The Sarbananda Sonowal government in Assam has decided to withdraw district status bestowed on South Kamrup and East Kamrup districts, reducing the total number of districts in Assam from 35 to 33. The government also decided to constitute a Cabinet sub-committee to decide on the viability of 24 subdivisions created during the previous Congress regime. The decision was taken on Friday in a cabinet meeting at Assam Secretariat, in which chief minister Sonowal also took part.
Out of seven new districts created by the previous Congress government, five districts – Charaideo, Hojai, South Salmara-Mankachar, Biswanath and West Karbi Anglong – will remain the same.
After the meeting, state parliamentary affairs, transport and industry minister Chandra Mohan Patowary said although the creation of 7 new districts and 24 subdivisions was touted as a step taken by the previous government towards decentralization of administration, many of these new districts and sub-divisions were created without assessing ground reality and their actual viability. Many of these additional districts and sub-divisions were hurriedly carved out without putting in place the necessary infrastructure including new posts.
Patowary said the decision to reduce the number of districts was taken by the present government after consulting local MLAs of East Kamrup and South Kamrup districts. The MLAs in turn stressed on the creation of new subdivisions instead of new districts.
According to the cabinet sub-committee decision, in place of South Kamrup district, a new subdivision will be created, the headquarters of which will be at Chaygaon, while in place of East Kamrup district, two new subdivisions – Chandrapur and Somapur – will be created.
The Parliamentary Affairs, Transport and Industry Minister said another cabinet sub-committee would be formed to look into the feasibility of 24 new subdivisions created by the previous Congress government. Based on its report, the State government will take a final call on the matter.
The previous government had created as many as 24 new subdivisions – Bihpuria-Narayanpur, Naharkatia, Ramkrishna Nagar, Howraghat, Diyungbra, Dakshin Kamrup, Mukalmua, Kalgachia, Moran, Patharkandi, Kathigora, Merapani, Tihu, Sarukhetri, Sarbhog, Sonapur, Dispur, Guwahati, Azara, Chandrapur, Dhekiajuli, Katlicherra, Lakhipur and Manikpur – through a notification dated January 25, 2016.
Besides the cabinet decision on new districts, it was decided to sanction Rs 1,240 crore under the RIDF-22 scheme for the development of agriculture and veterinary sectors in the State. Under RIDF-21 scheme, Rs 325 crore was sanctioned for distribution of 61,100 shallow tube wells among farmers in the State.
The cabinet sub-committee also decided to build 110 new veterinary hospitals and 4 new godowns, as well as to renovate 57 godowns across the State.
Under the State government’s flagship project Mukhyamantri Samagra Gramya Unnayan Yojana, Rs 30,000 crore will be spent for the overall development of 25,425 villages, and each village will receive Rs 1.20 crore in five years. For this year, Rs 500 crore has already been sanctioned under this scheme.
A mega mission society will be registered to look after the implementation of Mukhyamantri Samagra Gramya Unnayan Yojana. Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal will be the chairperson of the mega mission society and the Finance department will be the nodal agency.
It was also decided in the meeting that families of Assam Agitation martyrs will be given Rs 5 lakh each as financial help on December 10 this year. The State government will also hold a meeting with Assamese NRIs in the State. For physically challenged persons in the State, the Social Welfare department will create a database containing names and photos of such persons and submit the report to the Chief Minister for further action.
The cabinet sub-committee meeting further decided to hike entry tax on some items brought from outside the State from the present 4 per cent to 10 per cent. Some of these selected items are cell phone, car, lift, furniture, PVC pipe, telephone, camera, tiles, marbles, etc. The decision has been taken by the government keeping the interests of local traders in mind.