Assam Police website last updated in 2010

GUWAHATI, Aug 1 – At a time when the State Government is harping on e-governance, the Assam Police website cuts a very sorry figure in keeping the people informed.

The Assam Police website has a news flash segment where one can expect to find the latest news. But if one tries to get information, he or she will be hugely disappointed as the last news updated in the segment was on observance of vigilance awareness week and that was uploaded way back on November 8 last year.

The news before that available in the news flash segment was that of October 6 when police rescued a few kidnapped persons.

Similarly, there is a Press release segment in the website where the releases issued by the Assam Police should be available. But the last release uploaded in the website was that of mourning the death of former DGP HS Chittaranjan and the same was uploaded on October 6 last year.

If one tries to keep himself informed by visiting the Assam Police website, he would feel that nothing has happened in the State for the last 10 months. The media also is facing problems in getting information because of the failure of the Assam Police to keep its website updated.

Interestingly, as a part of its modernisation drive, steps have been taken to computerise all the police stations in a phased manner but from the failure of the police to keep its website updated with latest information, it remains to be seen whether the police stations would be able to make best use of the computers to be made available to them.

Students, peasants join hands against mega dams, NRC delay

GUWAHATI: Randip Saikia, a farmer from Lakhimpur took, time off from his chores on his paddy field on Saturday to attend a public rally in the city, called by All Assam Students' Union (Aasu), including 25 other students' and ethic groups, against a mega dam construction and dithering on the updating of the NRC.

Randip was one among 10,000 peasants who gathered at the city's Lotashil playground on Saturday morning to warn the state government against continuing with the ongoing construction of the Lower Subansiri Mega Hydel project. The joint movement announced to block the barges carrying the nine turbines for the Lower Subansiri.

Earlier, chief minister Tarun Gogoi had said that the state government would take the barges at any cost to the dam site. The barges carrying the dam logistics are waiting for a clearance for a year as Aasu and Krishak Mukti Sangram Samity have blocked the barges from reaching the dam site from time to time.

"Aasu has been asking the state government to halt the ongoing construction for a long time but it's sad that the state government has paid no attention to our demands. We are not against power generation, we are only against the construction of the mega dam. Even the expert committee constituted by state government has scrapped the idea of a mega dam in the region," said Aasu advisor Samujjal Bhattacharjee.

The study conducted by the expert committee constituting Gauhati University, Dibrugarh University and IIT Guwahati, had highlighted the seismic vulnerability of the dam along with many other design related faults.

Aasu also slammed the state government's reluctance in updating the National Registrar of Citizenship (NRC). "The government is trying to guard a section of the population by not updating the NRC. It is only concentrating on the vote bank politics, ignoring the greater interest of the state and the Assamese community," said AASU president Shankar Ray.

Echoing Aasu's demand, the Takam Mising Parin Kaubang (TMPK), a tribal group, asked the state government to start updating the NRC immediately.

"The government put a halt to the NRC update due to the violence in Barpeta district. That's why we demand the state government to start the NRC update from Dhemaji district this time. But the update should be started immediately to solve the influx problem of the state," said TMPK leader Ranoj Pegu.

In July 2010, four people were killed and 70 were injured during a clash when police open fired on a 5,000 strong crowd of protesters led by the All Assam Minority Students Union (Aamsu) in Barpeta who were demanding the cancellation of the updating process of the NRC, undertaken in Barpeta as a pilot project by the Central government.

Meanwhile, Rabha Students' Union demanded that the NRC should be updated on the basis of the cut-off year of 1971."The historic Assam Agitation happened to solve the influx problem of the state, followed by the signing of Assam Accord. But neither Delhi nor Dispur is acting efficiently to implement the accord. The NRC should be updated on the basis of 1971 as the cut-off year. Anyone who came after this period should not be considered as the legal citizen of the state," said Raghunath Rabha of Rabha Students' Union.

Priceless art

Sudha Jain
Muga: A silk for all seasons & reasons
Verdant tea gardens, the melodious strain of Assamese folk music and beautiful women draped in eye catching, golden hued, delicately designed traditional muga ensemble, dancing to the tune of Bihu geet — this almost encompasses the beauty of Assam.
There is some magic about the muga silk mekhela chadar that enhances the beauty and charm that Assamese women are known for. Muga silk, a symbol of Assam’s rich culture and a treasured possession in every Assamese household, is considered the lifeline of the people of Assam.
Besides being famous for the one-horned rhino and its tea, Assam is also known for the golden silk known as muga. The state produces three unique varieties of silk — the golden muga, the white pat and the warm eri. Muga is cultivated, reeled and woven to make exclusive muga silk saris, kurtas and mekhela chadar. It is a non-mulberry silk, obtained from semi-domesticated silk worms, and is found only in Assam.
However, being the proud owner of this priceless silk comes with a price! A muga sari may cost anywhere between Rs 10,000 and 20,000, and sometimes even more. It is indeed very expensive, but once we acquaint ourselves with its production process, we will discern why this is so. Muga is produced by a silkworm known as Antheraea Assamensis, which is raised outdoors and is fed on two trees: som (machilus bomycina) and soalu (litsaea polyantha).
The worm feeds on trees, eats voraciously and strips them of their foliage. Consequently, there is a mass retreat of these worms from the tree, down the trunk. The worms are then collected and transferred to another tree until they are mature enough to spin the fibres.
When they are ready to spin their cocoons, they are collected by keepers and placed in small containers made of dry twigs. The silkworms then yield a beautiful golden thread called muga, which in Assamese means ‘gold’. The cocoons are then boiled in a solution of soap and soda, and are reeled in reeling machines. A muga sari is woven in two months and about 6,000 to 10,000 cocoons are used to yield a sari of about 1 kg. It is no wonder then that muga is one of the most expensive silks in the world!
In spite of the silk being this exquisite, the interest of the weavers is steadily and unfortunately dwindling. Assam is the only state in India where the weaving industry is spread out. There are around 9,500 sericulture villages in Assam. Muga threads obtained from all over the state find their way to Sualkuchi, 32 km from Guwahati. Sualkuchi, also called “the Manchester of the east”, is one of the world’s largest weaving villages.
Bhaskar Datta Goswami, a leading muga manufacturer in Assam, says, “In 1926, when Mahatma Gandhi visited Assam for the Congress Mahasabha, Sualkuchi came into the limelight, and has since developed as the weaving centre. The entire population here was engaged in weaving delicate silk fabrics.
Weaving a muga sari was a matter of pride for Assamese women. Even women from affluent families were known to weave their own muga saris. However, interest amongst the present generation is slowly waning. With the advent of television and a growing interest in other well-paying occupations, weaving has taken the back seat for young Assamese girls. Now men are more involved in this craft.”
“Furthermore, although the demand for muga silk is huge, its production is gradually declining. The adverse effect of global warming comes to the fore here. Good quality muga is cultivated in temperatures ranging from 32 to 36 degrees celsius. But now, owing to deforestation and demographic pressure, the temperature here has risen to 38-40 degrees Additionally, during 1993’s ‘Operation Bajrang’ (a government initiative to fight insurgents), when the Assam insurgency was at its peak, police entered the forest areas, driving the keepers to the villages. The environmental benefits of silkworm culture in forests was lost as people migrated to villages, leading to low production. Further, the industry is still unorganised and untapped, in spite of it being quite old. There has also been no initiative from the government to improve and popularise this precious industry. The income of these weavers does not match the amount of hard work and labour that they put into the weaving of muga fabric.”
But there is hope yet. Assamese designer Bandita Das says, “Muga silk has evolved over the years and we have found new ways to present it. Earlier, it was only used for making mekhela chadar, but now steps are being taken to popularise it amongst the youth. Muga silk is now used to make skirts, kurtas, ties and bags, and it is heartening to see the younger generation asking for more.” The silk is in demand in Japan for the manufacture of kimonos and ties, as well as in countries such as the US, Greece, Germany, France and South Africa. With the increasing demand in foreign shores, hopefully, the lot of these weavers would improve too.
What makes muga very special is its glossy, fine texture and its durability. Due to low porosity, the muga yarn cannot be bleached or dyed and it retains its natural gold colour. The silk can be hand-washed and its shine increases with each wash. Muga saris are passed from mother to daughter, down the generations. The gift of a muga sari is a gift that transcends time. Muga is a fabric for all seasons and is eco-friendly as it is chemical-free.
Says Bhaskar Datta, “With better textile machines available, muga cocoons are now being bought by manufacturers in Bangalore and Bhagalpur and the threads are reeled in a mechanised and systematic way. However, the gap between demand and supply has to be bridged. Steps should be taken to bail out this invaluable industry from its losses. Perks and better pay to these weavers will go a long way in addressing the problem and giving a boost to the industry.”

Anti-dam protests grow louder in Assam

By Prasanta Mazumdar

GUWAHATI: Anti-dam protests grew louder in Assam with the tribal organisations, opposed to big dams, warning the ruling Congress government in the state to be prepared to face any eventualities.

As many as 25 tribal organisations, led by influential All Assam Students’ Union (AASU), took out a massive rally in Guwahati on Saturday in protest against the construction of Lower Subansiri Hydroelectric Project (LSHP).

“Our opposition is only to big dams. We don’t want dams that will ravage a civilization,” AASU general secretary Tapan Kumar Gogoi said.

The LSHP is a central government project which aims to generate 2010 MW of power. It was approved allegedly without any proper study of the geotectonic and seismic conditions.

The northeast is said to be the sixth most earthquake-prone zone in the world. An expert committee, constituted by the state government by drawing scientists from the IIT Guwahati, Dibrugarh University and Guwahati University, advocated that a dam of this magnitude should not be constructed in an area that was tectonically-unstable.

The AASU demanded that the dam work be kept in abeyance till submission of report by the proposed expert committee.

Love for rugby in cricket-crazy world

GUWAHATI: With the introduction of colourful, cash-rich Indian Premier League ( IPL) and stars appearing in commercials on TV screens every now and then to promote it, cricket is ruling the country's sports scenario at present. Ask any youngster whether he aspires to bat like Sachin or Viru, you will notice a sparkle in his eyes as the honour and money associated with the game is too hard to resist.

