LAKHIMPUR, Dec 29 – As the blockade against carriage of construction materials of NHPC continues, the group spearheading protest against Lower Subansiri hydroelectric project today threatened to launch an economic blockade if talks were not held by tomorrow, but the Assam Government rejected the demand, reports PTI.
Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) chief Akhil Gogoi, who is spearheading the anti-dam protests since December 16, served an ultimatum to the Government to hold talks by tomorrow or face an economic blockade both against Arunachal Pradesh and the National Hydro-electric Power Corporation.
NHPC is constructing the Lower Subansiri project, the biggest hydroelectric project undertaken in India so far, which is located near North Lakhimpur on the border of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.
Power Minister Pradyut Bordoloi, however, said, “We will not be intimidated by anybody when it comes to national and state interest.”
“There should be a proper atmosphere for talks which cannot be held with anyone using abusive language against a duly elected Chief Minister,” Bordoloi told reporters here.
GUWAHATI, Dec 16 – State Power Minister Pradyut Bordoloi today said that there has been a 24 per cent increase in the demand for power in the State from a time when per capita consumption was one of the lowest in the country and that Assam has initiated several initiatives and is planning several policy level interventions to boost the supply.
Inaugurating the two-day North East Energy Conclave – Leveraging Opportunities organized by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) at Kalakshetra auditorium, Bordoloi, said, “Formulation of a renewable energy support policy, captive power policy and bidding for a oil block in Upper Assam are some of the steps in that direction.”
The Minister added that there exists in various sectors but there has to be judicious balance on achieving the energy security and maintaining the environmental concerns.
The conclave is being organized to provide a platform to discuss, debate and share information on the outlook and opportunities via-a-vis the infrastructural and policy imperatives for investment in the energy sector of the North East.
Nayan Moni Borah, Chairman, CII North East Council and CMD, Oil Indian Limited gave an overview of the energy scenario of the region and said that challenges posed by the New Exploration Licensing Policy. Apart from posing challenges it has also made the home grown companies competitive, Borah said.
Imploring on the need for technology intervention on reaching new horizons of exploration, he said that ‘we are not running out of oil, we are running out of ideas’. Exploration opportunities coupled with advancement in technology will help the region in bridging the demand supply gap.”
Earlier, Dipak Chakravarty, Chairman, CII Assam State Council and managing director Numaligarh Refinery Limited (NRL) said that North East with its huge repository of energy inputs portfolio, including hydrocarbons and water resource, will have a huge role to play and would emerge as the power house of thriving India.
Chakravarty said that crude oil production in the region is going up steadily but the pertinent challenge is to venture into un-ventured areas.
A host of other related issues will be discussed during the course of the conclave.
Source: Assam Tribune
NORTH LAKHIMPUR, Dec 16 – The Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) and several other organisations opposing the construction of the mega dam over river Subansiri in Gerukamukh today blocked vehilces carrying construction materials to the NHPC worksite on the outskirts of North Lakhimpur.
The blockade began at 9 am and more than ten thousand people gathered at Pahumara, some 7 km west of North Lakhimpur off the river Ranganadi. They stopped all the vehicles coming and allowed only private vehicles, public transport and the vehicles of NHPC carrying essential commodities to pass, while forcing the vehicles carrying construction materials to halt on NH-52.
As a result, more than a hundred trucks carrying machinery and other logistics were left stranded. This created a huge convergence of curious onlookers and mediapersons at the Pahumara tiniali here. Normal traffic was also affected considerably as the vehicles had to slow down due to the blockade.
The district administration deployed a large number of police and security personnel on the spot to meet any eventuality. The blockade organisers like KMSS, TMPK, AJYCP and others also held a huge rally on the sands of the river Ranganadi, where their leaders delivered speeches against big dams and the threat they pose in the downstream areas. No untoward incident was reported from the blockade site.
Source: Assam Tribune
GUWAHATI, Nov 23 – The hard line faction of the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) today announced its new 16 member central committee headed by Dr Abhijit Barman, who will be the acting chairman, while, the commander in chief Paresh Baruah will also be the acting vice chairman of the outfit.
The hard line faction, in a release issued to the media today, announced the list of new central committee members but it refrained from divulging the identity of the new acting chairman. Paresh Baruah has got the additional responsibility and his rank in the outfit has been upgraded from “colonel” to “Major General”. The outfit also revealed that the new committee was formed in the mobile military headquarter.
