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Centre accused of neglecting Assam

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GUWAHATI, Nov 10 � Dismissing reports regarding allegations about non-cooperation with the Centre, the State government today claimed that it had in fact repeatedly sought New Delhi�s assistance in undertaking various schemes, including in skill development and for flood assistance, but without any response from the Union government.

�Recently, State BJP president Siddhartha Bhattacharya and Union Minister Sarbananda Sonowal alleged that our government is not cooperating with the Centre. That is not true. We have always sought the help and assistance of the Centre for issues related to the development of Assam. This was the case during the UPA regime in Centre and this is the case now as well,� Minister for Power, Industry & Commerce and Education Pradyut Bordoloi told reporters here.

Bordoloi, who is also the State government spokesperson, rued the fact, although the State had submitted a concept note on the �Multi Disciplinary Skill Development (MDSD) Programme� seeking assistance and support of the Union government for training and skill development of youths in Assam. He said while a proposal was sent to the Centre in July, the concept note was sent to Sonowal in August, who replied acknowledging the receipt of the note.

�However, three months have passed and we have not yet received any response regarding our proposal. Now we have heard that Sonowal has been divested of his Skill Development & Entrepreneurship portfolio. We will still be eternally grateful to him if he can provide us some help before handing over charge to the new minister or convince Rajiv Pratap Rudy (the new Skill Development minister) in this regard,� he said.

He added in a lighter note, �After all, Sonowal is our own. Whom will we approach but him with regard to central help and assistance? We thought Sonowal is our own and so will help us generously�

Bordoloi also accused the Union government of adopting different yardstick between Assam and other states with regard to providing assistance for calamity relief.

He said Dispur gave specific proposals to New Delhi while seeking assistance of Rs 2,535 crore in the aftermath of September�s devastating flood in lower Assam and also submitted proposals for schemes worth Rs 6,700 crore for long-term flood mitigation measures. According to him, the Centre�s response was lukewarm.

�But it gave thousands of crores to Jammu & Kashmir after the state suffered floods and to Andhra Pradesh after Cyclone Hudhud. The MPs from Assam and our representative in the Union Ministry should raise their voices and convince the Central government to accept our proposals as they are for the benefit of the people of Assam,� Bordoloi said.

Bordoloi also voiced concern over the recent decision of the Modi government to freeze fresh recruitments in Central jobs.

�Assam is a backward State. We don�t have an industrial economy like Gujarat�s. Investors do not want to come here. If Centre freezes recruitment it will hurt our youths as government jobs are the best option for our youths. We hope Sonowal and our MPs will raise their voices in this regard,� he said.

Regarding the controversy over holding the National Youth Festival at Majuli in January 2015, Bordoloi said the State government�s concern is with regard to non-availability of requisite infrastructure in the river island for organizing such an event.

�During the 2007 National Games in Assam, over 6,000 athletes had come to Guwahati and we had to construct a games village to house them. Around 6,000 youths will be attending the National Youth Festival and they will stay for five days. At present, Majuli does not have the kind of infrastructure to lodge such huge number of participants. We cannot keep them in shacks on the sand in the river bank and we cannot transport them by small boats. We cannot allow Assam�s reputation to be tarnished which will happen if we are not able to provide minimum hospitality. So we are suggesting Guwahati as the venue for the Festival,� he said.

The minister added, �However, the Union government has all resources at its disposal, including the Army and the Railways. If they can create the requisite infrastructure in Majuli by January, we have no objection to holding the Festival there.�

He said that the State government has been calling upon the Tea Board to cancel licenses of factories which have failed to provide remunerative prices to small growers and instead to issue licenses to cooperatives.

Bordoloi added that the State government will hold year-long celebrations to mark the 125th birth anniversary of Late Jawaharlal Nehru. On November 14, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi will announce a plethora of schemes for children from the disadvantaged sections to mark the birth anniversary of the first Prime Minister of India.