But there are always some people who like to swim against the tide and prove their worth.

Several youths from Assam under the guidance of Assam Rugby Association (ARA) are honing their skills to leave their mark at the national level. While some of them have played the game before, others were into soccer.

Rugby is a style of football that originated from Rugby School in the United Kingdom during the 19th century. Fifthy boys from Jorhat, Baska, Kamrup, Kokrajhar and Nalbari have sweated it out and won the hearts of renowned national rugby player Surendra Jena, who is looking after the conditioning camp. Jena, who represented the country on numerous occasions for the last 14 years, is a rugby development officer appointed by the sports ministry. He is attending the camp at the invitation of ARA.

Work on NE petrochem project in full swing

Sushanta Talukdar

The first ever petrochemical plant of the northeast region, Brahmaputra Cracker and Polymer Ltd. (BCPL), being set up at Lepekata in upper Assam's Dibrugarh district is set to be commissioned in December, 2013, company Chairman B. C. Tripathi said.

Mr. Tripathi, who is also GAIL Chairman and Managing Director, told journalists that the project activities at Lepetkata, Duliajan, and Lakwa had been progressing in full swing and mechanical completion of the project was expected by July, 2013.

The project cost has been revised to Rs.8,879 crore from Rs.5,641 crore on account of technology, design changes, time escalation, increase in cost due to change in infrastructure site condition and construction cost and the like.

The revised cost has been approved by the Public Investment Board and is now awaiting approval of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs.

Mr. Tripathi said financial commitment had already been made for Rs.7,340 crore while Rs.2,500 crore had been spent so far and the budget for the current year had been fixed at Rs.3,200 crore. A project committed in the Assam Accord (signed between the Centre, the All Assam Students' Union (AASU) and the Assam Government in 1985), the petrochemical plant will have an annual production capacity of 2.80 lakh tonnes of polymer and polymer propylene. BCPL is a joint venture company promoted by GAIL, Oil India Ltd. (OIL), Numaligarh Refinery Ltd. (NRL) and the Assam Government.

Due to revision in the project cost the equity share of GAIL in the project would double to Rs.700 crore, while equity share of other three promoters was also required go up from Rs.100 crore each to Rs.200 crore each. Of the revised cost of Rs.8,879 crore, the capital subsidy is Rs.5,429 crore.

The Chairman said that till date 103 fresh young executives, who had passed out from different institutions of northeast, had been recruited

More than 50 per cent of the produce from the plant would be utilised in downstream industries of the region.

Rajkhowa free-Assam salvo marks Ulfa martyrs' day

GUWAHATI/DIBRUGARH: The pro- and anti-talks of Ulfa marked the outfit's 'martyrs' day" in two different but notable ways on Wednesday.

On this day in 1991, five Ulfa cadres had been killed by security personnel in Darrang district. The pro-peace group observed the day at its Kakopathar designated camp in Tinsukia district in the presence of top leaders like Sasha Choudhury, Chitrabon Hazarika and Prabal Neog.

Ulfa chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa, who is set to begin peace dialogue with the Centre, created a flutter by describing the demand for a sovereign Assam as a wish of the people that " will protect Assam's existence". On the other hand, followers of Ulfa commander-in-chief Paresh Baruah, who is against holding talks with the government without the sovereignty issue on the agenda, marked the day with a greande blast and a failed bomb attack.

While speaking at a programme, Rajkhowa said, "A majority of the people of the state have formed an opinion that Assam's existence can be protected only within a sovereign country of Assam." He added, "The people of Assam believe that one or two constitutional amendmends will not guarantee protection of Assam's existence."

This was a rejection of the suggestion made by Sanmilita Jatiya Abhibartan (SJA) in its draft charter of demands that sovereignty is not feasible and that the state be given more autonomy through a constitutional amendmend. The SJA is a citizens' group that earlier brokered peace between the government and Ulfa.

On Tuesday that Rajkhowa had received an invitation from the Centre for direct talks. Since his arrest in and subsequent extradtition from Bangladesh in 2009, he had been holding parleys with the Centre's interlocutor, PC Haldar. Earlier, he and other pro-peace leaders refrained from commenting on the sovereignty issue fearing violation of their own agreement to have unconditional talks with the Centre. At Dhubri, police found a powerful bomb at the entrance of a bus stand from where vehicles for Cooch Behar in West Bengal are parked. The bomb, which was diffused by the army, was connected to a programmable time device (PTD) and weighed about 2.5 kg. "A bus passengeer spotted the bomb wrapped in a blue plastic packet around 6 am and averted a major distaster," superintendent of police (Dhubri) P C Saloi said. At Chabua, Paresh's native place, anti-talks militants hurled a grenade damaging a few shops. Police said no one was injured in the attack that took place at about 3.15 am. The grenade hit the railings of DDR College situated near National Highway 37. Police suspected that Ulfa hardliners might have used "linkmen or hired hands" to carry out the attack.

AUlfa cadre, Lachit Khanikar and his accomplice were caught by 8 Garhwal Rifles and police from Kakopathar on Wednesday morning. A pistol and two Chinese grenades were found on them.

Peace panel formed to defuse ethnic tension

Jorhat, Jul 28 : A peace committee has been constituted and security beefed up to defuse ethnic tension and thwart militant attacks along the Golaghat-Karbi Anglong boundary in Assam.

The 30-member peace committee, comprising the tea community, Karbi villagers and officials of Golaghat and Karbi Anglong administrations, was formed in a meeting held at Kohora police outpost a couple of days back.

The committee has decided to hold a public meeting soon to instil peace between the tea community and Karbi villagers.

Ethnic tension had gripped the inter-district bordering areas following the abduction of a tea leader by Karbi militants from Hatikhuli tea estate in Golaghat district about a fortnight back. Hatikhuli is located along the border of the two districts with a part of the estate falling in Karbi Anglong.

The outfit released the abducted person within a couple of days following a threat from the tea community to attack Karbi villages located on the other side of the boundary, but warned the labourers of Hatikhuli to shun work till the management paid up the money demanded by it.
However, the labourers resumed work under security provided by Golaghat district administration, after suspending activities for a day.

A few days ago, militants attacked and injured a woman employee of Hatikhuli tea estate at its Rangajan division, triggering panic among the labourers who approached the Golaghat administration to take the necessary steps. Following this, the peace committee was formed and additional forces were deputed at the garden and the inter-district border.
The Karbi Anglong administration also beefed up security along the border following the attack.
The assistant secretary of the Bokakhat unit of the Assam Tea Tribes Students Association, Anit Gaur, said the tea community had nothing against the Karbi villagers but if Karbi militants continued to target people of the community, the ATTSA would not sit quietly.
“The Karbi villagers should prevail upon the militants not to target tea garden labourers as they are normal people who work hard to earn a living. We have nothing to say about militants demanding money from the garden management but they should not target the labourers,” he said.
Gaur, who is also a member of the peace committee, said they would appeal to Karbi militants not to harm the tea community, as this would only create bad blood between the two communities.
He said normal functioning at the tea estate had also been hampered as the labourers were working under constant fear of militants who might swoop in at any time from across the border.

Lockout lifted, Cachar garden reopens after nine days

SILCHAR: Work at the sprawling Kalaincherra Tea Estate in Assam's Cachar district resumed on Tuesday, nine days after a lockout was declared in the garden following a dispute between its management and workers.

The lockout at the estate, owned by the Kolkata-based Lova Tea Co, had rendered 800 workers and 35 employees jobless. The garden reopened following a negotiation reached between the management and the workers unions held on Monday evening.

While the union leaders pledged to help maintain peace in the estate, the representatives of the management agreed to consider the labourers and employees' demands related to work.

The Lova Tea Co Ltd was represented at the meeting by garden manager A R Mourya, while the Intuc-affiliated Barak Valley Cha Shramik Union was represented by assistant general secretaries Dinanath Baroi and Sanatan Mishra among others. Members of the Indian Tea Employees Association were also present at the meeting. Tea Association of India (TAI) chairman P K Mishra took part in the reconciliation bid on behalf of the management.

The reopening of the garden, situated near the Assam-Meghalaya border on the western fringe of Cachar district, came as a major relief for the labourers. Since early in the morning, hundreds of workers were seen heading towards the estate. According to sources, another round of meeting between the management and the workers' union representatives will be held on August 20 to finalize payment of wages and distribution of ration for the lockout period. On July 21, the first round of meeting was held between the management and the unions. But it had failed to reach any consensus.

The management cited security reasons to announce the lockout due after several women labourers were engaged into a verbal dispute with a tilababu of the garden over workload on July 15. The tilababu was accused of harassing a woman worker. On July 16, the workers gharoed the bungalow of the garden manager. The following day, the manager fled the garden.

The three districts in the Barak Valley -- Karimganj, Hailakandi and Cachar -- has 104 tea gardens. But over 40 gardens are either sick or under lockout.

NHPC hope pill for power-starved state

GUWAHATI: The power corporation feels that the state has the option of increasing its share of power from the 200 MW Lower Subansiri hydro-electric project.

"At present, Assam's share of free and allocated power from the Lower Subansiri project is about 250 MW. In fact, the state can get more power in future from the project. Negotiation between the Assam government and the Union power ministry is going on over increasing the quantum of power share for the state. We hope that it will yield some positive results," a senior NHPC official said here on Tuesday.

Of the total 2000 MW of power, about 1000 MW has so far been allocated for seven northeastern states. Arunachal Pradesh, where the project is being constructed, will get 12 per cent from the installed capacity. At present, Assam's share is 1.25 per cent free power and 208 MW of paid power.

The Assam government has been seeking a hike in the quota of free power to six per cent. Recently, state power minister Pradyut Bordoloi said Assam has been demanding an increase in the quantum of power share from the Lower Subansiri project.

With 50 per cent of the Lower Subansiri project, the biggest so far in southeast Asia, already completed, NHPC officials said the Assam government has pledged facilitating transport of turbines. The machineries are currently stranded in Dhubri because of stiff opposition from anti-dam activists.

