GUWAHATI, Dec 1 – Union Minister for Rural Development Dr Jairam Ramesh today said that he has asked the Centre to declare Dibrugarh and Tinsukia as Left Wing Extremism (LWE)-affected districts.
Ramesh told mediapersons that he had visited the districts a few months ago and suggested to Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh to declare them as LWE affected.
At present, 82 districts in the country have been declared as LWE-affected districts.
Each district is entitled to a special grant of Rs 30 crore for infrastructure.
Dr Ramesh stated that the districts are lagging behind in infrastructure and there are also intelligence inputs about Maoist penetration in both the Upper Assam districts.
“ We are now expecting the Planning Commission to make a formal announcement. Special Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGYS) norms would also be extended to the affected districts,” the Union Minister said.
Stating that Sadiya sub-division is one of the worst affected, Ramesh said improved infrastructure facilities would go a long way in boosting the rural economy.
The Union Minister also said that there is a need to improve the banking linkage with the self help groups, which has emerged as a big challenge and that the Government will go in a big way to improve the existing scenario.
He also divulged that the Centre has passed a proposal as per which Assam will get benefits at par with tribal areas and hill states for construction of rural roads under PMGSY.
Until now, the criterion of PGMSY was that habitations with a population of more than 500 will be taken up for connectivity, except in the hill states and in tribal areas of the country where the population norm is 250 but now Assam will be put in the same bracket as hill areas.
He also lauded the performance of PMGSY in Assam and said that 13,000 kilometres of rural roads have been constructed in the state during past 11 years at an expenditure of Rs 7,100 crore.
Ramesh also said that as per the request of the State Government, the Centre has permitted three more technical agencies including the Assam Engineering College, Jorhat Engineering College and NIT Silchar to review infrastructure projects.
Till now only IIT Guwahati was in the list and this was hampering review of projects.