ECONOMIC SURVEY ASSAM, 1975-76
GENERAL ECONOMIC SITUATION
2. Economy of Assam:
2.1. Against the above noted background of the national economy, the economy of Assam also showed promising performance during the year. The quick estimates of state income reveal that State Income in real terms (at 1948-49 prices) increased by 5.3 pr cent in the year 1975-75. The net income for 1975-76 at constant (1948-49) prices was estimated at Rs 497.7 crores with a per capita income of Rs 297.9. The corresponding estimates for 1974-75 were Rs 472.7 crores and Rs 291.4 respectively.
2.2. Agricultural production during the year showed satisfactory performance. There was record production of foodgrain crops in the state. As against the production of 21.15 lakh tonnes of foodgrains in the year 1974-75, the production in 1975-76 increased by 14.0 per cent to reach 24.11 lakh tonnes. Production of all non-food crops except jute, oilseeds and mesta also recorded an increase.
2.3. In the industrial sector, however the same old picture of a yawning gap between states great possibilities and its realisation continues to portray the industrial backwardness of the State. The index of industrial production (base 1970=100) showed a decrease of 0.9 per cent in 1975 over that in 1974. However, vigorous efforts are being made by the State Government to exploit the industrial potentialities of the State. Among the achievements of the industrial sector during the year, the commissioning of the Ashok Paper mills Limited at Jogighopa, the Assam Petro-Chamicals Complex at Namrup and the Bokajan Cement Factory in the district of Karbi Anglong deserve special mention. These industrial projects along with some other projects under construction are expected to breathe a fresh life in the sluggish industrial sector of the State.
2.4. One of the commendable performances of the economy is in the price front. Increased agricultural production coupled with various anti-inflationery measures taken by the Government brought a halt to the rise in price level. The wholesal price index number recorded a fall of 12.8 in per cent March in 1976 over that in March 1975 compared to an increase of 13.3 per cent in the corresponding period of the previous year. The index stood at 331.8 in March 1976 as against 371.9 in March 1975 and 328.1 in March 1974.
2.5. The employment situation in the State, however, continued to be critical. The live register of the employment exchanges revealed that the number of persons seeking jobs through the employment exchanges was increasing at an alarming rate. The number of persons on the live register of employment exchanges of the State increased from 1.39 lakhs in 1974 to 1.89 lakh in 1975. Vacancies filled through employment exchanges during 1975 was 7,538 as against 6,466 in 1974.
2.6. A detailed survey of the economy of Assam in its various facets is presented in the following chapters.
2.1. With a population of 146.25 lakh (Census, 1971) Assam ranks thirteenth among the states of the India Union. It shelters 2.67 per cent of the total population of the country. The area of the state is 78,523 sq. kms. As against the countrys total area of 3,280,483 sq. kms. The state, thus constitutes 2.39 per cent of the total land area of the country . In respect of area Assam ranks fourteenth among the states.
2.2. Growth of population:
2.2.1. During the past two census decades phenomenal growth rates of population of the State has been noticed which poised as a serious problem of the State. During the 1951-61 decade the growth rate of population is Assam was 34.97 per cent as against the all-India decadal growth rate of 21.64 per cent, Similarily, the growth rate during the decede 1961-71 was 34.97 per cent in Assam while it was 24.80 per cent for, the country as a whole. This very high growth rate of population in Assam is caused not by biological factor alone. As a matter of fact influx of refugees from time to time and migrants from neighbouring states coupled with the inflow of labourers are some of the important factors contributing to the rapid growth rate of population of the State. Table below shows the population trend in Assam and India since 1901:
TABLE No 2.1
TRENDS IN POPULATION: ASSAM AND INDIA
2.2.2. From the table above it is clearly evident that the growth rate of population in Assam continues to be alarmingly high in comparison to the all India average growth rate, If this growth rate is allowed to increase at such a faster rate Assam will soon face a serious population pressure leading to bad repercussions on her economy. Taking into account the 1961-71 growth rate, an estimate of population upto the year 1980-81 has been made by the Directorate of Economics and Statistics, in Assam, which shows that the population of Assam in 1980-81 would be around 193.68 lakhs. The following table shows the projected mid-financial year population of Assam for the period from 1971-72 to 1980-81:
TABLE No. 2.2
POPULATION PROJECTION IN ASSAM
2.3. Density of Population:
2.3.1. The density of Population in Assam in 1971 was 186 persons per square kilometre which was higher than the national average density of 167 persons per sq. km. Even in 1961 density of population in Assam (138 persons) was higher than that of national average density (134 per cents per sq. km.). Among the districts of Assam, Nowgong has the highest density with 302 persons per sq. km. Followed by the districts of Kamrup (286) and Cachar (246) as revealed by 1971 census. Lowest density occurs in the district of North-Cachar Hills with only 16 persons per sq. km.
