GUWAHATI, March 2 - As the amount promised by the Central government to the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) was not reflected in the Budget, the BTC strongly took up the matter with the Union Finance Minister and demanded that a special package from the Ministries of DoNER, Human Resource Development and Water Resources should be announced for the development of the Bodoland Territorial Autonomous Districts areas (BTAD).
BTC Deputy Chief Khampa Borgoyari told The Assam Tribune that the Centre had promised to provide a special Central assistance of Rs 380 crore a year to the BTC for a period of three years and the Council chalked out priority areas accordingly. But in the Budget presented last Monday, only an amount of Rs 100 crore was allocated.
The allotment was not at all satisfactory for the BTC Chief Hagrama Mahilary, who rushed to New Delhi to express the displeasure of his party before the Central leaders. Mahilary met the Union Finance Minister this evening and demanded that a special package of Rs 200 crore from the DoNER, Rs 100 crore from the Human Resource Development Ministry and Rs 100 crore from the Water Resources Development Ministry should be released. The BTC also demanded that funds to the Council should be released directly, instead of routing through the State government.
Borgoyari said that after the Centre�s assurance for a special package, the BTC had chalked out the priority areas. He said that one of the top priority areas was improvement of the education sector, which includes improvement of school buildings. The second priority area is the problem of erosion. He said that all the 29 rivers passing through the BTC area are causing severe erosion and there is urgent need for dealing with the problem. The BTC also chalked out plans for improvement of the health sector, development of cottage industries, etc. However, the implementation of the plans would depend on the availability of the special package from the Centre, he said.
Meanwhile, for the last two years, the Centre has started giving special assistance for the Sixth Schedule areas. Borgoyari revealed that as the Sixth Schedule areas are not covered by the Panchayati Raj system and the schemes of the Government of India for development of towns, because these areas do not have municipal boards, the BTC had been demanding special assistance from the Centre. He said that the State government used to release only around Rs 15 to 20 crore a year under rural development and town development schemes to the BTC. But in the current financial year, the Government of India sanctioned Rs 421 crore under these heads for the BTC and the money has already been released to the State government. For the next financial year also, the same amount has been earmarked, he added.