Speech on Bill on National Institute of Design

 I support The National Institute of Design Bill. The National Institute of Design is a prestigious Institution. We are extremely proud of this institution. The students of this institution are offered courses in communication, engineering, are awarded degree in technology and after the passing of this Bill they will be awarded certificates. The National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad under takes research and consulting assignments. Opposing this Government I thank the previous Government that it not only established the The National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad but also National Institute of Design, Jorhat, National Institute of Design Bhopal, National Institute of Design Hyderabad and National Institute of Design Kurukshetra also. Training in Industrial Design is given in National Institute of Design. The Government had mentioned that in order to progress we need cold storages. Hence, I would request the Government to ask the National Institute of Design to work on the particular project of designing cold storages and also food processing. Unfortunately, this Government is outsourcing all its work to FDI and PPP. It has lost the faith of local institutions. Department of Commerce, Department of Education and Department of Skill Development should plan for the future roadmap of NID Institution.

General Budget speech on Water Resources

The Union Government‟s Budget of 2014-15 has taken some considerable measures. The Accelerated Irrigation benefits and flood management programme has received Rs.8,992 crore; the Prime Minister Krishi Sinchai Yojana has received Rs.1,000 crore; budget allocated to the North East has been Rs.1,474 crore. So far as Ganga is concerned, Ganga is one of the holiest rivers in the world. But is also a fact that there are 250 industries, which dump their pollutants on this river. So, we have collectively failed to address the issue of Ganga. Since 1985, various Ganga conservation projects have taken place whether it is the Ganga Action Plan No.1, Ganga Action Plan No.2, the National Ganga River Basin Authority. Close to Rs.7,000 crore has been spent and 1,441 sewage treatment plants have been made. So, I would urge the Government that before it embarks upon another huge Mission, there should be a careful assessment of what has worked in the past and what has not worked. So far as rejuvenation of the Ganga is concerned, we must ensure that this process is democratic and involves that voices of all the stakeholders. I am saying so because in the recently held Ganga Manthan democratic processes and stakeholders‟ consultations have been ignored. I want to say that it is unclear as to what is the objective of this Government when it comes to the Ganga. They talk about inland water transport and, at the same time, they talk about beautification of ghats. All of this is not possible because when you have large-scale industrial projects, how can you ensure that the Ganga will remain `nirmal‟. The Budget has also not indicated what steps will be taken to clean the River Ganga. With its large focus on the River Ganga, my concern is that other functions of the Ministry of Water Resources have been diluted or severely compromised. As it has been said that this is a drought year, the western States of India will receive minimal precipitation. But this Union Budget has not indicated any measures as to what the Government will do in such a scenario. On Dam Safety Studies, this Budget has given `zero‟ money. Though the Government has announced the scheme of Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Management of Rs.8992 crore but there are several areas in Assam and West Bengal where the ground-water is contaminated. In such a situation, I want to know what this Government has done for ground water contamination. This Ministry has forgotten to care of other rivers of the country. For instance, it has forgotten that lakhs of land in Assam have been lost due to erosion by the river Brahmaputra. I urge all MPs across the political lines that we must tell this Government that we need to hold and constitute a Brahmaputra River Valley Authority to solve this issue. There has been a lot of concern that China is constructing a lot of hydro-power projects on the river Brahmaputra. In order to protect our water security, we must ensure that the projects on river Brahmaputra are completed on time.

Speech on flood

We have in Assam an annual war with the flood caused by the river Brahmaputra. The flood is largely caused because the river has been expanding. Since 1970 this mighty main river of India has expanded double its width and in its wake it has consumed villages. It has almost consumed the Island of Majuli. It has thrown women and children on the streets. It has made farmers lose their land. It has made fish farmers lose their entire year’s production of fish. In 2011 it broke my heart to see the number of villages which had been destroyed, old people living in refugee camps without any clothes on their bodies and women barely being able to feed their children.
Sir, one of the major reasons for this annual flood is the amount of silt that is being deposited on river Brahmaputra by the upstream nations. The silt is causing the bed of Brahmaputra to rise and thereby expanding its width. Therefore, any flood management programme undertaken by the Union Government needs to have a silt management programme. The State Government of Assam has appealed to the Union Government to establish a Brahmaputra River Valley Authority which will take the views and opinions of all the States in Northeast India in order to have a trans-boundary flood management programme.
Sir, we are living in the age of science and technology but our flood management programmes belong to the 19th or 20th century. This is the century of the IT. This is the century of modern industrial design and yet we simply talk about embankments or merely solutions like geo-bags and geo-tubes. Sir, we need to have advanced flood forecasting systems. We need to have systematic dredging points. We need to have smart villages in addition to smart cities. Sir, we have to take into account the affected States in upstream parts of our country.
When hon. Minister of DONER, Gen. V.K. Singh came to Assam, he made a point that the Subansiri dam needs to be expedited but the concerns of the downstream States must be taken into view. At the same time, the hon. DONER Minister mentioned that such hydro power projects need to be undertaken with sensitivity. When Prime Minister went to Bhutan and inaugurated the huge hydro power projects in Bhutan, at that point no concerns related to the downstream impact of those hydro power projects were undertaken.
Sir, in my own district of Nagaon, there are villages in Samaguri, Rupahi, Dhing and Batadrava. There are many farmers who cultivate fish. Due to annual floods, their entire year’s production of fish flows away. Therefore, I would appeal to the Minister of Agriculture that when he talks about the flood insurance programme he must also have a specific insurance programme for farmers cultivating fish because they lose lakhs and crores of rupees in annual floods.
Sir, we must understand that the flood management programmes cannot be left to the State Governments. It needs a proactive role of the Union Government. We need a river basin management programme. We should not look at floods just from a State point of view. We will have to look at it as a river basin. If we want to have an effective solution for Brahmaputra, we should also have an international river basin understanding with China, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Myanmar. Sir, we need a systematic and holistic solution. Mere throwing away of money into different schemes will not help. This is a time when a new Government has come. It has to plan a long term vision. It has to have a long term roadmap. It cannot just come up with mere Budgets and mere financial resources.

