minister assumed that the present stock would last for little more than a month.

Apart from this government is planning to buy 5000 metric tons of rice from Thailand to replenish the shortage stock due to prolonged imposition of economic blockade on the national highways.

The rice to be bought from Thailand will cost Rs 14 or 15 per kg only after adding transportation charge.

Ambubasi Mela begins in Assam’s Kamakhya temple

Thousands of devotees from all over the country and abroad have congregated at the famous Shaktipeeth Kamakhya dham atop the Neelachal hills in Guwahati for the annual Ambubasi mela which begins today.

The doors of the temple will remain closed for next three days from Tuesday in view of the Ambubasi.

The temple will re-open for visitors after the Ambubasi period is over on Saturday next.

AIR Guwahati Correspondent reports that security has been beefed up in and around the temple to thwart any attempt by anti-social elements to disturb the situation.

Police and paramilitary forces are keeping a strict vigil on the movement of the visitors and suspected persons in the temple venue.

The situation is being monitored by installing 24 CCTV cameras in the campus and entrance to the temple.

More than 500 volunteers, including NCC cadets, are being engaged for smooth conduct of the Mela.

Kamakhya Dabottar Board and six Non-governmental organizations are providing food and drinking water for the devotees and tourists during the Mela.

A total of 350 temporary latrines and toilets have been set up for the visitors to the five-day-long Mela that concludes on Saturday next.

The Ambubachi festival, which is closely related to the Tantric cult, is also known as Kamakhya Devi Puja.

According to the Hindu cult, it is believed that Goddess Kamakhya goes through her menstrual cycle during these days and therefore the temple remains closed for three days.

BJP moves PM on NC Hills fund scam

NEW DELHI, June 23 – The CBI probe into the multi-crore rupee North Cachar Hills scam threatens to snowball into a major controversy, with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Tuesday seeking Prime Minister’s intervention.

Within days of former chief minister, Prafulla Kumar Mahanta complaining against the move to shield the guilty through political influence, today it was the turn of BJP Lok Sabha members, Ramen Deka to approach the Prime Minister’s Office.

The BJP MP has sought directions from the Prime Minister to the CBI to conduct an inquiry into the financial transactions of all departments of the North Cachar Hills Autonomous District Council for last 10 years.

“This will unearth many more things, how militant, politicians, bureaucrats nexus siphoned off the public money meant for development,” said Deka in his letter to the Prime Minister.

Urging the Prime Minister to take a stringent view of the scam take action to book the guilty, the Lok Sabha members pointed towards the recent seizures of cash by the CBI from an official of the N C Hills.

One killed, 12 hurt in mishap

GUWAHATI: One person died on the spot and 12 others injured, some of them seriously, in a road mishap in central Assam's Sonitpur district.

Police said a truck collided head-on with a passenger vehicle on National Highway 52 at Borpatgaon, 16 km from here.

Pulin Das (19) died on the spot while 12 others have been injured and housed in the Tezpur civil hospital.

The driver of the truck is absconding.

Assam- Power Tariff to be raised by 13 paise/unit wef July 2010

AssamElectricity consumers in Assam will have to pay 13 paisa more per unit from next month.Announcing this at a news conference here today, the chairman of Assam Electricity Regularity Commission (AERC), J. Barkakati, said the hike was necessitated to meet increased fuel and power purchase costs. The hike will come into effect from July 1. Barkakati said the impact of gas price increase on electricity tariff had been a concern to all utilities in the country, particularly electricity generated from gas-based power stations purchased by distribution licensees for supplying electricity to the consumers.
Twenty-six per cent of Assam's total power comes from the gas-based power project at Kathalguri and the Agartala gas-based power project.
While the consumers in the state on an average are paying Rs 4.41 per unit of electricity consumed, it will be Rs 4.54 per unit from July 1 next.
"This has also been the case for Assam for quite sometime now and Assam Power Distribution Company Limited, a distribution licensee, has been serving the consumers by supplying electricity purchased from central generating stations of the Northeast, in addition to their own generation from hydel and thermal power stations," he said.