"Three turbines have already reached the construction site, but two others are still in Dhubri. The state government has assured us of facilitating safe transport of the two turbines. All the major challenges facing the project such as landslides have been taken care of. We hope to complete the project by 2014," the NHPC official said.

The Lower Subansiri prject has been facing stiff opposition from anti-dam groups such as the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) on the ground that it might cause large-scale downstream impact in the form of floods and siltation. Assam is situated in the downstream area of the project.

Despite opposition, work on the project is on and over Rs 5000 crore has already been invested. The total project cost has been estimated at Rs 10,500 crore.

Allaying apprehension of any adverse downstream impact, the official said flood cushion measures would effectively take care of the problem. "During monsoon, we will lower the reservoir level to mitigate the impact of floods," the official said.

A steering committee comprising experts from the Central Water Commission, the Brahmaputra Board, IIT Roorkee, the state water resources department and NHPC has been entrusted with the task to carry out a study on the project's downstream impact.

The panel, constituted by NHPC following a request from the Assam government, will also suggest measures on mitigating downstream impact. NHPC officials said the committee has already covered 130 km up to the confluence of the Subansiri and the Brahmaputra as part of its downstream impact study.

'Rabha council may make life difficult for non-tribals'

GUWAHATI: The Garo National Council and other non-tribal bodies have expressed concern over the security of the non-Rabhas living in south Kamrup and the Goalpara area of Assam bordering Meghalaya once the Rabha Hasong Autonomous Council (RHAC) is formed.

The organizations also want the government to hold election to the panchayats in the area. "We are not opposed to the creation of the Rabha Hasong Autonomous Council. But our concern is that people belonging to the Garo and other non-tribal communities should not face any harassment. We are already facing threats to our culture and language," said Benedict Areng, president of the Garo National Council. "Like in any other part of the country, panchayat elections should also be held in these areas. This can only ensure transparency in the administration," he added.

The council also demanded that the areas inhabited by over 50 per cent of Garos should be left out of the Rabha Hasong Autonomous Council. "In other areas, we should get special facilities, such as the minority status. Otherwise, we will not be in any position to enjoy the basic rights of life," Areng said.

The organization expressed concern over the condition in which people living in the fringe areas along the Assam-Meghalaya boundary. "The condition is pathetic there. People are living a very difficult life there.

The Meghalaya government has, however, provided several facilities to their people. This might have an effect on the non-Rabhas as the people from Meghalaya might show loyalty to their government," said said Chandan Keshav, coordinator of the Ajanajati Garo Sonmilita Sangram Samity.

Encephalitis kills 7 in Assam

Nalbari, Jul 26 (PTI) Seven persons have died due to encephalitis in Assam''s Nalbari district in the last few days, officials said today.

The victims have been identified as Sultan Mamood, Gajen Deka, Murtunjoy Deka, Sunita Das, Mukuta Ali, Labanya Kalita and Nitumoni.

The disease has assumed alarming proportion in the district and doctors and public health centres, particularly in rural areas, have been alerted, they said.

Altogether 20 districts have been affected with the worst being Sibsagar, where 34 have perished in the past few months, the officials said.

Ghatowar allays big dam fears

Shillong, July 26 (PTI) Union Minister of State for Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) Pawan Singh Ghatowar today advocated for hydel projects in North-East citing the growing demand for power and said the concerns of the people living in the downstream areas of the dams will be addressed while constructing the mega projects."Experts are looking into all angles before planning a project. The government is concerned about the security and livelihood of the people living in the downstream areas. The government will ensure that these people are well-protected," Ghatowar said amid increasing protesting over big dams in Assam.NHPC-executed Lower Subansiri project has run into rough weather in the wake of mass protests led by the All Assam Students' Union (AASU) and the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) over apprehensions that it would jeopardise the lives and livelihoods of a large number of people in the downstream areas besides impacting the environment. The government, however, is adamant on carrying forward the project.The Rs 6,400-crore 2000 MW Lower Subansiri Project is situated in Gerukamukh in Assam-Arunachal border and is one of the mega projects being developed in the country.Ghatowar, on his maiden visit to North Eastern Council secretariat here after being inducted as MoS DoNER in the last reshuffle, said power is the core requirement for development and that there was "nothing new in harnessing hydro-power which is being done all over the world"."North-East is the power house of the country and the region has the maximum avenues of for harnessing hydro-power which is eco-friendly and economical. We have to harness the opportunity given by nature in the region. It is a perennial source of power," Ghatowar said.He said the concerns expressed by the protesting organisations are being "looked into".

Floods recede in Assam

The flood situation in different parts of Assam have improved significantly over the past couple of days. Official sources here informed today that four districts--Dhemaji, Lakhimpur, Barpeta and Jorhat--continued to be affected by the floods, though waters in several other districts have receded. A total of seven revenue circle continue to reel under floods, affected a population of 29,712. The highest number of 12361 people are affected in Dhemaji district, the sources said. Two relief camps each are still being operated by district administrations in Dhemaji and Lakhimpur. There are 400 inmates in the two relief camps in Dhemaji, while the Lakhimpur camps house 75 families. Three people have been killed so far in the current wave of floods, though no new deaths have been reported over the last weekend.

Census 2011: Child sex ratio goes down in Assam

Assam has recorded a concerning decline in child sex ratio in rural areas with a dip of 10 points in 2011 against data of 2001 even as more than 85 per cent of the states population continued to live in rural areas. Releasing the second part of the provisional population total of Census of India, 2011, for the state of Assam, Rabendra Kumar Das, director of Census Operations, Assam, informed that the decline in rural population of the state has been lesser compared to the all India figure. Of the total 3,11,69,272 population of Assam, 2,67,80,516 people lived in rural areas and the remaining 43,88,756 people in urban areas, as per the data released today. While the percentage decadal growth (2001-11) of the total population stood at 16.93 per cent, in rural areas it was 15.35 per cent and in urban areas, 27.61 per cent. Mr Das pointed that the current rural population (2.68 crore) is close to the states total population of 2.67 crore in 2001 census. The state recorded a decline in rural share of population at 1.18 per cent against the all India percentage of 3.35 per cent. Subsequently, the increase in urbanisation in the state was 1.18 per cent against the national figure of 3.35 per cent. The director pointed that the state witnessed improved sex ratio in both rural and urban areas. The sex ratio (females per 1000 males) in rural areas increased from 944 in 2001 to 956 in 2011 and in urban areas, it rose from 872 in 2001 to 937 in 2011. Similarly, the literacy rates have also improved over the past decade, Mr Das said. In rural areas, the literacy rate went up from 59.73 in 2001 to reach 70.44 in 2011. urban areas also recorded an improvement from 85.34 in 2001 to reach 88.88 in 2011. However, the child sex ratio of 0-6 age group (females per 1000 males) saw an overall dip of 8 points. The overall child sex ratio in the state fell from 965 in 2001 to 957 in 2011. Rural areas recorded a concerning decline in this ratio from 967 in 2001 to 957 in 2011. In urban areas, the child sex ratio went up from 943 in 2001 to 955 in 2011. In terms of largest rural population in the state, Nagaon district registered the largest population while Dima Hasao district has the smallest population. In urban population, Kamrup (metropolitan) has registered the highest population and Baksa district, the lowest population.

Census 2011: 86% of Assam's people live in villages

GUWAHATI: Assam is getting urbanized, but at a snail's pace. While an overwhelming 86 per cent of the state's population live in rural areas, only 14 per cent are urban residents.

This came to light on Monday during the release of the Census 2011 provisional population total on rural-urban distribution for Assam. The detailed headcount : Out of 3,11,69, 272 people in the state, 26,780, 516 live in rural areas, contributing to the decadal growth of 15.35 per cent. In 2001, the decadal growth of population in rural areas was 16.51 per cent. In case of urban population, which is 4,388,756 in the 2011 census, the decadal growth is 27.61 per cent, a decline from the decadal growth of 38.24 in 2001.

"Percentage share of decline in rural population for India is 3.35 and increase in urbanization is 3.35. In Assam, the decline in rural share is 1.18 per cent and the subsequent increase in urbanization is 1.18 per cent," director of census operations Assam, Rabendra Kumar Das, said.

The census report says Nagaon has the highest rural population with 2, 457, 906 people, while Dima Hasao has the lowest with 152, 302 people. In urban population, Kamrup (Metropolitan) is the highest with 1,044,832 and Baksa is the lowest with 12,173 people.

Percentage of population growth shows that Dhubri recorded the highest of 24.40 rate, while Kokrajhar recorded the lowest (5.19). In rural percentage of growth of population, Dhubri is highest at 27.13 per cent, while Kamrup (metropolitan) is lowest with 2.93 per cent. Nalbari has shown the highest urban growth of population of 200.34 per cent and Sonitpur is the lowest with (minus) 2.65 percent. The latest provisional population totals also show an increase of literacy rate from 63.25 per cent in 2001 to 73.18 per cent in 2011. The urban literacy rate of 2011 is 88.88 per cent as against the rural 70.44 per cent. Male literacy rate for 2011 in urban areas is 91.84 per cent and in rural areas 76.51 percent. Female literacy rate for 2011 in urban areas is 85.71 per cent and in rural areas is 64.09 per cent.

Child sex ratio in the zero-to-six age group declined to 957 females per 1000 males in 2011 from 965 females per 1000 males in 2001.

Suspected adulterated kerosene claims three lives in Assam

Suspected adulterated kerosene oil provided through the Public Distribution System (PDS) in Assam’s Dhubri district has claimed three lives in the last five days.

At least 20 persons have been injured and three killed since July 20 in explosions caused by kerosene bought from fair price shops under PDS in Golokganj and Gauripur areas of the district.

Dhubri civil hospital sources said 20 people had been admitted with burn injuries caused by these explosions and one person has been referred to Gauhati Medical College and Hospital with serious injuries.

The number of casualties has gone up to three with the death of an injured woman last night.

