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All Assam Water Resources Contractors’ Association demands release of long-pending flood management fund

A CORRESPONDENT

LAKHIMPUR, July 11: Just prior to Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal’s arrival in Lakhimpur in order to take stock of the flood situation of Nowboicha on Wednesday, the All Assam Water Resources Contractors’ Association (AAWRCA) expressed strong reaction over the flood situation in the State, alleging negligence on the part of the State government towards the mitigation of the burning problem of the State.

Addressing a press meet held at North Lakhimpur Press Club on Wednesday, Muhi Borgohain, the president of the AAWRCA, denied all allegations against the contractors and blamed the State government for the miserable plight of the people of Assam as well as Lakhimpur district due to devastating flood this year. In this regard, he said that the State government had treated the Water Resources Department (WRD) as only a supplementary department and hence the burning problem of the State could not be mitigated year after year. He said that the government had never allocated adequate fund for the WRD in the State budget and the government could not release the fund on time to the contractors for implementing embankment construction projects.

In support of his statement, Borgohain added that the State government could not release the central share under Flood Management Plan (FMP), a fund of Rs 130 crore which was due to the contractors for the schemes they implemented in order to control the flood caused by the Ranganadi and Dropang in Lakhimpur district. The dues have been pending since 2015. The fund was already released from the Union government on March 31 but the State government could not release the amount due to non-allocation of adequate fund in the last State budget.

“The allocation of the fund for the WRD in the last budget was only Rs 45 crore whereas more than Rs 1100 crore is still payable to the contractors. So, the State government cannot release the amount of Central share due to lack of budget although it was released from the Centre. Due to no-payment of the dues to contractors, the Ranganadi embankment strengthening project under FMP is incomplete until now,” he said. He added that an amount of Rs 130 crore was released by the Centre regarding Ranganadi Project (Rs. 126.30 crore) and Dropang embankment strengthening project (Rs. 3.70 crore) by the Centre.

The organization demanded the State government to release the fund as soon as possible.

Further, he demanded the Chief Minister to fix a deadline to the government departments concerned to complete their due initiatives regarding the implementation of flood management schemes. The organization stressed eviction of illegal encroachers in Sigara river basin to control the consecutive flood havoc caused by the river and scientific project for the mitigation of flood of the Chatrang river in Gahpur. He prioritized the dredging in the Singara river basin too. Regarding these issues, AAWRCA submitted a memorandum to the Chief Minister and called upon him to initiate steps.