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Centre, State Govt accept reservation demand

By Staff reporter

GUWAHATI, July 20 � The Central and State governments have accepted the demand of the All Assam Students� Union (AASU) to make provisions for reservation of seats in Parliament, State Assembly and local bodies for indigenous people. This assurance was given by the officials representing the Central and State governments at a tripartite meeting to review the implementation of Clauses 6 and 7 of the Assam Accord here today.

Talking to The Assam Tribune immediately after the meeting, AASU adviser Samujjal Bhattacharya said that the percentage of seats to be kept reserved was not decided at today�s meeting. He said AASU had demanded hundred per cent reservation of seats for the indigenous people, but the Central and State government representatives made it clear that it would not be possible to ensure hundred per cent reservation.

The AASU members expressed concern at the failure of the Assam Government to determine the definition of �Assamese people� even after nearly 25 years of signing of the Assam Accord. The meeting decided to request the Group of Ministers formed by the State Cabinet to expedite the process and give the definition of �Assamese people� as soon as possible. The AASU members assured the government that the student body was keen to assist the Group of Ministers in whatever way possible to ensure that the process of determining the definition of �Assamese people� could be completed as soon as possible for constitutional protection of the indigenous people to protect their political rights.

Bhattacharya said that the issue of protection of the satras and historical monuments and sites was one of the key issues discussed today. He said AASU had submitted a list of the satras and historical sites which need to be protected way back in 2000 and the meeting today asked the State Government to prepare a detailed project report for the same.

The Government of India representatives assured that the gas cracker project would be completed by March 2012 and adequate care would be taken to ensure that local persons get preference in jobs in the project and in the downstream industries. The government also assured that the Bogibeel bridge would be completed by 2014. On the demand of the AASU for reopening of the Ashok Paper Mill, the State Government officers assured that the State Cabinet would take the final decision in this regard within the next couple of months. The AASU has been demanding that the mill should be taken over by the Hindustan Paper Corporation (HPC).

The AASU delegation demanded laying of double-track to improve railway connectivity to the region and setting up of a railway coach factory in Bongaigaon. The officers of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) assured that the issue would be taken up with the Railway Ministry immediately.

Bhattacharya said that though the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh had assured that flood and erosion would be treated as national problems, no concrete step has yet been taken for permanent solution of the problems as yet. The AASU delegation raised the issue yet again and the MHA officials assured that the matter would be taken up with the Ministry of Water Resources soon. A Central team will also come to the state to assess the ground situation. The AASU also raised the issue of havoc created by excess release of water from the dams in Bhutan and the government assured the student body to take up the issue with the government of the neighbouring country.

The AASU also demanded allotment of land to small tea gardens and setting up of a research centre for the medicinal plants available in Assam. The state has hundreds of varieties of medicinal plants of which, more than 500 varieties are available in Karbi Anglong district alone. There is urgent need for proper research in this regard, Bhattacharya said.

The meeting was chaired by Navin Verma, Joint Secretary (NE) of the MHA and was attended by senior officers of Central and State governments. The AASU delegation comprised Sankar Prasad Roy (president), Tapan Kumar Gogoi (general secretary), Samujjal Bhattacharya (adviser), Basanta Deka, Ramesh Borpatra Gohain and Dilip Sarma.

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