GUWAHATI: Briefing the media on post-flood management plans of the State government at Janata Bhawan on Wednesday, State Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said that “earlier a proposal for ‘rehabilitation grants’ used to take two years to reach Dispur.” However, now he has made it a point to the deputy commissioners that “they have to pay such grants within just three months”.
Himanta Biswa Sarma said: “We’ve held meetings with various departments on relief and restoration works and amounts needed. We’ve let the departments know that there’s no dearth of funds, and as such there shouldn’t be any compromise in relief. On humanitarian ground, we won’t hesitate to cross the limits of the relief manual to help out the flood-affected people. I’ve asked various departments to send proposals for infrastructure damage so that we can pass the budget through a supplementary demand in the Assembly session slated to be held from July 26.”
Sarma said: “Up to the second wave of floods, 18 embankments have been breached, besides damaging 300 high schools and 2,000 LP schools, one concrete PWD bridge, a few wooden bridges, a few irrigation and PHE schemes etc. We’ve also asked the Agriculture department to send proposals for the supply of seeds and paddy saplings to the affected farmers.”
The Minister said that a very important point mentioned in the relief manual that had been ignored over the years by the deputy commissioners was ‘making an instant payment to every family in relief camps or any other affected family for cloths and utensil lost in floods’. And the payment has to be made on the very day of a family leaving the camp. “We’ve asked the deputy commissioners to pay each family Rs 3,800 for lost cloths and utensils while leaving camps. Any affected family not staying camp will also get this benefit.”
Himanta Biswa Sarma further said: “The rate of such rehabilitation grants is Rs 95,000 for a fully-damaged house. Families with partially damaged houses will also get such grants. So far, we’ve adequate funds. We’ll move the Centre if more fund is needed. The Centre won’t be miserly in releasing funds.”
When asked as to why the Centre is not declaring Assam flood a national problem, Sarma said: “Such a declaration isn’t going to solve the problem. Water from China, Tibet and Bhutan comes to Assam. We’ve only two options open – either divert the huge volume of water or store it. Right now, we’ve no scientific proposals at hand to this effect.”