The share of electricity purchased from central sector power stations is 53 per cent, whereas the state's own share is 33 per cent. The remaining 14 per cent is provided by the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC), National Hydro Power Corporation (NHPC), Meghalaya State Electricity Board (MeSEB) and Delhi Land Finance (DLF).
The Assam Power Distribution Company Limited had proposed 17.86 paisa per unit hike in tariff as their fuel and power purchase costs had increased.
Central generating power stations, including those of the Assam Power Generation Corporation Limited, have been raising bills on account of fuel charges to the licensee during 2008-09.
The tariff order issued by the regulatory commission in July 2009 did not have provisions for such additional fuel adjustment.
"This has caused financial hardships to the distribution licensee on non-timely payment of dues to their suppliers on account of energy received by them," Barkakati said, adding that the unforeseen situation has aggravated the buying capability of the licensee, necessitating it to appeal before the commission.
Barkakati revealed that in states like West Bengal, Kerala, Delhi and Gujarat, there is a fuel surcharge already in place, primarily for power purchase costs, which are totally beyond control.
In the tariff order issued by the commission in July last year, the rate for 2008-09 was the same as in 2007-08. Till July 2009, it remained the same, for which the licensee could not realise this additional fuel cost from consumers incurred in 2008-09.
"This additional burden is currently managed by the distribution company either by taking a loan with interest or diverting internal resources which has ultimately affected the financial viability of the company," he said.
He referred to the provisions of Electricity Policy, 2003 pertaining to tariff policy, which states that uncontrollable costs be recovered speedily to ensure that future consumers are not burdened with past costs.
A public hearing was held on May 13 where residents and industries opposed the power tariff hike proposed by the Assam Power Distribution Company Limited.
"Power is the main input. We are trying to come out of the recession and the hike will hit us and will have a cascading effect," R.S. Joshi, president of Federation of Industries and Commerce of North Eastern Region, said.
The Consumers' Legal Protection Forum has strongly protested against any hike in power tariff. "It should start computerised billing system and introduce other facilities before talking of a hike," chief co-ordinator of the forum, Ajay Hazarika, said.

Manaksia Suspends Work At Assam Plant

Manaksia said on Wednesday that it has suspended work at its mosquito coil manufacturing unit located in Assam with effect from May 16 till further notice.

"Some workmen had indulged in violent demonstration, strike and various other wrongful acts in and around the unit and have adopted go slow tactics, which has jeopardized the business and peaceful environment of the plant," the company said in a statement to the stock exchanges.

The intimation of suspension of work has been filed with appropriate authorities, the company informed and added that the disruption of work would not have any material impact on the company's performance, as it is a lean period with respect to the items manufactured in that unit.

Shares of Manaksia are now trading at Rs.116.70 on the BSE, down about 1.5%, while the benchmark 30-share Sensex is up about half a percent.

Miscreants throw stones at Rajdhani Express

Kokrajhar, Jun 15 : Unidentified miscreants today threw stones at and injured the driver of down Rajdhani Express near Basugaon railway station in western Assam's Chirang district.

Railway sources informed that the driver of the train, SK Chakraborty, sustained minor injuries when miscreants threw stones at the train early this morning.

The train was stopped at Basugaon railway station for over 30 minutes and first aid given to Chakraborty, who continued manning the engine after receiving the medical aid.

One Dilip Daimary of Khagrabari has been detained in the case.

Assam moots separate curriculum for sportsperson

Guwahati: If things go as planned young sportspersons in Assam would soon be able to continue their studies and sports activities together without affecting each other. For, the state sports and youth welfare department is planning a special education curriculum for the sports persons.

The new state sports policy, draft of which has been prepared proposed

for a special educational curriculum for sportspersons so that they

can spare enough time for practice, coaching and participation in


The draft sports policy which aims at making sports and physical

education facilities available to children and youths belonging to all

sections of the society made the proposal following suggestion by many

sports organizers about necessity for a special educational curriculum

for the sports person in the state.

A senior official of the state sports department said that there was a

necessity for a special education curriculum as many young students in

the state have to skip their sports practice in order to attend their

schools and examination. In the process they fail to concentrate on

their sports even as they have equal interest and sports talent. “This

is part of our initiative not only to provide facilities to our sports

person but to tap the new sporting talents. We have included the

proposal in the draft policy and would be finalised after necessary

corrections,” the official added.

The official said the proposal would be discussed with the state

education department. “Our rural area has huge sporting talents in

football, volleyball and athletics. But unlike people in urban centres

they do not get much encouragement and support from their parents to

pursue sports seriously like their studies. As the parents asks them

to concentrate more on education, we loose a good sports talent in the

process,” he said.

