Chief Minister's Speech

Eleventh Meeting of the Inter-State Council

Eleventh Meeting of the Inter-State Council

Eleventh Meeting of the Inter-State Council

Honourable Prime Minister, Respected Union Ministers, Respected Chief Ministers, Lieutenant Governors, Senior Officers of the Central and States, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen.

I am thankful to Honourable Prime Minister for convening this eleventh meeting of the Inter-State Council. This Council provides unique platform to discuss issues of mutual interest of States and for interaction between Centre and States. We are all gathered here today in the spirit of cooperative federalism. Each State of this nation is unique in terms of its diversity. However, we have common goal of providing better life to our citizens.

The people of Assam out in large numbers to elect a new Government in Assam which took charge on 24th May, 2016. I take this opportunity to thank our Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modiji for his inspiring leadership, which led to formation of new Government in my State. I also like to convey my gratefulness to the people of Assam for voting the BJP led alliance to power for the very first time in the State. It is my bounden duty to bring the State from its myriad problems and take it forward on the path of prosperity. For this, I seek the guidance and blessings of my elders and my colleagues from all over the country.

Geographically, Assam and the other North Eastern States are at a disadvantage, being land locked and connected to the rest of India through a narrow 22-kilometre strip of land in West Bengal called "Chicken's Neck". Assam shares long international borders with Bhutan and Bangladesh and inter-state boundaries with other States.

Assam is known for mighty Brahmaputra, historic Kamakhya temple, its tea and petroleum resources. The State has conserved the one-horned rhinoceros from near extinction along with many other species of flora and fauna. Assam receives more rainfall compared to most parts of India leading to floods and erosion, which cause immense suffering to people during the monsoon season. Assam also faces serious problems of ethnic conflicts and illegal immigration. We have to deal with a number of insurgent groups backed by outside forces inimical to India. We have long standing border disputes with our neighbouring States.

With the signing of agreements with a number of militant outfits and due to the concerted efforts of the security agencies, a reasonable level of peace and normalcy has returned to my State. The time is ripe to harness the untapped potential of natural and human resources through innovative methods to achieve better life of its people. However, we have inherited huge debt burden and legacy of poor governance.

The Punchhi Commission made a number of recommendations in its seven volume report presented in March 2010 on various aspects of Centre-State relations. Already action has been taken on a number of recommendations. Assam has given comments on the recommendations of the Commission, where comments were required. As done was in the case of the recommendations of Sarkari Commission, the recommendations of the Punchhi Commission also may be first discussed in the standing committee of the Inter-State Council. We are sure that under the dynamic leadership of Hon'ble Prime Minister, the spirit of the cooperative federalism will be further strengthened and the State will have a better say in financial and administrative matters. In this regards, we should acknowledge and appreciate the number of measures already taken and announcements made by the Hon'ble Prime Minister to devolve more financial resources and decision making space to the State Governments.

We all welcome the path breaking initiative of our Prime Minister in using Aadhar for identifying beneficiaries, direct transfer of benefits and public services to the people. This will enable in identifying genuine beneficiaries and transfer benefits and public services in an efficient and targeted manner. However, as all of us know, Assam faces a serious challenge of illegal immigration. The Central Government has taken up updation of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) which is now at a crucial stage. We expect to complete updation of NRC in next couple of months. Although Aadhar enrolment is only for the purpose of identification and does not confer citizenship to any person, there is a genuine apprehension in the minds of people of Assam that without updating the NRC, Aadhar may be used by illegal migrants for getting various Government schemes and for claiming citizenship. Since, the work of NRC updation was started, Aadhar enrolment in the State was not taken up in full swing. At present there are only 13 lakh Aadhar enrolments out of a population of more than three crore. We propose to take up Aadhar enrolment in full swing after completion of NRC updation.

In view of the above, I request the Hon'ble Prime Minister and the Central Government to consider using alternative mechanism to provide direct benefits including subsidies and public services to the citizens. My Government proposes that Jan Dhan accounts may be used for this purpose. Once our NRC updation completed, we will take up Aadhar enrolment and we will join other parts of the country in using Aadhar for various purposes. I requests various departments of Central Government to cooperate with Government of Assam in this matter and make suitable provision for Assam, considering our present status as elaborated earlier.