TABLE No. 2.3
DISTRICT-WISE AREA, POPULATION AND DENSITY IN ASSAM (1971 CENSUS)
2.4.1. In respect of literacy Assam has made very little progress. While literacy rate for the country as a whole increased from 24.0 per cent in 1961 to 29.5 per cent in 1971, Assams increase was very marginal from 27.0 pr cent in 1961 it rose only to 28.1 per cent in 1971. As per 1971 census, Assam ranks 12th among the states of India in regard to literacy while the state of Kerala, with a literacy rate of 60.4 per cent, ranks first. A notable feature of the movement of literacy rate in Assam is that literacy level among females show a marked increase from 15.1 per cent in 1961 to 18.6 in 1971. In the case of makes, however, there was actually a slight fall from 37.3 per cent in 1961 the rate of literacy came down to 36.7 per cent in 1971.
2.5.1. According to 1971 census, sex-ratio of the population (per females per 1000 males) of the state increased to 896 in 1961. The all India sex-ratio in 1971 was 930.
2.6. Rural and urban composition of population
2.6.1. The 1971 census reveals that Assam has a predominantly rural population with 91.1 per cent of the population living in the rural areas. In 1961 rural population constituted 92.6 per cent of the total population. For the country as a whole, rural population constituted 80.1 per cent in 1971 as against 82.0 per cent in 1961.
2.6.2. In Assam, only 8.9 per cent of the population lives in urban areas in 1971 which was much lower than the all India percentage of 19.9 during the same period. The total number of towns in the state stood at 72 in 1971 as against 53 in 1961. Though the number of towns in the state has increased over the period, the fact is that many of such towns are little more than over grown villages. Gauhati is the only town having a population of over one lakh. There are 4 towns with population between 50 thousand and one lakh, 10 towns with the size group of 20 thousand to 50 thousand; the remaining 57 towns have population below 20 thousand.
2.6.3. The state of Assam with 21,995 inhabited villages accounted for 4 per cent of the 5,75,840 inhabited villages of the country in 1971. The number of inhabited villages in the state in 1961 was 20,565. In Assam, there are only 27 villages having population of over 5,000. On an average there are 606 persons per village in Assam.
2.7. Population of schedules castes and scheduled tribes:
2.7.1. As per 1971 census, scheduled castes and scheduled tribes population in Assam was 913 thousands and 1607 thousands and 1607 thousands respectively as against 732 thousands and 1165 thousands respectively in 1961. Thus, the state scheduled castes population represent 6.24 per cent and the scheduled tribes population represent 6.24 per cent and the scheduled tribes population represent 10.99 per cent of the total population of the state in 1972. It may be noted that in the country as a whole, the population scheduled castes and scheduled tribes accounted for 14.6 per cent and 6.9 per cent respectively of the total population.
2.8. Working class population:
2.8.1. The total number of workers in the state, which was 46.00 lakh in 1961, decreased to 40.88 lakhs in 1971. This fall is however, mainly attributed to the difference in the definition of workers adopted in the 1961 and the 1971 censuses. The 1961 census definition of worker was on the liberal side which had exaggerated the participation rates, because a person was categorised as economically active even if his contribution to work was marginal. In the 1971 census persons were classified as workers or non workers on the basis of their main activity.
2.9. Houseless persons:
2.9.1. The 1971 census reported 13,068 houseless persons in the state as against 12,433 in 1961. As per census definition, houseless persons are those who have no fixed place of residence and no regular house to live in and include such persons as beggars sadhus, nomads mendicants, vagrants, vagabonds, etc. and also population on boats playing on rivers. The total houseless population constitutes 0.09 per cent of the total population of the state.
2.10. Institutional population:
2.10.1. Institutional population includes inmates of such institutions as hostels, boarding house, hotels sanatoria, jails, asylum, hospitals etc. where groups of unrelated persons stay together. A number of 56,368 persons of such category was reported by 1971 census in the state as against 22,521 in 1961.
2.1. The quick estimates of State domestic Product (State Income) at current prices as prepared by the Directorate of Economics and Statistics, Assam, stood at Rs 1421.0 crores in 1975-76 as against Rs 1315.1 crores in 1974-75 (Provisional Estimates) showing an increase of 8.1 per cent as against an increase of 26.0 per cent in 1974-75 over 1973-74. The high rate of increase in the State Income in 1974-75 is partly due to the colossal rise in the prices of agricultural commodities during the period.
2.2 At constant (1948-49) prices, the net State domestic product of Assam for the year 1975-76 was worked out at Rs 497.7 crores as against Rs 472.7 crores in 1974-75. Thus State income in real terms in 1975-76 showed a rise of 5.3 per cent over 1974-75 as against 4.8 pr cent in 1974-75 over 1973-74.
3.3. The estimates further reveal that the income from agriculture sector recorded an increase of 6.7 per cent and in sectors viz, showed an increase of 12.9 per cent, 6.3 per cent and 7.1 per cent respectively.
2.4. The per capita income at current prices in 1975-76 rose by 4.9 per cent over the previous year as against 26.4 per cent in 1974-75 over 1973-74. In absolute terms the per capita income at current prices in 1975-76 was estimated at Rs 850.5 as against Rs 810.7 in 1974-75. In real terms, the per capita income at constant prices in 1975-76 was estimated at Rs 297.9 as against Rs 291.4 in 1974-75, recording an increase of 2.2 per cent during the year.
2.5 The table below presents the per capital State income of Assam and per capita National Income for the year 1960-61, 1965-66 and 1970-71 to 1975-76.
