ARCHIVAL RECORDS: SITUATION IN ASSAM DURING BANGLADESH LIBERATION WAR IN 1971-PART 3
(Third part of the extract from a statement made by then Assam Chief Minister Mahendra Mohan Choudhury in the Assam Assembly on October 25, 1971)
( Part 1 and Part 2, respectively, were published on February 21 and 28 )
As far as practicable, essential supplies for the evacuee camps have been arranged from Central stock within the State to avoid repercussions on normal markets due to large scale purchases for the evacuee camps.
I have, with regret, to refer to the unsatisfactory position regarding stocks of some essential commodities we receive from outside the State. Essential commodities like salt, sugar, pulses, mustard oil, wheat etc. come mostly from outside the State and particularly from Bihar and U.P. Commodities like oil and kerosene oil usually come on trade account and stocks adequate for about two months are usually maintained within the State. However, due to disruption of both rail and road communications for about three months, the movement of these commodities considerably slowed down for a fairly long period and came down to almost nil at certain time. The result has been serious depletion of stocks within the State and soaring prices due to non-availability of sufficient stocks for normal distribution to the public.
Every possible effort had been made by the Govt. to rush supplies of these commodities from outside under special arrangements although limitations of transport facilities created serious difficulty in that respect specially in view of the much larger demands on the available transport facilities in a special situation. After strenuous efforts the Railways at the highest level were persuaded to take up a special movement programme with special trains for rushing essential commodities to Assam. Sizable supplies did actually come under the programme for some time which however started dwindling because of additional strain on the transport facilities in a rapidly developing situation. Although the position regarding availability of these commodities improved to some extent for some time it recently started getting unsatisfactory again. Prices almost everywhere ruled at high levels causing enormous difficulty and suffering for the people at large.
All possible precautions had been taken to ensure that in an unsatisfactory situation like this, hoarding and profiteering activities did not add to the suffering of the people.
Finding that the situation continued to be unsatisfactory, the State Govt. recently took up with the Govt. of India the question of moving these supplies to Assam under a special programme. It appears that supplies against that special programme have started arriving gradually which is expected to bring about much needed improvement in the position.
We have also taken appropriate steps to make sure that congestion of wagons carrying essential supplies for this region in centres like Barauni and Katihar is cleared as quickly as possible and the urgency of the situation has been constantly driven home to the Rly authorities.
I may also tell the House that in the present unhappy situation in the country, the urgency of building up a fairly big buffer stock of these and other essential commodities has been fully realised and the Govt of India at the highest level already approached for very special and emergent arrangements to quickly build up such stocks for this region.
As is well known, the Ahu crop in our state had been badly affected this year because of a long period of drought. Late floods have also affected Sali crop in certain areas. In that context we have already decided that an intensive Rabi crop programme should be taken up without any loss of time and I can assure the House that we are going ahead with a big programme in that direction with adequate financial provision to back up such programme.
It will be my anxiety to keep this House fully informed about progressive development in the situation from time to time. Government look forward to all possible support from this august House in its efforts to deal with emergent situation and this difficult hour for the nation. I would also like to request this House to join with me in appealing to the people of our State to prepare themselves to face the very difficult situation ahead with courage and fortitude and to come forward to spare no efforts and sacrifice in furtherance of the national effort to fully safeguard the integrity and sovereignty of our country so eloquently explained in the Prime Ministerâ€™s broadcast to the Nation on the 23rd October, 1971.