Alarmed at the rising number of incidents, deputy commissioner (DC) Sunil Dutta has ordered that sale of kerosene under PDS in the area be stopped immediately and also asked people to return the kerosene they had bought in the past few days.

Sale has been stopped at nine depots between Golakganj and Gauripur, which were provided kerosene by four tankers of the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) recently.

Meanwhile, an IOC team has already collected samples of the suspected contaminated kerosene and sent them to laboratories in Hyderabad for testing.

Another team arrived today and will further collect samples. Forensic experts from Kolkata are also expected to arrive shortly, the DC added.

Locals resent Assam Rifles bid to occupy land

Guwahati, July 25 : The Assam Rifles' plan to occupy a piece of land in a wetland, located in the outskirts of the city, has run into protests by local people who said their source of livelihood would be jeopardised.

The area where the para-military force plans to build a facility is known as Rani Development Block which forms a part of a wetland in Kamrup district.

An officer of the Block Development Office, Ranjan Dutta, said, "If the land is allocated to the Assam Rifles, local people will have nothing to survive on as Rani Block is a green reserve providing them the means of sustenance."

Several NGOs sent representations to the deputy commissioner's office against the move to hand over the land by the Kamrup district administration, particularly after senior minister and government spokesman Himanta Biswa Sarma had announced that wetlands would be protected.

The Assam rifles has already demarcated the area where it plans to set up the facility.

A resident of Rani Block, Bidyut Barman who also heads a local NGO, says that the land planned to be taken over by the Assam Rifles is very fertile and farmers have cultivated the area since ages without using any chemical fertiliser.

Seba to train teachers for better answer script evaluation

GUWAHATI: The Board of Secondary Education, Assam (Seba) has decided to train government and government-recognized secondary school teachers for better answer script evaluation, said the newly-appointed chairman Shantikam Hazarika.

Hazarika said the board was focusing more on issues like changing the evaluation pattern and training teachers on evaluation process and computerizing various departments of the Seba office.

"The evaluation pattern of Seba needs to be changed and also most of the work here is done manually due to which we get to see a lot of errors in the mark sheets, admit cards and registration cards. It is necessary to technically upgrade the office. This year too, there were errors in admit cards and registration cards. We would want to ensure that such errors are avoided," he said.

Hazarika added that focus should be on identifying institutes in the remote areas which have shown good performance in the examination and teachers of those schools should be trained along with other teachers of schools, which have not been performing well.

"Rather than concentrating on institutes which are faring poorly, we should encourage institutes of the remote areas, which are performing well. The teachers of those schools can even train other teachers," he said.

LN Sarma, secretary Seba said in the last examination a lot of controversies had arisen in Seba's marking system. "It is important to train the teachers too and we would also train the centre-in-charge of the various examination centers for better handling of sheets and allotting marks," said Sarma.

"There is always an issue that marking system is not proper. It is time Seba takes care of that so that there is no negligence on our part," Sarma added.

ULFA’s decision to declare ceasefire lifts hopes for peace, prosperity in Assam

Guwahati, July 24: The decision of the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) faction led by Arabinda Rajkhowa to declare a ceasefire and come forward for talks with the Central Government has raised hopes of long term peace and prosperity in Assam.

The Rajkhowa-led central committee reached this decision on July 13. It has come due to the consistent efforts of the government to get the group to come forward for talks.

The formal peace dialogue is yet to begin. But preliminary talks between Government and ULFA were held earlier this year in New Delhi.

The people of Assam welcome this, as it will speed up the return of peace and normalcy.

" The news that Arabinda Rajkhowa is coming for ceasefire is very good news for Assam. Although the negotiations started 2-3 months ago, nothing concrete has been achieved till now but this announcement will clearly send a positive message to all corners of the state that from now onwards there will be no ULFA led armed struggle in the state," said Nazrul Hoq, a entrepreneur.

"It is a good initiative taken by them. It's a small step toward realizing what is most needed in the region that is peace. So in fact we all are happy that there is ceasefire and peace and development can take place," said Morningkeey Tungzang, a student.

Social sector schemes changing the face of Assam

Guwahati, July 25 : The government of Assam has launched several schemes and projects for underprivileged people living in remote areas, including providing them with jobs and loans to start a business, or even to build their homes.

The state government in collaboration with centre has initiated the Indira Awaas Yojna scheme in (BPL) to build houses.

The Indira Awaas Yojna scheme is channeled through the Panchayati Raj and the Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs).

The selection of beneficiaries for Indira Awaas Yojna is done through the permanent IAY waitlist prepared from BPL lists and approved by the Gram Sabha.

In 2010-11, the Titabor Development Block spent Rs 2.76 crore to construct of 571 houses for BPL families in the region.

In the coming year, over 300 families are expected to benefit from the scheme.

"We do not face any disturbance from any militant group. The work is going on peacefully in the region, said Pratap Phukan, Block Development Officer, Titabor

"We are daily wage labourers. I am happy that I have got this house in the village. We are constructing it. Actually I never expected that I would get such an opportunity under the scheme," said Jonali Manki, beneficiary, Titabor.

The Indira Awaas Yojna is not the only scheme that has been implemented in the region. Other successful centrally funded programs in the Titabor district include are Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarentee Act, Sampoorna Gramin Rozgar Yojna, Swarnajayanti Gram Rozgar Yojna, Kalpataru and Indira Gandhi old Age Pension Scheme.

Division bell rings in Congress camp over Bodoland stir

KOKRAJHAR: The demand for Bodoland has gained fresh momentum with several Congress workers from the Bodo heartland extending support to the All Bodo Student Union's cry for a separate state for the Bodos.

"Thousands of Bodoland Pradesh Congress Committee (BPCC) workers are supporting the All Bodo Students' Union (Absu) in the latter's movement for a separate state of Bodoland," BPCC chief Rajeswar Brahma said on Saturday. A section of Congress workers in the Bodo heartland has formed the BPCC as an alternative platform to raise the causes of the Bodos. It has, however, not got recognition from the Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC).

"During the movement for Bodoland in the late Eighties, several Bodo leaders, including Absu members, became martyrs in their armed struggle. Considering the legitimate demand for a separate Bodoland in Assam, the Centre signed a peace accord and formed the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution," Brahma said. "The BTC, however, failed to deliver and could not ensure all-round development for the people of Bodoland. Several Congress workers have realized this and pledged to back Absu's movement," he added.

Brahma said, "We were surprised to see some Congress MLAs and ministers recommending creation of a separate Kamtapur state. They do not have knowledge about the BTC geographical area."

He added, "Several Congress MLAs in Andhra Pradesh resigned in support of a separate state. But in Assam, the Congress MLAs are silent on the Bodoland issue. Why is it so?"

According to sources, Brahma's comment may anger the Congress high command. "But BPCC leaders are ready to face any action," he added.

In the meantime, the Indian Confederation of Indigenous and Tribal People-NE zone (ICITP-NEZ), an umbrella organisation of 56 nationalist, indigenous and tribal people's organizations from the northeast, on Saturday iterated its support towards creation of a separate state of Bodoland.

Accusing the Congress government in the state and the BPF-ruled BTC of using money and muscle power, ICITP president Jebra Ram Muchahary said, "The Bodos cannot to achieve growth given the existing political system. The proposed Bodoland state should have representation from all ethnic communities. Otherwise, it will also fail like the BTC."

Nine girls rescued from job agency

NEW DELHI: The anti-human trafficking unit of crime branch has busted one of the biggest organized gangs which bought young girls and women from east and northeast India and sold them as bonded labourers to clients in upscale localities in and around the capital. A team headed by additional DCP (crime) P S Khuswah rescued nine minor girls and apprehended one of the accused, Munna Chaudhary, who owns a placement agency in Delhi.

"We got information and on July 13, a team of the anti-human trafficking unit, along with NGO Shakti Vahini, raided the premises of Rajdhani Placement Agency at Rajouri Garden in west Delhi. Three minor girls were rescued. A case under the Juvenile Justice Act, Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act and sections of IPC was registered. Another six girls were rescued after Chaudhary's arrest,'' said Ashok Chand, DCP (crime).

The 41-year-old placement agency owner was questioned at length. He disclosed that he has been running the agency for the past six years. "He bought minor girls through brokers and agents from rural areas of Assam, West Bengal and Orrisa. After being brought to Delhi, the victims were employed as domestic helps. The minor girls - mostly under 12 years - had no knowledge about their salary . All the girls want to go back. They have been sent to Nirmal Chhaya on the directions of the Child Welfare Committee,'' said additional DCP Khuswah.

Price hike leads to power tariff increase in state

GUWAHATI: Price hike of natural gas has led the Assam Power Distribution Company to increase the rate of electricity per unit by 56 paisa with effect from August this year. With implementation of the new price, consumers will have to pay Rs 5.16 for a unit of power.

"Assam Power Distribution Company Limited (APDCL) has been experiencing huge deficit on account of power purchase from various agencies due to hike in price of natural gas used as fuel for gas-based stations. This has forced us to hike the price," said Subhash Chandra Das, the chairman-cum-managing director of APDCL.

"The company is having a deficit of Rs 35 crore a month. Last year, we had a deficit of Rs 152 crore and till now, the total deficit amount is Rs 340 crore," he said, adding that the company was having a shortage of 150 megawatts.

Load shedding during the peak hours, which has been harassing the consumers for several months, however, would continue for the next three months.

"We can save about 30 to 35 per cent of power from the load shedding from 6 pm to 12 midnight in the city areas and we have to continue the process for the next three months. We will take a decision on this and the price after reviewing the whole scenario," he said.

The APDCL had earlier hiked the price by Rs 25 per unit from May this year. While declaring the price hike information, the APDCL chairman appealed to the consumers to bear with them. "The increase in power tariff is not in our hand. We have to depend on the suppliers and I hope the consumers will bear with us," he said.

Guinness record holder comes back home

GUWAHATI: Apuraj Barooah, an artist from Assam who set the Guinness World Record for drawing the longest piece of scratch art in London last week, is now back to his native state and wants to start a state-level institute to promote his genre of scratch art.

