GUWAHATI: Leader of Opposition Debabrata Saikia addressed a letter to the Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal over the flood disaster in the state and wrote, “You are aware that the flood situation in diverse areas of Assam has reached alarming proportions, displacing people and livestock, destroying crops and disrupting surface communication in various places.
In this context, I would like to urge you kindly to persuade the Central Government to send a Central team to visit the numerous flood-affected areas of Assam. Further, it will be immensely beneficial if, prior to the proposed visit by the Central team, you could request the Central Government to announce a special flood relief grant for Assam as was done earlier for Bihar, Kerala, Jammu & Kashmir, Tamil Nadu etc when they were affected by floods.
At the same time, I am of the opinion that you ought to approach the Centre immediately for release of pending flood relief/flood management funds. Although you had sought a compensation package of about Rs 2300 crore from the Centre following last year’s floods, yet it is reported that Assam has not received any quantum of the requested aid so far. A section of the media reported that the Union Home Ministry’s own data has revealed that the Central Government has not released a single rupee to Assam under the National Disaster Relief Fund (NDRF) since 2014-15 till date (relevant newspaper reports appended herewith). Significantly, while depriving Assam, the Centre released substantial amounts under NDRF between 2014-2015 and 2019-20 to states such as Andhra Pradesh (about Rs 1900 crore), Arunachal Pradesh (about Rs. 210 crore), Bihar (about Rs 250 crore), Chhattisgarh (about Rs 850 crore), Himachal Pradesh (about Rs 240 crore), Karnataka (about Rs 3300 crore), Madhya Pradesh (about Rs 1900 crore), Odisha (about Rs.1000 crore), Rajasthan (about 2700 crore), Tamil Nadu (about Rs 3500 crore), Telengana (about Rs 1000 crore), Uttar Pradesh (about Rs 5000 crore), West Bengal (about Rs 800 crore) and Nagaland (about Rs 50 crore). Similarly, there has been a noticeable shortfall between funds allocated and funds actually released for Assam by the Centre under State Disaster Relief Fund (SDRF) since 2014-2015. For instance, only Rs 425 crore was released out of the allocated Rs 460 crore in 2015-2016, only Rs 400 crore was released out of the allocated Rs 483 crore in 2016-2017, and only Rs 400 crore was released out of the allocated Rs 507 crore in 2017-2018.
In view of the data cited above, it is imperative for you to request the Centre to immediate the entire amount of Rs 559 crore allocated for Assam under SDRF in the current fiscal year. Prompt and full release of this fund by the Centre will enable our state to cope better with the devastation caused by this bout of floods. At the same time, I would like to request you to seek more funds under MGNREGA for development of flood-damaged rural roads with gravelling/spreading of stones etc. Moreover, additional funds ought to be sought for the Public Health Engineering department for facilitating provision of potable water in the flood-ravaged areas.
Another important related matter that needs to be taken up is the lack of action to increase the number of Flood Forecasting Stations as per 12th Plan sanction for 219 Telemetry Stations, 310 Base Stations and 100 Flood Forecasting Stations.
As such, I feel that it is the need of the hour for you to prevail upon the Central government to urgently come to Assam’s aid with both short-term measures such as grant of adequate flood relief funds as well as long-term measures such as bolstering the flood forecasting/flood management infrastructure.
Last but not the least, the officials concerned of all districts may be instructed to manage relief and rescue work on a war footing and, further, Ministers of the state may be deputed to oversee such work in individual districts to ensure that the affected people receive the desired assistance at the ground level.”