Guwahati: The Leader of Opposition in the Assam Legislative Assembly, Mr Debabrata Saikia has debunked the claim made on Thursday by the state’s Health & Family Welfare Minister, Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma that the Government of Assam deserves special credit because it is only state Government in the country which is providing free treatment and meals to COVID-19 patients.
During an interaction with media persons on Friday, Mr Saikia pointed out that many state governments, including those of West Bengal, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Punjab and Delhi, have been providing free treatment to COVID-19 patients in their respective states. The Government of Telangana has even provided 20,000 free Home-Care Kits to those under home quarantine. Dr Sarma should not claim credit on the basis of erroneous data, he said. Regarding Dr Sarma’s statement that the Centre has not provided funds to Assam for tackling the pandemic, Mr Saikia said that Dr Sarma had himself announced in June that Assam would receive Rs. 300 crore from the World Bank for the purpose. Therefore, the reported shortcomings in providing food and other essential items to COVID-19 patients in several places must be the result of misappropriation by some officials.
Mr Saikia also stated that the Centre has been depriving Assam of its due share of flood-related assistance over the last three years. The Prime Minister had announced a special package of Rs. 2,350 crore for Assam and three other North-eastern states in August 2017, along with a Rs.100 crore project to study the river Brahmaputra. Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma had announced that the Centre had released Rs. 350 crore to Assam as immediate assistance. But nothing seems to have come of all the talk and the fact is that Assam has not received a single paisa under NDRF in the last three years. In 2017-18, 14 states sought flood compensation and Assam was the only state which did not receive the requested Rs. 4,500 crore from the Centre. In 2018-19, nine states sought assistance and only Assam (Rs. 2,500 crore) and Manipur were not given the desired assistance. Similarly, in 2019-20, Assam (Rs. 3,000 crore) was the only state to be denied assistance out of the 13 states that sought help from the Centre.
Mr Saikia urged the state government not to be scared of the Central Government headed by members from the same party. He said the Opposition would rise above party politics and extend full cooperation if an all-party delegation is sent to New Delhi to demand payment of Assam’s dues.
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