Other States

Fencing to be over by December: Sonowal

Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal said the BJP-led coalition government, with the help of the Centre, has been able to check infiltration and crimes along the India-Bangladesh border.

The Sonowal government, in which regional parties — the Asom Gana Parishad and the Bodoland People’s Front — are allies, completed two years in power on Wednesday.

The run-up to the anniversary coincided with protests against the Centre’s bid to push the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 and the final stage of updating the National Register of Citizens (NRC) aimed at weeding out illegal migrants.

“Work on fencing the 262-km border with Bangladesh is progressing fast and is expected to be over by December this year. Smart fencing (with gadgets such as electronic eye) on the land border and technical barriers (floating detection devices) on riverine stretches have come up,” Mr. Sonowal said.

“Our commitment to checking influx and border crimes such as cattle, drug and arms smuggling and human trafficking is evident from the fact that 100 MLAs visited the border areas and spent nights there. I visited the border thrice in these two years,” he said.

‘Wait for NRC’

The Chief Minister reiterated his government won’t do anything that harms the interest of Assam or its people while referring to demands for his government to take a stand against the Citizenship Bill when other BJP-ruled states in the Northeast have been outspoken about it.

“Assam is the only State in India to undertake the Supreme Court-monitored exercise to update the 1951 NRC. Once the final draft list on 3.30 crore people in the State is published, we will get a clear idea about the number of foreigners living illegally. Let us wait for the NRC exercise to be over,” Mr. Sonowal said.

The first draft, published on December 31 last year, had names of 1.9 crore people.

He also trashed the figures on illegal migrants cited by various pressure groups. “What is the basis on which they are citing such figures?” he asked.

Anti-graft drive

Mr. Sonowal criticised the former Congress government headed by Tarun Gogoi for decentralising corruption to the panchayat level instead of decentralising power. “Our government has gone after corrupt officials from day one, making the people regain trust on governance in Assam,” he said.

The government, he added, registered 66 cases against corrupt officials and arrested 74 during the last two years compared to a total 18 officials during the last 10 years of the Congress regime. Similarly, raids were conducted on premises of 3,454 unscrupulous traders, 14 of whom were arrested and trade license of 146 suspended.

“The Gauhati High Court, on our request, has provided a roadmap for fast-track courts to deliver prompt justice in cases of crime against women and girls. The police across Assam’s 33 districts have also been sensitised on preparing error-free charge-sheets against the culprits,” he said.

6 Brahmaputra bridges

Mr. Sonowal credited Prime Minister Narendra Modi for changing the image the “Congress had created” about the Northeast being a region of subsidies and grants. “The region is on its way to becoming India’s organic farming hub and an industrial link to Southeast Asian nations because of the Act East Policy,” he said.

Thrust on connectivity has been the pivotal aspect of this policy and six new bridges to be built across river Brahmaputra is a case in point, the Chief Minister said.

These include the Dhubri-Phulbari bridge that, at 18 km, would be India’s longest. This proposed bridge close to the Bangladesh border will connect Assam (Dhubri) and Meghalaya (Phulbari). The others are Guwahati-North Guwahati, Bhomoraguri-Tezpur, Gohpur-Numaligarh, Jorhat-Tezpur and Disangmukh-Tekeliphuta.

At present, there are three bridges on the Brahmaputra. Work on the fourth – Bogibeel – near eastern Assam’s Dibrugarh is nearing completion.

Assam’s easternmost bridge across river Lohit, one of the tributaries of Brahmaputra, is now India’s longest at 9.15 km. This bridge connecting Dhola and Sadiya is named after music maestro Bhupen Hazarika.

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This article has been corrected for a typographical error. Assam and Bangladesh share 262-km border and not 62-km as mentioned earlier

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Printable version | Oct 18, 2021 6:43:52 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/fencing-to-be-over-by-december-sonowal/article23982592.ece

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