BJP alleges nexus between coal mafia and Pradyut Bordoloi

Says artificial shortage of coal is being created in the State which has hit functioning of the thermal power plants

Guwahati, July 30: The State BJP today alleged a nexus between the coal mafia and power minister Pradyut Bordoloi which has in turn hit power production in the State due to an artificial shortage of coal required for the thermal plants.

“The coal mafia which is operating in the State, in connivance with the power minister, is creating an artificial shortage of coal so as to sell their product outside the State at higher prices as well as in the black market. The artificial shortage of coal has forced closure of the Chandrapur and Margherita thermal plants,” BJP spokesmen Adip Phukan and Rupam Goswami told a press conference today.

Despite having generation capacity, the thermal power plants in the State remain defunct due to the inadequate supply of coal which is abundant in the State, they alleged.

Describing the assurances of the power minister to ramp up power generation in the State as a mere “illusion”, Phukan said “at this pace, the State government can never meet the State’s power requirement.”

Pointing to a study by the Electric Power Study Focus that the power demand in the State will increase from 1618 MW in 2014–15 to 1715 MW in 2015–16, the BJP spokesman said the requirement in the State is on the rise.

“Even if the NTPC’s 700 MW Bongaigaon plant starts production, it will fail to meet the State’s demand,” the BJP leader claimed.

Taking a further dig at the power minister, the BJP leaders also alleged that he was planning to transfer the 200–bigha land of the Chandrapur thermal plant to corporate houses. “Else, why is he not trying to revive the project despite availability of coal,” Phukan said.

The State BJP also demanded a white paper from the power minister on the alleged Rs 400–crore scam in implementation of the Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yujana in Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao districts that was brought to light in a report by the then parliamentary secretary of power Bhupen Bora in the assembly.

(Source) The Sentinel Assam – The Largest Media group of North-East India — focused on news publishing. Combined circulation of the group is over 120,000 newspapers per day, making it the largest newspaper group in the region. The Sentinel is the only English daily in the Northeast India with five editions published simultaneously from Guwahati, Dibrugarh, Shillong, Silchar and Itanagar. For all local, news from Assam, national and international news please visit  http://www.sentinelassam.com/

Desperate show of unity in Congress

Guwahati, July 30: With less than a week left for the Budget session of the State assembly, the dissidence–ridden Congress is trying to put up a desperate show of unity.

Legislators of the party are now avoiding making strong statements and shying away from castigating each other.

“At the time of crisis, the Congress always stands united,” senior MLA Anjan Dutta quipped today.

Asked about the threat by the dissident legislators that they will play the role of a “constructive opposition” in the assembly, Dutta said, “It is not a crime if anyone raises issues like mismanagement in departments, corruption and bureaucratic red–tapism. However, no one should question the government schemes or oppose the finance bills…else it will tantamount to party indiscipline.”

Asked to comment on an allegation by Himanta Biswa Sarma during an interview in a national magazine that Chief minister Tarun Gogoi’s son was interfering in the affairs of the State government, Dutta said, “It is not true. I have not seen him interfering.”

Meanwhile chief minister Tarun Gogoi, who returned from a five–day Delhi trip after meeting party president Sonia Gandhi and vice president Rahul Gandhi, maintained a stoic silence today.

He did not respond to queries by journalists as to when he will effect the reshuffle in his ministry.

On the other hand, State parliamentary affairs minister Nilomoni Sen Deka denied reports that the chief minister’s camp will keep a close watch on the role of Speaker Pranab Kumar Gogoi during the upcoming assembly session.

“Leader of the Congress legislature party Tarun Gogoi and all the members of the CLP have full faith and confidence on the Speaker. As far as we know, besides the members of the CLP, the MLAs of other political parties also have full faith and confidence on the ability and impartiality of the Speaker,” he said in a statement.

There were speculations that the Speaker, known to be siding with the dissident camp, might act in their favour in the assembly.

