Under the dynamic leadership of Chief Minister Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma, the Assam Cabinet, has undertaken a series of strategic decisions aimed at bolstering governance, enhancing public welfare, and fostering sustainable development across the State. These decisions span a wide spectrum of areas, ranging from legislative reforms to administrative restructuring, reflecting the Government’s proactive approach towards addressing pressing issues and advancing the overall well-being of its citizens. From refining the frameworks governing village defence organisations to spearheading comprehensive urban development initiatives and cracking down on fraudulent healthcare practices, each decision underscores the Government’s unwavering commitment to promoting progress, security, and ethical governance in Assam.
The approval of the Assam Village Defence Organisation (Amendment) Bill, 2024 marks a significant step towards enhancing the effectiveness of the Village Defence Organisation (VDO) in Assam. The proposed amendments aim to refine the existing framework established by the Assam Village Defence Organisation Act, 1966 by redefining key terms, clarifying duties, and delineating the powers and functions of various stakeholders within the VDO. This legislative initiative reflects the Government’s commitment to bolstering community-based defence mechanisms and ensuring the safety and security of rural areas in Assam. By addressing pertinent issues and streamlining operations, the amended Bill is poised to strengthen the capacity and resilience of the VDO in safeguarding local communities against emerging threats and challenges.
The proposed Bill for amendment of the Assam Municipal Act 1956 represents a significant step towards ensuring efficient urban administration in the State. By defining the roles and responsibilities of three distinct State Municipal Cadres – the Assam Urban Administrative Service, Assam Urban Engineering Service, and Assam Urban Financial Service – the Bill addresses critical issues that have hindered effective governance in urban areas. By delineating clear mandates for each cadre, the legislation aims to streamline decision-making processes, enhance accountability, and optimise resource allocation. Through these measures, the proposed amendments seek to foster sustainable development, improve service delivery, and promote overall well-being in Assam’s urban communities.
In ensuring effective governance and sustainable urban development, the modalities for appointing staff within municipalities, adhering to the approved staffing pattern of Urban Local Bodies (ULBs), form a crucial aspect. These modalities encompass the formulation of rules governing the appointment and conditions of service for municipal officers, ensuring transparency and efficiency in staffing procedures. Additionally, delineating the powers and functions of Executive Officers within the Urban Administrative Service framework becomes imperative for streamlined decision-making and administrative oversight.
Moreover, delineating the roles and responsibilities of specialised services such as the Urban Engineering Service and Urban Financial Service is essential for fostering sustainable urban development. The Urban Engineering Service plays a pivotal role in implementing infrastructural projects and ensuring compliance with urban planning regulations, while the Urban Financial Service facilitates prudent financial management, resource allocation, and revenue generation strategies to support long-term urban sustainability goals.
By establishing clear frameworks for appointment, conditions of service, and delineating the powers and functions of key municipal officers and specialised services, municipalities can effectively navigate the complexities of urban governance and advance towards sustainable urban development objectives.
The Ten Cities Development Concept, known as “Doh Shaher Ek Rupayan,” aims to foster sustainable urban development by focusing on key components across ten cities in Assam, namely Tinsukia, Dibrugarh, Sivasagar, Jorhat, Golaghat, Nagaon, Tezpur, North-Lakhimpur, Bongaigaon, Silchar, Karimganj, Dhubri, and Haflong/Diphu. These cities will serve as beacons for other urban local bodies (ULBs) in the State.
The initiative encompasses essential aspects such as solid waste management with 100 per cent door-to-door collection, ensuring clean and potable water supply with complete coverage, installation of streetlights in public areas, major roads, and bye-lanes, and the development of public infrastructure including town halls, convention centres, and markets.
Furthermore, it focuses on traffic management by establishing traffic islands, inter-state bus terminus (ISBT), and pedestrianisation efforts, among others. Urban planning is emphasised through the formulation of master plans, local area plans, building by-laws, and township policies.
The incorporation of green and blue components, such as parks and water bodies rejuvenation, adds to the initiative’s environmental sustainability. Manpower rationalisation and capacity building are prioritised alongside the digitalisation and provision of online municipal services.
Moreover, the financial strengthening of ULBs through revenue augmentation and the implementation of the New Municipal Accounting Manual (NMAM) are crucial elements to ensure the sustainability and effectiveness of the initiative. By focusing on these key components, the Ten Cities Development Concept aims to pave the way for comprehensive and sustainable urban development in Assam.
The implementation of this concept will be closely monitored and reviewed at both the State and City levels. At the State level, a Steering Committee chaired by the Minister of the Department of Housing and Urban Affairs will oversee the progress. Meanwhile, at the City level, another Steering Committee, chaired by the District Commissioner of the respective district, will provide local oversight. To ensure the holistic development of Urban Local Bodies (ULBs), an officer not below the rank of Additional District Commissioner will be stationed on a full-time basis in towns. Additionally, to manage urban traffic effectively, a dedicated officer not below the rank of Additional Deputy Commissioner of Police/Additional Superintendent of Police will be appointed to lead the Urban Traffic Management system. These measures aim to streamline governance and enhance urban infrastructure for the benefit of residents and stakeholders alike.
The Assam Healing (Prevention of Evil) Practices Bill, 2024 aims to tackle the exploitation of vulnerable individuals by prohibiting the deceptive practice of magical healing in the guise of medical treatment. By targeting ailments such as deafness, dumbness, blindness, physical deformities, and autism, the Bill seeks to safeguard the public from fraudulent claims and extortion by purported healers. Under this legislation, severe penalties, including imprisonment and fines, will be imposed on those found guilty of perpetrating these harmful acts. By clamping down on such practices, the Bill strives to uphold ethical standards in healthcare and protect the welfare of the populace, particularly the marginalised and disadvantaged communities.
In a move aimed at enhancing administrative efficiency, the Assam Secretariat Service is set to undergo restructuring, with the creation of additional posts and the abolition of certain cadres. A total of 352 new positions will be established, spanning various hierarchical levels within the service. This restructuring includes the creation of three Additional Secretary positions, six Joint Secretary positions, fifteen Deputy Secretary positions, twenty Under Secretary positions, eighty-seven Section Officer positions, one hundred and two Assistant Section Officer positions, and one hundred and nineteen Junior Administrative Assistant positions. By streamlining the staffing framework in this manner, the aim is to optimise workflow, improve service delivery, and ensure the effective functioning of the Assam Secretariat Service in meeting the evolving needs of governance.
The initiatives spearheaded under the leadership of Chief Minister Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma herald a new era of governance in Assam, characterised by efficiency, accountability, and inclusivity. By enacting legislative reforms, restructuring administrative cadres, and launching ambitious development projects, the Government has demonstrated its resolve to meet the evolving needs of the populace and propel the State towards prosperity. As these decisions take shape and begin to yield tangible results, they are poised to leave a lasting impact on the socio-economic landscape of Assam, paving the way for a brighter and more prosperous future for its residents. With Chief Minister Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma at the helm, Assam stands poised to embark on a transformative journey towards progress and prosperity, guided by a vision of inclusive development and good governance.