TABLE No. 2.1
PER CAPITA INCOME (RUPEES)
2.6. The estimates of net State domestic product at current and constant (1948-49) prices for the year 1974-75 and 1975-76 by Industry of origin are shown below:
TABLE No. 2.2
NET STATE DOMESTIC PRODUCT OF ASSAM
P Provisional Q Quick.
4.1.1. The year 1975-76 may be termed as a year of recovery for Assams agriculture. During this year, the State produced an all-time record production of rice and was thus able to offer a sizable portion of the same to the central pool. The various developmental measures undertaken by the Government coupled with the favourable weather conditions prevailing in the State was mainly responsible for this achievement.
4.2.1. Production of principal Crops: Production of foodgrains in the State during 1975-76 registered a 13.9 per cent increase over the year 1974-75. A total of 24 11 lakh tonnes of foodgrains were produced in the State in the year 1975-76 as against 21.15 lakh tonnes in 1974-75 to 22.90 lakh tonnes in 1975-76. Production of maize, sugarcane (gur), potato and sweet potato also showed increase over the previous year. However, fall in production was noticed in respect of certain crops like wheat, pulses, jute and mesta. There was also marginal fall in the production of oil-seeds from 72 thousand tonnes in 1975-76 to 71 thousand tonnes in 1974-75. The table below shows production of some important crops in Assam for the years 1960-61, 1970-71 and 1973-74 through 1975-76.
TABLE No. 4.1
PRODUCTION OF SOME IMPORTANT CROPS IN ASSAM
4.2.2. The index numbers of agricultural production in Assam shown below give an indication of the trend of agricultural production in the State.
TABLE No. - 4.2
INDEX NUMBERS OF AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTION IN ASSAM (Base: 1950=100)
P - Provisional
4.3. Area under crops:
4.3.1. There has been a slow but steady increase in area under different crops in Assam over the past two and a half decades. The gross area under crops increased from 22.03 lakh hectares in 1951-52 to 27-92 lakh hectares in 197071 and then to 30.76 lakh hectares in 1973-74. The partially available data show that the cropped area in the state has increased further in the years 1974-75 and 1975-76. Thus roughly 39 percent of the total geographical area the State is available for cultivation. It is also important to note that about 72 per cent of the total cropped area of the State is accounted for by foodgrain crops alone. During 1975-76, area under foodgrain crops in the State stood at 24.20 lakh hectares as against 22.42 lakh hectares in 1974-75 and 20.96 lakh hectares in 1970-71. The area under rice increased from 19.74 lakh hectares in 1970-71 to 20.58 lakh hectares in 1974-75 and further to 22.41 lakh hectares in 1975-76. But areas under wheat and pulses decreased in 1975-76 from the same in 1974-75. Area under almost all non-foodgrain crops, except potato, also registered at fall in 1975-66. The fall in area under jute is considerable from 120 thousand hectares in 1974-75 it came down to 94 thousand hectares in 1975-76. The following table shows the areas under food and non-food crops in the State over the post few years.
TABLE No. - 4.3
AREA UNDER CROPS
N.A. Not available
4.3.2. Districtwise area under foodgrain crops for the years 1970-71, 1974-75 and 1975-76 are furnished in the table below:
*The figure is combined for the districts of Lakhimpur and Dibrugarh.
4.4. Yield Rate
4.4.1. The average yield rate of foodgrains in Assam, which was depressing during the preceding two years i.e. 1973-74 and 1974-75, showed improvement during 1975-76 From 982 and 962 kilograms per hectare in 1973-74 and 1974-75 respectively it increased to 1010 kilograms per hectare in 1975-76 in comparism to that in 1951-52, the first year of the First Five Year Plan, when it recorded yield rate of 889 kilograms per hectare. The increase in the yield rate of foodgrains in 1975-76 is more pronounced in respect of crops like rice and maize. There was, however, a fall in the yield rate of wheat other cerals and other pulses in 1975-76 over that in 1974-75 Yield rate of commercial crops like jute and potato increased substantially during the year while that of sugarcane registered a substantially decrease. The trend in the yield rates of some important crops in Assam since 1951-52 may be observed from the table below.
4.5. Agricultural census operations 1970-71
4.5.1. The report of the Agricultural Census, 1970-71 conducted by the Directorate of Economics and Statistics of the Government of Assam at the instance of the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations, reveals that in Assam there are 19.64 lakhs of agricultural operational holdings of which 19.20 lakhs are in the plains districts and 0.44 lakhs in the two hills districts. The average size of operational holdings for the State is only 1.47 hectares or roughly 11 bighas. More than half of the total holdings (57.04 P.C.) have area below one hectare but this vast number of small holdings account for less than one fifth of the total operated land. The table below shows the districtwise number of operational holdings, total area operated and average size of holdings in Assam during 1970-71.
4.5.2 It is seen from the table above that the average size of holding was found to be highest in the district of Dibrugarh (1.95 hectares) followed by Sibsagar (1.83 hectares) while it was lowest in the district of Darrang (1.19 hectares). The highest average size of holdings in the two districts of Dibrugarh and Sibsagar was mainly due to existence of a comparatively few very large holdings, mainly tea gardens. It is also found that out of 28.83 lakh hectares of operated land 84.37 per cent was owned, the rest being possessed without ownership right.
