From Our Correspondent
Silchar, May 12: Cachar Congress took out a huge protest rally against the “anti-people and anti-farmer policies of the rendra Modi led NDA Government and drastic reduction of the Central share of fincial assistance to Assam” here today.
The rally, as part of the statewide protest, was taken out from Rajib Bhawan here and moved through the main thoroughfares of the town followed by the submission of the memorandum at the Deputy Commissioner’s office.
The memorandum was submitted to the Prime Minister of India through the Deputy Commissioner of Cachar .
The memorandum, which came up with 9 point charter of demands, said that the decision of the Central Government to remove the special category status of Assam and other north eastern states is a big injustice to the people of north east region as it will create hindrance in removing regiol imbalance and will badly affect the overall economic development of Assam and other north eastern states. The decision of the Centre to discontinue the existing 90:10 pattern of Central funding policy to Assam and north east for various Central sponsored schemes shows the apathy of the Centre towards the progress and development of Assam.
The memorandum also said that the drastic reduction in funds for Assam during 2015-16 will jeopardize key-sectors like rural development, health and family welfare, education, women and child welfare, drinking water and sanitation and other welfare schemes. The schemes like MGNREGA, IAY, NRHM, SSA as well as other schemes are at the stage of virtual closure due to the drastic reduction of funds to tune of more than 50% in comparison to the previous year. Besides, the government has decided to discontinue the existing 100% fund sharing pattern in respect of tiolized schemes like horticulture, sustaible agriculture, agriculture extension and technology as well as Rashrtiya Krishi Vikash Yoja will have negative impact on the farmers and agricultural development of the state as 80% of the population of Assam is dependent on agriculture.
Besides, the decision of the Centre to push the land acquisition rehabilitation and resettlement bill in order to protect the business interests of big capitalists and corporate bodies by nullifying the previous land acquisition Act, 2013, is betrayal to the farmers and common people of the country. The government has stopped the existing provision of providing Central funds to north eastern states including Assam for schemes under Normal Central Assistances (NCA), Special Central Assistance (SCA) and Special Plan Allocation (SPA) in a very arbitrary manner without consulting the states. On the other hand, the whimsical decision of the Centre, to suspend the North East Industrial Promotion Policy will discourage the intending industrialists from investing in Assam. Besides, the Centre has not yet released the required fund to Assam for implementation of tiol Food Security Act.
The memorandum further said that Assam is a flood prone and erosion affected state which suffers huge casualties in terms of human lives, livestock and agriculture, infrastructure comprising roads, bridges, flood protection embankments, and property every year due to it. The state government had requested the Centre for fund of Rs.1915.15 crore for repair and restoration of flood damages and Rs.619 crore for rescue and relief operations as last year 23 out of 27 districts of the state were severely affected in floods, but, the Centre has so far released only Rs.288 crores. The state had demanded Rs.6700 crore for strengthening of flood embankments and other protection measures, but the Centre has not yet released any funds though the next flood season has already arrived.
The memorandum also raised the issue of royalty that the petroleum and tural gas based companies like ONGC, OIL and others are liable to pay the state government. Such companies are liable VAT at 6% and royalty on production of crude oil at 20% on well head price, subject to certain deductions to the states on market rates not on post discount price. But the Ministry of Petroleum and tural Gas has asked the companies to pay royalty on the basis of subsidized prices which is against the policies due to which the state has suffered a cumulative loss of revenue of more than Rs.10,000 crore.
The APCC added that in this regard the Gujarat High Court on a decision has held that the royalty shall be payable to the state on market price of crude oil and not on post discount price. The issue has been brought to the notice of the Centre many times but the Centre has not yet responded on the matter. Poor states like Assam cannot afford such a huge loss revenue. Moreover, oil producing states like Assam should not be denied the benefits of their tural resources and made to compensate for the under recoveries of the Central PSUS, the memorandum added.
The memorandum raised a strong protest against all the above steps taken by the Centre and demanded that such anti-people policies should be withdrawn immediately. The rally was joined by a number of Congress leaders and supporters which included Karnendu Bhattacharjee, former MP, Ajit Singh, minister of Transport, Excise, Youth and Culture, Arun Dutta Mazumder and Kishore Bhattacharjee along with others. The memorandum was signed by Arun Dutta Mazumder, president, District Congress Committee of Silchar.