With major thrust in the three focus areas of access, equity and quality of education; my State is taking up a number of major initiatives in the education sector. My State has given emphasis in recruiting qualified teachers and their capacity build up with a view to promote quality teaching-learning in the classroom. Recently, on 27th June, 2016, we have recruited 7,234 Teacher Eligibility Test qualified candidates in lower primary schools. The State has initiated School Leadership Development Programme in collaboration with National University for Educational Planning and Administration (NUEPA) for capacity building of institutional heads at elementary and secondary levels.

I am glad to inform you that under Swachha Vidyalaya Abhiyan, my State has provided separate toilets for boys and girls together with running water in schools. Also, Swachha Vidyalaya Puraskar is given to recognize the best practices of schools on Water Sanitation and Hygiene Education (WASH). We have developed curriculum and syllabus in the light of National Curriculum Framework (NCF). In order to track the children and their learning, individual child database with photo is collected and is being uploaded online. We have started learning enhancement (remedial teaching) for slow learners of Class-IX.

We have also taken steps to promote education of children in tea garder, char areas and disadvantaged children. Focused interventions have also taken early grade reading and writing, inculcate the spirit of inquiry and creativity for science and mathematics. Taking a cue from Gujrat, GUNA UTSAV will be conducted to strengthen monitoring and support to schools.

"Moitree.....Ek gyan yatra" is one of our new initiatives. It aims at establishing an organic linkage among different educational institutions right from college to primary level. It targets to create a platform for the teaching community to bring in motivation, innovation and quality in the overall scenario of education. The scheme aims to provide effective linkage chain from a college to its feeder high/higher secondary schools and their feeder middle/primary schools.

For quality improvement in higher education and enhancing research capability, international collaboration with Universities abroad is currently in progress. We have also taken steps to modify the existing course curricula for undergraduate and post graduate courses by incorporating skill development, vocational and professional courses as integral part.

In order to further improve the educational scenario in Assam, we need whole hearted support of Central government in establishing institutes of higher learning in State which will provide benchmark for other educational institutions in the State. I request the Central Government to consider setting up of an Indian Institute of Management, a Central Horticulture University and scientific and educational research institutions under the agencies like National Remote Sensing Agency, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, Department of Bio-Technology and enhancing the capacity of existing Central institutions in the State to fulfill the aspirations of youths of Assam and whole Northeast region.

In the Northeast region, we face serious challenges of insurgency which is supported by anti India forces from outside the country. The North Eastern region faces serious problem of drug trafficking, human trafficking and illegal international trade in rhino horns and other wild life. We also face a huge challenge of illegal migration through our porous borders. We are happy that the Union Government under the leadership of Prime Minister is committed to sealing the international borders. However, we have to strengthen intelligence gathering mechanism within and across our borders. We also need better coordination among the States and between the States and Central Intelligence agencies. Already there is a mechanism for intelligence by the Central and State agencies and sharing of this intelligence. However, this needs to be strengthened significantly to deal with the new challenges arising due to increased jihadi activities in neighbouring countries like Bangladesh and any attempt that may be made by such elements to disturb the peace and harmony in our country.

We need to provide latest equipment and training to our police forces to deal effectively with insurgent and jihadi elements who are equipped with latest gadgets and weapons. We also need to take our local communities into confidence and make them aware about nefarious designs of such outside forces. For this purpose, it is most essential that road communications and telecom connectivity reaches all border areas and remote habitations in Assam and other North Eastern States. We need to have mobile and internet connectivity right up to police station level so that intelligence gathering and reaction on the ground is fast and timely. I urge the Central Government to lay emphasis in this regard.

The earlier central scheme of police modernization has been reduced in scope significantly. However, considering that in Assam and the whole North Eastern region, we face threat of insurgent and other groups financed and equipped from across the borders, I urge the Hon'ble Home Minister to take up a special initiative for providing the latest equipment and technology to our police forces. Our police personnel work in very difficult conditions round the clock. We need to provide them good working conditions and housing so that they can perform their duty in a congenial environment.

In concluding, I am indeed obliged to the Hon'ble Prime Minister for giving me opportunity to highlight the efforts being taken by my State and to underscore the numerous problems that pose challenges to us. I am sure that the deliberations at this Inter-State Council meeting would pave the way for all the States to march ahead hand in hand in line with the mantra of our beloved Prime Minister "Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas"

Thank you