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Centre accused of neglecting Assam

GUWAHATI, Nov 10 � Dismissing reports regarding allegations about non-cooperation with the Centre, the State government today claimed that it had in fact repeatedly sought New Delhi�s assistance in undertaking various schemes, including in skill development and for flood assistance, but without any response from the Union government.

�Recently, State BJP president Siddhartha Bhattacharya and Union Minister Sarbananda Sonowal alleged that our government is not cooperating with the Centre. That is not true. We have always sought the help and assistance of the Centre for issues related to the development of Assam. This was the case during the UPA regime in Centre and this is the case now as well,� Minister for Power, Industry & Commerce and Education Pradyut Bordoloi told reporters here.

Bordoloi, who is also the State government spokesperson, rued the fact, although the State had submitted a concept note on the �Multi Disciplinary Skill Development (MDSD) Programme� seeking assistance and support of the Union government for training and skill development of youths in Assam. He said while a proposal was sent to the Centre in July, the concept note was sent to Sonowal in August, who replied acknowledging the receipt of the note.

�However, three months have passed and we have not yet received any response regarding our proposal. Now we have heard that Sonowal has been divested of his Skill Development & Entrepreneurship portfolio. We will still be eternally grateful to him if he can provide us some help before handing over charge to the new minister or convince Rajiv Pratap Rudy (the new Skill Development minister) in this regard,� he said.

He added in a lighter note, �After all, Sonowal is our own. Whom will we approach but him with regard to central help and assistance? We thought Sonowal is our own and so will help us generously�

Bordoloi also accused the Union government of adopting different yardstick between Assam and other states with regard to providing assistance for calamity relief.

He said Dispur gave specific proposals to New Delhi while seeking assistance of Rs 2,535 crore in the aftermath of September�s devastating flood in lower Assam and also submitted proposals for schemes worth Rs 6,700 crore for long-term flood mitigation measures. According to him, the Centre�s response was lukewarm.

�But it gave thousands of crores to Jammu & Kashmir after the state suffered floods and to Andhra Pradesh after Cyclone Hudhud. The MPs from Assam and our representative in the Union Ministry should raise their voices and convince the Central government to accept our proposals as they are for the benefit of the people of Assam,� Bordoloi said.

Bordoloi also voiced concern over the recent decision of the Modi government to freeze fresh recruitments in Central jobs.

�Assam is a backward State. We don�t have an industrial economy like Gujarat�s. Investors do not want to come here. If Centre freezes recruitment it will hurt our youths as government jobs are the best option for our youths. We hope Sonowal and our MPs will raise their voices in this regard,� he said.

Regarding the controversy over holding the National Youth Festival at Majuli in January 2015, Bordoloi said the State government�s concern is with regard to non-availability of requisite infrastructure in the river island for organizing such an event.

�During the 2007 National Games in Assam, over 6,000 athletes had come to Guwahati and we had to construct a games village to house them. Around 6,000 youths will be attending the National Youth Festival and they will stay for five days. At present, Majuli does not have the kind of infrastructure to lodge such huge number of participants. We cannot keep them in shacks on the sand in the river bank and we cannot transport them by small boats. We cannot allow Assam�s reputation to be tarnished which will happen if we are not able to provide minimum hospitality. So we are suggesting Guwahati as the venue for the Festival,� he said.

The minister added, �However, the Union government has all resources at its disposal, including the Army and the Railways. If they can create the requisite infrastructure in Majuli by January, we have no objection to holding the Festival there.�

He said that the State government has been calling upon the Tea Board to cancel licenses of factories which have failed to provide remunerative prices to small growers and instead to issue licenses to cooperatives.

Bordoloi added that the State government will hold year-long celebrations to mark the 125th birth anniversary of Late Jawaharlal Nehru. On November 14, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi will announce a plethora of schemes for children from the disadvantaged sections to mark the birth anniversary of the first Prime Minister of India.

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