As per the list, senior ULFA member Jiban Moran will be the assistant general secretary and acting finance secretary while, Drishti Rajkhowa and Bijoy Das will be the deputy commander in chief. Michael Deka Phukan and Partha Gogoi will be the assistant finance secretaries, while, Montu Saikia, Nayan Medhi, Salim and Azhar Ali will be the assistant organizing secretaries.
The release said that Samiran Bhuyan, Sagar Topno and Jyotirmoy Bharali would be the assistant cultural secretaries and Arunodoi Dohotiya will be the assistant publicity secretary. Dr Pranmoy Asom will be the assistant foreign secretary of the outfit.
The identity of the new acting chairman of the ULFA is still unknown as even the security agencies do not have any information on him. Interestingly, the hard line faction of the ULFA has not named a new general secretary as the ULFA general secretary Anup Chetia is in the protective custody of the Government of Bangladesh. Moreover, the outfit has appointed persons in crucial posts not on permanent basis.
The hard line faction of the ULFA has earlier announced that in addition to a 16 member central committee, a three member permanent committee would also be formed but that has not been announced today. The ULFA faction is also planning to appoint three prominent persons as political advisers but their names have also not been announced today.
Source: Assam Tribune
MORIGAON, Nov 22 – The Morigaon district administration and the local people of Mayong-Pabitora in Morigaon district of central Assam with the support of the Assam Tourism Development Corporation are holding the Mayong-Pabitora Festival on November 25, 26 and 27 at Pabitora Wildlife Sanctuary, Morigoan.
Aruna Rajoria, Deputy Commissioner of Morigaon as well as the president of the organising committee, while addressing a press conference here, said that with an objective to showcase the rich heritage of Mayong as well as promote Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary, the festival is being held which will be a feast for the eyes and palate.
Events include cultural procession consisting of bullock carts, shows of 101 traditional bezs (magicians) and king of Mayong, SHG programmes and public display of ethnic village life, traditional delicacies, wildlife photographs and kayaking, the DC added.
Moreover, as a part of the attractive itinerary, local river fresh fish, curd, jaggery and traditional craft items will be offered on sale. The visitors will get a chance to have a first-hand experience with the magicians of Mayong in the festival.
The village-like ambience of the festival will enable urban people to get a taste of ethnic village life with a rare combination of wildlife experience by way of elephant and jeep safaris, trekking, boating, etc.
There will be ethnic cultural programmes, open quiz competitions and many others to enliven the place and environment as well as the minds of the visitors, the Deputy Commissioner of Morigaon informed the reporters.
Source: Assam Tribune
R Dutta Choudhury
GUWAHATI, Nov 22 – The separate state movement by the All Bodo Students’ Union (ABSU) is likely to gather momentum after the winter session of the Parliament as the students’ body has threatened to intensify the movement if the Government fails to raise the issue of creation of a separate state during the session. The students’ body has even threatened to go for National Highway and Railway line blockade, which will cut off the North East from the rest of the country if the Centre fails to pay heed to its demand.
Talking to The Assam Tribune, the president of the ABSU, Promod Boro said that the creation of the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) failed to fulfill the hopes and aspirations of the people and on its part, the Assam Government failed to take effective steps for the improvement of the law and order situation in the BTC area. He pointed out that even the BTC passed a resolution last year calling for the creation of a separate state.
Giving an account of the history of the movement for a separate state, Boro said that the ABSU first launched the movement for a separate state on March 2, 1987. The movement was suspended in February, 2003 after the signing of an accord between the Government and BLT for the creation of the BTC under the provisions of the amended Sixth Schedule of the Constitution of India. The ABSU was not a signatory of the Accord but supported it.
The ABSU president said that as the BTC failed to fulfill the hopes and aspirations of the people, the ABSU revived the movement for separate state again last year and so far, apart from sending memorandum to the Prime Minister, the students’ body also brought cycle rallies and held public meetings in different parts of the state.
Justifying the need for creation of a separate state, the ABSU president said that the creation of a council was not enough to protect the identity of the Bodo people. He said that though Bodo language has been included in the 8th schedule of the Constitution of India, the Government of Assam is yet to implement it. He said that maintaining law and order in BTC is the responsibility of the State Government but more than 150 innocents were killed in BTC area during 2008-09 because of the failure of the Government to maintain law and order.
