Sonia emphasises on nuclear energy to beat inflation

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Guwahati, Jun 13: Congress President Sonia Gandhi today stressed the need of harnessing nuclear energy to beat inflation, saying the soaring crude oil prices had made it more imperative.

The UPA chairperson claimed that despite the crude oil prices crossing over USD 130 per barrel, the Centre was absorbing the major part of it, keeping the petrol prices lower than other countries. ''The Opposition has been blaming us but it has become impossible for the government to reduce the prices. We have tried our best not to push the entire burden on the consumers with the government taking majority of it,'' Ms Gandhi said.

She was here on a day-long visit and was addressing a farmer's rally organised by the state Congress unit.

Reiterating the party's as well as the UPA government's commitment towards farmers, she said NREGA was extended to all the districts of Assam.

''Even in the worst case, a farmer will be able to earn at least Rs 10,000 per year,'' Ms Gandhi said, adding Rs 70,000 crore loan had been waived to help the small and medium farmers of Assam.

The reach of the banking system in the rural areas of Assam is very limited, with only a miniscule portion of the farmers actually able to avail loans from financial institutions.

Speaking on the recurring flood problem in Assam, Ms Gandhi said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had constituted a task force for both long-term and short-term solution to the perennial flood problem in the state.

''The task force is working on it and I am sure some positive developments will take place,'' she added.

Every year during the monsoons, half of Assam's farmland remains inundated resulting in bad crop.

Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, however, announced a slew of schemes to help the flood-affected farmers by promising to provide rain protection equipment, better seeds as well as more farming equipment.

In the political circle of Assam, Ms Gandhi's trip aroused tremendous speculation both inside and outside the Congress following the arrest of sacked Assam Education Minister Ripun Bora by the CBI while trying to bribe the premier investigative agency in a political murder case.

UNI

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