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Assam

Modi to visit Assam, Odisha; attend International Fleet Review in Visakhapatnam

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi will pay a three-day visit to Assam, Andhra Pradesh and Odisha from tomorrow.
 
In Assam, he will inaugurate the Brahmaputra Cracker and Polymer Ltd at Lepetkata, which is the first ever petro-chemical project in the entire North-East, tomorrow.
 
As part of the same event, the Prime Minister will also dedicate to the nation India's highest wax producing unit using indigenous technology in Numaligarh Refinery Ltd. 
 
He will address tea workers at Moran, near Dibrugarh. He will also address the 85th Annual Conference of Srimanta Sankaradeva Sangha at Sibsagar. 
 
In Guwahati, he will inaugurate the 12th South Asian Games, in which Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka are participating, apart from India.
 
On February 6, Mr. Modi will attend the International Fleet Review at Visakhapatnam. He will also visit a maritime exhibition. 
 
The Prime Minister will reach Bhubaneswar on February 7, and will dedicate to the nation the National Institute of Science Education and Research. He will also visit the Shri Jagannath Temple in Puri. 
 
Mr. Modi will dedicate to the nation the state-of-the-art Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) Refinery at Paradip. 
 
The refinery will have a total capacity of 15 MMTPA. The Indane Maximization unit at the refinery has been set up using indigenous technology to produce a higher quantity of LPG. The refinery is expected to unleash a new wave of industrialization in the hydrocarbon sector, and accelerate economic development in Eastern India. 
 
The Prime Minister will reach Visakhapatnam on the afternoon of February 7 and witness the operational demonstration and the International City Parade at the International Fleet Review. The Prime Minister will also deliver an address, an official press release added.
 
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Minor earthquake jolts Nagaon area of Assam

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An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 3.5 on the Richter scale, shook the Nagaon area of Assam this morning, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
 
The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 26.2°N and longitude 92.6°E, occurred at 0623 hours at a focal depth of 10 km, a bulletin from IMD added.
 
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6 dead, 79 injured as magnitude 6.7 earthquake hits Manipur, other NE states

At least six people died and 79 others suffered injuries when a strong earthquake, measuring 6.7 on the Richter scale, struck Manipur in the early hours of Monday.
 
Massive 6.7 quake strikes northeast India
 
At least six people died and 79 others suffered injuries when a strong earthquake, measuring 6.7 on the Richter scale, struck Manipur in the early hours of today.
 
The tremors were felt in most other North-Eastern states, including Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, as well as West Bengal, Jharkhand and Bihar, and neighbouring countries such as Myanmar, Bhutan and Bangladesh.
 
Several buildings, houses, and government offices in Imphal, including a six-storeyed building, and other parts of Manipur were damaged in the quake.
 
A bulletin from the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said the quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 24.8°N and longitude  93.5°E, occured at 0435 hours at a focal depth of 17 km.
 
According to IMD, the epicentre of the earthquake was in Tamenglong district of Manipur, about 35 km from Imphal, the state capital.
 
The tremors were also felt in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, West Bengal, Jharkhand and Bihar, among other places.
 
People in many places ran out of their homes to safety as a precautionary measure. Many people posted pictures of damaged buildings and walls with cracks on social media sites.
 
Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke over the telephone to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who is on an official visit to Assam, and asked him to oversee the situation.
 
Mr. Modi also spoke to Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh, 
Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi and Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Nabam Tuki on the situation.
 
The Manipur Government has sought the assistance of the Army and the Assam Rifles in the rescue and relief efforts.
 
The Prime Minister's Office (PMO) said Mr. Modi was continuously monitoring the situation.
 
Two teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) have moved from Guwahati to the areas affected by the earthquake.
 
Mr. Rajnath Singh said he had spoken to Mr. Gogoi and the Manipur Chief Secretary about the situation and assured them of all possible help from the Centre.
 
"I'm also contacting other North Eastern states to know the extent of damage caused by the earthquake," he added.
 
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In New Delhi, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) is coordinating with the State Governments concerned, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), Ministry of Defence (Mod), NDRF, Ministry of Communications and other Departments and agencies for seach, rescue and relief efforts.
 
NDMA officials have spoken to the Control Rooms and Relief Commisioners of all the States in the North-East and West Bengal.
 
