Guwahati: From COVID frontline workers to entrepreneurs to conservationists the Assam government on Monday bestowed its highest civilian awards to 19 people from diverse fields in the first year of these recognitions.

While industrialist and philanthropist Ratan Tata was honoured with the newly-instituted highest civilian award of the state Assam Baibhav’, five others were bestowed with Assam Saurav’ and 13 with Assam Gaurav’ awards.

Governor Prof Jagdish Mukhi presented the awards at a function here, attended by Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and a host of other dignitaries.

Tata was unable to attend the ceremony in person and sent out a letter to Sarma, thanking the state government for the award.

He shall be receiving it from the chief minister in Mumbai later.

One of the Assam Saurav’ awardee Prof Dipak Chand Jain, a noted academician, was also absent on the occasion as he is abroad, Sarma had said earlier.

After the ceremony, the governor tweeted, I am honoured to have conferred on the State’s Highest Civilian Awards viz. Assam Baibhav, Assam Saurav and Assam Gaurav to 19 personalities who have distinguished themselves in their chosen fields.

I wish them all the very best and hope they continue their remarkable journey to make our State as well as our Nation proud, Mukhi added.

Sarma, in his tweet, conveyed his heartiest congratulations to all the awardees and wrote, Honoured to be at the presentation of first #AssamStateCivilianAwards alongside Hon’ble Governor Prof @jagdishmukhi.

I wish them success in all future endeavours, the chief minister added.

The other four recipients of Assam Saurav’ are educationist Prof Kamalendu Deb Krori, Olympian medallist Lovlina Borgohain, artist Neel Pawan Baruah and National Health Mission state director Dr Lakhsmanan S.

Among the 13 people bestowed with Assam Gaurav’ are Munindra Nath Ngatey, who has been in-charge of the COVID-19 vaccination drive in the state, and Dr Basanta Hazarika, among those in the forefront of the fight against the virus since the start of the pandemic.

ANM nurse Namita Kalita and ASHA worker Bornita Momin are also among the awardees for their contribution towards the vaccination drive against the novel coronavirus in the state.

Kalita has so far administered nearly one lakh COVID vaccines, making it the highest number of jabs given by an individual during the pandemic, while Momin had successfully vaccinated Phuloguri Garo Gaon in Sonitpur district by creating awareness in favour of the vaccine and overcoming superstitious fears of the villagers.

The other awardees include Dharanidhar Boro for his anti-poaching work and conservation efforts, poultry farmer Akash Jyoti Gogoi, pig farmer Manoj Kumar Basumatary, entrepreneur Boby Hazarika who started a small tiffin delivery service during lockdown that has grown in size since then and weaver Hemoprabha Chutia.

The Assam Baibhav’ award carries a cash component of Rs 5 lakh, while Assam Saurav’ has Rs 4 lakh and Assam Gaurav’ Rs 3 lakh.

Moreover, the government will bear the cost of treatment up to Rs 2 lakh annually of all the awardees in case of hospitalisation. They will also receive free accommodation at Assam Bhawans and will be invited guests at government functions.

While the highest award Assam Baibhav’ will be bestowed on one person annually, Assam Saurav’ will have three recipients and Assam Gaurav’ 15, totalling 19, though there was some variation in the break-up this year.

From next year, the awards will be given based on people’s recommendations and a portal will be soon launched where the public can name their choice for the recognitions.

The awards will be conferred on Asom Divas, every year celebrated on December 2 to commemorate the rule of Swargadeo Chaolung Sukapha, who founded the Ahom dynasty in Assam that ruled the state for 600 years.

Also read: Assam: BJP-AGP sweep Thengal Kachari Autonomous Council polls

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