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New scheme to make ASTC more efficient
Staff Reporter
 GUWAHATI, Feb 6 - Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma today announced a new scheme that will not only increase the availability of public transport services, but will also encourage local entrepreneurs to enter this service industry.

At present, there are less than three buses per 1,00,000 persons in the State as compared to the national average of 40 per 1,00,000.

“We need to create a mechanism to augment the ASTC’s efforts while ensuring that the operational cost of running the bus is minimised. In order to address this long standing and basic issue, we have come up with a novel scheme that will not only increase the availability of public transport services, but will also encourage local entrepreneurs to enter this service industry. We believe that this initiative will ‘uberise’ the ASTC, adding to its efficiency and agility,” Sarma said in his Budget speech.

Under this scheme, the government will encourage young entrepreneurs, small businesses and self-help groups to enter the industry. Initially to generate enthusiasm and momentum, the government will provide seed money to the extent of 25 per cent for purchasing buses, out of which 10 per cent will be given in the form of subsidy, while the rest 15 per cent will be given in the form of an interest-free loan to be repaid over a period of 5 years.

Through this scheme, the government has intended to put 1,000 new buses on the roads of Assam over the next three years, thereby almost trebling the availability of buses in the public transport system in the State.

He said the government will also ensure that passengers are not over-charged for the service and that buses are available on all routes across Assam – especially those connecting villages. The Assam State Transport Corporation will start playing a regulatory and facilitatory role.

Since 2016, the government has taken several measures to provide treatment and relief to the sufferers of cancer in the State. The State Cancer Institute (SCI) in Guwahati has now become a state-of-the-art hub for cancer treatment. However, there still remains a vast gap between the demand for treatment and available number of beds and facilities for cancer care.

He announced that Assam has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Tata Trusts. The basic intent of the MOU is to design and implement Statewide cancer control programmes for cancer awareness, prevention, early diagnosis and detection, improved treatment and better survival rates, and better palliative and end-of-life care at the doorstep of patients across Assam.

Assam Cancer Care Foundation (ACCF) has been established as a Section 8 company with equal representation from the Government of Assam and the Tata Trusts. Till now, the government has released Rs 250 crore as the State’s pro-rata share to the ACCF and another amount of Rs 300 crore in this fiscal.

The Tata Trusts has also released their pro-rata share of money to the ACCF. Accordingly, a distributed three-tier model was evolved consisting upgradation of the State Cancer Institute (SCI) in Guwahati and setting up of an Apex Centre in Dibrugarh.

Infrastructure development is also being supplemented with a plan to develop sufficient trained human resources, awareness and prevention programmes, he said. The government has already recruited 130 nursing staff who are undergoing training for identification and comprehension of patients’ needs, while protecting their dignity.

In addition, the government has already kick-started other cancer care initiatives, like early detection, screening, prevention and palliative care in selected centres. These activities are being monitored for standardisation and quality of outcomes before scaling up to other areas.

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