Refugee rehabilitation to be completed before next Budget: Minister

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Guwahati, Mar 4 (UNI) Assam Revenue and Rehabilitation department Minister Dr Bhumidhar Barman today announced in the Assembly that all issues relating to rehabilitation of refugees in the state would be addressed before the next Budget session of the House.

Replying to a question on the condition of refugees in lower Assam districts, raised by Independent MLA Mohibul Haque, Dr Barman said the government, though faced with various hurdles and resistance, was doing its best to rehabilitate the refugees.

The legislators, cutting across party lines, urged the minister to settle the issues of rehabilitation at the earliest, prompting the latter to announce in the House that the issue would be addressed before the next Budget session and it will not need to be raised again.

Dr Barman informed that the refugee camps, sheltering victims of ethnic violence, in Kokrajhar and Bongaigaon districts were opened in October 1993, May 1996 and May 1998.

While the camps had sheltered 2,47,177 refugees when they were opened, they currently housed 65,369 refugees. At the time of opening the camps, there were 1,05,597 male, 69,915 female, 7,177 people above 60 years and 64,488 children. Altogether 4,933 babies were born in the camps, with the oldest one now 14 years and four months old, the minister informed.

On the rehabilitation hurdles the government was facing, Dr Barman pointed out that the refugees had no land of their own originally and lived in forest land.

Moreover, local people put up stiff resistance almost wherever the government tried to rehabilitate them, he added.

In reply to other questions, the minister informed that 5,55,541 people were victims of ethnic violence in Bodoland areas, of which 29,095 were of Muslim community.

Of these, 3,815 Muslim families were living in refugee camps and the government had provided Rs 10,000 to each family for rehabilitation.

UNI SG DPM AE SSC1356

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