We urge that this Government works in coordination with the State Governments and constitute the Brahmaputra River Valley Authority and plans a long term road map for its solution. ... Thank you.

Speech on Japanese Encepheleatis

The Japanese encephalitis was first discovered in 1870 in Japan. Since then, we have found that, as per WHO reports, there are 50000 to 65000 deaths annually. In 1951 it was discovered in India, in Tamil Nadu but by 1972 this virus had spread to West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Bihar and Andhra Pradesh. It is mainly found in those areas where paddy is cultivated, where water logging takes place due to floods as well as in places where pigs, mosquitoes and birds exist in large numbers because they act as transmitters and vectors.

These factors are available in plenty in the State of Assam. Assam has borne the brunt of Japanese encephalitis and acute encephalitis syndrome. This year itself, there have been more than 300 lives lost due to Japanese encephalitis and around 2000 people have been affected. The Government of Assam has taken this on a war-footing basis. It has set up ICUs in key districts with dedicated beds. It has done intensive fogging. It has imported laboratory testing kits from the National Institute of Virology, Pune. In the Minister’s reply itself, the Minister has stated that the steps that the Assam Government has taken in the area of immunization of adults have been proven beneficial.
Sir, we must remind the hon. House that the UPA Government, the Congress Government has given due concern to this disease and acute syndrome which is affecting so many lives. May I remind this House that it was the UPA Government which introduced India’s first indigenous vaccine against Japanese encephalitis in 2013? At that point of time, our Health Minister, Shri Ghulam Nabi Azad said, “This is an Indian solution to an Indian problem.” The hon. Member, Shri Rajiv Pratap Rudy has said that prior to the indigenous vaccine, we used to import our vaccine from China. May I again remind this House that we started distributing that vaccine from China in 2006? It was again in UPA’s tenure and yet the Members of this august House think that we are insensitive and they are questioning our sensitivity towards children. We are extremely sensitive towards them.
But today the Calling Attention discussion has been converted into a discussion under rule 193. There are many other issues such as the safety and security of North-East citizens in Delhi on which our Party has given notice for discussion under Rule 193. They are not given the due attention because of the procedure that is followed today.

Sir, this Government talks about being sensitive. The highest number of deaths has taken place in Assam and the highest number of lives been affected by it is in Assam, yet the Minister has not visited Assam even once. We have requested the Union Government to set up a medical institute like AIIMS in Assam in my home district of Golaghat. They can set up more medical units in the affected districts of Jorhat and Sonitpur. May I ask the hon. Minister as to why diagnostic kits are only being manufactured in the National Institute of Virology, Pune? Why do we spend so much time in importing those units from there? Why cannot we set up regional centres so that all these regional centres can set up their own diagnostic units? Why does this Government not incentivise and encourage private manufacturers to set up their own diagnostic units?
Sir, we beg the hon. Minister to set up a national web-based surveillance and management system. There is a National Centre for Disease Control, which has only been mentioned in the Minister’s reply. But, what the status of surveillance is and how the Centre is coordinating with the response of various State Governments has not been cleared. We want that regional NIV institutes and regional ICMRs should be set up.
Sir, thank you very much for the time but we must remind this august House that health and education are the two pillars on which a great society has been built and yet it is unfortunate that in the Union Budget of 2014-15, hardly 1.5 per cent of GDP allocation has been given to health. This is injustice to our current generation; this is injustice to our future generation; this is injustice to the dreams and aspirations with which the people voted for this Government.
Thank you very much.
ZERO HOUR
SHRI GAURAV GOGOI: Mr. Chairman, I thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak. I would like to draw the attention of the House to the Kaziranga National Park which falls in my constituency, Koliabor, and is a world heritage site.
Sir, the one-horned rhinoceros found in Kaziranga is the biggest star attraction in Assam. Earlier in the 1970s, their population had dwindled to below 100, but due to conservation efforts of the Assam Government, their population has increased to 2,500 in 2013. But since 2008, Assam has again been caught in a web of increased poaching of rhinos. Since 2008, 120 rhinos in Assam have been poached, primarily because of their horns which in the international market can fetch a person up to Rs. 16,500 per gram.
Popular research and media reports say that most of these horns are sold in Vietnam. I urge upon the Government of India to take steps both at the national and international levels. The Government of Assam has already strengthened the Wildlife Protection Act and has issued shoot-at-sight orders as well as life imprisonment for poachers. At the national level, the Union Government, specifically the Ministry of Environment and Forests and the Ministry of Home Affairs, can set up a Project Rhino similar to Project Elephant and Project Tiger in which there can be a Central Intelligence Unit, a database of all rhinoceros as well as fast track wildlife courts.
I would also urge upon the Ministry of External Affairs to protect our national inheritance, the rhinoceros, and urge upon the Government in Vietnam to have a complete ban on all products made out of rhino horns.
Thank you very much.

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