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.