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Budget plan outlay irks tribal group

- Indigenous communities plan protest

Guwahati, Aug. 13: The All Assam Tribal Sangha today alleged that the budget presented by chief minister Tarun Gogoi recently had deprived the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and other backward communities.

The Sangha said of a total plan outlay of Rs 21,811 crore, Dispur had allocated only Rs 501 crore for the Bodoland Territorial Council, Rs 216 crore for the six autonomous councils, Rs 60 crore under the Tribal Sub-plan and Rs 46 crore under special component plan of the 19 development councils.

“According to the Planning Commission, 10 per cent of total budgetary outlay should be earmarked for development of Scheduled Castes, which means the budget should have allotted Rs 2,181 crore for the SC communities alone. But the combined budget allocation for SC, ST and OBC communities is Rs 853 crore. We want to know on what basis the allocation was made,” Aditya Khakhlari, general secretary of the Sangha, said today. “Funds allocated for the development of SC and ST communities are non-lapsable and non-divertible. The budget is silent on how much funds allotted in the last fiscal was actually spent.”

He demanded the government to publish a white paper on the non-lapsable fund allotted for STs and on how the funds would be distributed among the six autonomous councils.

He said the water resources department and PWD are planning to de-reserve 85 posts reserved for STs.

Khakhlari said 18 organisations of indigenous communities would take up a series of agitation programmes.

“On August 19 and 20, we will hold a convention at Shilpgram in Guwahati. On August 21, we will stage a dharna at Last Gate in Dispur. Throughout September, different district committees of these organisations will stage dharnas on different dates. There will be a bike rally from Sadiya to Dhubri in November,” Khakhlari said.

Khakhlari criticised the MLAs representing SC and ST constituencies for not being vocal in the Assembly.

“There are so many issues affecting the SC and ST communities. But the MLAs representing the reserved constituencies are seen sitting quietly in the Assembly. They do not have the right to represent these constituencies,” he said.

Of the 126 Assembly constituencies in Assam, eight are reserved for SC candidates and 16 are for ST candidates.

Absu president Pramod Boro alleged that every budget has deprived the ST communities.

“When a demand for a separate state comes up, the leaders do not like it. But that they do not care for the ST communities is evident from the budget.” Boro said despite the chief minister’s promises to set up a separate directorate for Bodo medium, the budget did not mention anything.