Guwahati, Sept 16 (PTI) The Assam council of ministers on Thursday decided to destroy 2,479 rhino horns, stockpiled in the treasuries of different districts of the state, by burning them in public to bust myths associated with it and prevent poaching of the animal. The meeting of the ministers, which was chaired by Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, also gave its nod for a natural history museum at Kaziranga National Park where 94 rhino horns, extracted from those animals that had died due to natural reasons, will be kept and preserved as heritage pieces for academic purposes and public viewing.

State Health Minister Keshab Mahanta told the media after the meeting that out of the total 2,623 rhino horns kept in the treasuries, 2479 of them will be destroyed. Another 50 rhino horns with court litigations will be preserved with due procedures.

In another major decision which will benefit people from low income groups, the Assam council of ministers decided to waive off the license fee for rickshaws, handcarts and others in the capital city and the Guwahati Municipal Corporation was directed to explore feasibility of providing these licenses online without the applicants coming to the office, Mahanta said.

The cabinet granted the long-standing demand of the tea tribe community for a state holiday on Karam Puja on September 17 this year.

Asked if the holiday will be only for this year, Mahanta said that though the decision was so, the matter will come up for discussion when the annual holiday list will be prepared by the government later this year.

The ministers also decided to start offline classes for 10th standard students in both government and private schools, including high madrasas, residential and day boarding schools from September 20 and school authorities will ensure that all employees and workers are fully vaccinated, Mahanta said Every class will have a maximum of 30 students and all COVID protocols will be strictly followed, he said adding necessary directives will be issued soon in this regard. It was agreed to sanction Rs 379 crore for Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana towards payment of insurance premium on behalf of the farmers. The state government will pay 3.5 per cent share of the premium, which will include the state share of 1.5 per cent and two per cent share of the beneficiary.

This will benefit lakhs of farmers, the health minister said.

The ministers decided to develop the infrastructure of 12 farms under the Assam Seeds Corporation Limited and develop the horticulture nursery and the Ulubari Nursery under it here as state-of-the-art facilities.

They agreed to relax the qualifying service to a minimum of one year for upward promotion from deputy director and joint director's posts in the agriculture department to strengthen and help in its effective functioning.

The other decisions taken were releasing Rs 98 crore to the Water Resource Department for its activities under Section 27 of the NABARD Act, 1981 (contributing to the share capital of the cooperative credit institutions) and sanctioning Rs 250 crore to Assam Infrastructure Funding Agency (AIFA) for taking up infrastructural development related projects.

The Assam ministers agreed to create a separate post of chief engineer for health and education in the public works department (building) to expedite all health and educational infrastructure projects undertaken by PWD in the state, Mahanta added.