Communication systems are functioning, particularly those of state-owned BSNL, in the affected areas.
 
The National Crisis Management Committee headed by the Cabinet Secretary held a meeting here this morning to assess the situation and provide all necessary help from the Government of India.
 
Mr. Modi also held a meeting of the National Security Council at which earthquake relief measures were also discussed.
 
Minister of State for Development of North-East Region Jitendra Singh has been asked to rush to Imphal to oversee the rescue and relief efforts, an official press release said.
 
The Centre has offered all necessary help to the Manipur State Government for search, rescue and relief measures.
 
The release said 83 personnel of the NDRF were airlifted in three aircaft from Guwahati to Imphal and have been depoyed in rescue operations.
 
Another team of 35 rescuers of NDRF has been deployed in Silchar, Assam to cater to the needs of areas around Silchar. 
 
A three-member team from Power Grid Corporation has already reached Imphal for restoration of the power supply. A team of doctors will reach Manipur early tomorrow to assess the situation and assist the State Government. 
 
The release said there was no shortage of petroleum products in Manipur. There is normal availability of all products with stocks of two weeks and above. The LPG bottling plant at Sekmai has been temporarily suspended, which is likely to be resumed by tomorrow after inspection and rectification of damages. 
 
The NDMA has set up a toll free disaster helpline number 011-1078, which can be contacted round the clock for any help, it said.
 
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Minor earthquake jolts Karbi Anglong region of Assam

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An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 3.3 on the Richter scale, shook the Karbi Anglong region of Assam late last night.
 
The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 26.2°N and longitude 93.3°E, occurred at 2354 hours yesterday at a focal depth of 36 km, a bulletin from the India Meteorological Department (IMD) added.
 
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Home Secretary reviews progress in talks with ULFA

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Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi reviewed the progress made in talks with the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) at a meeting with officials of the Assam government and representatives of the organisation.
 
An official press release said the ULFA delegation was led by its chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa.
 
The officials present included Mr. P.C. Haldar, Representative for Peace Talks, Mr. V.K. Pipersenia, Chief Secretary, Assam, Mr. Pallab Bhattacharya, Additional Director General of Police (DGP), Assam, Mr. A.K. Cassyap, Additional DGP, Border, Assam, and Mrs. L.S. Changsan, Commissioner & Secretary Home, Assam.
 
Mr. Ashok Prasad, Secretary (Internal Secretary) and Mr. Satyendra Garg, Joint Secretary, North East, Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) were also present. 
 
Appreciating the efforts made by the Government for repatriation of Mr. Anup Chetia from Bangladesh to India, ULFA leaders requested the government to associate him in the ongoing peace process. The Union Home Secretary suggested to the Government of India's Representative to examine the request of ULFA leaders. 
 
"Discussions were cordial and it was agreed to meet again as soon as mutually convenient to move the peace process forward," the release added.
 
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Suresh Prabhu flags off first passenger between Silchar-Guwahati on new broad gauge section

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Union Minister of Railways Suresh Prabhu flagged off the first passenger train between Silchar and Guwahati in Assam through the newly-constructed Lumbding-Silchar broad gauge section in the state.
 
The project fulfils a long-cherished demand of the people of the Barak Valley in South Assam for seamless connectivity with the rest of the country. Goods trains have been running on the section since March this year.
 
The flag-off was done through remote control from Delhi by organizing a video conference between Rail Bhavan here and the Silchar railway station.
 
Union Minsters Sarbananda Sonowal and Manoj Singh attended the function at Silchar.
 
An official press release said the new connection would also help open up new visas in providing links to Tripura, Mizoram and Manipur.
 
Mr. Prabhu said the Railways were committed to improving their infrastructure in the North-Eastern region.
 
He said the Railways would also work for better connectivity with Bangladesh.
 
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The 210 km Lumding-Silchar gauge conversion project was sanctioned in 1996-97 at an initial cost of Rs.648 crore. It was declared as a National Project in 2004.
 
The track passes through the verdant North Cachar hills almost parallel to the old metre gauge alignment criss-crossing the metre gauge alignment at many locations in the first 100 kms between Lumding and Migrendisa. Thereafter, the proposed broad gauge  alignment detours for 30 km before joining the metre gauge alignment again near Ditockchera.
 
