Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Kamakhya Devalaya Bill stayed

The introduction of the Assam Sri Sri Ma Kamakhya Devalaya Management Bill-2015, had to be stayed by the Tarun Gogoi led Congress government, with several Opposition members pointing out “anomalies” in the Bill concerning the provisions of temple management by Dolois.

As soon as the government sought leave from the House to introduce the bill, AGP legislature party leader Phani Bhusan Choudhury raised an alarm, saying hurry in passing the bill could lead to a confrontation later.

Choudhury said that the Bill envisaged one Doloi for the Kamakhya shrine against the existing and time-tested practice of having two Dolois. He added that the Government should have discussed the issue with the temple management- Bardeuri Samaj, before introducing the Bill in the Assembly.

Another AGP legislator Keshab Mahanta said that a time-tested tradition of the historic shrine should not be interfered by the Government and that the Bill be kept in abeyance until the issue was sorted out with the temple authorities.

Meanwhile, BJP legislator Jadav Deka also opposed the Bill in its present form on the same ground.

Minister Rakibul Hussain conceded and said the government will bring the bill in the next session after discussing it with the Bordeuri Samaj.

The State government intends to constitute a board for the management of the temple through the bill. The board, to be headed by a serving or retired IAS officer of the rank of commissioner & secretary, will have members, including those nominated by the government and representatives from the Bordeuri Samaj, district administration and State Revenue and Finance departments.

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Thursday, 28 January 2016

BJP’s ‘Assam Nirman’ campaign from Friday

In Assam, political activities have gradually started to gain momentum in the state ahead of assembly polls. BJP will start a series of dialogues called “Assam Nirman” from Friday.

Union Ministers will address a series of dialogues, called Assam Nirman, with groups of people across six cities in the State. The first will be addressed by Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in Guwahati.

 “This programme was to have been attended by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, but he will now attend the next one in Lal Bari. The dialogue will focus on economic development and fund allocations for the north-eastern States and certain changes that have been made in the rules governing devolution of funds,” said a senior office-bearer of the party in Assam.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh will address a session in Dibrugarh, where illegal immigration will be the topic. In Jorhat, Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan will speak on issues of tea gardens.

The party is determined to project only local faces. However, as the polls approach, the party seems determined to pull out the big guns from its arsenal.

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Monday, 25 January 2016

Government launches online payment facility for LPG cylinders

Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan has said, the government is targeting to add 10 crore new LPG connections by December 2018 to the existing 16.5 crore connections. Mr. Pradhan was speaking in Mumbai after launching an online payment facility for refilling LPG cylinders, through which people can book the cylinder around the clock and it can be delivered in their absence as well because the payment is already done.

The minister said plans are also underway to install touch screen devices at prominent locations like airports, railway stations etc where consumers can book for their LPG refills. He said, oil marketing companies are mulling to sell new cooking gas on an EMI basis to achieve the target. He said, the government wants to sell new LPG connections which cost up to Rs 3,400 on an EMI basis. The amount can be spread over 24 installments.

Mr Pradhan said, at present below poverty line families get 50 per cent rebate on the new connections and the EMI will be helpful for those who are not covered under it. He was speaking in Mumbai after launching an online payment facility for refilling LPG cylinders. Mr Pradhan said, in 2016, the ministry aims to appoint 10,000 new LPG distributors. He added that all the members of Parliament have been asked to suggest potential locations in their constituencies where the distribution needs to be strengthened.

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Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Congress hoardings ridiculing PM Modi come up in Assam

The ruling Congress party in Assam has launched a campaign asking questions intended to embarrass Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Hoardings ridiculing Prime Minister Modi were put up across the state.

“Aahise sapunor sadagor gagan fola bhashonere pratisruti diboloi… tenga aam punor besiboloi?” taunts one of the posters bearing a caricature of Modi.

These Assamese phrases translate into: “The dream merchant is coming to pierce the sky with lofty promises… will he sell you sour mangoes again?”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was kicking off the BJP’s poll campaign in Assam on Tuesday, hoping to cash in on a new-found political alliance in the Northeastern state the party is hoping to wrest from Congress.

Election for Assam’s 126-member assembly is scheduled in April-May along with four other states and the BJP is making a serious effort to grab power from the Congress which has ruled the state for 15 consecutive years.

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Tuesday, 12 January 2016

The people of Assam are gearing up to celebrate the Bhogali Bihu festival across the state which began on Friday. The countdown to the biggest post-harvest festival of the state began with young men erecting mejis and bhelaghars in the biting cold since early morning.