Reports indicated that more legislators of the dissident camp were clandestinely establishing contact with chief minister’s loyalists to bury the hatchet.

(Source) The Sentinel Assam – The Largest Media group of North-East India — focused on news publishing. Combined circulation of the group is over 120,000 newspapers per day, making it the largest newspaper group in the region. The Sentinel is the only English daily in the Northeast India with five editions published simultaneously from Guwahati, Dibrugarh, Shillong, Silchar and Itanagar. For all local, news from Assam, national and international news please visit  http://www.sentinelassam.com/

70 per cent MGNREGA works incomplete

Guwahati, July 30: More than 70 per cent of the works taken up since 2006 under the country’s largest anti–poverty scheme Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) in Assam remain incomplete.

Official data revealed that under rural connectivity, a total of 1,45,894 works were taken up between 2006 and 2014. Of them, only 33,046 were completed till the first quarter of 2014. The rate of completion is 22 per cent.

About 18,483 works were taken up under the flood control sector, and only 5,681 (30 per cent) were completed.

The long list of incomplete works also continued in the irrigation sector where only 3,060 of the total 10,746 works were completed. Under land development, only 22 per cent of the works were completed. About 32,172 works were taken up under land development since 2006.

The poor rate of completion of the works clearly points to the fact that scheme, which is aimed at eradicating rural poverty and unemployment, has utterly failed in the State. It has failed to create sustainable assets or to contribute to the development of the rural economy.

The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act aims at enhancing the livelihood security of people in rural areas by guaranteeing hundred days of wage–employment in a financial year to a rural household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work.

According to a recent CAG report, Assam recorded the highest misappropriation of funds among all the States in the country. The report which covers the period from 2007 to 2012 also concludes that monitoring by the Centre is unsatisfactory. Panchayat at districts, intermediate and village levels are the principal authorities for planning and implementation of the scheme under the supervision of the Block Development Officer.

There have been several discrepancies in implementation of the Act framed in 2005. There have been instances of ghost workers – workers who exist only in papers.

Acknowledging that there have been instances of corruption in MGNREGA implementation, the Centre had recently said that the States have been asked to strengthen social audits of the scheme.

Union Minister of State for Rural Development Upendra Kushwaha had said there are certain complaints regarding implementation of the Mahatman Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) and almost all members know about it. The government is aware about it (corruption issues) but the government has limitations since actions are to be taken by the States, he said.

As on June 30 this year, out of 3,641 complaints received by the Ministry, 1,769 complaints have been disposed of by the States/union territories.

The Centre is now reconstituting the State and district level Vigilance and Monitoring Committees which monitor the scheme.

(Source) The Sentinel Assam – The Largest Media group of North-East India — focused on news publishing. Combined circulation of the group is over 120,000 newspapers per day, making it the largest newspaper group in the region. The Sentinel is the only English daily in the Northeast India with five editions published simultaneously from Guwahati, Dibrugarh, Shillong, Silchar and Itanagar. For all local, news from Assam, national and international news please visit  http://www.sentinelassam.com/

Anomalies in irrigation funds, farmers’ body wants CBI probe

GUWAHATI, July 30: The Krishak Sramik Unnayan Parishad (KSUP) has demanded of the Assam Government to ensure a CBI inquiry into what it said the swindling of crores of rupees by the top–level officials of the state Irrigation Department.  

Talking to newsmen in Guwahati on Wednesday, KSUP president Pradip Kalita said: “Now the farmers are not in a position to cultivate their lands due to lack of water. This is despite the department spending crores of rupees in the name of various irrigation schemes. This year too, the rainfall is scanty. The situation has come to such a pass as the irrigation officers and engineers of the department never oversee if various irrigation schemes and projects are run properly on the ground or not.”