Phase II of the total project consists of gauge conversion of Badarpur-Kumarghat (118 km) and finger lines Arunachal-Jiribam (50 Km), Baraigram-Dullabcherra (29 km) and Karimganj-Mahishasan including Karimganj byepass line (13.50 km). This phase will be completed by 31.03.2016 .
 
The current estimated cost of the entire project is around Rs. 6000 crore.
 
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ADB to provide $273m loan to improve rural roads in five states

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The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Government of India signed here today a $273 million loan agreement to continue improving rural roads in the states of Assam, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and West Bengal. 
 
An official press release said the loan represented the third and last tranche of the $800 million financing facility under the Rural Connectivity Investment Program. 
 
The loan will help in constructing over 6,000 kilometers of all-weather rural roads in the five states, benefiting over 4200 rural habitations, it said.
 
Mr. S. Selvakumar, Joint Secretary (Bilateral Cooperation), Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance signed the Loan Agreement on behalf of the Government of India while Ms Teresa Kho, Country Director signed the loan agreement for ADB. 
 
Mr. Selvakumar said that the program had supported the Government’s objectives under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) by providing all-weather road connectivity in selected rural areas in the five states. He said that the enhanced connectivity would improve access of rural communities to markets, district headquarters, health and education facilities, and other centers of economic activity. 
 
Ms Kho said that it was expected that Project 3 would result in benefits similar to the previous two projects including improving and sustaining the connectivity of selected rural communities in the five states. She said that this loan would be used to make further investments as well as supporting improved road design, road safety and asset management measures, and training, with women actively involved in all aspects. 
 
The Ministry of Rural Development (MORD) is the executing agency of the project at the central level, while the Governments of Assam, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, and West Bengal have been entrusted with overall implementation at the respective state level. 
 
The third tranche is expected to be completed by December, 2017. The implementing agencies at the state level will be the respective State Rural Roads Development Agencies, the release added.
 
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Minor earthquake jolts Karimganj region of Assam

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An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 4.9 on the Richter scale, shook the Karimganj region of Assam this morning, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
 
The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 24.6°N and longitude 92.3°E, occurred at 0345 hours at a focal depth of 15 km, an IMD bulletin added.
 
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Minor earthquake shakes Darrang region of Assam

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An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 4.6 on the Richter scale, shook the Darrang region of Assam late last night, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
 
The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 26.6°N and longitude  91.8°E, occurred at 2227 hours yesterday at a focal depth of 15 km, an IMD bulletin added.
 
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Cabinet nod for creation of posts of Directors for four new NIDs

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The Union Cabinet today approved the creation of four posts of Directors for four new National Institutes of Design (NIDs) at Kurukshetra (Haryana), Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh), Jorhat (Assam) and Vijayawada (Andhra Pradesh). 
 
The Cabinet had already approved financial implications including salaries, for setting up of these new NIDs in its meeting held in February, 2014. 
 
The National Design Policy was approved by the Cabinet in February, 2007. One of the components of the Action Plan for implementation of the policy is setting up of four more NIDs on the pattern of NID, Ahmedabad. This would help in spreading quality education in design to all regions of India, an official press release said.
 
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Minor earthquake shakes Nagaon area of Assam

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An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 3.4 on the Richter scale, shook the Nagaon region of Assam this evening, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
 
The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 26.2°N and longitude 92.8°E, occurred at 1753 hours at a depth of 10 km, an IMD bulletin added.
 
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Minor earthquake shakes Nagaon region of Assam

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An earthquake of slight intensity, masuring 4.0 on the Richter scale, shook the Nagaon region of Assam this morning, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
 
The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 26.3°N and longitude 92.8°E, occurred at 1109 hours today at a focal depth of 10 km, an IMD bulletin added.
 
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Three Additional Judges appointed in Gauhati High Court

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The President has appointed Mr Nishitendu Chaudhury, Mr Lanusungkum Jamir and Mr Manash Ranjan Pathak, to be Additional Judges of the Gauhati High Court.
 
An official press release said the appointments would be for a period of three months with effect from tomorrow.
 
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Newly converted North Lakhimpur–Murkongselek, Balipara– Bhalukpong broad gauge sections opened

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Minister for Railways Suresh Prabhu today inaugurated new train services on the North Lakhimpur – Murkongselek and Balipara – Bhalukpong sections in the North-East after the completion of their conversion into broad gauge lines.
 
