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State�s GDP growth at par with nation

By Spl Correspondent

NEW DELHI, June 15 � A day after securing a record Plan allocation for 2011-2012, Chief Minister. Tarun Gogoi declared that Assam�s growth rate has touched 8.1 per cent and is almost at par with the all-India average GDP growth rate.

The Chief Minister was quoting the Planning Commission figures released today. Assam�s growth story is impressive given that the State�s average growth rate was stagnating at 3 per cent in 2001.

�The performance is satisfactory and the target is to reach 10 per cent growth rate in two-three year�s time,� said Gogoi, addressing a press conference on Wednesday.

The Chief Minister, who came prepared with relevant data, reeled out the average GDP growth rates of States like Bihar, Gujarat, Karnataka and Orissa to show that Assam�s growth rate story was steady.

Yesterday, the Planning Commission sanctioned an annual Plan size of Rs 9,000 crore including Central assistance of Rs 6,286 crore, while State�s own contribution was fixed at Rs 2,741 crore.

The Chief Minister attributed the sound economic health to growth in agriculture and service sectors. The agriculture growth rate was -0.27 in 2006-2007 to reach 3.15 per cent, whereas the Central government had set a target of 2 per cent, Gogoi said, referring to rise in rice production in the State.

Acknowledging the declining tax revenue, Gogoi hinted at the possibility of tabling a tough Budget next month, when he said that some measures have to be worked out to raise revenue.

The Chief Minister, meanwhile, said the focus would be on improving infrastructure including surface communication. He attributed the growth of the economy to the robust rural economy that grew on the strength of better connectivity with market. He said focus now was on linking the State highways with the National Highways. The stress would be on restoring the missing links between State and NHs, he said.

The Chief Minister said thrust would be on skill development, small and medium industries, cottage, khadi and village industries. The aim is to transform the rural economy, he said.

The scope for big industries is limited in the North-east because of lack of raw material, land and market, Gogoi observed, stating that big ticket investment was not among the priorities of the State Government.

On the problem areas, the Chief Minister said erosion and flood problem were major problems as the State had lost over 4.20 lakh hectares to erosion, which amounted to 7.40 per cent of the State�s total land area. He said currently an estimated 1.20 lakh families were living on embankments.

At least 95 per cent of the State�s embankment have outlived their lives and are due for replacement. The State would need an estimated Rs 3,000 crore to repair and replace the 4.500 km embankments. The State government is going to demand a special package for replacement of the embankment from the Ministry of Water Resources, he said.

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