Barooah developed an interesting new technique, which he calls 'bromide scratch art'. This involves scratching bromide paper (photographic paper) with a razor blade to reveal reds, oranges, yellows and whites beneath the exposed black face of the paper.

"I am proud I could represent Assam in the Guinness World Records. I developed this art form accidentally and now want to popularize it. I want to set up a state-level institute to make 'bromide scratch art' popular among the coming generation and seek the support of the Assam government in this," said Barooah, while addressing the media here.

Barooah, a fan of noted painter Nilpawan Baruah and his singer wife, Dipali Borthakur, is currently working on five new scratch paintings that he wants to dedicate to his wife's five most popular tracks. "My next attempt will be to translate the magical songs of my wife, Dipali, into 'bromide scratch art'," he said.

The scratch artist was asked to draw a sketch that would measure at least 20 metre long and 1 metre wide to set the Guinness World Record. His piece also required a continuous theme. "My first piece was a sketch of portraits of some of the legendary figures of United Kingdom. But Guinness rejected my first piece as it did not fulfill the size criteria. I then decided to start a new one with landscapes and folk dances of 40 countries. I finished my piece in 12 hours and later it was selected for the record," he said.

Barooah's final art piece also included Bihu dance. The winning entry depicted a landscape with folk dancers from 40 countries, including India, UK, USA, Spain, Italy, China, Australia, Brazil, Japan, South Africa, France and Thailand. The finished piece measured 20 metre 30 cm in length, and 1 metre 4 cm in width.

Earlier, in 2009, Barooah also registered a record in the Limca Book of Records when he attempted a 'bromide scratch art' piece with figures of 170 dance forms from various countries in the world on a 120 m long and 6 inch wide bromide paper.

Barooah, who was an accountant in a state government office, left his job to continue his life as a promoter of the unique art form.

115 die of encephalitis in Assam

Guwahati, Jul 22 (PTI) A total 115 people have died due to encephalitis in Assam since January this year even as the government sounded an alert and advised all health centres in the state to be on vigil. While 86 died due to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES), 29 others died due to Japanese Encephalitis (JE), joint director health (malaria) Abani Kumar Goswami said here today. Twenty districts have been affected by the disease and the total number of people affected by AES was 408, while 157 have tested positive for JE so far, he said. The worst hit was Sibsagar district where 34 people had died due to AES and eight of JE while the total of affected persons are 130. The other affected districts are Sonitpur, Golaghat, Jorhat, Lakhimpur, Dibrugarh, Kamrup (rural), Barpeta, Morigaon, Kamrup (metro), Darrang, Nalbari, Nagaon, Baksa, Udalguri, Dhemaji, Bongaigaon, Dhubri, Karbi Anglong and North Cachar hills, Goswami said.

Anti-dam bodies firm to send back turbines

TEZPUR, July 22 – Tension prevails here following reports of Government possibly using security force to bring back the turbines meant for the Lower Subansiri Hydel project – being ferried in by two Bangladeshi ships – besides construction of an approach road by the NHPC authority for off-loading the huge consignments at Jahajghat.

It is pertinent to mention here that various organizations – AASU, TMPK, Krishak Mukti Sangram Samitee, etc., – have been agitating in protest against the proposed mega dams in Arunachal Pradesh.

AASU executive member Nitul Bora, when contacted, stated that the AASU, since the very beginning has been voicing protests against the dams for the greater interest of the indigenous people of Assam. We are ready to face any consequences for sending back the turbines, he said.

“We will, at any cost, prevent off-loading of the turbines here at Jahajghat,” he said. “We have already stopped the construction work of the approach road by NHPC authority,” he added.

It may be mentioned here that there was a plan to carry the turbines to the project site by trucks after off-loading them here. This, however, did not materialise due to the strong protests launched by AASU and KMSS activists. They also stalled the construction of the approach road by the NHPC. Moreover, the two ships, which were docked at the Jahajghat then, returned to Dhubri.

The NHPC authority, which tried to off-load the turbines at the Jahajghat on several occasions, could not do so due to the vigorous protests by AASU, KMSS and other organizations.

Following this, the NHPC authority on July 7 wrote to the district administration here seeking help to unloading the turbines.

Following this, the district administration had an urgent meeting at the DC Office, along with leaders of AASU, AJYCP, KMSS and senior citizens. Attending the meeting, DC of Sonitpur Tapan Chandra Sharma, SP AP Tewari and other officials urged the organisations not prevent the authority concerned in transporting the NHPC equipment to their designated place.

Govt allays fear on Subansiri dam

GUWAHATI, July 22 – Ruling out any stop in the Lower Subansiri Hydroelectric Project pending submission of findings of different expert committees/panels/groups constituted for looking into a wide range of issues concerning possible adverse impacts, State Power Minister Pradyut Bardoloi today said that it was technically feasible to have big dams in seismically vulnerable areas.

Bardoloi who was addressing the media also asserted that the Lower Subansiri project would have ‘flood cushion’ besides a mechanism for ‘mitigating downstream impacts.’

The NHPC-executed Lower Subansiri project ran into rough weather with mass protests led by the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) and the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) over apprehensions that it would jeopardize the lives and livelihoods of a large number of people in the downstream areas besides impacting the environment.

“It is possible with advanced technology to have big dams even on seismic zones, with India alone having 82 dams on such locations. But we are as concerned as the State’s people about any type of possible adverse effects including downstream and environmental, and following our pressure the Centre has constituted several panels/groups involving Central Water Commission, Planning Commission and an inter-ministerial group to study the entire gamut of issues involved,” he said.

When asked if it was not a contradiction of the Government’s stand in not keeping the controversial project in abeyance pending submission of the findings of all the panels, the Minister replied in the negative, saying that ‘work on the project cannot be stopped.’

Bardoloi said that the Lower Subansiri project could see completion by 2014. “We will facilitate transportation of the turbines to the site at Gerukamukh,” he added.

Making a strong pitch for power generation through big dams, Bardoloi said that the coal- and natural gas-based projects had been adversely hit due to insufficient supply of raw-materials and it was highly imperative to generate electricity through big dams to meet the growing demand for power.

“Today the power deficit in the State is around 300 MW and will jump to 1,000 MW in five years’ time. This makes hydel power the only viable option for substantial power generation,” he said.

Bardoloi said that the State Government had submitted a six-point charter to the Centre on the issue of big dams, urging it to involve international experts in the study on dams, to have a joint ministerial group on downstream impact mitigation, to have a study on the cumulative impact of the 120-odd proposed dams in Arunachal Pradesh, and to ensure that Assam had a fair share of the power generated in the Lower Subansiri project, including free power.

“We are also pressing hard for a joint water resource authority (NEWRA) for the North-East for scientific and sustainable management of the region’s huge water resource but this has not materialized due to Arunachal’s opposition,” he said.

Denying that the State Government surrendered before the ‘big dam lobby’, Bardoloi said that there was no such thing as the big dam lobby and that for the Government, the interests of the State and its people were supreme.

“Let me assure the people of Assam that we will never take any step that could prove to be detrimental to their interest,” he said.

Bardoloi revealed that Assam entered into an agreement with Orissa for getting a share in the coalfield at Mandakini in that State. “We will either use it for feeding the thermal projects in Assam or get a share of the power from Orissa – whichever is more viable,” he said.

It may be mentioned that the first expert committee constituted by the State Government had submitted its report in June last year, terming the present location of the Lower Subansiri dam as unfit for the purpose besides maintaining that no big dams should come up in the Himalayan foothills.

Assam scribes support Tripura journos protests

The Journalists Forum Assam (JFA) has extended its moral support to Assembly of Journalists, a forum of editors, journalists, press photographers associated with newspaper, news agency and electronic media of Tripura for its ongoing agitation against the authority. The media fraternity of Tripura has stepped up its agitational programmes against the attacks on the journalists covering events of political programmes on July 10 and 11 last by the security personnel in Agartala. According to local media 11 journalists were injured in the assaults of Tripura State Rifles jawans even after the mediamen showed their Photo Identity Cards. The Assembly of Journalists had organised a silent procession in the state capital city and also submitted a memorandum to the Governor of Tripura yesterday . The JFA, in a statement here today, urged the state government, led by senior Left politician Manik Sarkar, to take appropriate action against the guilty security personnel and also extend all possible support to the injured mediapersons for their treatment.

9 Assam girls rescued, kingpin held

NEW DELHI, July 19 – In a major breakthrough in the drive against human trafficking, Delhi Police have apprehended one of the kingpins of the racket, Munna Chaudhary, who is the owner of a placement agency. At least nine minor girls have been rescued.

An Anti-Human Trafficking Unit of the Crime Branch under ACP MS Bisht and overall Addl DCP (Crime), PS Kushwah on July 13, based on inputs from Assam Police and accompanied by a team of Shakti Vahini – NGO, raided the premises of Rajdhani Placement Agency at Rajouri Garden, Delhi.

At least three minor girls were rescued in the raid. Munna Chaudhary (41) owner of the Rajdhani Placement Agency was arrested and subjected to intensive interrogation. He disclosed that he has been running the placement agency for the last six years. He procures minor girls through brokers and agents from rural areas of Assam and after being brought to Delhi, they are employed as domestic help, sources said.

Chaudhary hails from Paneri in Udalguri district. He shifted to Delhi in 2004 in search of employment. He started Rajdhani Placement Agency in 2005. A team of police officers from Paneri has already arrived in Delhi, in this connection.

Choudhury has been booked under Juvenile Justice Act, Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act and Indian Penal Code.

The minor girls had no knowledge about their salary and they had no contact with their parents after coming to Delhi. All the girls expressed their willingness to go back to their parents. All the rescued minor girls have been sent to Nirmal Chaya on the directions of the Child Welfare Committee.

Six more girls have been rescued. All the girls are residents of Assam. All of them were produced before the Child Welfare Committee and have been sent to Nirmal Chaya.