The inauguration was organized through video-conferencing between Rail Bhavan here and Murkongselek in Assam and Bhalukpong in Arunachal Pradesh.
 
While Mr Prabhu participated in the inaugural function from here, Union Ministers Sarbananda Sonowal and Kiren Rijiju were present at Murkongselek and Bhalukpong.
 
The 15613/15614 Guwahati-Murkongselek Intercity Express, the   55719/55720 Dekargaon-Bhalukpong Passenger (on newly gauge-converted Ballipara-Bhalukpong section), the extension of 55429/55430 Rangiya-Rangapara North Passenger upto Dekargaon with New Nos. 55721/55722, extension of 55613/ 55614 Dekargaon-Harmuti Passenger upto Murkongselek with new No. 55813/55814 and increase in frequency of 15903/15904 Dibrugarh-Chandigarh Express from weekly to bi-weekly were the services inuaugurated today in keeping with announcements made in the Railway Budget 2012-13.
 
Mr Prabhu said it was a "golden day" in the history of Arunachal Pradesh, which was got its second broad gauge line. Earlier this year, the state capital Itanagar was provided connectivity with the national capital through a direct train. 
 
"I am sure this rail connectivity will bring prosperity in the lives of people of this State," he said.
 
He said the opening of the newly converted lines also marked the completion of the Rangiya – Murkongselek gauge conversion project running along the north bank of the Brahmaputra. This will start a new era of development for the people of this region. 
 
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The 510 km gauge conversion project costing about Rs 3600 crores was sanctioned in 2002-03.  The project suffered delay mainly due to funds constraint in the past. But in 2014-15, an outlay of Rs 713 crores was provided for this line and the balance Rs 300 crores has been provided in 2015-16. 
 
Mr Prabhu said that 13 new lines, three gauge conversion and four doubling projects, with balance fund requirement of Rs 37,000 crore, had been taken up in the North-East. They will, on completiton, augment the network in the region by 1915 km, he said.
 
He pointed out that, at present, only the capitals of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh were on broad gauge network in the region. Agartala, the capital of Tripura, is connected at present with metre gauge and is set to be on the broad gauge network by March 2016.
 
Mr Prabhu said it would be the government's endeavour to connect the capitals of Nagaland, Mizoram, Manipur and Meghalaya by rail with the rest of the country in the next 5-7 years.  
 
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Cyclonic storm Komen over Bangladesh weakens into deep depression

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The cyclonic storm Komen over Bangladesh moved nearly northwards, weakened into a deep depression and lay centred at 0230 hrs IST of today near latitude 23.00 N and longitude 91.20 E, close to Maijdicourt, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
 
It would move nearly northward for some more time and then west-northwestwards . It would weaken into a depression during the next 24 hours, a bulletin issued this morning by the IMD said.
 
The bulletin said rainfall would occur at most places over Gangetic West Bengal today with heavy to heavy to very heavy rainfall at a few places and extremely heavy rainfall at isolated places.
 
It said there would also be heavy to very heavy falls at a few places in the state tomorrow.
 
The bulletin said rainfall would occur at most places over Odisha today, with heavy to very heavy rainfall at isolated place. Heavy to very heavy rainfall would occur at a few places in the state tomorrow with isolated extremely heavy falls tomorrow, it said.
 
The bulletin forecast rainfall at most places over Mizoram, Tripura, Meghalaya and south Assam today, with heavy to very heavy rainfall at isolated places. 
 
Similarly, it said rainfall was likely at most places over Jharkhand today and tomorrow, with heavy to very heavy rainfall at isolated places.
 
The bulletin said squally wind speed reaching 45-55 kmph gusting to 65 kmph would prevail along and off West Bengal and north Odisha coasts during the next 24 hours. Squally wind speed reaching 40-50 kmph gusting to 60 kmph would prevail over Mizoram and Tripura during the next 12 hours and over Gangetic West Bengal during the next 24 hours.
 
Sea condition would be rough to very rough over north Bay of Bengal during the next 24 hours.
 
The IMD advised fishermen not to venture into the sea along and off West Bengal and north Odisha coasts during the next 24 hours.
 
