FLOOD & EROSION IN ASSAM
Under UPA or NDA, New Delhi remains deaf to ‘tiol problem’ pleas
BY OUR STAFF REPORTER
GUWAHATI, July 31: The statement of Union Home Minister Rajth Singh that declaration of Assam’s flood and land erosion as ‘tiol calamity’ would not solve the problem, flies in the face of long-standing demands by different social and political groups in the State for such a recognition.
It is a fact that the demand is nothing new as the previous UPA government at the Centre had also been urged time and again to declare the State’s flood and erosion problem as ‘tiol calamity’, but New Delhi paid no heed. The former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, who represented Assam as Rajya Sabha member for ten years, never took any initiative in this regard.
This attitude of the present NDA government or the previous UPA government towards the State’s flood and erosion problem remains the same, which is evident yet again after Rajth Singh’s comment yesterday during his visit yesterday to the flood-hit State to take stock of the situation. The hard reality is that Assam has lost more than 4 lakh bighas of landmass due to erosion in several parts of the State and it continues to aggravate.
A note on flood and erosion problem of the State to be declared as “tiol problem” was submitted to (i) Implementation of Assam Accord (IAA) Department, Assam vide no. FC(C)262/8SJPt/312 dtd. 12-01-2000 for perusal and taking up the matter with the Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India, and (ii) Commissioner (ER), Ministry of Water Resources, Government of India, vide no. FC(C)262/85/Pt-III/58 dated 11-01-2002.
The Assam Assembly during the 2002 budget session passed a resolution on March 14, 2002 to urge upon the Union government to recognize the problem of flood and erosion of the State as ‘tiol problem’. An all-party delegation of Assam Assembly led by Prithibi Majhi submitted a memorandum to the Prime Minister and Union Water Resources Minister in April 2002 demanding recognition of the flood and erosion problem of Assam as a ‘tiol problem’.
The then Chief Minister of Assam held a meeting with the Union Minister of Water Resources in New Delhi on July 3, 2002, where it was decided that the issue would be dealt by the Ministry of Agriculture.
Again in the Assam Assembly’s sitting on July 18, 2012, a resolution was taken to consider flood and erosion problem of Assam as a ‘tiol problem’. The resolution was forwarded to the Ministry of Water Resources (MoWR) vide no.WR(C) 257/2012/3 dtd. 30-08-2012. In this regard, a reminder was also sent to Ministry of Water Resources. However, no response has been received till date.
As per records, in Assam Assembly’s sitting on December 8 last year, a resolution was taken: “Since a resolution was passed by the Assam Legislative Assembly in 2012 to consider the flood and erosion problem of Assam as a tiol problem and the resolution had been submitted to the Central Government, as such river bank erosion in Assam should be included as an eligible calamity for receiving relief under tiol Disaster Response Fund (NDRF)/State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF)’. But nothing came of this resolution either.
It may also be mentioned here that the same issue was discussed in the tripartite meeting participated by representatives from the AASU, State government and Centre held in New Delhi on May 5, 2005 and a decision was taken that the flood and erosion problem be declared as ‘tiol problem’. The meeting was chaired by Dr Manmohan Singh. But within a few days of the meeting, the Centre made a U-turn on the issue, and the issue has remained hanging till date.