4.6. Developmental efforts
4.6.1. The State Government has given utmost attention for the development of agriculture in the State, In order to augment agricultural production in the State, the government under the Five Year Plan adopted certain broad strategies, which were (1) to bring more areas under H.Y.V., crops and to raise productivity through increased supply of improved seeds, fertilizers etc. (b) encouragement of multiple cropping pattern, (c) change of cropping pattern in flood affected areas, and (d) provision of greater irrigation facilities to reduce dependence on monsoon.
4.6.2. The objectives sought to be achieved during 1976-77 in respect of production of certain agricultural crops in the State are (i) to raise food production 24.11 lakh tonnes in 1975-76 to 25. 25 lakh tonnes, (ii) to raise production of jute from 7 lakh bales in 1975-76 to 10 lakh bales and (iii) to raise production of oil seeds from 0.71 lakh tonnes in 1975-76 to one lakh tonnes in 1976-77. The Department of Agriculture and the Department of Irrigation the State Government, the Assam Agro-Industries Development corporation and Assam Seeds Corporation Ltd. Are the organisations the which are concerned with the development of agriculture in the State.
4.7. H.Y.V. Programme
4.7.1. Under the High yielding varieties Programme which has been adopted for raising agricultural production in the State, crops like paddy, wheat and hybrid maize are included. During 1975-76 about 3.4 lakh hectares of area under paddy, 0.73 lakh hectares of area under wheat and 0.10 lakh hectares of area under maize were anticipated to have been brought under this programme in the State. Actual achievement under this programme during 1974-75 was 3 lakh, 0.65 and 0.05 lakh hectares of areas under paddy, wheat and maize respectively. The targets for 1976-77 have been fixed at 4 lakh hectares under paddy 1 lakh hectares under wheat and 0.12 lakh hectares under maize.
4.8. SFDA-MFAL programme
4.8.1. The schemes of Small Farmers development Agency (SFDA and Marginal Farmers and agricultural Labourers, (MFAL) Agency aim at the economic upliftment of the weaker sections of the farming community consisting of small and marginal farmers and landless labourers. The basic idea behind these schemes is that of encouraging the small and marginal farmers to take up occupation like poultry farming, dairying pisciculture, bee keeping etc. besides their normal engagement in production of food and commercial crops. In our State, four such agencies in the districts of Goalpara, Kamrup, Nowgong and Mikir Hills have been set up. But implementation of these programmes has been handicapped by bottlenecks like lack of adequate staff, lack of credit worthiness of most of the farmers, lack of infrastructural facilities and delay in proper and quick identification of farmers due to non-availability of up-to-date land records etc. These problems are mainly administrative and organisational in character and are being identified and removed. So far, about 1.64 lakh farmers have been identified through there agencies and an amount of about Rs 75 lakh have been advanced as short and medium term loans to these farmers.
4.9. Agricultural Farming Corporation
4.9.1. The scheme of agricultural Farming Corporation has been in operation in Assam since 1073-74. The main object of the scheme is to ensure management of land and its proper use by the tillers of the soil by setteing the actual landless agricultural farmers in Government and surplus land that may be available as a result of the enforcement of the land ceiling Acts. The scheme aims at setting up of Agricultural Farming corporation in each subdivision of the State and up to 1975-76 as many as 12 farming corporations, one in each subdivision, have been set up. These Corporations, till now have made provision for settlement of about 2300 nos. of farmer families. The farmers are also provided with bank loans for purchase of agricultural inputs.
4.10.1. Irrigation facilities available in the State at present are quite inadequate. The importance of irrigation has be come very essential with the adoption of multiple cropping system in the state. Up to the end of fourth Plaih Period, irrigation potential for an area of about 2.18 lakh hectares has been created in the State, out of which only 1.16 lakh hectares could be used. A crash programme has been unbertakea to fully utilise the created potential during the next three year period. In view of the proposal of the State Government to increase the production of rice by 1 million tonnes more during the next three year period, the world Bank has shown interest to help in Irrigating an area of about 60,000 hectares of land through ground water resources. During 1974-75, irrigation potential for an area of 23 thousand hectares under minor irrigation and 26 thousand hectares under major and medium irrigation schemes has been created in the State. The targets for the year 1975-76 are 22 thousand hectares under minor irrigation schemes and 38 thousand hectares under major and medium irrigation schemes. The overall target for the entire Fifth Plan period constitutes 333.63 thousand hectares and 88.99 thousand hectares under the minor and major and medium irrigation schemes respectively in the State.
4.11. LAND Reforms:
4.11.1. The underlying object of the Land Reform Laws in Assam is to provide security of tenure to the cultivator, to protect him from exploitation by big landowners and tenure holders, to establish direct relationship with Government, and to fix ceiling on land holdings, Since the attainment of independence, a series of Legislative measures have been taken in the State to fulfil these aims. In the wake of the announcement of 20 Point Economic Programme which also included speedy land reform measures, serious attention has been given in that regard by the State Government. Under the Assam (temporarily settled areas) Tenancy Act, 1971, more than 3 lakh tenants of the state were recorded upto the end of 1975. The Assam land Holdings Act, 1974 has been enacted in January 1975 in order to ex-tend the provision of the Act in the permanently settled areas of Goalpara and Cachar districts. The Assam Fixation of ceiling on Land Holding Act, 1956 (as amended in 1970) has been forther amended in 1975 reducing the ceiling limit from 75 bighas to 50 bighas. The surplus land acquired through implementation of this act is to be distributed to landless and homeless families. Upto the middle of June, 1976, 403289 bighas of surplus land was distributed to 1,07,004 landless families besides provision of housites to 7262 homeless families, mostly agriculturists for setting up their dwelling houses.