“If we can support them to continue their education without affecting

their sports practice and activities, it would go a long way in sports

promotion,” the official added.

The draft sports policy aims to turn Assam a leading edge state in the

sports arena, to create adequate infrastructure, promote rural games,

adopt maximum disciplines of Olympic Games, broad base sports,

synergies the activities of Sports and Education Departments and raise

the standards of sports in the state.

It also plans to provide facilities to harness talent at the grass

root level, nurture the potential sportspersons and achieve excellence

in the sports at both National and International level and give

incentives to sportspersons who win laurels for the State at National

and International levels.

Ethnic activists lift state blockade in north-eastern India

New Delhi - Tribal activists in India decided Tuesday to lift their two-month blockade of the north-eastern state of Manipur shortly after the federal government dispatched troops to the area.

Ethnic Naga groups had blocked main roads into the state since April 11 to protest a government decision preventing separatist leader Thuingaleng Muivah from visiting his birthplace in Manipur.

Muivah has been campaigning for the creation of a 'Greater Nagaland' state to include India's existing Nagaland state and areas of the neighbouring states of Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh dominated by the Naga community.

'We are temporarily suspending the economic blockade from Tuesday evening following requests by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and top ministers whom we met in New Delhi,' Naga Students Federation president Musiikhoyo Yhobu said.

The blockade, led by the federation, caused severe shortages of food and medical supplies and soaring prices in Manipur. The landlocked state relies on supply routes through Nagaland.

Meanwhile, police officials told the IANS news agency that in view of the federation's decision, force would not be used but paramilitary fighters would be deployed to escort trucks into Manipur.

On Monday, Home Secretary GK Pillai said troops would break the blockade if necessary to ensure supplies reached Manipur.

The Naga leaders and the Indian government have held more than 60 rounds of talks over the past decade with no resolution.

Naga leaders have said the proposed state would maintain federal relations with India. But the other north-eastern states have objected to any claim of the new state on their territories.

The Naga rebellion dates back to 1947 when the region's tribal warriors refused to join independent India and moved into the jungles to wage a guerrilla war.

India responded with a military crackdown and the political solution of a separate Nagaland state, carved out of a once-larger Assam, but the proposal did not satisfy the rebels.

At least 25,000 people are estimated to have died in the conflict.

Assam government to present white paper on development

Accused by the opposition of failure to bring in development, the ruling Congress party in Assam Tuesday said it will table in the assembly session next month a white paper on the state's development activities and move a special motion to discuss the progress card of the government.

This was decided at the Business Advisory Committee meeting of the Assam assembly Tuesday.

The decision was taken following a verbal war between the ruling party and the main opposition Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) - both accusing each other of failure on all fronts.

'We challenged the AGP to move a motion in the assembly to debate on the development activities in the state. The opposition refused to take up the challenge and so we decided to move the motion and hold a special debate,' Assam government spokesperson and Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma told IANS.

The five-day assembly session begins July 12.

'We shall first submit a white paper on the development activities on July 13, then hold a special debate on July 14 and the next day the chief minister would reply to the debate,' Sarma said.

The debate and the chief minister's reply would be telecast live.

Earlier, the AGP charged the Congress government of failing on all fronts, which provoked the ruling party to move a special motion.

No govt benefits for minorities in AP, Assam districts

New Delhi, Jun 13 (PTI) Minorities in nine districts of two Congress-ruled states Arunachal Pradesh and Assam are yet to receive benefits that they are entitled to under a key central government scheme, as the states have failed to approve the district plans so far.

In Arunachal Pradesh, nine districts are included in the list of Minority Concentrated Districts (MCD) where the Centre is implementing a multi-sectoral development programme to address issues relating to education, skill development, employment, sanitation, housing, drinking water and power supply.

However, seven MCDs, most of which have both socio-economic and basic amenities parameters below the national average, have not been able to avail the benefits.

"The District Plan of these districts could not be approved as none has been submitted by the state Government, despite repeated requests by the Ministry," sources in the government said.

Nine killed in bus-truck collision in Assam

At least nine people were killed and about 30 wounded, six of them critically, when a passenger bus collided head-on with a truck in Assam on Sunday, officials said.

