| Chief minister Tarun Gogoi at the Legislative Assembly in Guwahati on Thursday. Picture by UB Photos |
Guwahati, March 14: Chief minister Tarun Gogoi today announced a Rs 100-crore special package for the welfare of the tea tribe community to stem the resentment brewing over the “meagre” allocation made for the community in this year’s budget.
Gogoi made the announcement in the Assembly this afternoon after a group of MLAs from the Intuc Legislative Forum met him this morning and submitted a 16-point charter of demands.
The demands include a Rs 200-crore package to implement schemes aimed at the welfare of tea and ex-tea tribe community.
“They had asked for Rs 200 crore, which is not possible. But I am giving a special package of Rs 100 crore for the development and uplift of the community,” Gogoi told the House, giving his reply during the debate on the budget.
The move is an apparent attempt by the chief minister to pacify the legislators from the tea tribe-dominated constituencies, who were miffed at the allocation of only Rs 23 crore for the community.
The ruling party MLAs who signed the memorandum include Sarat Borkataky, Rameswar Dhanowar, Jibon Tara Ghatowar, Prithibi Majhi, Atuwa Munda, Raju Sahu, Rajendra Prasad Singh, Dinesh Prasad Goala, Bhimananda Tanti and Sarat Saikia.
The chief minister also promised a special financial package for rehabilitation of people rendered homeless during last year’s violence in the BTAD and Dhubri districts. He said the amount of the financial package would be finalised later.
During the budget discussion yesterday, BPF MLA Pramila Rani Brahma had sought a special financial package for rehabilitation of the BTAD riot victims.
She had said Rs 20,000 and two bundles of tin sheets given to the victims were grossly insufficient.
Earlier, during their meeting with the chief minister, the tea tribe MLAs also sought one of the two Rajya Sabha seats from Assam that will fall vacant later this year for the community’s representative.
Of the two seats in the Rajya Sabha from the state that will fall vacant in June, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh holds one.
The second seat is currently held by Kumar Deepak Das of the AGP.
The ruling Congress is likely to field candidates for both the seats. The chief minister, however, told reporters outside the House that a final decision on Rajya Sabha nomination will be taken by the party high command.
The members of the Intuc Legislative Forum had decided to move the chief minister at a meeting held at the residence of Digboi MLA Rameswar Dhanowar.
The meeting was held under the chairmanship of Sarat Borkataky on March 6.
In the meeting, they adopted resolutions that a representative from the tea tribe community should be nominated member of Assam Service Public Commission and to increase quota of seats reserved for the students of the community in the medical colleges in the state.
The tea tribe MLAs also urged Gogoi to sell 15 sick tea gardens owned by the state-run Assam Tea Corporation Limited (ATCL) to private parties since the workers were currently neither being paid wages nor other facilities according to provisions of the Plantation Act, 1965.