BY OUR STAFF REPORTER
GUWAHATI, Aug 3: State Transport minister Chandra Mohan Patowary today said although about Rs 1,500 crore would filly be given by the World Bank to Assam for reconstruction and strengthening of embankments, the State actually needs about Rs 11,000 crore for the purpose.
Addressing a press meet here on Wednesday, Patowary said, “4,474 km of embankments across the State are past their endurance limit, and of which, only 738 km of embankments have been strengthened so far. If earth is used to strengthen the embankments, per km cost will be Rs 2.5 crore. That means Rs 11,885 crore will be needed for strengthening 4,474 km of embankments in the State.”
Patowary, however, admitted that in the last few years, the Central government hasn’t shown the kind of willingness actually needed to deal with the flood and erosion problem in Assam. He said, “Under the 11th Plan, the Assam government submitted 100 flood and erosion control schemes worth Rs 1,139 crore to the Government of India, but we are yet to get Rs 237 crore from the Centre.”
“Under the 12th Plan, 41 flood and erosion control schemes worth Rs 1,386 crore were submitted by us to the Central government, but only Rs 27 crore was released,” he further said.
The Transport minister, however, made it clear that the State has enough fund in its hands to deal with relief and rehabilitation in the wake of the current floods in the State. “As per tiol Flood Commission, flood-prone area in Assam is 31 lakh hectares and the State government has protected only Rs 16 lakh hectares from floods,” he added.
On the issue of flood-related package from the Central government, Patowary said, “Many packages were announced in the past, but their use was not reflected on the ground. Package is just a weapon of politics,” adding, “We will assess the damage caused by floods and then approach the Centre for fincial assistance, and we hope the Centre will not disappoint us.”
He stressed on the need to use geo-tube technology introduced by the previous State government for fighting floods and erosion effectively. “If we use geo-tube technology for strengthening 4,474 km of embankments, Rs 1,25,272 crore will be required, but generating such a huge fund will be a challenge for the State government,” he said, adding, “A vigilance committee will be constituted, which will monitor the construction work of the embankments across the State.”