Kalita said: “From 2008 to December 31, 2012 the Centre and the state government released Rs 20.45 crore to the state Irrigation Department under its Auxiliary Irrigation Beneficiary Programme (AIBP) and five other schemes. Where has that amount been spent? Had the funds been properly utilized the situation would have been quite different today. In fact, the secretary, the chief engineer and the executive engineer of the department swindle bulk of such funds.”   

Kalita said, according to information received through an RTI application, Rs 945.25 crore was sanctioned to the department in the name of the AIBP in fiscals 2012–13 and 2013–14 by the Centre. Apart from this, under the TFC scheme an amount of Rs 34.28 crore had been sanctioned in the two fiscals, he said. The TFC funds, it may be mentioned, are meant for modernization of irrigation schemes.

The amounts sanctioned to various districts in the fiscal 2012–13, according to Kalita, are Rs 11.65 crore for Kamrup, Rs 4.86 for Nagaon, Rs 4.96 crore for Darrang, Rs 3.5 crore for Bongaigaon, Rs 4.91 crore for Baksa, Rs 5 crore for Kokrajhar, Rs 4.76 crore for Karimganj, Rs 3.71 crore for Barpeta, Rs 28.31 crore for Goalpara, Rs 15 crore for Nalbari and Rs 18 crore for Udalguri. In the fiscal 2013–14 also, Kalita said, huge amounts were sanctioned.

The KSUP president further said that under the MSR scheme Rs 18.73 crore had been sanctioned in the fiscal 2012–13 and Rs 15.76 crore in the fiscal 2013–14. “The department has no figures as to how these amounts have been spent,” he added.

KSUP general secretary Manoj Das said that the officials of the department treat the department as their source of income. “Crores of rupees are released but that amounts don’t benefit the farmers,” Das rued, and demanded of the government to ensure a CBI inquiry into the anomalies of funds.

(Source) The Sentinel Assam – The Largest Media group of North-East India — focused on news publishing. Combined circulation of the group is over 120,000 newspapers per day, making it the largest newspaper group in the region. The Sentinel is the only English daily in the Northeast India with five editions published simultaneously from Guwahati, Dibrugarh, Shillong, Silchar and Itanagar. For all local, news from Assam, national and international news please visit  http://www.sentinelassam.com/

Gogoi orders prompt action to fight JE

GUWAHATI, July 30: Assam Chief Tarun Gogoi has asked Health Minister in–charge Nazrul Islam and the health secretary to act promptly to stop Japanese encephalitis (JE) and encephalitis in the state.

The Chief Minister held a meeting with the minister and the health secretary and asked them to act promptly as JE is taking its toll in various districts in the state.

After the instruction from the Chief Minister, the principal secretary of the department asked the officials to act quickly. He asked them to make medicines and vaccination for Japanese encephalitis and encephalitis available in the state, if need be, from other states to tide over the situation.

Till July 29 as many as 466 cases of Japanese encephalitis were reported from 24 districts in the state, and the death toll was put at over 80. The unofficial reports, however, put the number JE cases at 1217.

(Source) The Sentinel Assam – The Largest Media group of North-East India — focused on news publishing. Combined circulation of the group is over 120,000 newspapers per day, making it the largest newspaper group in the region. The Sentinel is the only English daily in the Northeast India with five editions published simultaneously from Guwahati, Dibrugarh, Shillong, Silchar and Itanagar. For all local, news from Assam, national and international news please visit  http://www.sentinelassam.com/

Sonia, Rahul move high court against summons

New Delhi, July 30: Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her son and party vice president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday moved the Delhi High Court against the summons issued to them for allegedly cheating and misappropriating funds of a company that used to publish the now–defunct National Herald newspaper.

On June 26, the trial court had issued summons to the Gandhis and four others including party treasurer Moti Lal Vora, general secretary Oscar Fernandes and Young Indian Private Ltd (a firm in which the Gandhis have a stake) directors Suman Dubey and Sam Pitroda, asking them to appear before it on August 7.

