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                   Vol.4, No.67 [*] November 12, 1999

               Governments tend not to solve problems,
                       only rearrange them.
                         - Ronald Reagan

FOUR MINISTERS OFFER TO RESIGN                      [S:12-NOV-99]
GUWAHATI:   Four  AGP  ministers,  Biraj  Kumar  Sarma (Municipal
Administration Department),  Nagen  Sarma  (PWD),  Nurul  Hussain
(Cooperation)  and  Moidul  Islam Bora (Sports) offered to resign
from the Council of Ministers if Chief  Minister  Prafulla  Kumar
Mahanta asked them to do so.

They   however  refuted  reports  that  the  issue  of  en  masse
resignation of the ministers was discussed in a  meeting  of  the
ministers  in  Guwahati  on  November  10  and  said,  some  have
suggested this but no decision has been taken.

Asked why they are waiting for the chief minister's directive and
not resign on their own, Nagen Sarma evaded a  direct  reply  and
said,  the chief minister is the boss and they will act only when
he asks them to do so. 

Sarma, however, did not rule out  the  possibility  of  en  masse
resignation  by  the  ministers  to  `strengthen the hands of the
chief minister' and give him a  free  hand  to  reconstitute  the

NAGAON: The State Bharatiya Janata Party  (BJP)  executive  which
met  at Nagaon on November 10 and 11, has drawn up an action plan
to capture power in  Assam  in  the  next  Assembly  election  by
strengthening  the  party  at  the  grass  roots  level.  It  has
entrusted the entire organizational  responsibility  to  the  BJP
national president Kushabhao Thakre's private secretary V.Satish.

BJP spokesman Dhurba Prasad Baishya and state  general  secretary
Jayanta  Dutta  said,  the  BJP will see to it that anti-Congress
votes do not get split in the next Assembly polls.  In a separate
matter,  the  party  suggested  that  the  Assam  Flood   Control
Department  be  wound up and the responsibility for flood control
given to the Brahmaputra Board.

GUWAHATI:  Expressing serious concern at the unabated killings in
Assam, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has urged  the
State Government to take adequate steps to ensure security to the
lives of people.

Member of NHRC, Sudarshan Agarwalla said that the Commission felt
that that killing would not be suppressed by counter killings and
fake encounters  and  likewise,  and  added  that  it  asked  the
government  to  immediately take up measures to put an end to all
senseless killings.

On the secret killings in the State, he said that the Commission,
during discussions with the state chief secretary, had asked  him
to  take  up  concrete  measures in this regard. Agarwalla was in
Guwahati along with R.C.Jain, the Registrar General  of  NHRC  as
part of the four-day tour to three Northeast states.

GUWAHATI:  With a view to explore the immense potential of bamboo
and cane production in the Northeast, and to  provide  the  rural
artisans   with   all   modern  techniques,  the  United  Nations
Development Programme (UNDP) has chalked out  and  formalized  an
action plan.

The  project  aims  at  small  but  effective  intervention for a
focussed approach towards improvement in  processing  technology,
plantation   techniques,  design  inputs  and  marketing,  laying
greater stress on exploiting bamboo of the country,  particularly
in  the  Northeast  which  produce  60  per  cent  of  the  total
production in the country, for craft activities.

The  UNDP  action  plan  envisages  the  setting  up of 20 common
facility centres in the country, with 17 in the Northeast  alone.
Five  of  the  centres  will  be setup in Assam, and four each in
Tripura, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh.  While three centres will
be setup in Kerala in south India.   Sites  for  the  centres  in
Assam  have been selected, and a nodal officer, Utpal Sharma have
been appointed to coordinate the activities under the project.

JAGIROAD:  Asia's largest dry fish market in Jagiroad in Morigaon
district has been closed since November 1, to protest against the
Assam Government's imposition of eight per cent state  sales  tax
on dry   fish.    Munin  Borthakur  of  the  Dry  Fish  Merchants
Association, said that sales tax on dry fish  was  never  imposed
before, as it was a perishable item.