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Mukherjee condoles passing away of former Union Minister B K Handique

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President Pranab Mukherjee today condoled the passing away of former Union Minister and senior Congress leader Bijoy Krishna Handique, who passed away at the Jorhat Medical College Hospital in Assam yesterday afternoon after a brief illness.
 
He was 80. He is survived by his wife and three daughters.
 
“I am sad to learn about the passing away of Shri Bijoy Krishna Handique, a friend and colleague of long years," Mr Mukherjee said in a message to Mrs. Swarup Rani Handique.
 
He said Mr. Handique had served the nation with distinction in different capacities during his public life.  
 
"He was Member of Parliament from the Jorhat Lok Sabha constituency for six consecutive terms from 1991 to 2014. He also served as Member of the Assam Legislative Assembly from 1972 to 1978 and Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha) from 1980 to 1986," he said.
 
"His services to the nation as a Union Minister of State for Defence, Parliamentary Affairs, Mines, Chemicals and Fertilizers and Minister for Mines and North Eastern Region during the tenure of the UPA Government will be always remembered," he said.
 
Mr. Mukherjee said Mr. Handique made immense contribution for the welfare and development of the people of India, especially the State of Assam. 
 
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Rajnath says NE must become hub of peace, progress, development

 
Rajnath meets CMs of North-Eastern states
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh today said it was the dream as well as resolve of the Government that the North-Eastern Region should become a hub of peace, progress and development but stressed that security was equally important.
 
"All of us know that development and security go hand-in-hand. They are complimentary to each other. Without development, security scenario suffers badly and without security, development cannot take place at the desired pace," he said at a meeting of Chief Ministers of the North-Eastern States in Guwahati, Assam on the issues of security and development.
 
"We have organized this meeting with you all with the purpose of ensuring peace and security in the region and get its dividend in the form of accelerated development. 
 
"I feel that in order to proceed further ahead in this direction, strong and close coordination between the Central and State governments is needed. One of the purposes of this meeting is that we mutually understand each other’s expectations better and deal with the situation in more effective way," he said.
 
Union Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports Sarbananda Sonowal,Minister of State for Development of North-Eastern Region (DoNER) Jitendr Singh, Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju and Home Secretary L. C. Goyal also participated in the meeting.
 
“North-Eastern Region is very important for us. This region is incomparably rich in natural resources, rivers, mountains, scenic beauty and cultural diversity. But, in spite of all these resources and diversities, our North-Eastern Region somehow lagged behind in development. For overall development of this region, the earlier NDA government created the Department of Development of North-Eastern Region (DONER) and continued mandatory 10% of funds for of this region out of the total development budget of Government of India. Many new projects were started," he said.
 
"Fortunately, the successor UPA governments also continued all these efforts and upgraded the Department to Ministry. As a result, this region also started developing fast along with the rest of the country. But, still a lot more is to be done. It is the dream as well as resolve of our Government that the North-Eastern Region should be hub of peace, progress and development," he said.
 
Mr Singh said that, over the last few years, there had been significant improvement in the security scenario in the North-East. 
 
"Overall level of insurgency is at all-time low. Mizoram, Tripura, large parts of Assam and Meghalaya, and Arunachal Pradesh except its three eastern districts, are almost free of insurgency. There is a strong popular desire for peace in Nagaland and Manipur too. All this has been possible because of sustained efforts of all of you and I congratulate you all for this achievement," he told the Chief Ministers.
 
He also appreciated the hard work done, particularly by the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs), Assam Police and the Army, after the killings of Adivasis in last December in the districts of Kokhrajhar and Sonitpur in Assam. 
 
He said special and concerted efforts by Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi deserved special mention for action against NDFB and congratulated him for his "admirable action".
 
Mr Singh said the peace initiatives of the Government of India with insurgent organisations were now on the right track. 
 
"We hope to bring them to logical conclusions soon. However, these days much of the residual insurgency in the region is by some small violent insurgent groups operating from their safe havens across the border. Incidents of kidnapping for ransom, particularly in Assam and Meghalaya, have increased to almost double. In the Garo Hill districts of Meghalaya, some new splinter groups are there whose objective is kidnapping for ransom or looting the businessmen at gunpoint," he said.
 