Uruka, the day before traditional harvest festival Bhogali or Magh Bihu, will be celebrated across Assam on Thursday. With the granaries full, celebrations for this agrarian festival will begin on Uruka when community feasts are arranged by the people preparing local delicacies of fish and meat inside the Mejis erected by them with bamboo, wood, leaves and hay.

The word 'Bhogali' is derived from 'Bhog', which means delicious and rich food. So Bhogali Bihu represents a festival of food with merrymaking. Bhogali Bihu is celebrated at a time when all the cultivation works get over and everyone has plenty to eat and rejoice. On the eve of Bhogali Bihu people in Assam build two structures called 'Bhela Ghar' and 'Meji'.

The structure made of wood or tree leaves is called Meji, which is burnt on the following actual Bihu day. The temporary house built close to Meji is called 'Bhela Ghar' for feasting and community singing.

Meji is worshiped as God of Fire and lighted up. In the fire of Meji all types of potatoes are roasted and everyone eats them as divine offering. Women for many days cook various snacks and sweets for this day to be brought to the auspicious Meji spot to be served to everyone.

Special sweet called 'pitha' is prepared from a special sticky red 'bora' rice, coconut, sesame and jaggery to be distributed and enjoyed by the gatherings at Mejis.

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Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Porous India-Bangladesh border in Assam to be sealed: Rajnath Singh

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Sunday visited Karimganj sector of the India-Bangladesh border in Assam and said the porous border will be sealed in 2016.

The home minister, who arrived in Assam on Sunday on a two-day visit, said inspected the Stemerghat Border Out Posts (BOP) in Karimganj district. He said the porous border should have been sealed long time ago.

Singh was accompanied by union Minister of State for Sports and Youth Affairs Sarbananda Sonowal and a delegation of the All Assam Students' Union (AASU) during the visit to the border.

The union minister also addressed a public rally at Karimganj on Sunday before returning to Guwahati. He is scheduled to meet prominent intellectuals of the state at the Brahmaputra State Guest House in Guwahati in the evening.

On Monday, Singh will visit Dhubri sector of the India-Bangladesh border with the AASU delegation to take stock of the situation. He is scheduled to address a public rally in the district before returning to New Delhi.

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Tuesday, 29 December 2015

No LPG subsidy for families earning Rs 10 lakh plus: Govt

The government decided that consumers with taxable income above Rs 10 lakh per year will not get LPG subsidy from January 2016.

The benefit of the LPG subsidy will not be available for LPG consumers if the consumer or his/her spouse had taxable income of more than Rs 10 lakh during the previous financial year computed as per the Income Tax Act, 1961, Oil Ministry said in a statement today.

In keeping with the approach of trusting the citizens, this will be given effect to initially on self-declaration basis while booking cylinders from January 2016 onwards.

At present, all households are entitled to get 12 cylinders of 14.2-kg each at subsidised rate of Rs 419.26, while the market price is Rs 608.

The government had earlier asked well-off people to voluntarily give up using subsidised LPG and instead buy cooking fuel at market price.

So far, over 57.5 lakh LPG consumers, out of nearly 15 crore customers, have given up subsidies.

"While many consumers have given up subsidy voluntarily, it is felt that consumers in the higher income bracket should get LPG cylinders at the market price," the statement said.

To cut subsidy bill and reduce fiscal deficit, the previous UPA government had restricted the number of subsidized domestic cylinders per household to six every year in September 2012, revising it to nine the following January.

The cap was revised in January 2014 to 12 cylinders a year, starting April 1.

The subsidy for 12 cylinders in a year is paid directly in the bank account of consumers which they use to buy LPG at market rate.

The subsidy payout on LPG in 2014-15 was Rs 40,551 crore, which this fiscal will be less than half as oil prices have slumped to six year low. During April-September, the subsidy outgo was Rs 8,814 crore.

There are no estimates of how many LPG customers would have a taxable income of Rs 10 lakh or more.

Presently, there are 16.35 crore LPG consumers in the country. This number fell to 14.78 crore after the start of Direct Benefit Transfer on LPG (DBTL) scheme which eliminated duplicate and inactive customers.

"The objective of the scheme was to ensure that the subsidy benefits go to the targeted group," the statement said.

The government had also given a call to the well-to-do households for voluntarily giving up LPG subsidy.

"So far, 57.50 lakh LPG consumers have opted out of LPG subsidy voluntarily heeding the call given by the Prime Minister," it said.

The subsidy saved from the 'GiveitUp' campaign is being utilized for providing new connections to the BPL families under the 'Giveback' campaign.

This enables provision of LPG, a clean fuel, to poor households by replacing the conventional fuels such as kerosene, coal, fuel wood, cow dung, etc, relieving the poor of the hardships and health hazards from such fuels.

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