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Mahasabha resents Minister�s statement

By Staff Reporter

GUWAHATI, March 14 � Sattra Mahasabha, the apex body of the State�s about 900 Vaishnavite sattra institutions, has expressed serious concern over the recent statement of Revenue Minister Dr Bhumidhar Barman in the State Assembly on the encroachment on sattra land. The Revenue Minister made the said statement in reply to a question from Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) MLA Dr Kamala Kalita.

It has also resented the statement made by the Minister on the Government grants to the sattras. The Mahasabha also reiterated its demand for creation of a separate department for the development of the sattra institutions.

The Minister had said in his statement that Government had no document on the encroachment of sattra land. Moreover, only 71 bighas 1 katha 4 lechas of sattra-devalaya land were under encroachment, he said.

But the fact remains, the Mahasabha said, that 6,576 bighas of land belonging to 39 sattras are under encroachment. Most of encroachers are of Bangladesh origin. However, the State Government has been resorting to a lie on the issue with an eye on the votes of these people.This has posed a serious threat to the sattra institutions, Mahasabha said.

It also referred to the fact that in response to a writ petition of Advocate Kuntala Deka, the Gauhati High Court had issued a clear cut direction to the Government to free the sattra land from encroachment. The Deputy Commissioners and Superintendents of Police of the districts have been asked to evict the encroachers from sattra land.

Following this High Court direction, the Mahasabha has been approaching the officials concerned and the State Government to execute the High Court order. But due to the obstruction from a vested interest circle of Ministers, political leaders and bureaucrats, the High Court order is yet to be executed.

In case, the Government fails to recover the sattra land from encroachers urgently, the task will become tougher in the days to come, the Mahasabha warned.

It has alleged that the Minister had not presented the detailed picture of the utilisation of the Rs 10 crore allocated for the sattras in the2006-07 budget of the State. An amount of Rs 2 crore from this amount was diverted to other heads. But to which head and for what purpose this amount was diverted is not known.

An amount of Rs 4.65 crore was distributed among 64 sattras, at varying rates of Rs 3 to Rs 4 lakh per sattra. But total amount of the allocation is yet to be spent.

The Chief Minister sent a proposal of Rs 96.57 crore to the Union Government for development of the sattra institutions. The Prime Minister also responded very favourably to this proposal. However, not a single penny from that fund has been received by any of the sattras, alleged the Mahasabha.

A cold war between the Archaeology Department and the Cultural Affairs Department of the State is the main cause of the stalemate in regard to the 2006-07 allocations.

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