The packed bus was on its way from Guwahati to Tinsukia when the accident took place near Badulipar on National Highway 37, about 250 km east of Assam’s main city of Guwahati.

"The driver of the truck lost control after a tyre burst and it hit the bus head-on with a tremendous impact," a police officer said.

All the casualties were bus passengers.

The injured were shifted to local hospitals with doctors stating that condition of at least six was serious.

The driver of the truck and the attendant also suffered minor injuries.

‘I Am An Assamese, A Bengali And A Sylheti. What Exactly Am I?’

Anurag Rudra
Is 20. He studies literature at Cotton College in Guwahati

I COME FROM a small town, Karimganj, tucked away like an inconvenient problem on the southernmost fringes of the Indo-Bangladesh border. The widely-spoken languages here are Bengali and Sylheti — I never spoke Assamese until I joined Cotton College in Guwahati. My mother, for instance, spoke Sylheti at home, to haggle with the vendors in her tongue. She taught Bengali at the neighbourhood school in town.
As a young child, I had asked my mother if we were Sylhetis or Bengalis. She had told me a story — my grandmother’s extended family’s roots originated in Sylhet, in what is now Bangladesh. As communal unrest grew in the pro vinces, they fled to the relative safety of Karimganj. Many Bengali Hindus who had fled their erstwhile homes sought refuge in this land. In course of time, they made it their own little paradise, picking up the pieces of their erstwhile memories. Nostalgia pervaded every aspect of their daily existence. I understood while growing up that Barak Valley was never going to be a part of Assam as was being demanded.
Assam was from where my parents’ salary deposits were made, Assam was where you ran to in order to get an error in your matriculation certificate corrected or for that matter, Assam was against whom you competed in the board exams, conducted by the very same Secondary Education Board of Assam. We were Sylheti Bengalis, not Bangladeshis and, of course, not Assamese.
When the serial blasts rocked Guwahati, we cried together. That day, we were all Assamese
Once when I was in Class IX, I went to attend a seminar in the local college. The speaker, a professor, had talked in a fiery tongue, asking us to remember the sacrifice of our martyrs. He recounted, how he was beaten up at Guwahati University. As a student, he was robbed and thrown outside — for not being Assamese. Growing up, I realised we were a people unsure of our roots, not knowing where we belonged to and caught in the crossfire of nationalism and language that tore us apart. We had no place we could call our own, and only a language, a dialect, we desperately clung on to.
When I came to Guwahati in 2007 to study at Cotton College, I was vaguely prepared about what to expect. Two months after my first class, I was sitting with my friends in the canteen. They feigned mock alarm about how the number of illegal migrants, or miyahs as they were derisively referred to, was on the rise. One thing led to another, and a friend of mine playfully remarked, “You don’t even belong here, what do you know about us, and what right do you have to comment?”
But that seems a distant memory. I’ve been in Guwahati for two and a half years. Almost all of my friends are Assamese, and some say, I have a better repertoire of Assamese expletives than my entire class put together. I read Mamoni Raisom Goswami, listen to Bhupen Hazarika and look up gory news in Asomiya Protidin. Every day, I wake up to the sound of a language that was alien, and which I believe, has embraced me. I no longer feel strange or funny when the foreign words roll off my tongue. (My friends, who first initiated me into the tongue, would quip, “You learn fast, you bongo Bangladeshi… no doubt you guys have taken over everything!” and we would laugh.) And when the serial blasts rocked Guwahati, we had panicked, screamed and cried together. Nobody asked me what I was that day, we were all Assamese.
Today, I speak Assamese with dignity, and I feel proud to be called Asomiya, an Assamese. But when I ask myself what I am, what language makes me, I never reply. Caught in the crossfire of la nguage and domicile, of my roots and memory, I vaguely reconcile myself to my homeless state. I am an Assamese, a Bengali, and a Sylheti. What exactly am I, this dilemma of roots and languages? I have not been able to figure out even the smallest of answers.

Assam CM gets honorary doctorate

Jorhat, Jun 10 : Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi was today conferred the Degree Of Doctor Of Science (Honoris causa) by Assam Agricultural University for his committed concern for revitalizing the agrariah economy of the state. Vice-chancellor of the university Dr K M Bujarbaruah said under the leadership of Mr Gogoi, the state has gone through a science-led agricultural renaissance both for making the state self sufficient in its food requirement and creation of a knowledge society in the farm sector.

