Guwahati, Feb 7: In a first, the Assam government has decided to provide a special grant of Rs 1.5 lakh each to Rongali Bihu celebration committees who have been organising Bihu functions within the first week of the month of Bohag for the past 10 years and beyond.
Addressing mediapersons here on Monday, chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said that the move would discourage forcible donations from small businesspersons and petty traders who have already suffered losses owing to periodic lockdown/curfew triggered by three waves of COVID-19 since March 2020.
As it is, the chief minister has of late been vocal against such donation collection for organising events, referred to in local parlance as ‘sanda’ culture.
“The special grant will ensure that the Rongali Bihu celebration committees can organise Assam’s very own and traditional festival, Bohag Bihu this year without having to depend on donations. Therefore, I appeal to all Bihu committees to refrain from seeking donations from shops/business establishments in the name of Bohag Bihu,” Sarma said.
The chief minister said the district administration would provide data in regard to Bihu committees that are 10 years and older so that only the eligible committees can avail the special grant.
He further said that, if the COVID situation improves further, there would be no restrictions for Bohag Bihu celebration even as the conclusion time would be notified keeping in mind the law and order situation.
“It is also my earnest appeal to all organisations and individuals not to forcibly collect donations from traders who have been adversely affected by the pandemic. Some have even had to cut short their lives. During my interactions, I have seen a lot of anxiety and agony among many traders. But of course, if someone donates voluntarily, then it’s a different matter,” Sarma said.