The  sales tax will increase the prices of dry fish, and to avoid
paying  taxes,  the  fish  market  may  shift   to   Jorabat   in
neighbouring state of Meghalaya permanently, or bulk buyers would
seek  purchases  from  outside  the  state  in  Andhra Pradesh or
Gujarat. Such speculation among the dry fish  business  community
has caused great anxiety.

Munin Barthakur said that if the market is shifted elsewhere, the
already ragtag  economy of the locality will further decline.  He
said that people in the area depended on the Nagaon  Paper  Mill,
and  after  the closure of two state government units -- the Spun
Silk Mills and Assam Polytex Limited, a large  number  of  people
depended on the dry fish business, directly or indirectly.

Local  people,  on the other hand expressed their deep resentment
over the unplanned expansion  of  the  dry  fish  market  in  the
residential areas.  The strong and nauseating odours, and the day
long cacophony  has  made  lives  miserable for the people.  They
demanded that the market be shifted to the outskirts of the town.

GUWAHATI:   The  Assam  Engineering  Service  Association  (AESA)
demanded setting up of an `Engineering Commission' to  study  the
technical  manpower  potential and its optimum utilization in the
State, as it  resented  the  lopsided  emphasis  on  general  and
law-and-order  administration  without regard to the science-tech
potential to address the multifarious problems of the state.

AESA general secretary Hem Chandra Bhuyan also demanded that  the
government must change its tack to retrieve the economy by taking
drastic   measures  instead  of  looking  for  solutions  to  the
prevalent age-old system of fiscal management.  He also  demanded
that  all  technical  departments must have a separate management
system free from bureaucratic red-tapism.

DIBRUGARH:  The Gauhati High Court set aside and quashed the  Bar
Council  of  India's order of February 1996 of derecognizing four
law colleges of upper Assam.    The  judgement  was  given  after
hearing the petitions filed by four law colleges -- D.H.S.K.  Law
College,   Dibrugarh;   Dr   Rohini  Kanta  Baruah  Law  College,
Dibrugarh; Golaghat Law College; and Sibsagar Law College.

The  judgement  further directed that students with degrees, from
these colleges shall be enrolled as advocated as  per  rules,  as
enrollment  is  the function of the State Bar Council and the BCI
has nothing to do with it. The High Court also observed that  the
BCI  has  only  a  subsidiary  role  to play, they in the garb of
inspection and approval/disapproval cannot do things not provided
in the scheme of BCI and Advocates Act.

FREE TEXTBOOKS WORTH RS.20,000 SEIZED               [S:11-NOV-99]
NAGAON:   Hojai  police  caught  four pushcart loads of textbooks
meant for free distribution to schoolchildren.  The books,  worth
Rs.20,000  include  the  Kuhipath,  Arithmetic  and Science, were
seized as they were being taken to the market for sale.

The attempt to illegally sale the books were at the  instance  of
an  employee  of  the  deputy  inspector of schools' office and a
school teacher.  Both are absconding.   Schoolchildren  at  Hojai
are being deprived of the free textbooks for a long time.

Meanwhile, a bankrupt Assam Government decided to forgo the `free
textbook  for  schoolchildren  scheme'  after  the  Assam   State
Textbook  Production  and  Publication Corporation which had been
entrusted the task of printing, publishing and  distributing  the
textbooks, thew up its arms in despair.

The  State  Cabinet  headed  by  the chief minister, which met on
November 5, however, decided that the textbooks would be provided
to the schoolchildren at 50 per cent of the cost of production.

GUWAHATI:  Six  times Mr Assam, Mahadev Deka, who was selected to
represent India in the World Amateur  Body-Building  Championship
to  be  held  at Alzey in Germany, is in need of money to provide
for his  expenditure  of  his  journey.  `It  is  a  question  of
Rs.100,000  and  out of which Rs.52,000 is yet to be deposited in
advance against journey tickets,' he said.

Though several well-wishers are trying to collect some  fund  for
him, Deka himself is also trying to make the ends meet.  He said,
while  competitors of other countries get a number of advantages,
we cannot hope for those here.  His selection  to  represent  the
nation  came as a renowned body builder of the State, and for his
intense efforts and performances.

Compiled from newspaper and agency reports for private circulation 
      [S=Sentinel, AT=Assam Tribune, Agencies = UNI, PTI, PIB]
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