Investigations revealed that brokers and agents of the placement agency indulged in trafficking of minor children from Assam and West Bengal and brought them to Delhi. These brokers and agents contacted poor parents of the children and won their confidence and then lured them by promising a better future for their child and money to them in the form of salary. After being brought to Delhi the minors were handed over to the placement agency.

The agents were paid Rs.12, 000 per girl, as commission by the placement agency. The placement agency charged Rs.20, 000 to 25,000 from the employer for providing the girls as domestic help. Thereafter they also collected the salary of the child but it hardly reached the parents.

Rishi Kant of Shakti Vahini said Choudhary is a prized catch and one of the top human trafficking operators to come out of Assam and establish himself big time in the national capital. He blamed lack of inter-State coordination for rise of such human traffickers.

Assamese girls forced to work for free, placement agent arrested

NEW DELHI: A placement agency owner was arrested for running a human trafficking racket by the crime branch, and nine girls from Assam were rescued. The accused has been identified as Munna Chaudhary (41) and he was allegedly running the agency for six years.

Cops said Chaudhary would procure girls through brokers and agents from rural areas of Assam and bring them to Delhi and get them employed as domestic help. These girls had no knowledge about their salary and never really got to contact their parents after coming here. Post rescue, they all expressed willingness to return home, and were sent to Nirmal Chhaya , said cops. "A joint team of Anti-Human Trafficking Unit and NGO Shakti Vahini raided the premises of Rajdhani Placement Agency at Rajouri Garden in west Delhi on Wednesday and the girls were recovered," said DCP Ashok Chand. Probe has revealed that the agency contacted poor families in Assam and West Bengal and lured their children away with promises of better life and regular salary, police said.

Agents were paid Rs 12,000 per girl as commission by the placement agency, which then charged Rs 20,000 to 25,000 from employers engaging the girls as domestic helps. It also collected salaries of the children on their behalf but the money never reached the families.

Flood scene in Assam grim, Kaziranga Park flooded

Guwahati, July 18 : The flood situation in Assam continued to be grim Monday in the four districts of Sonitpur, Lakhimpur, Dhemaji and Golaghat with over 300 people rendered homeless while the low-lying areas of Kaziranga National Park submerged. The Brahmaputra and most of its tributaries were flowing above
the danger level in the districts, the Central Water Commission said.

With nearly two lakh people reeling under the impact of the first wave of floods and four persons dead so far following incessant rains in the state and neighbouring Arunachal Pradesh, the Centre had Sunday deployed five teams of the National Disaster Response Force.

The river rising alarmingly towards the danger level was threatening to breach a dyke and inundate a 50-km stretch between Mansiri and Gotaimari.

The flood waters had entered the Kaziranga Park, home to the one-horned rhino, in Golaghat district, officials said.

The rain-fed streams had overflowed submerging some low-lying areas and a few forest check-posts in Kaziranga.

The animals in the park were, however, safe as high platforms were constructed for their shelter, officials said.

In Sonitpur, the Jiabhorali, a tributary of Brahmaputra, washed away 500 hectares along with 25 houses making over 300 people homeless at Tikajan area near Tezpur town, they said.

The NDRF was engaged in rescue and relief operations in the flood affected areas of Lakhimpur and Dhemaji, where the district administrations have pressed into service motorised boats for rescue and relief operations, they said.

The district administration and forest department were taking necessary precautionary measures and conducting relief operations.

Food items were also being supplied to the affected people by the district administrations.

AASU rally on July 30 to protest against dams

Guwahati: Over 10,000 activists of the All Assam Student's Union (Aasu) and 26 other students' and ethnic groups of the state are going to take out a rally on July 30 to press the Delhi and Dispur government to stop the ongoing construction of mega dams in the region.

The rally will also raise a demand for update of the National registrar of Citizen (NRC) in the state and on solving the state's flood and erosion problems as soon as possible.

"We have decided to launch a mass rally on July 30 for stopping of the ongoing construction of all the dams in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. Moreover, the rally will also press for immediate update of the NRC in the state. We will also seek solution for the state's flood and erosion problem," said Tapan Gogoi Aasu general secretary.

The July 30 rally is expected to witness a gathering of 10,000 activists representing various ethnic groups and the student organizations.

On Sunday, Aasu activists met ethnic groups like the All Assam Tribal Sangha, the Tea Tribe Students' Union, the Karbi Students' Union, Moran-motok groups, Rabha Student Union, the Missing Student Union and others to discuss issues like dam, NRC and flood problems in the state.

Flood in Assam: 200 villages hit, nearly 2 lakh affected

Tezpur/Lakhimpur: Nearly two lakh people have been affected by the first wave of flood which has hit Assam's twin districts of Lakhimpur and Dhemaji.
Four people have so far lost their lives in the flood that has inundated nearly 200 villages in the worst affected Jonai sub division, official sources said in Guwahati today.
The district administrations of Lakhimpur and Dhemaji have pressed motor boats into service for rescue and relief operations.
The boats belong to the districts Disaster Management authority but incessant rain has hampered rehabilitation operation.
Flood has also affected neighbouring Sonitpur district with revenue circles of Halem and Gohpur under water of the swollen Subansiri river.
Meanwhile, the swirling water of river Jiadhol has caused flash floods in parts of villages of Kechukana, Lowmunri, Misamari and Naruathan.
Food items are being supplied to the affected people by the Dhemaji district administration.

Students' body raps Sanskrit Board for 'faulty' question papers

GUWAHATI: The mother of all Indian languages, Sanskrit, seems to be in a pathetic condition in the state. To add insult to injury, the Sanskrit Board, which conducts examination in the language, has set faulty question papers for the Class X and XII exams that were held recently.

The All Assam Sanskrit Students' Union (Aassu), the students' organization representing Sanskrit students in the state, alleged that Sanskrit Board has not done anything for development of the language in the state.

"The students studying Sanskrit in the state are in a very pathetic condition. The Sanskrit Board's utter negligence has led to setting of faulty question papers for the class X and XII exams," said Jugal Kumar Mahanta, the secretary of Aassu.

Disaster response teams deployed in flood-hit Assam

With the water having touched the danger level in the Brahmaputra in some areas of Assam, the central government has deployed teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) in the affected areas for rescue and relief operations.

The central government is monitoring the situation in close coordination with the state government, an official release said here Sunday.

The home ministry release said the affected areas include Dhemaji (46 villages), Jorhat (25 villages), Lakhimpur (65 villages) and Sonitpur (three revenue circles) apart from Dhubri.

The release said that the central government has taken necessary precautionary measures by deploying teams of NDRF located at Guwahati in the affected districts.

"These teams are carrying specialized equipment to respond in any eventuality emanating from flood emergencies," the spokesperson said, adding that theteams are equipped with deep diving equipment, inflatable boats, lifebuoys and life jackets.

The release said the home ministry is constantly monitoring the situation in close coordination with the Assam government.

Flood situation in Assam remains unchanged

Heavy rainfall in Arunachal Pradesh and Assam for the last two days has affected Sonitpur, Lakhimpur and Dhemaji districts of Assam submerging villages and hitting a population of over 1.50 lakh.
Rain-fed river Brahmaputra, its tributaries and other rivers flowing down from the upper reaches of Arunachal were causing the first wave of floods in Assam submerging 105 villages in Lakhimpur district affecting 1.25 lakh people, officials said on Saturday.
While the rising Humdiri river in Lakhimpur had overrun 15 new villages under Lakhimpur revenue circle overnight, the swollen Subansiri flowing down from the neighbouring state was rising menacingly breaching an agricultural embankment.
At least 20000 hectare of agricultural land had been covered by the flood waters damaging standing crops there, the sources said.
Four persons drowned on Friday when the Ranganadi embankment breached at Kharkati under Lakhimpur revenue circle.
In neighbouring Dhemaji district the deluge caused by the swollen Jiadhol river affected Kechukhana, Ghuguha, Lowmuri, Naruathan and other areas affecting 25000 people, officials said.
The surging waters overtopping the National Highway 52 connecting Lakhimpur and Dhemaji districts with Arunachal closing traffic on Friday has, however, ebbed and movement of vehicles was restored on Saturday.
In Sonitpur district, the flood waters of Brahmaputra's tributary Jiabhorali breached a major embankment at Gotaimari, submerging three villages and rendering 25 families homeless on Saturday.
Chatrang river overran Ward number four areas of Gohpur town inundating most of its low lying areas and of Brahmajan and Kalabari areas.
The Jiabhorali and Depota rivers were rising alarmingly and were feared to cross their danger levels soon unless the heavy rainfall ceased.
Meanwhile, the district administrations were on high alert and providing relief materials in the affected areas, officials added. (DD-16.7)

Plea for better HIV drug stock

Interactive session stresses on shelters and trained doctors

Students participate in an AIDS awareness rally in Guwahati.

Guwahati, July 16 : HIV-positive patients of the Northeast complained about lack of adequate stock of drugs at centres administering anti-retroviral therapy (ART) in the region during an interactive session here today.

In the Northeast, Manipur is the only state to have a second-line ART centre, while the rest just have a first-line ART centre adding to the hardships of HIV-positive patients.

The interactive session was organised by World Vision, India, a Christian humanitarian organisation.

According to available statistics, Manipur has an estimated HIV population of 38,016, while the number of registered HIV cases in Nagaland is 11,224. Around 19,000 individuals in Assam are estimated to be infected by HIV, of which only 6,000 have been registered so far.

Although first-line ART centres are available in the northeastern states, the stocks of certain medicines keep fluctuating. In such a situation, doctors often substitute the prescribed medicines with some other drug and later, when stocks are available, the patient is switched over to the original medicine.