"I would like to make it absolutely clear that the Central government would not talk to such criminal elements. Such criminal activities must be dealt with firmly," he declared.
 
"One of the purposes of this meeting is to emphasize that now the time has come when apart from Insurgency centric security, we must think, plan and deliver on People-centric security. 
 
"For improving the security ecosystem in the region, I would like to request all the Hon’ble Chief Ministers to further concentrate on the following important points so that we can create a better environment of peace and security leading to faster development of the area," he said.
 
He told the States that they must take care of the development along with the security of people living along the International Borders where hundreds of villages exist. 
 
He said that, under the Border Area Development Program (BADP), for development of border areas in this region, the government had enhanced the share of the region from 30% to 40%.
 
"Of late, India-Myanmar border has become more active as there are reports of insurgents, weapons and drugs crossing this border. I have constituted a committee headed by Chairman, JIC, Mr. R. N. Ravi to review how to effectively manage the Indo-Myanmar border. The committee has done the review and is expected to submit its report in the next few days. The Home Ministry will soon take action on that. We also need to tighten our vigil along the Indo-Bangladesh border," he said.
 
Mr Singh stressed that the border population must not be ignored. "There are some 240 villages with over two lakh population within 10 km of the India-Myanmar border. This large population is without any worthwhile security cover. They are at the mercy of the insurgents. Similar situation prevails along the India-Bhutan border," he said.
 
He said that, while the Home Ministry is taking measures for effective management of the border, the Chief Ministers must pay attention to this crucial area of security. 
 
"You may consider opening and strengthening of police stations in the border areas to reinforce a sense of security among our population. It will also be crucial for successful implementation of our Act-East policy," he said.
 
"The people of the region have suffered the trauma of insurgency for long. Now they must reap the dividend of peace. Insurgency has adversely impacted the criminal justice system. There has been marked increase in low-visibility yet high-impact violent crimes like kidnapping for ransom and extortions in Assam and Meghalaya. It has severely undermined common man’s access to justice. In some States, ratio of prosecution of criminals in cases of serious crimes is disturbingly low, as low as 5 per cent as against all India figure of over 85 per cent. In cases of kidnapping for ransom, this data is negligible in NER. 
 
"You would appreciate that when the aggrieved people do not get justice from the States, not only their confidence in the system gets eroded but they also become prone to alternative course for justice which further vitiates the environment. The State police must pay greater attention to registration and investigation of crimes and pursue the cases diligently in the courts for punishing the criminals who commit heinous crimes in these states. The larger criminal justice system must deliver," he said.
 
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Mr Singh said there was need to have Special Investigation Cells to tackle the cases of extortion and kidnapping for ransom. "It is crucial to restore the popular confidence in the Rule of law. I would urge upon the Hon’ble Chief Ministers to pay attention to it in their respective States," he said.
 
"We know that the North-East Region is replete with illegal firearms. Weapons are smuggled from across the border and sold in the region and even beyond. We are aware of places like Dimapur, being the centres for marketing of such smuggled weapons. Existence of illegal weapons will continue encouraging crimes and vitiating the security eco-system of the region. I would urge upon the Chief Ministers to launch sustained drives against illegal weapons and make their respective States free of such arms. 
 
"We also know that the youths in the insurgency today are mostly those who have been misled by vested interests. Many of them realize their mistakes and are seeking safe ways to lead normal happy life. They are welcome to the mainstream. However, those who have committed heinous crimes and acts of terror will have to face the law and meet the justice. I would like to reiterate and emphasize that we have zero-tolerance policy on insurgency," he said.
 
Mr Singh said there are boundary disputes between some States like the ones between Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and Nagaland, Assam and Meghalaya, Assam and Mizoram, and between Tripura and Mizoram. 
 
"Recently, disputes started between Angamis of Nagaland and Mao tribals of Manipur regarding Dzukou valley. Many of the disputes are legacies of the past. Unfortunately, such disputes, at times, tend to grow into serious tensions that occasionally erupt into violence and displacement of people. I would urge upon the Chief Ministers to resolve them mutually by using their good offices and ensuring that under no circumstances the disputes develop into active tensions. The Home Ministry will be happy to assist, should the Chief Ministers so decide. However, till the dispute is resolved amicably, the status quo must be maintained by both the concerned states," he said.
 
