Assam Northeast

Assam’s new CM Himanta Biswa Sarma headed first Cabinet meeting

Assam’s newly formed Cabinet headed by Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma in its first meeting on Tuesday after disbursement of charges has discussed a road map to combat COVID-19 along with few other landmark decisions including the formation of committees for employment and micro finances.

Getting down on the action, Sarma, who, during a meeting earlier on Tuesday afternoon had allotted portfolios to his 13-member cabinet, held the second from 7 pm this evening, a day after they took the oath and formed the 15th government on Monday.

In the media interaction following the cabinet meeting, Health Minister Keshab Mahanta said, “The Chief Minister has asked to assign each minister two or more districts where they will travel and take stock of the COVID situation along with those districts’ Deputy Commissioner and health department and file a report to him and the Health Minister within three days.”

Assuring that a cabinet meeting will be held on every Wednesday, Mahanta said, an “economic package” will be discussed in the next meeting if the reports by the ministers don’t give hopes on the infection waning down in the next 15 days.

He added, “We (the Cabinet) have also formed an initial roadmap to mitigate COVID-19 in the state which will be further discussed with the Chief Secretary and the Director General of Police on Wednesday and the following steps will be taken accordingly.” Mahanta had earlier, before the meeting, said the state isn’t considering state-wide lockdown yet, even though other northeast states have either imposed total lockdown throughout the state or in capital area regions or district.

Assam has recorded its highest deaths since the outbreak of the disease in March last year with 85 new deaths in the last 24 hour and 6258 fresh cases taking the total active cases to 39,264. 4,409 people recovered at an 86.06 recovery rate.

Mahanta, who addressed Tuesday’s media interaction with information and public relations minister Pijush Hazarika and Industries And Commerce Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary said the cabinet has decided on forming committees in two of the pre-poll promises.

“The BJP had before elections promised 1 lakh government jobs if voted to power. A committee with finance minister Ajanta Neog as chairperson and Chief Secretary, Principal Secretary to Health education and Home as its members have been formed that has been asked to submit a draft to that effect to the Principal Secretary to Chief Minister within a month,” Mahanta said.

“To find a solution to waive off or provide aide to those who have taken loan from micro financers, another committee headed by Ashok Singhal (Urban Development Minister) along with Principal Secretary to Finance and Panchayat and Rural Development as its members has been formed and asked to file a report to the Principal Secretary to CM within a month,” Mahanta added.

In another decision by the Cabinet, the Assam government has raised its stake in the Numaligarh Refinery Limited from its existing 12.35 per cent to 26 per cent, said Patowary.

“Assam had invested Rs 90.80 crore that amounted to 12.35 per cent against which, the government has received a dividend of Rs 1235.34 crore so far. Now, we have decided to increase the state to 26 per cent that will require another Rs 2187 crore to be invested of which, Rs 500 crore has already been procured from last term’s coffer while the finance minister (Neog) has been asked to release another Rs 1687 crore. This will provide a dividend of Rs 900 crore that will make the government financially stronger.

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