Jahnabi Goswami, president of the Indian Network of People Living with HIV/ AIDS said, “The state governments of the Northeast should ensure that adequate stocks of ART drugs are available at all times. Suppose a patient has been taking Stavudine. When its stock gets depleted, doctors switch him over to Nevirapine for a few months. Again he is switched back to the original drug after its stock arrives or vice versa. This is dangerous as changing of ART drugs frequently can make a patient develop resistance to a particular drug. Besides, anyone who requires the second-line ART has to travel to Manipur or Calcutta and that proves to be expensive. It is essential that such centres be made available in every northeastern state.”
Reni Jacob, the advocacy director of World Vision, India, said in keeping with WHO recommendations, state governments should phase out the ART drug Stavudine (d4T) from the first-line regiment as it has long-term irreversible side effects. Instead the National AIDS Control Organisation should substitute it with Tenofovir (TDF).
Moreover, lack of appropriate shelters for HIV-affected children and unavailability of trained doctors to treat such patients are major problems in the states.
“I and my three-year-old daughter are living with HIV. Although ART treatment is provided for free in Meghalaya, I face problems finding doctors to treat my child when she develops some sickness. It would be nice if we have doctors who are trained to deal with small children with HIV,” an HIV-positive mother from Meghalaya said.
“We require specific shelter homes for HIV-positive orphans in the region, as most shelter homes refuse to keep them citing one reason or the other. Moreover, when we get a child admitted to school, the school authorities after knowing his positive status refuse to keep him. They give excuses like the child’s academic performance is not good. This discrimination affects the child very deeply,” Goswami said.

Northern Assam reel under floods

Guwahati, July 14: Rising water levels of rivers, fed by incessant rain in bordering states, have flooded vast areas in northern Assam’s Lakhimpur and Sonitpur districts.

About 50 villages in Gohpur in Sonitpur district have been inundated by the waters of Brahmajan river.

Continuous rains in Arunachal Pradesh have led to rising water level in the river.

About 200 families have been affected as flood waters entered human habitation areas through breached embankments.

People have been taking shelter on roads and near railway tracks.

In Lakhimpur district, strong current has led the Kani river to change course, affecting large areas.

National highway 52, running through the area, has also been inundated by flood waters.

68 Rhinos poached in Assam in five years

Guwahati, Jul 15 : As many as 68 rhinos have been poached in Assam in the last five years, Forest Minister Rockybul Hussain informed today.

Replying to separate questions in the state Assembly, Mr Hussain said the highest number of rhinos poached in the last five years was in 2007, when 21 pachyderms were killed.

In 2006, nine rhinos were poached, 16 in 2008, 15 in 2009 and seven in 2010, he added.

The minister said the rhino census in 2009 had recorded a total of 2201 rhinos in the state.

He further informed that altogether 2853 forest guards are employed in the state.

Of them, 655 were employed in the nine wildlife divisions of the state and 2198 in the territorial division.

Man-elephant conflict discussed in Assam Assembly

Guwahati, Jul 15 : As the man-elephant conflict continued to grow over the years, the issue was today raised in the Assam Assembly.

Opposition Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) MLA Padma Hazarika, bringing a Zero Hour notice on man-elephant conflict, stressed that the issue was more important than flood menace in several parts of the state.

He cited yesterday’s instance of a man being trampled to death by a wild elephant in Sonitpur district, which infuriated the local people and led them to beat up forest department officials who later visited the place.

Hazarika, while underlining the need for more and prompt monetary compensation for damage to life and property by wild animals, also highlighted the need for better coordination between public and forest officials.

He also stressed on the need to enlist help of experts to control and chase away marauding wild elephants and better equipment and vehicles for forest department officials to promptly reach spots where the pachyderms create havoc.

Forest Minister Rockybul Hussain, admitting the problem, said the government was adopting various measures to curtail it.

He stressed on the need to protect elephant habitats and ensure adequate food for the pachyderms as a major measure in ensuring that elephants do not enter human habitations.

Hussain added that monetary compensation had been increased and a mechanism for early disbursement of compensation put into place.

Big dams needed for development: CM

GUWAHATI, July 15 – Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi today told the Assembly that power generation through big dams would serve the interests of the State by facilitating industrialization and overall development. He further reasoned that with adequate provisions, big dams would help moderate the perennial problems of flood and erosion.

“Big dams are essential for power generation, which, in turn, can expedite industrialization and contribute to the overall development process. They will also help in flood moderation,” Gogoi added.

Seeking to allay widespread apprehensions about adverse effects of big dams, Gogoi said that with better technologies it was possible to build dams even in earthquake-prone areas besides mitigating possible adverse downstream impacts.

The Chief Minister said that even the AGP, which is now opposing mega dams, had advocated those while in power. The permission for the Lower Subansiri dam was given during the AGP tenure in 2000, he added.

Stressing the need for effective utilization of the State’s water resources, especially the Brahmaputra, Gogoi said that it was a huge asset and would boost the development process if adequately harnessed.

He also said that for addressing the issue of erosion, the government would involve the best of international experts.

Asserting that the State had made a lot of progress in the recent past, Gogoi said that its growth rate of 8.1 per cent during the current year testified to the fact. “This is Planning Commission’s statistics, and we intend to perform even better in the days ahead,” he said, adding that Assam compared favourably with many advanced States on several fronts in the recent years.

Citing education as a key area for facilitating growth and development, Gogoi said that the idea behind the renewed thrust on the sector was to overhaul the education system. “Unemployment has to be solved through expansion of quality education…we will be having a number of medical and engineering colleges in different districts,” he said, adding that skill development and capacity building through education was a priority area.

Gogoi said that tea garden areas and chars (riverine) were the educationally most backward, and special focus was needed to bring them at par with the rest of the State.

Claiming that the law-and-order situation improved a lot, the Chief Minister said that the past two-three years witnessed the lowest civilian casualty, with almost all the insurgent groups either engaged in talks or showing genuine interest for a negotiated settlement of their grievances.

Gogoi said that Adivasi People’s Army, which triggered the blast to derail the Guwahati-Puri Express, too had declared a ceasefire.

“We are not for confronting anyone but at the same time we will not tolerate violence. Doors are still open for Paresh Baruah as well to join the peace process,” he said, adding that every group, including the ULFA, was welcome to secure power in a democratic manner, as the government was “nobody’s personal property”.

Claiming that the scenario concerning agriculture and rural development was brightening up, Gogoi said that the number of beggars was on the wane.

Citing woman empowerment as another crucial area, Gogoi said that significant progress had been made on that front with the functioning of the panchayati raj institutions and the growing self-help group (SHG) movement.

Assam govt welcomes Ulfa ceasefire

Appeals Baruah faction to join peace process too.

Welcoming the decision of the pro-talk faction of United Liberation Front of Asom (Ulfa) to declare unilateral ceasefire for paving the way for talks with the Centre, the Assam government today appealed anti-talk faction led by Paresh Baruah also to join the peace process.

The pro-talk faction of the outfit, led by its chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa, had declared the ceasefire yesterday and said the decision was taken at the 5th general council of the organisation, held on February 22.

“Ulfa with a view to exploring a lasting peaceful resolution of the ongoing conflict, resolves to cease all forms of armed campaign for an indefinite period,” said Ulfa’s statement.

In a statement, the Assam government said: “We welcome the initiative and we will take all steps for facilitating the peace talks.”

The Assam government appealed the anti-talk faction to “come forward for talks” and said it was “committed to keep the doors open for talks with the group”. However, the state government added a caveat that it would not wait “indefinitely” for the Paresh Baruah faction.

“Government of Assam is always ready for talks with any organisation which shows willingness for discussion on all outstanding issues in a peaceful manner. The government of Assam also appeals to Ranjan Daimary faction of National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) and militant adivasi organisations to come forward for talks. In this regard, the government of Assam has already initiated discussion NDFB (progressive), Adivasi Cobra (ACMA) and Birsa Commando Force (BCF),” it added.

AJYCP demonstration against mega dams

GUWAHATI, July 12 – Members of Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba-Chatra Parishad (AJYCP) today staged demonstrations at the district and subdivisional headquarters all over the State in support of their demand for abandoning the existing and proposed mega dam hydel projects of the NE region and neighbouring Bhutan.

They also registered their protest against the bid to bring back the Lower Subansiri Hydroelectric Power Project (LSHEP) turbines to the State. They demanded that the barges carrying the turbines should instead be sent back.

The AJYCP members also sent memorandums to the Prime Minister of the country, demanding immediate steps to scrap all the mega dam projects and sending back the turbine-laden barges from Assam.

In the city, the members of the Guwahati district committee of the AJYCP staged a demonstration near the Panbazar ferry station. Later they sent a memorandum to the Prime Minister through the Deputy Commissioner of Kamrup (Metro) district, said a press release.

Meanwhile, Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti general secretary Akhil Gogoi, in an open letter to Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, questioned the legitimacy of his claim that the mega dam projects would solve the State’s problem of floods.

He also described the bid of the Government of India to set up 168 hydel projects in Arunachal Pradesh as a colonial attempt to exploit the water resources of the region. The State Government should not extend support to the Central Government in this respect, said the KMSS general secretary.

The KMSS general secretary also alleged that the Central Government has been ignoring the rights of Assam over the inter-State rivers flowing through its territory. The environment impact assessment (EIA) studies conducted for setting up the hydel projects in the NE region have not covered the issue of impact of these projects in downstream Assam, he alleged.

The cumulative impact of these projects, together with the Bhutanese ones with the joint capacity of generating 15,000 MW of power, should be properly studied before going for setting up such projects, said the KMSS general secretary.

1,57,465 doubtful voters in Assam

Guwahati, Jul 11 (PTI) There are 1,57,465 doubtful or 'D' voters in Assam and their credentials are being examined legally, Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said today.Replying to a question by AIUDF legislator Sherman Ali Ahmed in the assembly, the chief minister said 5577 of the doubtful voters have been found to be foreigners and necessary measures have been taken to deport them.Gogoi said he had received complaints from some organisations regarding harassment of genuine Indian citizens as doubtful voters and necessary enquiries are being made in this regard.''If any official has been found guilty of harassing genuine Indian citizens as 'D' voters, action will be taken against them according to the law of the land'', he said.Asked whether compensation will be paid to genuine citizens for being harassed as doubtful voters, Gogoi said there was no such provision under the existing law.

Profile: Union cabinet minister Paban Singh Ghatowar

It was a long journey for Paban Singh Ghatowar from his humble beginning as a leader of the tea tribe community in Assam to becoming a minister of state with independent charge in the Union cabinet.