Mr Singh said that, in the wake of improvement in security scenario, there was a need to review deployment of security forces in the region. 
 
"At present the deployment is more than it was when the insurgency was at its peak. In the past few years there has been substantial strengthening of State police also. Without compromising with the security, we must plan to reduce deployment so as to make the environment easy to encourage positive thinking of outsiders about this region on this aspect," he siad.
 
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He urged the Chief Ministers to have a realistic audit of deployment of Central Armed Police Forces in their States. "However, I assure you of our endeavour to help you in the deployment of Central Forces when actually needed," he said.
 
"Border guarding is one of prime concerns. I would like to urge all the Chief Ministers concerned to provide land for border fencing and expedite land acquisition on urgent basis wherever it is pending," he said.
 
He noted that the North-Eastern part of India is a high intensity seismic zone and is also prone to periodic devastating floods. 
 
"These disasters cause untold miseries to the people and immense loss of life, property and livelihood. I am happy that the States, with active assistance of the National Disaster Management Authority, Ministry of Home, have built certain capabilities to meet and manage natural disasters. The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has one Battalion stationed at Guwahati for the region. We have sanctioned one more Battalion of NDRF for the North-East," he said.
 
He urged the Chief Ministers to maintain and always keep in readiness their State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) and upgrade their Disaster Management capabilities. 
 
"The Home Ministry will be happy to encourage and help strengthen their disaster response capabilities. 
 
"Before I conclude, I assure the people of North Eastern Region that government would take all steps to ensure that they are not discriminated against," he added.
 
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Rajnath Singh to chair meeting of CMs of NE States on Saturday

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Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh will chair a meeting of the Chief Ministers of the North-Eastern States and Sikkim at Guwahati in Assam tomorrow to discuss, among other topics, security-related issues, inlcuding counter-insurgency operations.
 
Union Minister of State for Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) Jitendra Singh, Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju and Union Home Secretary L.C. Goyal will also participate in the meeting, an official press release said.
 
The release said suspension of operations agreements, effective functioning of anti-extortion cells and strengthening and equipping of State police forces of the region will also be discussed at the meeting.
 
The participants will also discuss effective guarding of international borders in the North-Eastern States. In addition, important development projects and flood and landslide situation in the region will also be reviewed, the release added.
 
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Moderate earthquake jolts Kokrajhar area of Assam

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An earthquake of moderate intensity, measuring 5.6 on the Richter scale, jolted the Kokrajhar area of Assam this morning, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
 
The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 26.5°N and longitude 90.1°E, occurred at 0635 hours at a focal depth of 10 km, an IMD bulletin said.
 
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BHEL commissions first 250 MW unit at Bongaigaon Thermal Power Station in Assam

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The public sector Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) today said it had successfully commissioned a 250 MW coal-based thermal unit at the Bongaigaon Thermal Power Station (TPS) in Assam.
 
BHEL is executing the main plant package contract for setting up three coal-fired units of 250 MW each at Bongaigaon TPS of NTPC Limited. 
 
On completion, this will become the highest rating coal based power plant in North East India, a press release from the company said.
 
The project is located at Salakati near Bongaigaon in Kokrajhar district of Assam. Also known as the gateway to Lower Assam, Bongaigoan is one of the industrial towns of the state, which also has a major petrochemical industry.
 
The sets of this rating class, supplied by BHEL are considered as the workhorse and backbone of the Indian power sector.These sets have been performing much above the national average as well as international benchmarks. BHEL has so far contracted 251 sets of this rating class.
 
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Minor earthquake jolts Dhubri district of Assam

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An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 3.9 on the Richter scale, shook the Dhubri district of Assam in the early hours of today, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
 
The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 25.8°N and longitude  89.9°E, occurred at 0339 hours at a focal depth of 10 km, an IMD bulletin added.
 
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Minor quake recorded in Kamrup region of Assam

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An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 3.5 on the Richter scale, shook the Kamrup region of Assam tonight, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
 
The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 25.8°N and longitude 91.2°E, occurred at 2049 horus at a focal depth of 10 km, an IMD bulletin said.
 
Earlier in the day, a minor quake, measuring 4.0 on the Richter scale, jolted the border region between Arunachal Pradesh and China. It had its epicentre at latitude 28.1°N and longitude 93.4°E and occurred at 1316 hours at a depth of 10 km, the bulletin added.
 
