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Flash Back 1996

Tax Burdened Tea Industry’s Service to Society

What deserves public esteem and admiration is the good work of the Indian Tea Association (ITA), Surma Valley Branch, for their noble gesture to help the disadvantaged segments of the community.

In a simple and solemn function at Gandhi Bagh, Silchar, ITA has called over one thousand handicapped persons from the valley for identification and measurement as part of its continuing commitment to provide the disabled with free artificial limbs. Last year, six hundred such disabled persons were benefited.

The response to the call was overwhelming and has been appreciated by all sections of the society. The ‘free’ camp continued for two consecutive days, assisted by a team of orthopedists from Silchar Medical College (SMC) which included specialists like Dr. S.V. Nandi Purkayastha, Dr. H. Frank and Dr. A.K. Sipani. During the course of examination, emphasis was laid on differentiating and advising patients for surgical treatment and curing those that actually require artificial replacement.

Addressing the occasion, the Chairman of ITA, Surma Valley Branch Mr. Subash Mohan Dev said that the Association was involved in various philanthropic work in the valley, this despite the gloom that overcast the tea industry with thirty three total gardens being declared ‘sick’. “It is probably the reflection of our mentality that is tuned to monolithic attitude for restructuring the society,” he added.

The tea industry in Cachar employs more than 53,000 permanent employees throughout the year and an equal number of casual workers for six to seven months. Livelihood of not only the employees of the tea estates but also a very large section of the population of Barak valley is dependant on the tea industry.


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Flash Back May 1996

Woman Shot Dead by CRPF Personnel

The State and Central forces seem to be given untrammeled powers by the Armed Forces Special Powers Act 1958 which is in force in insurgency hit Manipur with the result that innocent persons are shot dead with impunity. Notwithstanding the fact that most of the security personnel were indicted by inquiry commissions including one judicial inquiry commission, none of the personnel have been given deterrent punishment since the Act itself says that they are exempt from legal persecution.

Manipur witnessed the burning down of over 40 government offices along with documents, furniture and government vehicles apart from dislocation of normal life following the gunning down of a student, Tokchom Netaji allegedly by some police personnel. On the 5th of April, a group of CRPF personnel of 127 Bn shot dead one young mother, Oinam Amina at Oinam Village while her one year old son survived a bullet injury to the chest. That day, the security measures had been beefed up in the district since Chief Minister Rishang Keishing was scheduled to launch an election campaign in the district for the Cong (I) candidate for the general Lok Sabha seat. The CRPF personnel had badgered some suspects. One youth took refuge inside the house belonging to Amina’s parents where she was staying that day. Without trying to flush him out by surrounding the house, the CRPF personnel opened fire from all directions killing the young mother on the spot and injuring the child. Add a comment
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Flash Back July 1995

Health infrastructure in Meghalaya a shambles

The right to live in a clean and free environment with access to health care facilities, including life saving drugs is a fundamental right for every citizen in India. Unfortunately for Meghalaya, health appears to be a neglected sector almost as if human life can be dispensed with so easily. The total area of the state is 22,429 sq. kms with a population of approximately 18 lakhs, which is not really large or unmanageable if the correct thrust had been laid since the inception of the state. But twenty three years of statehood finds the health infrastructure in the state in a shambles.
Recently with the unearthing of the Massar Committee Report which had gone into certain irregularities in the Health Department as far back as 1986, so many sordid details have come out into the open, that the citizens feel the need to punish the guilty and sweep this department clean. Considering that health is more important than wealth and symbolises life itself, one expects the State Health Department to provide the basic facilities to the common man, especially in far – flung and difficult terrains of the state so that they can effectively combat diseases such as dysentery, diarrhea and the dreaded malaria which has come back with a vengeance. But as usual, hospitals and Community Health Centres are all constructed on paper only.

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Cartographic War
Between North East States

In September 1963, the Naga Hills District was carved out of Assam and made a separate state. This was the beginning of a process of the Assam hill tribes’ movement for creating separate tribal states. In 1971, the United Khasi – Jaintia Hills district and the Garo Hills district were made a sub – state within Assam. A year later, on January 21, 1972, the sub – state became the full – fledged state of Meghalaya.

At the same time, the Mizo Hills district which had, for all practical purposes, been under Army control since the February 1966 armed uprising by the MNF, became the first Union Territory and then, in 1987, the separate state of Mizoram. In the north, the North  East Frontier Agency (NEFA) became a Union Territory and subsequently a full – fledged state in 1987. Only two hill districts – North Cachar and Karbi Anglong opted to remain in Assam. Now they are also demanding the status of an Autonomous state. But that is a different story.

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Green Stop Over Uranium

While the Atomic Mineral Division is preparing the uranium pilot project at Domiasiat in the West Khasi Hills, about 140 kms from the state capital Shillong for handing over to the Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL) by July next, the controversy attached to the issue makes it doubtful whether the project would at all take off the ground without provoking public stir.

Such a doubt is deepening as the opposition parties, specially the Hills State Peoples Democratic Party (HSPDP) leaders mounted strong pressure on the government to wrap up the pilot project as soon as possible. They had earlier served an ultimatum to the government that the AMD be asked to fold up its exploratory project at Domiasiat by December 31 last year.

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The AMD has confirmed that it has located the uranium belt that spreads from Domiasiat to Cyndai in the Jaintia Hills and that the Domiasiat deposit could be profitably mined probably at a cheaper cost than the deep – pit mining at Jadugoda in Bihar since the uranium ore there is naturally exposed on the surface of the earth. “Scratch the earth and you get it,” quipped an official.

It was not easy for the AMD as it has been bounded with problems right from the inception of the project in 1989 when it faced stiff resistance from local land owners and timber traders to all its activities beginning from land acquisition to setting up the pilot mining project, as they were apprehensive of losing land and forest to the central government.

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