4.12. Soil Conservation:
4.12.1. Every year considerable damage is done to paddy fields as a result of soil erosion in different parts of the State. Soil conservation work is therefore, necessary to protect the soil from evosion both in the plains and hills area of the State. Siol conservation work in the State generally consist of gully control works, contour bunding, protective afforestation, stream bank erosion control through minor engineering structures, grassland development, etc. During the period from 1969-70 to 1974-75, protection were given to 12194 hectares of paddy field through gully control works besides developing 451 hectares of area through contour building. During 1975-76, about 200 hectares or new comeed areas are expected to be covered by gully control works in addition to maintenance of 85 nos. of old gully control projects. Moreover, an area of about 360 hectares is expected to be brought under protective afforestation during the year. Construction of 25 nos. of boulder spurs and covering 170 hectares of area under contour bunding are also expected to be achieved during the year.
5.1. According to Livestock Census, 1972 the total number of livestock in the State was 80.02 lakhs in that year as against 84.57 lakhs in the year 1966. It was 87.8 lakhs in the year 1961. It is thus, seen that livestock popu8lation as a whole in the State has been showing a decreasing trend over the period of 11 years from 1961 to 1972. The decrease was about 5 per cent in 1972 from the year 1966 compared to a decreare of about 4 per cent in 1966 from the year 1961. As per 1972 census, the cattle population of the State decreased by about 5 per cent from that in 1966 while the corresponding decrease in buffaloe population was as high as about 10 per cent. The reason for declining trend of the cattle and buffaloe population might be attributed to the gradual dereservation of the grazing land areas of the State. The district-wise distribution of livestock and poultry population of the State as per 1972 livestock census is shown below.
5.2. It may be observed from the table above that the districts of Kamrup has the highest number of livestock population (15.56 lakhs) followed by the districts of Goalpara (12.49 lakhs) and Darrang (11.97) lakhs. In respect of poultry population also Kamrup tops the list with a population of 17.06 lakhs followed by Cachar (14.45 lakhs) and Goalpara (12.45 lakhs) districts. It may be mentioned here that the poultry population in the State has increased by 2 per cent in 1972 over that in 1966.
5.3. Among the livestock population in Assam Cattle is the most important specie which accounts for what 72 per cent of the total livestock population of the state. The 1972 census revealed that there were 63 cattle in milk and 5 buffaloes in milk per 1000 human population in Assam. It was also revealed that the number of cattle per 1000 human population in Assam was 396 during that year. Further, number of working cattle stood at 15.16 per 1000 ploughs in the State during the same year. On the other hand, working buffaloes per 1000 ploughs numbered 129 in the State.
5.4. In the agrarian economy of Assam, livestock occupies an important place and its development deserves a high priority. Moreover, for a change in the food habits of the people proper care of livestock as a producer of nutritive food like milk, meat, and eggs has assumed added significance. Thu, it is why our Five Year Plans have laid emphasis on the development of livestock in the state. The state Directorate of animal Husbandry and Veterinary has taken up various schemes for improvement of livestock in Assam Some of the important schemes are Intensive Cattle Development programme, Key Village Schemes. Hill Cattle Development Scheme, Food and Fodder Development Scheme, Poultry Development Schemes. Piggery Development Scheme, Sheep and Goat Development Scheme, Dairy Development Scheme, etc. A Cattle breeding project has been established a Barpeta with the aid of the Government of Australia. There are 6 other cattle Breeding farms in the State run by the State Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Department. A number of Jerssy bulls have been supplied by the Australian Government for breeding improved cattle. As on 1st April 1972 the State had 32 key village centres, 172 I.C.D.P. Centres-7 Livestock Farms and 12 Poultry Farms. Moreover, for the control of livestock disease, 26 veterinary hospital and 151 dispensaries were established during the Fourth Five Year plan period.
5.5. Agricultural implements
5.5.1. Agricultural implements are essential capital goods for agricultural production. In Assam, agricultural implements are mostly of traditional type. However, use of modern tools is increasing gradually with the introduction of modern methods of cultivation. The number of agricultural implements as recorded in the 1972 census has shown an increase over the 1966 census except in the case of sugarcane crusher. Te decrease in number of sugarcane crusher was due to introduction of power crusher in the State. Considerable increase has been noticed in respect of tractors and oil engine with pumpset use for irrigation. The number of different types of agricultural implements as per 1966 and 1972 livestock censuses may be seen from the table below.
6.1. One of the most menacing problems of Assam is the occuradee of frequent and widespread floods. Every year large areas are inundated by floods causng heavy loss in terms of life and property, it causes extensive damage to standing crops valued at several crores of rupees almost every year.
