On New Year's Day, Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi came out with a slew of welfare initiatives.

Prominent among them are plans to create 15 sub-divisions in the State and open an Ayurvedic college in Dhubri district and an engineering college in Golaghat district, besides providing free uniforms to students up to Std. VII.

A Cabinet sub-committee would fix the parameters for the new sub-divisions, he told journalists here.

Mr. Gogoi said a small and marginal farmers development corporation would be set up to provide them with incentives and skills upgrade. A rehabilitation authority for the erosion-affected people would be opened.

Among the proposals are an Assam water resource management authority, an employment generation and skills development corporation for unemployed youth and a department to look after the functioning of the newly created development councils.

A state-of-the-art old age home and an orphan home would be constructed in all district headquarters. A special care home would also be established for HIV- affected children, Mr. Gogoi said. Winter coats would be given to village defence personnel. A mobile phone would be provided to Asha and Anganwadi workers and helpers, while Rs.1,000 and Rs. 500 would be given as nutritional support for patients afflicted with tuberculosis and malaria.

Scheme for journalists

Mr. Gogoi said a laptop would be presented to all accredited journalists, and those who completed 10 years in the profession. He also announced an interest subsidy of 3 per cent on housing loans for journalists from any financial institution.