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CM unwraps more gifts
- Assam declares reservation for women in govt jobs and contracts

Guwahati, Jan. 22: After wooing government employees with sops, Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi today charmed the women of the state ostensibly with an eye on next year's Assembly elections.

The chief minister today declared 30 per cent reservation for women in all government jobs. This follows the recent decision to increase the retirement age of government employees and hike their dearness allowance (DA).

Gogoi also said 10 per cent of all government contracts would be kept aside for women.

A bill to give effect to the plans will be tabled during the next budget session of the Assembly and efforts will be made to make the legislation effective from April 1 this year, he added.

Addressing reporters here this morning, Gogoi said his government has accorded top priority to empowerment of women and will lay special emphasis on it during the next financial year.

'In 2005, the government will take up several schemes for the empowerment of women, including scholarships for female students to raise the literacy rate among women in the state,' he said.

'Although the female literacy rate in Assam is better than many states of the country, there is room for improvement as we have not been able to do proper justice to the women so far,' Gogoi added.

The government has already given instructions for creation of women cells in all the police stations of the state.

The announcement of sops for women is being seen as an attempt by the Gogoi government to woo the female voters of the state.

Assam is expected to go to the polls early next year unless the present Congress government decides to call for early elections, a possibility that is not being ruled out.

'Compared to the precarious financial position of the state when I became the chief minister, the situation has improved a lot now. The 6 per cent hike in DA for government employees, insurance cover for citizens and a raise in remuneration for casual employees can be taken as indicators,' the chief minister claimed. The government has enhanced the remuneration of casual employees by Rs 300.

Gogoi said his government had managed to get $640 million international assistance in the form of soft loans sanctioned for different development projects of the state.

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