Rift between Governor and ministry continues

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Guwahati, Oct 24: The stand-off between the Assam Government and Raj Bhawan continued with both sides shooting off press statements accusing each others.

The cause of dispute is the holding of election to the North Cachar Hills Autonomous Council (NCHAC) as well its developmental activities, which has been under the Governor's rule since June following the dissolution of the 40-member council.

Assam Governor Lt Gen (retd) Ajay Sinha, after announcing cordial relationship with the ministry last week, issued a press statement on Monday blaming non-release of Government fund in time as a the main reason for the delay of most of the developmental works in the districts.

This has not gone well with the ministry, headed by Mr Gogoi and last night the Government issued an equally strong statement blaming non-issuance of utilisation certificate as the main reason behind the delay in releasing of funds.

Assam Governor Ajay Singh said only Rs 3 crore was left in the PL Account of the North Cachar Hills Autonomous Council (NCHAC), and the amount was not adequate to pay even the salaries of the regular staff. The statement, while briefing the financial position of the NCHAC, said all developmental initiatives in the hill district are currently on hold due to non-release of the second instalment of the Hills Area Development Plan assistance amounting to Rs 34 crore and the special assistance in the PWD (Roads) sector and the Social Welfare Sector amounting to Rs 25 crore as released by the Planning Commission of India.

However, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, who is ending his term next June, asked the Hill Areas Department to issue reply to the Governor's accusations through the press.

Accordingly Mr K K Mittal, Commissioner and Secretary, Hill Areas Department, said that as per the MoU, the Autonomous Council was supposed to send the monthly expenditure report to the Accountant General(A&E), Assam, with a copy to the Assam Government.

''Furthermore, forgetting instalment released in the month of October, the Autonomous Council was supposed to give the Utilization Certificate department wise of all the thirty nine subjects'' the statement said.

The public spat had taken an unprecedented turn with the Cabinet resolving to go ahead with the electoral process in the district from October 22. The Governor had earlier returned the Cabinet's proposal to hold the polls in the district, citing the prevailing law-and-order situation in NC Hills as not conducive to conduct the democratic exercise.

However, the election was notified yesterday and now it would be held in two phase on November 26 and December 1.

UNI

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