6.2. Compare with the previous years, flood situation in Assam during 1975 was less severe. The total value of damages caused by floods in 1975 amounted to Rs 3.01 crores as against Rs 11.71 crores in 1974 and Rs 16.57 crores in 1973. The extent of the value of damages caused by floods in the state over the past few years may be observed from the table below:
6.3. In 1975, although the flood situation in the State was less severe compared to the previous years, the damage caused by it was quite extensive. Three successive waves of floods that occurred in the months of July, August and September, 1975 caused devastation in the state particularly in the Dhemaji subdivision of the Lakhimpur District. Flood affects in other districts were of course moderately low. A total of 1.25 lakh hectares of area were affected and population affected numbered 2.32 lakhs. Damages caused to public utilities amounted to a loss of Rs 161.02 lakh. Crops valued at Rs 124.55 lakhs and houses valued at Rs 15.42 lakhs were also lost. The gravity of flood situation in Assam during the years 1973, 1974 and 1975 may be observed from the teble below:
6.4. In order to help the victims of floods, the state Government took various measures, such as relief in the form of gratuitous relief in cash and kind, rehabilitation grant, each grant, medical aid etc. Besides, test relief grants were also sanctioned so that opportunities could be made available for employment of the distressed people, During the year 1975-76. and amount of Rs 122 lakhs was sanctioned for these purposes.
Flood control measures: The problems of floods in Assam is so big and complex that its complete control is almost an impossible task. Due to heavy rainfall and fluvial nature of the catchment areas and river courses, the problems of flood control are bigger and far more complicated in Assam than in any other parts of the country.
6.5.2. Both the Brahmaputra valley and the Barak valley areas of the state are subjected to the fury of floods. In order to tackle the flood problem effectively, various measures at the Governmental level are being undertaken. It is important to note that all the flood control work of the Brahmaputra valley have been taken in the central plan and is being finances from Central Loan assistances. The amount fixed by the Government of India for his purpose was Rs 4.89 crores for the year 1975-76.
6.5.3. Upto the end of 1974-75, a total of 3219 kilometres of embankments were constructed in the Brahmaputra valley, out of which 829 kilometres were the Brahmaputra dyke and the rest 2,390 kilometres were tributary dykes. An area of 20.79 lakh acres were benefited as a result of these works. During 1975-76, many flood control schemes for the Brahmaputra valley were under implementation. Under these scheles, about Rs 25.30 kms. Of new embankments and 58.21 kms. Of retirement bunds were expected to be executed during the year 1975-76. Eight numbers of protection work and one number of dredging operation were also expected to be taken up during the year.
6.5.4. Flood control works in the Barak valley are financed out of State Annual Plan. A sum of Rs 93 lakhs were provided for the same during the year 1975-76. Efforts were made to complete the incomplete works. There is also a proposal for a new scheme, namely the Barak Dam Project. As it is a inter-state project it has been proposed to be taken up either in central sector or by the N.E.C.
7.1. Assam abounds in forest resources. Many important forest species are found in both the plains and hills areas of the State. The contribution from forest resources to the State Exchequer is increasing significantly year after year. From Rs 5.7 lakh in 1950-51 the revenue from forest increased to Rs 510 lakhs in 1974-75. During 1975-76 the revenue from forest is expected to be about Rs 556 lakhs.
7.2. Forest area of Assam covers about 36 per cent of the total geographical area of the State. During 1975-76 total forest area of the state stood at 28,500 square kilometres out of which 16,420 square kilometres were reserved forests and the remaining 12,080 square kilometres were unclassed State Forests. The table below shows area under forests in Assam over the past three years i.e. from 1973-74 to 1975-76.
7.3. It will be observed from the table above that there has been a decreasing trend in the forest areas of Assam. Though the decrease was marginal, it needs check, because uncontrolled exploitation of the forests arising either from free settlements or from grazing may lead to their quick deterioration. However, area under reserved forest is increasing steadily Surveys are being undertaken to bring new forest areas for reservation in the State.
7.4. Assam offers excellent opportunities for establishing various forest-based industries in the State, the products of which can be marketed within the State as well as outside.
These opportunities are gradually being availed of as a result of which, a good number of forest-based industries viz, (i) saw milling (ii) logging (iii) match manufacturing (iv) match splint manufacturing, (v) hardboard manufacturing (vi) paper mill etc. have been set up in different parts of the state in the recent past. A few more forest based industries are coming up shortly. Two paper mills-one in each of the districts of Cachar and Nowgong-are being set up in the public sector. The Ashok Paper Mills Ltd. At Jogighopa has already started production.
7.5. The table below shows the out turn of timber and fuel from the forests in Assam for the past few years.
*Excluding Mikir Hills West Division and North Cachar Hills Division
7.6. the expenditure under various forest development works in the State during the Fourth Plan period amounted to Rs 297 lakhs. The Fifth Plan provides an amount of Rs 825 lakhs for various forest development schemes; out of which Rs 175 lakhs are meant for the hill areas. The schemes have been so designed as to bring about a change in the economy emphasising creation of large-scale economic plantation in order to meet the growing needs of the forest-based industries of the state. During 1975-76, about 0.49 thousand hectares of area were expected to be brought under the scheme of plantation of quick growing species besides 4.77 thousand hectares brought under the scheme of economic Plantation for industrial and commercial uses. The table below shows targets to be achieved during the Fifth Plan period and achievements made during the year 1974-75 and 1975-76 for respect of some important schemes in the State.
