By our Staff Reporter
GUWAHATI, July 9: The State Water Resource Department has admitted that the work carried out by the Brahmaputra Board for the protection of Majuli in upper Assam’s Jorhat district is not satisfactory at all.
Addressing reporters here on Monday, State Water Resource Minister Rajib Lochon Pegu said despite sufficient funds sanctioned by the Centre to the Brahmaputra Board, the progress and quality of its work was not up to the mark in Majuli. “The work culture of the Brahmaputra Board needs an overhaul and there is also an urgent need to restructure the Board,” said Pegu, adding, “If the Board wants to erect a porcupine, it needs permission from its standing committee. The whole process kills lots of time and makes the implementation process very slow.”
In this current wave of floods, Majuli, among the world’s largest river island on the mighty Brahmaputra, has faced the maximum brunt with over 1 lakh people of more than 80 villages in the island being affected.
The Water Resource Minister said the flood problem would continue to exist in the State until the dredging of the Brahmaputra and strengthening of the embankments were not done. “Heavy siltation has raised the Brahmaputra’s riverbed and there is an urgent need of dredging the river and increasing theheight of the embankments along the river. For the entire process, we need Rs 3,460 crore,” he said, adding, “Assam needs a special package from the Centre for tackling the flood problem. Otherwise, we will not be able to solve it.”
He said that Assam would soon get Rs 276 crore from the Central Government against 10 schemes to be implemented for strengthening of embankments and other flood control measures.
The Task Force set up by Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh in 2004 proposed some immediate short-term measures for Assam’s flood problem and recommended Rs 832 crore to implement the same. “Based on the recommendations made by the Task Force, Rs 20 crore was already released by the Central Government,” he said.
According to the Minister, the Central Government had released Rs 1138.54 crore under its flood management programme from 2008-2009 to 2011-2012.
The State Government is also planning to set up a hydrolic data collection centre for flood forecast in Assam, and a German agency has shown its interest in this regard. “A proposal in this regard will be sent to the Foreign Ministry through DoNER. The recent flood problem in the State took serious turn due to heavy rains in the upper reaches of China, Bhutan and Arunachal Pradesh,” added the Minister.
In the recent floods, 53 embankments were breached by the Brahmaputra and the Barak and their tributaries across the State. In Assam, the embankment length is 4459-km and the total number of embankments is 439. “Out of 950-km of extremely vulnerable embankment, the height of 360-km of embankment has been raised. About 2390-km of embankment in the State is vulnerable and the remaining portion is reasonably safe,” said Pegu, adding, “With the rise in riverbed, the height of the embankments should also be raised.”
When asked why the implementation of flood control measures is slow in the State, the Water Resource Minister said, “We hardly get four to five months of working season and the Central Government also makes delay in sanctioning our schemes.”