Blame game on between Water Resources department and Disaster Magement Authority
BY OUR STAFF REPORTER
GUWAHATI, March 29: Almost every year, many lives are lost and much property damaged due to floods in Assam, but the State Water Resources department refuses to draw any lessons from these disasters. After Rongali Bihu, the rainy season will begin but the department is not prepared to battle floods this year too.
The flood problem is also aggravated due to poor condition of embankments all over the State. During last year’s floods, 32 breaches in embankments were reported from different parts of the State. Unfortutely, 14 of these breaches still remain open, raising the spectre of deluge this year too in these areas.
With only a few days remaining for the onset of rainy season, will the Water Resources department get enough time to plug the breaches in these embankments? Will this department be able to do quality work in the short available?
Although the department has taken up schemes to plug some of these breaches, work of only one such scheme in Baska district has been completed till date. “The progress in works of another 19 such schemes in other parts of the State is nil,” sources said.
Last year, 4 breaches in embankments in East Guwahati division, 2 in Majuli division, 1 in Jorhat division, 1 in Goalpara division, 5 in lbari division, 3 in Tezpur division, 2 in North Lakhimpur division and 1 breach in embankment in Upper Assam Investigation division were reported. “But the repair works of these breaches have not progressed,” sources added.
Sources said 14 embankment breaches - 1 in North Lakhimpur division, 5 in Tezpur division and 8 in lbari division - are yet to be plugged by the Water Resources department.
Interestingly, 150 metre stretch of embankments in Barpeta district’s Fulbari also still remains open. The 150 metre stretch of embankments was damaged in the floods in 2013. A scheme of Rs 417.03 lakh was taken up by the Water Resources department to plug the 150 metre long breach but no work has begun till date.
Now, a blame game has started between the State Water Resources department and the State Disaster Magement Authority over the sanctioning of funds and utilization of the same. It may be mentioned that when embankments get damaged, the Water Resources department submits schemes to the State Disaster Magement Authority, which sanctions funds under the State Disaster Response Fund.
According to sources, “This time the Water Resources department has submitted 22 schemes related to embankment breaches occurring last year to the State Disaster Magement Authority for sanction, but the latter is yet to sanction 6 of these schemes,” adding, “Of the 22 schemes, only 16 schemes have been sanctioned by the State Disaster Magement Authority headed by the Chief Secretary in February last.”
Now, the State Water Resources department simply does not have enough time in hand to complete the works of these 16 sanctioned schemes.