The chief minister, receiving the honour in the 17th convocation held at University Campus in Jorhat, said he would work for the state as a whole and agriculture in particular with greater vigour. Dr P L Gautamji, chairman Of National Boidiversity society, and Governor of Assam and Chancellor of Assam Agricultural University J B Patnaik were also present in the function.

Output from OIL's Assam fields falls due to refinery shutdown

NEW DELHI: State-run Oil India today said it was forced to cut crude oil production at its fields in Assam after Numaligarh Refinery Ltd shut down plant for upgrade.

Oil India (OIL), which sells close to 2 million tonnes of crude oil annually to Numaligarh Refinery Ltd (NRL), had to curtail output following a shutdown at NRL, company Chairman N M Borah told reporters on sidelines of a CII conference here.

Output fell to about 5,000 tonnes a day in April/May from 9,800 tonnes per day normal production.

NRL had from March 16 taken a 60-day shutdown to upgrade units to produce higher quality Euro-III/IV compliant diesel at the refinery. The shutdown, however, got extended and it is now expected that the refinery would be back on full stream later this month.

"I must say that whatever production we lost because of the refinery shutdown, we will be able to make it up during the course of the year," he said. "We are confident of meeting our yearly target."

OIL produced 3.32 per cent more crude at 3.611 million tonnes (MT) in 2009-10 and has set a target of producing 3.7 MT to 3.8 MT crude in the current fiscal.

Gas production was 2415.59 million cubic meters which was around 6 per cent higher than the previous year's.

"We are aiming to double gas production in next 3-4 years," he said.

OIL holds 26 per cent stake in NRL. The 3 million tonnes a year refinery is promoted by Bharat Petroleum Corporation which has 61.65 per cent stake. The Government of Assam has 12.35 per cent stake in the refinery.

Borah said crude oil production in Assam had fallen to 60,000 barrels per day from 75,000 bpd because of NRL shutdown. The current production is 68,000 bpd.

Renowned journalist dies in Assam

Guwahati, June 9 (PTI) Renowned journalist and editor of a leading English daily Gauri Shankar Kalita today died of cardiac arrest in his residence here, his family said.

He was 49 and is survived by his wife and mother.

Kalita, the editor of Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya editions of Sentinel, suffered a massive heart attack and died.

He was cremated in the afternoon.

He also authored the book "Janajati Agenda Aru Asomor Bhabisyat" that deals with the influx issue and political empowerment of tribals in Assam.

He was also the editor of a couple of Assamese dailies.

Man's body found hanging inside Assam state Zoo

Guwahati, June 9 (PTI) A body of an unidentified man was today found hanging inside a protected area of Assam Zoo here.

The body, hanging from a tree inside the protected Botanical Garden area of Assam State Zoo where visitors are usually not allowed, was seen by forest department personnel, Zoo officials said.

The man, aged around 45, was neither an employee nor a relative of any staff living inside the compound and could be a visitor, zoo official Narayan Mahanta said.

The man, wearing black trousers and a check shirt, could have committed suicide but the exact reason was not yet clear.

Assam Cabinet decided to offer revised pay scales to medical teachers

Jun 9The Assam Cabinet has decided to offer revised pay scales to the teachers of the medical, dental, ayurvedic and nursing colleges besides the agricultural university and the pharmaceutical institutes with effect from 1st January, 2006.

The salaries will be fixed according to the revised pay structure as has been fixed by University Grants Commission and the AICTE. A decision to this effect has been taken at the State Cabinet meeting chaired by the Chief Minister Mr. Tarun Gogoi in Dispur on Tuesday evening.

The Cabinet also approved non-practicing allowance for the teachers and doctors of the medical colleges at the rate of 25 per cent of their monthly basic salary. Official sources said, the new measure will cost the state exchequer to the tune of 275 crore rupees annually.

