Himanta Biswa Sarma, who holds PWD and Finance among other portfolios, also announced the partial withdrawal of austerity measures imposed on the state government departments in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.
The Assam government on Saturday announced a slew of infrastructure projects, including hospitals, colleges and road corridors, worth Rs 12,000 ahead of the assembly polls due early next year. Himanta Biswa Sarma, who holds PWD and Finance among other portfolios, also announced the partial withdrawal of austerity measures imposed on the state government departments in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.
“Out of the total Rs 11,928.46 crore planned investment, Rs 5,854.46 crore will be put in from the state exchequer, while the remaining Rs 6,074 crore will be funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB),” Sarma told reporters. Elections to the 126-member Assam assembly is likely in March-April next year. “We will construct four new medical college and hospitals for Rs 2,050 crore, nine women’s colleges for Rs 303.3 crore, six degree colleges for Rs 100 crore and 10 law colleges for Rs 33 crore,” he said.
“All the projects, barring the ones funded by the ADB and the AIIB, will start by December. The foreign-funded projects may commence in March. However, that may change depending on the announcement of the model code of conduct for the polls,” the minister said. He said the 800-bed Mahendra Mohan Choudhury Hospital (MMCH) and the 500-bed Kalapahar TB Hospital in Guwahati will be merged to construct the “largest” medical college and hospital in entire east India. Three other medical college and hospitals will be established in Charaideo, Biswanath and Goalpara districts, Sarma said.
The women’s colleges will be constructed in Cachar, Barpeta, Nagaon, Darrang, Dhubri (two institutions), Goalpara, Karimganj and Hailakandi districts, the minister said. The degree colleges will be set up in Sonitpur, Tinsukia, Majuli, Chirang, Udalguri and Baksa districts, he said. Dhubri, Nalbari, Kamrup, Nagaon, Karbi Anglong, Jorhat, Dibrugarh, Sonitpur, Cachar and Lakhimpur districts have been identified for the law colleges, Sarma said. Also, the state PWD will construct two flyovers in Guwahati and Tezpur for Rs 420.75 crore and Rs 321.41 crore respectively, the minister said.
“The PWD has never built any road corridor before. We will spend Rs 2,626 crore to develop 10 such corridors across the state,” Sarma said. He said the ADB and the AIIB will fund 12 road projects, which have been approved by the state government. Sarma said the revenue collection in Assam is increasing slowly and the state is in a “comfortable position”.
“We have got assurance from Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman that the commitment made in the Finance Commission will be met. Besides, the Centre will repay the loan that the state will take against its due GST compensation,” he said. Announcing partial withdrawal of austerity measures imposed on April 29, Sarma said all the departments will be able to approve their projects from now on and the limit for establishment expenditure has been removed.
“Expenditure pertaining to industrial exemptions, subsidies and incentives of various schemes and GST reimbursement were suspended. Now all these are restored,” he said. The minister said the suspension on the release of the MLA Area Development Fund is also withdrawn. However, some other austerity measures like ban on vehicle purchase, holding of conferences and meetings, accommodation at five-star hotels and foreign travels will remain in force.
“Except the chief minister, no one else will travel in an executive class of a plane. Also, the cut in the salaries of the legislators will continue,” he said. Sarma, also the Education Minister, said a total of 10,789 teachers’ posts have been advertised as part of the second phase of the recruitment drive and they will be appointed by December. “The third phase of the drive will begin by the end of this month. This way, we will be close to our target of recruiting 50,000 teachers,” he added.