7.7. Besides the above, other forest Development schemes under implementation in the state are plantation of woods suitable for production of plywood; teak plantation, matchwood plantation, medicinal and economic plantation, logging training, forest protection, preservation of wild life through national park and wild life sanctuaries, creation of wild life division and botanical garden etc. The State Government also proposes to set up a "Forest Development Corporation" for intensive regeneration and plantation in the forest areas of the state. The Assam Plantation and Crop Development Corporation Ltd. (a Assam Government undertaking), incorporated in November 1974, has started plantation of crops like rubber and coffee in the State on commercial basis.
8.2 Physical Achievements:
7.2.1. The programme of the Blocks includes distribution of improved seeds, fertilisers, agricultural implements, animals, birds etc. construction of drinking water wells, roads, and removal of illiteracy among the dults etc. During 1974-75, 166,451 quintals of improved seeds, 253147 kilograms of oil seeds, 91095 quintals of chemical fertilizer and 2641 Nos. of improved implements were distributed. Besides, 242 improved animals were supplied, 2036 hectares of land were reclaimed, 190 drinking water wells & 2066 rural latrines were constructed, 790 kilometres of new katcha roads were constructed and 8391 adults were made literate during the year. The following table shows achievements in the various fields of activities undertaken by the community Development Blocks in the State for past few years.
8.3. Applied Nutrition Programme:
7.3.1. This scheme has been sponsored by the Central Government in collaboration with the UN agencies like UNICEF and WHO with the objectives of improving production, preservation and consumption of nutritive food in the rural areas. The scheme particularly aims at inculcating the habit of taking nutritious and balanced diet among the rural communities. Upto 1975-76, the scheme has covered 47 community Development Blocks in the plains areas of the State.
8.4. Crash Nutrition Programme:
7.4.1. The programme, which formerly formed part of a centrally sponsored scheme, has now been transferred to the state sector. The main objective of the programme is to cater nutritious food to children in the age group of 0-6 years, expectant and nursing mothers, with a target of total 2.9 lakhs of beneficiaries. Plan allocation under this scheme during 1975-76 amounted to Rs 20.50 lakhs which was expected to be fully utilised.
7.5.1. The Assam Panchayat Raj Act, 1972 introduced a two-tier Panchayat system in the State replacing the old three-tier system which was in operation since 1959. The new two-tier system comprises Mahkuma Parishads and Gaon Panchayats and brings into effect a basic structural change in the activities of the Panchayat. With the enforcement of the above Act, 20 Mahkuma Parishads and 663 Gao Panchayats have been established in the plains districts of the state. The old Anchalik Panchayats, which were conterminous with the Community Development Blocks have been abolished. All development functions hither-to looksed after by the Blocks are being transferred to the Mahkuma Parishads. Some of the activities earlier carried out by the State Government have been entrusted to the Panchayat institutions and or this purpose necessary funds and personnel have been transferred there to from the State Government. The Fifth Five Year Plan has allocated an amount of Rs 2 crore for implementation of the various Panchayat schemes. During 1975-76, a total sum of Rs 22.00 lakhs was provide for this purpose.
8.1. The Co-operative movement in Assam made its beginning with the passing of the Co-operative Societies Act of 1904, and has since been passing through various stresses and strains. Now a days the importance of Co-operation in the economic life of the community is being felt more strongly than ever before. The Co-operatives are now being assigned more and more responsibilities. In our state, the Gaon Panchayat level Co-operative societies set up during 1973-74 have been given the responsibility of channalising rural credit, distribution of essential commodities to the consumers of the rural areas and rendering help in procurement of paddy and wheat by the agencies of the State Government. It has also been the endeavour of the State Government to make Co-operative movement as an effective instrument for socialist transformation of the rural economy.
8.2. During 1973-74, the total number of Co-operative societies in the state stood at 6983 as against 6961 in 1972-73. These societies has a membership of 7.13 lakhs in 1973-74 and represented about 29 per cent of the total householes of the State. The working capital of these societies during 1973-74 stood at Rs 73.84 crores as against Rs 68.78 crores in the previous year.
8.3. The following table shows the growth of Co-operative societies (credit and non-credit societies) in Assam over a number of years.
*Includes Meghalaya and Mizoram.
P = Provisional
Source = Registrar of Co-operative Societies, Assam
8.4. With the formation of 664 Gaon Panchayat level Co-operative Societies one in each Gaon Panchayat area of the State, the total number of Co-operative Societies in the state have gone up to a much higher level in the subsequent years. To attain the objectives under new economic programme, mass involvement is necessary and this is possible only through Co-operatives. The Government, therefore, intends to make the co-operatives. The Government, therefore, intends to make the co-operatives embrace the entire population and with this end in view it lays the target of 100 per cent coverage of about 25 lakh householes of the state by the Co-operatives. Each and every family of the State is thus expected to be brought into the fold of the Co-operatives movement by the end of 1976. It is learnt that response of the people in that regard is very encouraging and there is every likelihood of achieving the target in time.