Assam scheme for poor students

Assam government has been providing desktop computers to the Class X students securing 60 per cent marks for the last few years

Guwahati: Brilliant students belonging to economically poor families in Assam have something to cheer about. The state government is planning a new scheme to ensure that poverty does not become impediment for brilliant students to continue their education.
Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi has said a new scheme would soon be formulated under which students who are good at studies but their parents economically poor would be provided with financial assistance to help them pursue higher education. “We are working out a plan exclusively for the students belonging to poor families. We want to make sure that even children of a poor farmer or a daily wage earner can pursue higher education and establish themselves in life. We are giving equal focus to ensure that poor students in both towns and villages are not deprived of higher education,” Gogoi said while felicitating toppers of 2010 class X examinations here.
The CM said schools and educational institutions doing good results would be categorised and provided with special government support. “Government would also felicitate and give recognition to teachers who contribute to good academic records of their schools and students,” he announced.
This year Assam recorded highest ever pass percentage (little over 63%) in Class X examination, the results of which were declared last week. The results showed that some of the students belonging to poor families finding positions among top 20. Daughter of a daily wager from Barpeta district secured third position in the class 12 examination.
Gogoi said government was giving much emphasis on promotion of science, mathematics and English subjects in the schools and educational institutions. “We are focussing more on education to fight the problem of poverty and unemployment. Our stat has several problems including the problem of insurgency but we are taking special care and encouraging our young generations to pursue latest educational courses and career prospects.” He added.
Assam education minister Goutam Bora said the department would provide all possible assistance to improve results and students scoring 80 percent marks at class 12 level would be provided scholarship of Rs. 10,000 under a centrally-sponsored scheme. Besides, Bora said the state government was seriously considering to offer laptop computers to the first division holders in the Class X examination. Assam government has been providing desktop computers to the Class X students securing 60 per cent marks for the last few years. 

Expert panel to solve Guwahati's water logging problem

Guwahati, Jun 6 : In order to solve the severe water logging problem in Assam's main city Guwahati, which has claimed several lives till date, the state government has decided to form an expert committee to come up with a plan to make the city free of artificial flood.

The denizens of the city had been facing untold problems due to the artificial floods, as several residential as well as commercial parts of the city get inundated even after a smart shower.

Several parts of the city were under water for past three with one child drowning in the artificial flood yesterday at Kotabari area of Guwahati.

The artificial floods annually claim lives in the city, with denizens either falling victim to landslide or washed away by heavy current or falling into open manholes.

As the water logging problem got worse with every passing monsoon, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi yesterday directed setting up of an expert committee to suggest means to tide over the problem.

Mr Gogoi has also issued strict instructions for the regular cleaning of the drains as clogged drains lead to most water logging.

He has also issued separate directives of conservation of natural water bodies in Guwahati as well as other parts of the state as human encroachment on the water bodies is another reason for artificial floods.

CM assures setting up of ecology museum

GUWAHATI, June 6 – World Environment Day was observed here today by both Government and non-government agencies highlighting this year’s theme- Many Species, One Planet, One Future.

In a function organized by the Forest Department, Assam Science Technology Environment Council and Pollution Control Board Assam, in the city, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi underlined the need to care for the natural environment and protect it from threats.

Referring to schemes undertaken by his government to help protect the environment, Gogoi said that the young generation should have adequate exposure to know about various aspects of biodiversity. He went on to say that a museum for children will be developed that would allow students to know about ecology, a facility where they could also carry out experiments.

The Chief Minister also gave away a number of prizes to talented children who excelled in a competition and to the best eco-club of Assam.

Noted academic Prof Arup Misra brought in focus this year’s theme and provided a lucid explanation about the need to protect the living planet, which sustained a variety of species.

The function also saw Gogoi inaugurate a teaching module developed by ASTEC that would aid teachers in higher secondary schools to promote environmental education. The new intervention has been described as the

flagship programme of ASTEC in the area of environmental action.

In another function, the Town Club carried out a plantation drive around the Judge’s Field where around 200 people took part. Nearly 150 saplings were planted by members of the club and the general public. The saplings will be maintained by the Forest Department and the Town Club, the general secretary of the club Devajit Saikia informed.

In the State Zoo, a quiz competition was organized where more than fifty participants took part.

Meanwhile, Help Earth, a society for the conservation of nature and biodiversity, organized a rally of students of South Point School. The event sought to draw attention to the condition of Deepor Beel, a Ramsar site that was facing serious threats to its existence. The programme was sponsored by South Point School Environment Club.

In a related development, Doordarshan Kendra Guwahati has launched a new programme on environmental matters today to mark World Environment Day. Produced by Bibhu Dutta, the series of programmes will include a number of resource persons who will dwell on a wide range of issues related to biodiversity, pollution, environmental action, among others.