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Monday, September 20, 2021

To mark 100 days in office, Assam CM announces reforms in education, transport, financial relief to Covid-hit sectors

Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma also handed out appointment letters to the kin of six police personnel killed in the clashes at the Assam-Mizoram border on July 26.

Written by Tora Agarwala | Guwahati |
Updated: August 20, 2021 8:45:12 pm
Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma (Twitter/@himantabiswa)

In a bid to contribute to the global campaign against carbon emission, all diesel-run government buses in Guwahati will be replaced by electric and compressed natural gas (CNG) buses within the next year, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma announced on Friday.

“There will be no more petrol or diesel buses, and Guwahati will be emission-free. We have purchased 200 electric and 100 CNG buses. This will be Assam’s contribution to the global campaign in reducing carbon emission,” Sarma said while addressing a press conference to mark 100 days of his government.

Sarma, who took charge as Chief Minister on May 10, also announced several other decisions related to education, administration, economic relief, to mark three months in office.

“We have worked day and night in the last three months and we will continue to do so,” said Sarma, adding that the period has seen consistent vaccination rates, a decline in Covid positivity rate without resorting to a full lockdown and even witnessed a militant outfit (NLFB) come overground. “In fact, for the first time, Assam celebrated an Independence Day, without any restraint — no outfit called for a bandh or a boycott,” he said. He also complimented Assam Police for their action on various issues, including human trafficking, the anti-drugs campaign and cattle smuggling.

In the programme, Sarma also handed out appointment letters to the kin of six police personnel killed in the clashes at the Assam-Mizoram border on July 26. The families were earlier given Rs 50 lakh as ex-gratia and the “martyrs” were posthumously awarded the ‘Chief Minister’s Special Service Medal in a crisis situation’ on the country’s 75th Independence Day.

Sarma said that steps were taken in maintaining peace along the interstate borders and that in the last month the government also held border talks with Nagaland and Meghalaya governments to address and resolve long-standing disputes.

He also announced one-time cash assistance to bus operators and heads of religious institutions in the state, who have been impacted by the Covid-19 induced restrictions in Assam. A ban on inter-district travel for the last three months has affected nearly 60,000 people associated with the transport sector, he said. The government will now help bus drivers, conductors with one-time cash assistance of Rs 10,000 to tide over the losses. A similar one time grant of Rs. 15,000 will also be provided to temple and naamghar (Vaishnavite worship halls) priests too.

Financial assistance under Orunodoi — the government’s flagship DBT scheme aimed at underprivileged women — will be increased from Rs 830 to Rs 1,000, from September 10, he said. “We do not have control over inflation but we can at least help the poor with such schemes,” he said, adding that 22 lakh households will benefit from the scheme.

In other significant decisions by the Cabinet, Sarma said that geography and history (of India and Assam) will be introduced as compulsory subjects in the government school curriculum for Class 9, 10, 11 and 12. He also said that the government will start implementing the provisions of the National Educational Policy in the state from April 2022. “As part of it, all high schools will get converted to higher secondary schools and junior colleges will include classes 9 and 10,” said Sarma. The new provision, which will treat Class 9, 10, 11, and 12 as one entity, will be implemented from April next year.

Additionally, every month, a Cabinet meeting will be held at district headquarters.

Later in the day, Sarma also inaugurated several projects including three-foot overbridges in Guwahati, a new building at the Government Old Age Home and launched ‘Elderline’ — a helpline (14567) — for senior citizens.

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