8.5. Co-operative Societies in the state consisted of both credit and non-credit societies. Both have played important roles in the co-operative movement of the state. In the following paragraphs a brief review of the working of the credit and non-credit co-oeprative societies of the state have been made.
8.6. Credit Societies
8.6.1. The total number of Co-operative credit societies is the state during 1973-74 stood at 3517 with a membership of 4.37 lakh persons. During the year an amount of Rs 26.10 crores was advanced as loans (including cash credits and overdrafts) as against Rs 14.28 crores in the preceding year. Loans out-standing and loans overdue during the same year amounted to Rs 41.35 crores and Rs 27.22 crores respectively. The table below shows the break-up figure of different types of Co-operative credit societies including Co-operative Banks in Assam during 1973-74.
(P) = Provisional
Source: Registrar of Co-operative Societies, Assam
8.6.2. Under the scheme for reorganisation of Co-operative credit structure in the state, the 7 central co-operative credit structure in the state, the 7 central co-operative Banks viz, the Goalpara District Central Co-operative Bank, the Nowgong Central Co-operative Bank Ltd., the cachar Central Co-operative Bank Ltd, the Dibrugarh Central Co-operative bank Ltd, the Sibsagar District Central Co-operative Bank Ltd, and the Tezpur Central Co-operative Bank Ltd. Are going to be merged with the Assam co-operative apex Bank Ltd by the end of July 1976.
8.7. Non-Credit Societies
8.7.1. Non-credit co-operative societies cover a wide range of activities. These types of co-operative societies generally deal with activities like marketing, processing, storage, distribution, farming etc. in 1973-74 there were 3466 non-credit co-operative societies in the state. These societies had a membership of 2.75 lakh persons during the year. Working capital of these societies stood at Rs 13.68 crores in 1973-74 as against Rs 13.64 crores a year ago.
8.7.2. During 1973-74, general purpose primary marketing societies in Assam membered 139 as against 136 in 1972-73. During the year, the volume of business conducted by these societies amounted to Rs 811.03 lakh for marketing of agricultural produce, Rs 2.73 lakh for supplying agricultural requisites and Rs 93.68 lakhs for distribution of consumer goods. In the previous year (1972-73), the value of the amounted to Rs 719.31 lakh for agricultural produce, Rs 2.40 lakh for agricultural requisites and Rs 82.71 lakh for consumer goods. The state also has 1312 weaving societies, 563 industrial societies, 505 consumers stores, 352 fisheries societies, 17 transport societies, 16 housing societies, 408 farming societies 19 milk supply societies, 29 labour contract and construction societies, and 13 forest labourers societies in the year 1971-72.
8.7.3. The Assam State Co-operative Marketing and Consumers Federation Ltd. (formely Assam Co-operative Apex Marketing Society Ltd.), the Assam Apex weaving co-operative society Ltd, the Assam co-operative Sugar Mill Ltd. At Dergaon, the Assam Co-operative Jute Mill Ltd. At Silghat are some of the leading co-operative ventures in the state. A few more sugar and jute mills are going to be set up in the state in the co-operative sector. The sugar mills will be located at Kampur in Nowgong district, Goipani in Dibrugarh district and Borbori in Kamrup District. The jute mill will be located at Goagacha in Kamrup District.
8.8. Co-operation and Rural Economy
8.8.1. It has already been mentioned earlier that co-operatives in our state have been assigned more and more responsibilities to bring about economic transformation in the society particularly in the rural areas. In the wake of 20 point economic programme the responsibilities of co-operatives have gone up further. The gaon panchayat level multipurpose co-operative societies have been catering to various economic needs of the rural masses. These societies are shouldering the responsibility of distribution of essential commodities and consumer articles in the rural areas. Moreover, distribution of controlled cloths and supplies of essential commodities to hostels students are being made through co-operatives. For effective implementation of these Programmes in the rural areas, the 664 G.P. lavel co-operative societies set up in the state need to be adequately strengthened. Their share capital and working capital are being augmented so as to enable them to discharge their function effectively.
8.8.2. Liquidation of rural indebtedness and moratorium on recovery of debts from the landless poor is one of the important items of the 20 Point Economic Programme. The enactment of the Assam Rural Indebtedness Relief Bill, 1875, which has been passed by the Assam Legislative Assembly, may lead to reluctance on the part of the rural money lenders to advance any loan, particularly to the weaker section of the people. Under such circumstances, alternative provisions of loans to these section of people have to be made to cater to their urgent needs, The G.P. Level Multipurpose Co-operative societies may play a pioneering role in the regard. Efforts are being made by the state Government to streamline these co-operatives so that these societies may accept deposits and provide loans to the needy people.
8.8.3. The Fifth Plan has laid special emphasis on enlargement, consolidation and strengthening of co-operatives at all levels. Various measures are being taken up to remove the structural and managerial inefficiencies. The expenditure under co-operation during the Fourth Plan period in the State was of the order of Rs 388 lakhs for general areas and Rs 37 lakhs for hill areas. The Fifth Plan provisions under co-operative in the State are Rs 675 lakhs for general areas and RS 75 lakhs for hill areas.