Boro said that the Assam Government is yet to take effective steps for the protection of the tribal belts and blocks, while, no step has been initiated for the improvement of the condition of the Bodo medium schools.
On the development front, the ABSU alleged that adequate funds have not been provided to the BTC. He said that the BTC has 12 per cent of the total population of Assam, but plan funds are not provided to the Council on the basis of population pattern. Most of the smaller states of the country having less population than the BTC have been getting much more funds from the Centre, he added.
Meanwhile, the ABSU is also holding a seminar in New Delhi in December on the issue of creation of smaller states.
Source: Assam Tribune
GUWAHATI, Nov 22 – The declaration of Chief Minister recognizing tea as the State Drink of Assam has overwhelmed the State’s Tea industry with joy. The declaration of the Chief Minister to this effect came at the inaugural function of the three-day World Tea Science Congress organised as part of the centenary celebration of the Tocklai Experimental Station (TES) at Jorhat. It was received with thunderous applause by the guests and invitees of the Congress, said Bidyananda Barkakoty, Chairman of the North Eastern Tea Association.
The Tea Science Congress is attended by around 1,000 delegates and invitees from different parts of the globe and the country as well.
Immediately after the inaugural function of the Congress, C S Bedi, Chairman Consultative Committee of Plantations Associations (CCPA) thanked Gogoi for the declaration, on behalf of the entire tea industry.
A joint delegation of Assam Tea Planters’ Association (ATPA), North Eastern Tea Association (NETA) and Bharatiya Cha Parishad (BCP) also thanked the Chief Minister for his declaration.
It requested the Chief Minister to persuade the Union Government to grant the status of National Drink to the brew. The Chief Minister told the members of the delegation that the State Drink status is a step forward towards persuading the Union Government for declaring the brew as the National Drink of the country, Barkakoty said.
Meanwhile, the National Federation of Small Tea Growers, India and the All Assam Small Tea Growers’ Association have also welcomed the declaration made by the Chief Minister in this regard.
It needs mention here that in 2004, the tea industry was in deep crisis. In order to understand and overcome this crisis, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry organised a stakeholders’ conference on September 16 and 17, 2004 in Delhi. The conference put forward 26 recommendations and one of them was for declaring tea as the National Drink of the country. Though most of the conference recommendations are accepted by the Union Government, the one on the National Drink status to the brew remains to be accepted by it.
Source: Assam Tribune
Suryya Kumar Chetia
JORHAT, Nov 22 – Inaugurating the three-day World Tea Science Congress at Tocklai Experimental Station (TES) here today, former President of India Dr APJ Abdul Kalam bolstered the tea industry’s plea for recognizing tea as the National Drink even as State’s Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi declared the brew as the State Drink of Assam.
Dr Kalam argued that tea can be regarded as the National Drink of India on the basis of the size of its consumers. “The number of tea consumers in India is larger than any other country,” he said.
Talking about the problems facing the small tea growers, Dr Kalam said that they should form tea cooperatives to fortify their position. Value-added products like medicinal tea, organic tea and flavoured tea can be beneficial to them, he said.
He further suggested that the tea planters should go for the genetically modified varieties of tea plants so as to protect their plantations against pests, without applying chemical pesticides. The amount of money spent on buying pesticides is much more compared to the sums needed for developing plantations of genetically modified plants, he said.
He insisted on multidimensional research in the tea sector, which has enormous potential to occupy the world market with its exotic products.
Talking about the TES, he suggested that it should be rechristened as ‘Tocklai Research Centre’ so that it can be able to create a brand on its own in the field of tea research. He insisted that the tea industry in India should develop a futuristic vision in the coming years.
Addressing the function, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said, “I am competent enough to declare tea as the State Drink of Assam. I shall make relentless efforts to help the brew secure the recognition as the National Drink of India.”
He urged the tea planters and industrialists to pay much attention to research activities in the tea sector and also suggested diversification of crops in the tea estates.
Dr Kalam released a number of souvenirs, a documentary titled ‘Young at 100’ directed by Charukamal Hazarika, a tea table book titled, “Tocklai and Tea” and a tea soft drink at the function.
D P Maheswari, Chairman, Tea Research Association (TRA), in his speech requested both Dr Kalam and the Chief Minister to extend their support to elevate tea to the status as the National Drink of the country.
