Funding for Sixth Schedule areas

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“A single sunbeam is enough to drive away many shadows.”

-Francis of Assisi

Once again the issue of insufficient fund for development of Assam’s Sixth Schedule area Karbi Anglong has been raised by local self government Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council (KAAC). Both Karbi Anglong and West Karbi Anglong are considered to be backward regions of the state. As to why the two districts are perpetually backward, it is best known to the powers that be. BJP MLA from Howraghat Joyram Engleng, predecessor of present chief executive member (CEM) of KAAC Tuliram Ronghang was vocal about the measly amount allocated to KAAC. So much so that he was publicly rebuked about it in a public meeting in Diphu by the then PWD minister Ajanta Neog who had said that she did not agree with his views.

Present CEM Ronghang is very shrill about it now. It is apparent that CEM Ronghang is trying to bring in funds for Karbi Anglong and West Karbi Anglong under KAAC as much as possible. So far, according to Ronghang, in the last fiscal, KAAC has received Rs 280 crore. Other than bringing in one time assistance funds from the Centre, CEM Ronghang has been very self-effacing towards his success. The irrigation department under KAAC has time and again been mired in alleged financial scandals running into thousands of crore. But, in the review meeting held on August 20, the picture was very different. According to the irrigation department in Karbi Anglong only 52% of the bills concerning major irrigation projects have been released to the contractors. But what took the CEMs so long to get vocal about the disparity in funding.

Truly, it is not surprising that with such meagre amount the region is backward. On the other hand there is the factor of demanding Autonomous State. The erstwhile Autonomous State Demand Committee (ASDC) won 22 Member of Autonomous Council (MAC) seats in 1989 at the height of its Autonomous State Movement. But, since then, national parties like Congress and now the BJP have been demanding Autonomous State under Art 244(A) of the Constitution of India. In the last KAAC elections, the Autonomous State issue was the major electoral plank for the saffron party. CEM Ronghang has time and again moved the Centre demanding implementation of Article 244(A) but it is to be seen if he succeeds.

Now, CEM Ronghang has linked lack of funds for KAAC to the poor pace of development. He said that if in this present setup of administration, no more funds can be made available than Autonomous State status should be given to Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao. Autonomous State or a state within a state will bound it upon the Centre to give adequate fund to Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao districts. At the same time CEM Ronghang said that he does not want separation, but, just that, for solving the funding problem Autonomous State should be granted. Now, that there is BJP led governments at Dispur and Delhi, Karbi Anglong BJP should create a political will so that Art. 244(A) is implemented and ends the funds crunch of Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao districts.

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