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Fresh char survey on cards

GUWAHATI, Feb 9: The Assam Government on Friday told the State Assembly that it would soon embark on a survey of the char (riverine) areas of the State with a view to assessing the ground socio-economic realities in the areas. This was in response to the pointer by AIUDF MLA Mamun Imdadul Haque Chawdhury as he dwelt on the state of affairs in these areas and the woeful lack of any fresh survey.
Pointing to the dismal state of affairs in the poor and backward char areas, Chawdhury said, “The last survey of char areas was conducted in 2002-03. After that, no survey has been done. A fresh survey is needed to estimate the number of char areas since these areas keep changing with changes in river courses. Education is pathetic in these areas. The last survey revealed there were 2,251 char areas in 14 districts beside the Brahmaputra with a literacy rate of 19.31%. Dhubri had the highest number of such areas – 480 with a literacy rate of 14.80%. It must be reiterated that the socio-economic plight of people in these areas is extremely worrisome. The educational scenario is frustrating. It’s deplorable that the existence of the Char Area Development Department is not felt in these areas at all. It seems there is rampant loot going on in the department.”
Responding to Chawdhury’s concern, State Parliamentary Affairs Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary said, “After coming to power, for the first time our Government has taken an initiative to boost education in char areas. We are going to set up 14 Government women’s colleges in such areas. The previous Government had never had the occasion to float such schemes. We, however, accept that these areas lack proper educational avenues. This is precisely the reason why we are going ahead with our education initiatives. We have already decided to conduct a fresh survey of such areas. The department concerned has asked for fund allocation for the purpose. For the first phase of the survey, it has asked for Rs 22.55 lakh. We need a total of Rs 50 lakh. The survey will be conducted under the aegis of the Omeo Kumar Das Institute of Social Change and Development. And money will be sourced from the Finance Department.”