ASTC staring at losses to the tune of Rs 700 crore, says Patowary
BY OUR STAFF REPORTER
GUWAHATI, Aug 10: To develop the Northeast and especially to encourage industrial units in the region, the Centre under the North East Industrial and Investment Policy (NEIIP) gave various subsidies including transport subsidy. But some of these industries allegedly misused the subsidy given to them.
Raising this issue on the floor of the House on Wednesday, AGP MLA Prafulla Kumar Mahanta and a few other MLAs said large-scale irregularities had taken place in disbursing transport subsidy and demanded that a probe be instituted into the whole issue.
In his reply, State Industry and Commerce Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary assured the House that an enquiry into the issue would be conducted by the Industry department Commissioner.
Records furnished in the House by the minister stated that during 2015-16 fiscal, Rs 30 crore as transport subsidy was given to about 81 industrial units in the State by the Government of India. "As per procedure, district industry offices check and verify the documents submitted by the industrial units concerned, and send the documents to the Government of India, which in turn releases the subsidy amount to NEDFi for disbursing the same to the industrial units concerned," said the minister.
Patowary further said several industrial units in the State are facing immense difficulty in production after the suspension of NEIIP since 2014. "Chief Minister Sarbanda Sonowal and myself have already taken up this issue with the Central government and urged the latter to continue the policy," added Patowary.
On the huge loss facing the Assam State Transport Corporation (ASTC), the minister informed the House that ASTC's accumulated loss has been estimated at around Rs 700 crore. "So it has become necessary to reform the ASTC," the minister said, adding, "Due to negligence, close to 272 buses have been dumped in the garage, out of which the condition of 174 buses are beyond repair. We will look into why the buses were not repaired and what caused the shortage of buses."
Patowary further said, "One of the reasons the ASTC is facing problems is that the organization's objective is mainly service-oriented. ASTC runs buses in many areas where there are very less passengers."