Gogoi rules out state status for Dima Hasao

Silchar, Feb. 9: Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi has ruled out upgrade of the hill district, Dima Hasao, into a state.

Talking to reporters at Congress Bhawan here last night, Gogoi said his government fully agreed with the Centre that further upgrade of Assam's indigenous community-populated districts into separate states would be "unjustifiable" and, hence, such demands should always be discouraged. The Hill State Demand Committee has recently renewed its demand for upgrade of the Dima Hasong Autonomous Council area into a separate state.

Gogoi said the Centre was not very keen on dividing "some compactly held states" in the country into smaller states.

Asked about Telangana, he said, "It is a separate issue that has been brewing in Andhra Pradesh for quite some time now."

Gogoi, who is on a two-day Barak valley tour to drum up support for Congress candidates in the panchayat election, was hopeful that his party would sweep the polls and bag "more or less the same number of seats" as in the previous elections.

Gogoi said his government had been able to consolidate the state's economy, with the GDP reaching 8.2 per cent and the per capita income growing to Rs 37,000.

"We have been able to tone up the state's employment position and expand the education and health sectors," he said. "But we should not be content after achieving only the limited success in these key fields. We have to make more leeway in these spheres."

He said his government would, from now on, lay more stress on vocational education, agriculture mechanisation and extension of irrigation facilities in the winter months with an aim of making the bulk of the state's 20 lakh educated unemployed youths economically self-reliant ' a task in which the AGP and its mentor, the NDA government, had failed.

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