Earlier, TES Director Dr Mridul Hazarika welcomed the guests and delegates of the Congress. MGK Bhanu, Chairman, Tea Board, AN Singh, Vice-Chairman, TRA and J Phukan, Secretary, TRA were also present at the function.
The exhibition held on the occasion, was inaugurated by MGK Bhanu.
Source: Assam Tribune
GUWAHATI, Nov 20 – The split in the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) is now formal as the hard line faction headed by Paresh Baruah today announced that a new 16-member Central committee of the outfit would be formed soon.
In a release here, the central publicity secretary-in- charge of the hard line faction of the ULFA, Arunodoi Dohotiya said that the new body of the ULFA would not have an executive body but a three member permanent committee and there is possibility of expanding the same committee in a later date.
The hard line faction has decided to appoint three prominent persons, who support the demand for sovereignty of Assam, as political advisers.
The hard line faction has also announced that if the ULFA chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa or any other leader returns to the outfit, due honour would be given to them.
There have been strong division in the ranks of the ULFA on the issue of talks as the chairman of the outfit and a number of other central committee members have started the process of talks with the Government of India, while, on the other hand, Paresh Baruah and his supporters have been maintaining a tough stand on the issue of talks. But with the Paresh Baruah faction deciding to form a new central committee of the outfit, the split in the ranks of the outfit is now formal.
Meanwhile, security sources said that the hard line faction of the ULFA has launched a fresh recruitment drive in a bid to strengthening the outfit and according to information available, at least 150 new cadres have been recruited in the last six months.
Source: Assam Tribune
GUWAHATI, Nov 20 – Not many people would be knowing that more than two decades before the birth of Asam Sahitya Sabha, a precursor to the State’s apex literary and socio-cultural body was formed in Nagaland at the initiative of the pioneering Assamese nationalist, Padmanath Gohain Baruah, in the year 1895.
Gohain Baruah, incidentally, was also the first president of Asam Sahitya Sabha at its Sivasagar session in 1917.
Now a move is afoot to preserve the Kohima Sahitya Sabha building at the Nagaland capital as a heritage structure and an embodiment of Naga-Assamese solidarity, which is also to be a facilitating platform for enhanced literary and cultural interaction between the peoples of the two neighbouring States.
Talking to The Assam Tribune, president of Asam Sahitya Sabha, Rong Bong Terang said that delegations of the Sabha had met Nagaland Government authorities several times in the recent past, seeking their assistance in preserving the heritage associated with Kohima Sahitya Sabha for posterity.
“The Nagaland Government is keen to play a role in having the Kohima Sahitya Sabha Bhawan (building) maintained and preserved as a heritage site. I met the Nagaland Education Minister recently and he conveyed it to us that the Nagaland Government would take the necessary steps towards that end,” Terang said.
Terang also said that the Kohima Sahitya Sabha could well be a much-needed symbol of harmony and camaraderie for the Assamese and the Nagas at a time when a little friction was palpable in the relations between the two due to working of vested interest circles.
“The people of Assam and Nagaland share a long history of bonhomie and goodwill dating back to centuries. The need is to build further on it, and Kohima Sahitya Sabha – a reminder of the age-old Naga-Assamese ties – can be the ideal platform to achieve that,” Terang said.
The Asam Sahitya Sabha chief said that the Sabha had a plan to promote the Kohima Sahitya Sabha Bhawan as a centre for facilitating greater cultural and literary interaction between the two States.
Terang also felt that preserving the Kohima Sahitya Sabha Bhawan as a heritage structure would also be a fitting tribute to Padmanath Gohain Baruah, a doyen of Assamese literature.
Terang said that he approached the Assam Government as well for taking some initiative. “I have found the Nagaland Government to be more pro-active in this regard,” he added.
Narayan Chandra Bora, a former president of Kohima Sahitya Sabha for 17 years, while recalling his stint there during the 1980s and 1990s, said that the elderly section of the educated Naga people still recognized and revered Gohain Baruah as the harbinger of modern development in Naga society.
“About 16 distinct tribes of Nagaland accepted Nagamese as their lingua franca…I can recall how the Chief Ministers and other political leaders of Nagaland used to invite Sahitya Sabha members to perform Hussori in their houses during the Bohag Bihu festivities,” Bora, who retired as Additional Secretary of the Nagaland Legislative Assembly, said.
Source: Assam Tribune