The five-time Dibrugarh MP first entered the Lok Sabha in 1991 after a long innings in the Indian National Trade Union Congress, Assam, where he was general secretary, working for the welfare of several lakh tea garden labourers engaged in over 1,000 tea estates.

Reacting to his appointment as minister of state (independent charge) in the ministry of development of North Eastern region (DoNER), Ghatowar told PTI that he would try his best to work for the welfare of the eight Northeastern states.

"I will try to bring development to every nook and corner of the North East. All existing projects will be expedited on a priority basis with the active cooperation of the state governments," he said.

Ghatowar, 61, first became a deputy minister in the P V Narasimha Rao government and was later made a minister of state for health and family welfare.

The former Assam Pradesh Congress Committee chief has been elected to the Lok Sabha continuously since 1991 barring once and after his election in 2009, he was made the chief whip, Congress Parliamentary Party, Lok Sabha.

Ghatowar's wife Jibontara is an MLA in Assam.

Over 800 people get free medical checkup at Army camp

SILCHAR: More than 800 patients were given free medical aid at an Army camp organized on the NMHS School premises in Banskandi under Lakhipur sub-division in Cachar district on Saturday.

Security personnel of the 11 Field Regiment (Zojila) organized the camp as a part of its civic action programme under the aegis of 57 Mountain Artillery Brigade of Red Shield Division of the Army.

The camp aimed to provide free checkups, free distribution of medicines and laboratory investigations. Dental specialist provided treatment to the patients while women patients received checkup by woman doctor.

People from Banskandi and nearby villages, bordering Manipur, attended the medical camp in large numbers, said 11 Field Regiment colonel RK Singh.

He added that response of the local population was very enthusiastic and they expressed their gratitude to brigadier MJS Tiwana, commander Red Shield Artillery Brigade and requested them to organize more such medical camps in future.

"By organizing such camps and projects for the needy and underprivileged people, the Army authorities are reaching out to people more and improving the quality of health and hygiene in the area", said Singh.

Army doctor Kariminder Kaur, doctors from Banskandi Primary Health Centre Ziaur Rahman and Pawaz Hyder Chaudhaury served in the camp.

Apart from colonel Singh, those who spoke at the occasion include, SDO (civil), Lakhipur Leena Das, NMHS School principal Alauddin Laskar and retired principal of Nehru Collage, Poilapool Abdul Sayed Chaudhaury.

Assam to maintain strict vigil on railway network

The Centre asked the Assam government to maintain utmost vigil, especially on the railway network, in the wake of derailment of an express train following a blast near Guwahati.

Secretary (Internal Security) in the Ministry of Home Affairs Utthan Kumar Bansal said the Assam government has assured the Central government that "vigorous steps" are being taken to apprehend those responsible for the bomb blast.

"In the last three months, the Central government had shared a number of intelligence inputs with the government of Assam on possible threats to the railway network," he said.

Bansal said these intelligence inputs pointed to possible violent acts by anti-talk faction of the NDFB.

The group's publicity secretary B Sanjio has denied the involvement of NDFB. ULFA has denied its involvement and condemned the blast.

"It is learnt that an email has been received by a Guwahati-based television channel from a group called 'Adivasi People's Army'. This group has claimed responsibility for the bomb blast. The email has been sent by one Sylvia Orang, a self-styled commander of the group. He is otherwise known as Soren," Bansal said.

The IED blast on Sunday damaged a complete stretch of the railway track and led to derailment of seven bogies of the Guwahati-Puri Express, injuring over 100 passengers in Assam's rural Kamrup district.

Lower Subansiri mega dam protest wave lashes Guwahati

GUWAHATI: Activists of the All Assam Students Union (Aasu), the All Mising Students Union (Amsu) and others rocked the city streets on Saturday with a satyagraha programme seeking a halt on mega dam construction in the lower Subansiri basin.

Some Aasu leaders maintained that they would stop the construction work at any cost. Around 5,000 protestors thronged the road before heading to the Kamrup Metro district deputy commissioner's office to submit a memorandum to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and chief minister Tarun Gogoi.

"One after another the central government is looting the resources from the state. We are not going to sit idle and watch. Do not loose your heart and make your voice heard louder against the construction of mega dams," said Aasu advisor Samujjal Bhattacharyya while addressing the protestors.

"They do not have money to address our problems like flood, but they want to be the owner of our property. We cannot let it happen," he said, adding that Aasu was not against development.

"We are not against development of the state. But, we do not want to destroy the future of the generations to come. Even after the report from experts of the Gauhati University and IIT Guwahati which suggested stopping of the project in the lower Subansiri basin, the government continued the work," he said.

"We have several other options. The government can opt for micro dams for electricity instead of mega dams," he added.

The students' leader also slammed the role played by chief minister Tarun Gogoi. "The chief minister does not represent people of the state. He does not have the courage to speak out in New Delhi in front of the central ministry on behalf of the people here," Bhattacharyya said.

Later, the students' body handed over a memorandum to the Kamrup Metro deputy commissioner addressed to the Prime Minister and Assam chief minister.

Former MLA of Jonai of Lakhimpur district, Bhuban Pegu who also joined the satyagraha said the state was ashamed of the chief minister. "Shame on Tarun Gogoi. Chief ministers from other states would have reacted such proposals in favour of people and tried to stop such mega dams," he said.

Gogoi plan for user right over Brahmaputra

GUWAHATI: The Assam government has sought the Planning Commission's help to claim the user's right over the Brahmaputra.

This comes amid India's efforts to have a water-sharing treaty with China that recently unveiled it plans to divert the Brahmaputra in Tibet where the river is known as the Tsangpo.

On Saturday, chief minister Tarun Gogoi said, "Last week, I told the Planning Commission that we should optimise the use of the Brahmaputra waters to claim the user's right over the river. We have been living with the idea that the Brahmaputra is a curse that causes devastating floods and erosion. We can actually make turn it into a boon." The CM added, "Experts have told me that China's diversion plans will not affect the Brahmaputra. When the river enters Assam from China, it discharges 78 million cubic metre of water into the state. But when it leaves the state and joins the Ganga, it discharges 600 million cubic metre of water. Aided by it tributaries, it generates more water in Assam than China."

Gogoi said, "The Centre is holding talks with China to have a water-sharing treaty. I, on my part, am trying to claim the user's right over the river, and that is why we should have hydel projects."

The Committee of Secretaries (CoS) has also asked Arunachal Pradesh to plan a major water storage project near the international border to establish its right over the river and counter China's diversion project. Gogoi said many hydel projects had been allotted to Arunachal Pradesh to establish its right over the Brahmaputra. One of these projects is located in Lower Subansiri.

Anti-dam activists have opposed it saying construction of a dam in the upper reaches would create havoc in the downstream. The CM added, "Some protesters recently forced the NHPC to take back turbines for hydel projects. I will bring back the turbines." Gogoi said he had asked for complete channelisation of the Brahmaputra in his proposal to the Planning Commission. He added, " The Brahmaputra has a massive discharge of water that not been tapped so far. The optimal utilization of its waters is our prime concern. It should be recognized as a flagship initiative in the 12th Five Year Plan.

CM greets Talukdar

Jayanta Talukdar
Guwahati, July 10 : Chief minister Tarun Gogoi today congratulated archer Jayanta Talukdar for booking a berth in the Indian contingent for the London Olympics next year.
Gogoi, who is also the president of Assam Olympic Association, today called up Talukdar, who is participating in the World Archery Championship at Turin in Italy, to wish him success in London.
The Jamshedpur-based Tata Archery Academy player Talukdar, who represents Jharkhand at the national level, has become the second sportsperson from Assam after two-time Olympian Deepankar Bhattacharjee to qualify for the Olympics.
Talukdar, who was seeded fifth in the elimination round of the event, began his campaign on Friday from the third round match against 28th ranked Antti Tekoniemi of Finland and won by six points to four.
Talukdar is one of the eight individuals to win a place in the men’s section.
Earlier, the Indian women’s team — Deepika Kumari, Chekrovolu Swuro and Laishram Bombayla Devi — also earned India three berths.
Talukdar, however, missed the title, going down to 44th ranked Jeff Henckels of Luxembourg 5-6.

AASU to stage stir against Subansiri dam

GUWAHATI, July 10 – The All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) and the Takam Mising Porin Kebang (TMPK) will jointly stage a Satyagraha in the city tomorrow in protest against the design to bring back the turbines of the Lower Subansiri Hydroelectric Power Project (LSHEP).

Meanwhile, the members of the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) blocked the National Highway at Chapakhowa for about five hours since 5 am today in protest against the bids of the authorities to bring back the turbines of the LSHEP. The KMSS members also took out a torch-light procession on the same issue at Sadiya last night.

The Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba-Chatra Parishad (AJYCP) has by this time announced resumption of its agitational programmes against the mega-dam hydel projects, including the 2000-MW Lower Subansiri Hydroelectric Power Project (LSHEP).

The AASU and the TMPK said in a joint statement here today that its members would also stage a Satyagraha in Tezpur on July 11 on the issue.

The experts of the IIT, Guwahati, Gauhati University and Dibrugarh University have unequivocally said that the mega-dam projects should not be located in the seismically sensitive Himalayan foothill areas.

The committee constituted by the State Assembly to go into the matter also echoed this observation of the experts. But the Governments in the State and at the Centre have not implemented the recommendation of the experts and the Assembly committee, said the AASU and the TMPK.

The KMSS has said in a statement that its about 200 members were arrested by the police at Chapakhowa today and till this evening they were not released.

In a separate statement here, the AJYCP has said that its members would resort to a protest programme on July 9 at Dhubri against the mega-dam projects.

This will be followed by a state-wide protest programme on July 12. The members of the AJYCP would stage demonstrations at the district and sub-divisional headquarters all over the State that day to register their protest against the mega-dam projects being constructed in the NE region.

The AJYCP would continue with its agitational programmes against the mega-dam projects until all such projects, including the LSHEP, proposed to be set up in the NE region, are abandoned, it has warned the Government.