Bill to restructure Brahmaputra Board in coming Parliamentary session, Bharti agrees with NE states' demand for 90:10 Central funding
New Delhi/ Guwahati, June 19: A bill for restructuring the Brahmaputra Board is likely to be tabled in the coming session of Parliament.
"The purpose is to improve its efficiency and functioning to control floods, erosion and landslides caused by the river and its tributaries in the Northeast," said Uma Bharti, Union Minister for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvetion.
The move to restructure the board into the North-East Brahmaputra River Rejuvetion Authority (NEBRRA) comes in the wake of Northeastern states expressing their dissatisfaction over the functioning of the present Board and seeking its revamp.
"For this purpose a meeting of Chief Ministers from NE States will be called very soon," Bharti said, chairing the 8th meeting of High Powered Review Board on Brahmaputra River here in New Delhi today.
The Minister reiterated that her ministry has the same focus for Brahmaputra river as it has for River Ganga. She said the overall intention is to fast-track the all-around development of the region by way of augmenting flood control measures, enhanced power production and storage capacity building.
Bharti also agreed with the view of participating states that the share of funds between the NE States and Central Government should be in the ratio of 90:10 and not 70:30. She also assured the NE States that their concerns and apprehensions will be conveyed to the Fince Ministry as well as Niti Aayog.
The Brahmaputra Board was set up by an Act of Parliament - Brahmaputra Board Act, 1980 (46 of 1980). It started functioning with Headquarters at Guwahati with effect from January 11, 1982. The main objective was planning and integrated implementation of measures for control of flood and bank erosion in the Brahmaputra Valley and for matters connected therewith in association with concerned states. The jurisdiction of the Board includes the States of Aruchal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, galand, Sikkim, Tripura and Northern part of West Bengal.
Speaking at the meeting, Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said his State is looking forward to the proposed Brahmaputra Board River Rejuvetion Authority (NEBRRA) for comprehensive water resources development and evolution of strategies and interventions for harnessing the Brahmaputra's water resources, as well as ushering in of all-round economic development of the region.
The Government of Assam has received the draft document on North East Brahmaputra River Rejuvetion Authority and views of the State Government on proposed NEBRRA have already been sent to the Government of India, Gogoi added.
"The Board had prepared 43 master plans. But it has been observed that over the last three decades, the Board has been able to implement only Draige Development schemes and a few schemes related to flood and erosion magement in Majuli Island and Dholla-Hatighuli areas with the approval of the Central government," Gogoi pointed out in the meeting.
Gogoi raised concern on the vexed problem of flood and soil erosion on account of embankment breaches by fast-flowing rivers in the State, emphasizing upon the need of expeditious sanction for flood magement projects in the State.
The Aruchal Water Resources Minister Kamlung Mosang, in his address echoed Gogoi's concern on the change of Central assistance formula from 90:10 to 70:30. He said in the interest of development of Northeastern States, it will be appropriate that the funding pattern be maintained at the ratio of 90:10 and procedure for release of Central share kept as that of XIth Plan.
The meeting also discussed proposals for single multi-purpose storage project on Siang River instead of two stage hydro-electric projects (Upper Siang stage-I and stage-II). The Killing project at the border of Assam and Meghalaya was also reviewed and appropriate directions were given to the concerned authority.
The meeting also discussed tiol projects currently under way under the aegis of Brahmaputra Board, mely Kulsi Dam Project in Assam and Meghalaya and Noa-Dihing Dam Project in Aruchal Pradesh. It was informed that currently the DPRs of these project are under appraisal of Central Water Commission (CWC) for according techno-economic clearance.
The meeting also reviewed the protection of Majuli Island from flood and erosion.
Bharti also stressed the need for protecting Majuli Island from erosion by the mighty Brahmaputra, and sought assistance from the State Government for declaring it as a World Heritage Site.
Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi raised his State's reservations over construction of dams in neighbouring Aruchal Pradesh.
"We have reservations about construction of any dams in Aruchal Pradesh, without making thorough investigations," Chief Minister Gogoi said.