Monday, 2 January 2012

CM promises a better tomorrow

GUWAHATI: Chief minister Tarun Gogoi's New Year gifts for the state not only held out promise for human beings, but also for animals. "We should take care of wildlife too, along with humans. As human-elephant is taking serious turn in the state, my government is going to actively pursue a solution to the problem. We are going to do something to ensure the safety and security of elephants," Gogoi announced at his official residence atop Kainadhora Hill here on Sunday. 

The chief minister said a committee will be formed soon comprising experts from the state and other parts of the country to find solution to the increasing human-elephant conflict. 

Gogoi added elephants are increasingly entering into human settlements and damaging property because of depleting food supply in forests. "The committee will also take care of ways to make food available for elephants along with ensuring their habitats are protected. The conflict is becoming serious because food availability is getting reduced and habitats are being destroyed," he said. 

The CM added the government will move ahead with the mitigation programme, based on suggestions by the committee. With the onset of the harvest season, several districts in the state are in the throes of acute human-elephant conflict. At least four persons were killed and several houses damaged by elephants in Nagaon district in the past two months. In Jorhat district too, recently many people were rendered homeless and cropland destroyed by elephants. Udalguri along the India-Bhutan border is also witnessing a spurt in man-animal conflict. 

On the human welfare front, the chief minister announced that Rs 5,000 crore will be mobilized by the state government to fund a number of welfare schemes for five years. He said the focus in 2012 will be on finding a solution to the erosion problem in the state and work for rehabilitation of people displaced by flood and erosion. Gogoi announced Rs 1,000 crore for rehabilitation of erosion-affected people. 

He said although the state has made substantial progress in the health sector, a lot needs to be done in some areas . "Our focus in the health sector in 2012 will be on reducing infant and maternal mortality rates. We will fight malnutrition problem seriously," Gogoi said. 

Most of the welfare programmes of the last year will be continued in 2012 and the government has outlined initiatives for expanding them. He said the interest rate for crop loans for farmers would be reduced to 2% from 3% while tractors will be distributed at 50% subsidy. 

On fighting corruption, Gogoi said the Lokayukta would be strengthened and evaluation and monitoring committees would be formed in all departments for ensuring transparency. "On top of the evaluation and monitoring committee in each department, there will be third party evaluation and monitoring for transparency," Gogoi added. Tribunals for dealing with land-grabbing cases and grievances of pensioners will be created, Gogoi said.

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