All Assam Students' Union stages protests opposing Assam government ordinance

GUWAHATI: The All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) on Thursday staged protests at different places opposing Assam government ordinance whereby micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) will not be required to take permissions for setting up MSMEs units in the state for next 3 years.

AASU stated that the ordinance will alienate indigenous people from their land. The supporters of AASU on Thursday burnt copies of cabinet decisions in different places except in Kamrup (Metro) which is under lockdown.

The student body stated that it will pose a threat to lands of indigenous people for under ordinance agricultural land can be easily converted for non-agricultural use. The government has to roll back the decision immediately. The student body alleged that the government was taking advantage of the COVID-19 situation to make anti-indigenous people decisions.

To facilitate Aatma Nirbhar Assam, the Assam government has announced a three year licence holiday for setting up MSME units. Assam cabinet meeting on June 29 stated, “The cabinet has passed the MSME Ordinance which puts an end to the process of taking multiple permissions for setting up MSMEs in the state for next 3 years.”

Industries and Commerce Minister Chandra Mohan tweeted on Thursday, “MSME ordinance approved by Assam Cabinet is only for Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises, not for large industries. This will largely help local entrepreneurs. This ordinance will not be applicable for hazardous industries and no industries will be allowed in eco sensitive zones.”

Patwary had stated, “Now any one will be able to set up industry in Assam just by submitting oneself declaration. No permission, clearance or licence will be required for three years. Land will also be deemed converted for industrial purposes. Such bold and advantageous change is expected to accelerate the industrialisation process in Assam”.

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A senior official in industry department who do not want to be named told ET, “Anyone who wants to set up a new industry in MSME sector in Assam (Investment limits: Micro- upto Rs.1 Crore, Small-upto Rs 10 Crores, Medium- upto Rs 20 Crores) has to give a undertaking to Industry Department that he shall abide with all Statutory Rules and Regulations of Pollution Control Board, Factories Act, Labour Act, etc before construction and starting production, this is mandatory. After 3 years of operation, within the next 6 months, the industry has to apply for and obtain all the required permissions and licenses. Industry being setup on Agricultural land has to be eligible for conversion to Industrial land as per rules and regulations”.

NGO Prabajan Virodhi Manch (PVM) stated that this is the government’s move to garner funds to fight next year’s assembly polls.

PVM convener Upamanyu Hazarika said that the BJP-led government came to power with a promise of protecting jati, mati and bheti (race, land and hearth) however the government is involved in destroying the indigenous identity. This ordinance will be death knell for 115 small indigenous ethnic communities in Assam.

He added, “This ordinance is in clear violation of the Assam Agricultural Land (Regulation of Re-classification and Transfer for non-agricultural purpose) Act, 2015 which protects agricultural land from non-agricultural use through various prohibitions and restrictions.”

NGO Rights and Risks Analysis Group (RRAG) urged the Governor of Assam Professor Jagdish Mukhi not to give assent to the Ordinance on the grounds of being unconstitutional and disastrous for the MSMEs as well as the people of Assam.

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“The Ordinance effectively suspends the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act of 2013, the Forest Rights Act of 2006, Chapter X of the Assam Land And Revenue Regulation of 1886, the Environment Protection Act of 1986 and the Biological Diversity Act of 2002, which prohibit certain land acquisition and prescribe the manner in which land can be acquired. There is no provision either in the Constitution of India or these laws to suspend their operation for the purposes of acquiring lands to set up industries,” stated Suhas Chakma, Director of the RRAG.

“This will be disastrous for the MSMEs as their investment shall remain stuck up because of the illegality of land acquisition. This is equally disastrous for the individuals or communities on whose lands industries will be set up as they will be forced to challenge illegal land acquisition before the courts,” Chakma said.

“Assam needs to follow the laws and not suspend laws to boost investment as such illegal measures vitiate investment sentiment. People want to invest in a safe environment and not in a state of legal limbo,” he added.



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