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Train driver hurt as Alipur Duar-Guwahati Sifung Passenger derails in Assam

 
Driver, passengers injured as train derails in Assam
 
 
The driver of the 55753 Up Alipur Duar Junction-Guwahati Sifung Passenger train suffered serious injuries when five of its coaches derailed over a bridge near Salakati in Kokrajhar district of Assam this morning, official sources said.
 
North East Frontier Railway (NEFR) officials said some passengers had also suffered minor injuries and were given first aid. The driver was hospitalised for treatment.
 
The derailment blocked the bridge on the up line towards Guwahati and efforts were being made to clear it as early as possible, they said.
 
Meanwhile, a separate bridge on the down line is being used to maintain the flow of traffic, though with some delays, the officials said.
 
Senior railway officials as well as officials from the district administration and police have rushed to the spot.
 
The mishap ocurred around 5.15 am today between Salakati and Basugaon stations as the train began crossing the bridge. Passengers were transshipped to the nearest station, they said.
 
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Cabinet approves setting of Ammonia-Urea Complex at Namrup in Assam

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The Union Cabinet today gave its approval for setting up of a new Ammonia-Urea Complex of 8.64 lakh metric tonnes annual capacity with an estimated investment of Rs. 4500 crore at Namrup in Assam in the public private partnership (PPP) mode through a joint venture (JV).
 
In the proposed JV, Brahmaputra Valley Fertilizer Corporation Limited (BVFCL), a public sector unit of the Department of Fertilizers, the Government of Assam and the public sector Oil India Limited shall have 11%, 11% and 26% equity holding, respectively.
 
The balance 52% will be held by private/public sector entity(ies) which would be inducted through a competitive bidding process, an official press release siad.
 
The Cabinet also approved the financial restructuring of BVFCL by waiving off the entire cumulative interest (Rs. 774.61 crore as on 31.03.2015) till date accrued on GOI loans and a loan of Rs. 21.96 crore and conversion of GOI loans of Rs. 594.71 crore as interest free loan. 
 
It will enable the BVFCL to participate as equity partner in this project and will sustain the operation of the existing plants during the interim period till the new plant comes into operation. 
 
The setting up of the new Ammonia-Urea Complex will meet the growing demand for urea in the North-Eastern States, Bihar, West Bengal and Jharkhand, the release said. It will also ease the pressure on infrastructure due to long distance transportation of urea from Western and Central regions and thereby saving in government subsidy on freight. It will accelerate the economic development of the region. The proposed plant will open new avenues for the people of the North-East, it said.
 
The annual consumption of urea in the country is approximately 310 LMT, out of which 230 LMT is produced indigenously and the rest is imported. To enhance the production of urea indigenously, the Government had earlier approved the revival of Talcher (Odisha) & Ramagundam (Telangna) units of Fertilizer Corporation of India Limited (FCIL) by PSUs through ‘nomination route’ and Barauni unit of Hindustan Fertilizer Corporation Limited (HFCL) and Gorakhpur unit of FCIL through ‘bidding route’. These four units will produce about 52 lakh MT of urea annually. 
 
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The new plant will be highly energy efficient unit of international standard with latest technology and with same amount of natural gas available as to the existing units, the production of urea from the new unit will be more than double, that is 3.6 to 8.64 lakh metric tonnes annually. With this, India is likely to start export of urea. 
 
The government would save about Rs. 600 crore annually due to reduction in cost of production and import substitution. The entire production of urea from this unit shall be neem coated so that benefits of neem coating are available to the farmers of the North-Eastern region also, the release added.
 
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IAF's Su-30 aircraft crashes near Tezpur, both pilots eject safely

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A Sukhoi-30 aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF) crashed shorty after taking off from the Tezpur Air Force Station in Assam today, but both pilots managed to eject safely.
 
A press release from the Air Force said the aircraft, which was on a routine mission, had developed a technical snag and the pilot was forced to abandon it.
 
"Both the pilots ejected. The ejection was safe and the aircraft crashed at 1230 hours in a thick forest near Tezpur. A Court of Inquiry has been ordered to ascertain the cause of the accident," the release added.
 
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