Assam brewing a robust and aspirational development model
Largest economy of Northeast India, Assam is known for its tea, silk and wildlife. The state is the torchbearer of economic and social transformation in the northeast region. With strict governance, social inclusion, adoption of technology and communication, Assam is now aiming at going global.
For a while now, the state has been dealing with the illegal influx of immigrants from Bangladesh and its impact on social security and job opportunities. Assam chose to sign for the National Register of Citizens (NRC) but hit a negative wave with many stumbling blocks in acceptance and implementation of NRC.
State Ranking over the last three years
Though one might tend to believe that with the looming disturbance there is less scope for development; the SKOCH State of Governance 2019 presents facts that come as a revelation. From ranking at the 27th position in 2018, Assam has made commendable progress and ranks at 14th position in the 2019 study. It has bagged 11th position in municipal governance, 10th position in district administration and e-Governance respectively and second position in municipal sanitation category in India.
Brahmaputra river is the lifeline of the state and Assam has adopted advanced water management practices. The state ranks at second position in India for best water resource management that is in-line to tackle climatic changes.
Industrial development is the key to improve the employment scenario and financial reserves of the state, Assam has capitalised on its abundant natural resources that is tea, oil and natural gas. There are dedicated zones like tea park, food processing park, agro-export zones. Assam was the first site in Asia for oil drilling and today with 4 oil-refineries the state provides for 25 per cent of the fuel consumption in the Country. With the highest recoverable crude oil and natural gas in India, Assam has forayed for an ambitious project, the Assam Gas Cracker Project, which is supposed to be North-east India’s biggest industrial project.
State’s Performance in different sectors in three years
Infrastructure being the harbinger of industrial development, Assam is working on road and transport development projects simultaneously. Assam ranks among the top 5 states in India for an efficient transport system. Earlier this year, Assam released the proposed plan of building 143 km of the road for better connectivity. The government has also taken up the ‘Assam Inland Water Transport Project’ to enhance inland water transport services with high-quality passenger and vehicle ferry services. There is also a proposal to connect Assam with the neighbouring country Bhutan by road.
Chief Minister of Assam, Sarbananda Sonowal has greater aspirations for the state and on completing one year of his term he shared his goals.
“We want Assam to become the gateway to Southeast Asia. Our long-term strategy is to develop world-class infrastructure, including air connectivity, access to seaports through Brahmaputra and opening of international trade routes to neighbouring countries. This will be in line with the planned industrial revolution”
Flood Early Warning System
Assam deals with massive floods perennially and the losses are huge. Therefore, the Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA) in collaboration with the North Eastern Space Application Centre (NESAC) developed an advanced Flood Early Warning System (FLEWS). The methodology involves modelling and analysis of hydro meteorological and field data for flood forecasting, which provides early warning of flood in magnitude (severity), location (revenue circle/group or cluster of villages) and probable time (within 24-48 hours range), high rainfall warning with location and time, pre and post-monsoon status of river embankment etc.
The alerts generated under the FLEWS are disseminated to decision makers through bulk SMS, phone/mobile and personnel messenger for necessary preparedness mobilising the resources.
The early warning system helps in correct allocation of resources and by using Satellite imagery for embankment status, constant review and monitoring at the highest level, contingency planning etc, the damages and losses due to floods are accurately documented.
ODF Village Verification with integrated IPC (Interpersonal Communication) Process
The project launched was under the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) and aimed to achieve open defecation free (ODF) villages along with the sustainability. To achieve accurate data and sustained progress on the ODF status a unique Third-Party Independent Verification module was developed.
The primary task of the designated team was to verify and validate the status of Villages in terms of ODF declaration and toilet coverage and usage of sanitary toilets with emphasis on behavioural changes related to washing habits through intensive Focus Group Discussion & Inter-Personal Communication. The third-party also surveyed the quality of toilets constructed and interacted locally with students, NGOs, women groups etc. The third-party conducted an independent survey with no intervention from any department.
This exhibits a robust model of governance that drives transparent tendering and seamless communication. Assam is aggressively aspiring to progress but at the same time, it is also ensuring that the schemes and policies have a structured method of implementation. India will be awed by the achievements and transformation of the state in the next few years.
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