Vora also approached the high court along with the Gandhis, who each own a 38 percent stake in Yong Indian Pvt Ltd., seeking quashing of summoning orders of trial court and complaint filed by Bharatiya Janata Party leader Subramanium Swamy.

Filing the plea, the Congress leaders said that Swamy is a political opponent and present criminal proceedings have been initiated only with intent to secure an oblique political objective.

“The complainant (Swamy) has no connection whatsoever with the issue at hand. The criminal proceedings are therefore manifestly attended with malafide and the proceeding is maliciously instituted only with an ulterior motive for wreaking   vengeance on the petitioners amongst others for narrow political objectives,” said the plea.

The trial court in its order had said that Young Indian Pvt.Ltd. appeared to have been “created as a sham or a cloak to convert public money to personal use” or a special purpose vehicle to acquire control over assets worth Rs.2,000 crore of Associated Journals Limited (AJL), the publisher of the National Herald.

Swamy had alleged that AJL had received an interest–free loan of Rs.90.25 crore from the Congress and that the party transferred the debt to YI for Rs.50 lakh.

At the time, AJL, which had Moti Lal Vora as its chairman, claimed that it could not repay the loan and agreed to transfer the company and its assets to YI.

The trial court had said that the complainant had established a prime facie case of dishonest misappropriation of property, criminal breach of trust, cheating and criminal conspiracy.

The summons were also served on Young India.

(Source) The Sentinel Assam – The Largest Media group of North-East India — focused on news publishing. Combined circulation of the group is over 120,000 newspapers per day, making it the largest newspaper group in the region. The Sentinel is the only English daily in the Northeast India with five editions published simultaneously from Guwahati, Dibrugarh, Shillong, Silchar and Itanagar. For all local, news from Assam, national and international news please visit  http://www.sentinelassam.com/

State plan pegged at Rs 21,000 crore

Guwahati, July 29: The annual State plan for the ear 2014–15 has been pegged at Rs 21,000 crore, up by nearly 70 per cent as compared to last year’s. Even though the planning commission has not yet finalized the allocation to the States so far, Assam government has decided not to wait and go ahead with the plan allocations to various departments and sectors, especially because only eight months are left in this financial year. The previous State plan was of Rs 12,500 crore. However, official sources said that about 50 per cent of the funds remained unutilized. As per this year’s Plan, social services, rural development, agriculture, crop husbandry, horticulture etc have been identified as thrust areas. The social services sector, which includes education, sports welfare, health, rural water supply, housing, sanitation, family welfare, GDD, urban development, WPT&BC, tea welfare, labour and employment and social welfare, has been allotted Rs 7331.83 crore. An amount of Rs 3853.63 crore has been allotted to rural development, while the agriculture and the allied sectors have been allotted Rs 1467.34 crore. The other allocations are Rs 724.48 crore for Special Areas Programme, Rs 1055.79 crore for irrigation and flood control, Rs 1688.20 crore for Other Areas Plan (BTAD), autonomous councils, development councils etc) and Rs 675.49 crore for NEC and NLCPR. Energy has allotted Rs 745.21 crore, industry and commerce Rs 221.96 crore, transport Rs 1578.42 crore, communication Rs 85.09 crore, science and technology Rs 16.63 crore, general economic services (tourism, public enterprise, civil supplies) Rs 1018.30 crore and general services (home, political, printing and stationery, public works (GAD)) Rs 544.50 crore. In the sectoral allocation of the annual plan, the State’s share will be Rs 939.37 crore, while the State’s contribution will be Rs 11267.49 crore.

(Source) The Sentinel Assam – The Largest Media group of North-East India — focused on news publishing. Combined circulation of the group is over 120,000 newspapers per day, making it the largest newspaper group in the region. The Sentinel is the only English daily in the Northeast India with five editions published simultaneously from Guwahati, Dibrugarh, Shillong, Silchar and Itanagar. For all local, news from Assam, national and international news please visit  http://www.sentinelassam.com/