PM announces sops for Assam ahead of polls
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PM announces sops for Assam ahead of polls

Manmohan Singh launched several developmental projects ahead of assembly elections, and announced investments of Rs 60 billion to improve the state's power sector.

india Updated: Mar 23, 2006 17:44 IST
Indo-Asian News Service
Indo-Asian News Service

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday began a visit to Assam to launch several developmental projects ahead of assembly elections, and announced investments of Rs 60 billion to improve the state's beleaguered power sector.

But hours before he started his two-day tour of Assam, separatists on Sunday night blew up an oil pipeline in western Chirang district, about 220 km from here, and disrupted the supply of crude to Bongaigaion refinery.

Officials blamed the blast on the United Liberation Front Of Asom (ULFA), which has been fighting since 1979 for an independent homeland. Indian soldiers also recovered five kg of explosives in eastern Tinsukia district late on Sunday.

But Manmohan Singh said his government was determined to usher in peace and development in the insurgency-hit northeast, where dozens of rebel groups are active with demands ranging from independence to greater autonomy for tribal communities.

"Development is the key to success of any state and our government is working hard to usher in peace and stability and economic prosperity to the region," he said.

Shortly after he arrived in Assam's principal city Guwahati, Manmohan Singh travelled to Salakati, close to the site of Sunday night's blast, to lay the foundation stone for a thermal power plant.

"I am laying the foundation stone of a Rs 3,000 crore (Rs 30 billion) 500MW thermal power plant here and tomorrow I will dedicate three coalfields in Tinsukia district with an investment of another Rs 3,000 crore," he told a rally.

"The Rs 6,000 crore investments will go a long way in improving the power situation in Assam. We are committed to helping Assam and other northeastern states for all round development.

The Prime Minister returned to Guwahati to inaugurate a sports complex, lay the foundation stone of an open university, and address a meeting of Congress party workers.

On Tuesday, Manmohan Singh is scheduled to inaugurate a crafts village at a function in Guwahati before leaving for Margherita in eastern Assam where he will formally hand over three coalfields of the Coal India Limited to the National Thermal Power Corporation.

The Prime Minister's visit came ahead of assembly elections in Assam that are due in April.

"Manmohan Singh's visit will give the Congress party a major boost ahead of the polls," a senior Assam Congress leader said.

Before Manmohan Singh's arrival, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said security forces had been put on alert across the state.

"We are expecting the prime minister to make certain bold statements to solve the ULFA problem soon," Gogoi said.

"All the projects expected to be launched by the Prime Minister reflect the sincerity of the central government towards the state and also show how we are working in tandem to bring in all-round development."

First Published: Jan 16, 2006 21:27 IST