FLOOD HAVOC IN ASSAM
Union Home minister makes aerial tour of flood-hit districts, avoids announcing aid package, says ‘funds no problem’ for Dispur
BY OUR STAFF REPORTER
GUWAHATI, July 30: Union Home Minister Rajth Singh has said declaring Assam’s flood and land erosion a ‘tiol calamity’ would not be a solution to the problem the State has been facing for long.
Addressing reporters at LGBI airport at Borjhar on Saturday before leaving for New Delhi, Singh said he has asked the State government to prepare an action plan on how the impact posed by floods and erosion can be minimized, and on the basis of this report, further action would be undertaken.
The Home Minister on Saturday conducted an aerial survey of some of the flood-hit areas of the State. Chief Minister Sarbanda Sonowal and Union Minister of State for Development of North Eastern Region Jitendra Singh were on the flight. State Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and State Water Resources Minister Keshab Mahanta, among others, also accompanied the Union ministers during the visit to the flood-hit areas of Morigaon, gaon and Kaziranga.
Singh said, “It’s a big challenge for the State government which is trying its level best to deal with the situation. The Central government is fully ready to support the State government in this regard”.
The Home Minister also told Sonowal to spend whatever amount of funds is needed for carrying out relief and rescue operation in the flood-hit areas.
Refraining from announcing any fincial package for the State to deal with the floods, the Home Minister said the State government has an amount of Rs 620 crore under SDRF and that fund will be given to the State as per the requirement to deal with the flood problem. “Let this amount be utilized, the Centre will give more funds. Funds are not going to be a constraint for the State government,” he said.
Singh said Chief Minister Sonowal had handed over a memorandum to him mentioning flood related losses and other details. He promised a Central team will soon visit the State to assess the situation and the Centre would take all necessary steps based on the report submitted by the Central team.
The Home Minister visited Bhagatgaon camp set up for flood-affected residents in Morigaon district. Singh said at least 18 districts of the State have been affected by floods. “I have been told that around 26 people have died over the past one week due to floods in Assam and the State government has announced Rs 4 lakh compensation to the families of victims,” he added.
“Leaving New Delhi for Guwahati to take stock of the situation in flood-affected areas of Assam,” Rajth Singh had tweeted earlier this morning. But what is unfortute is that the Union Home Minister only visited a few so called ‘perfect’ relief camps where the inmates told Singh that they were getting relief and other materials properly and praised the efforts of the State government.
The reality is that thousands of people in other remote areas, which were not visited by Singh, are yet to be rescued and provided relief materials, despite the claim of NDRF, SDRF and Army that they have saved the lives of 6,000 people affected by the deluge.
An estimated 19 lakh people have been affected in the current wave of floods. The floods in Assam have been triggered by heavy rainfall and swelling of rivers caused due to incessant rains in upper catchment areas of Aruchal Pradesh and Bhutan.
The worst affected districts are Lakhimpur, Golaghat, Bongaigaon, Jorhat, Dhemaji, Barpeta, Goalpara, Dhubri, Darrang, Morigaon and Sonitpur, said Assam State Disaster Magement Authority (ASDMA). The other affected districts are Sivsagar, Kokrajhar, Dibrugarh, Goalpara, Tinsukia, Biswath, lbari, Baksa, Udalgluri, Kamrup (M), Chirang, Kamrup and South Kamrup.
The mighty Brahmaputra is flowing above the danger marks at several places of the State.
The Union Home Minister also reviewed the prevailing flood situation at a high level meeting held at Air Traffic Control Conference Hall at Borjhar. In the meeting, Chief Minister Sonowal requested Singh to take steps for relaxation of guidelines for restoration of infrastructure ravaged by flood. The Home Minister assured to look into the matter for relaxation of guidelines for all of North-east with special emphasis on Assam.
NDRF, SDRF and the Army are helping the administration in evacuating affected people to safe places. The State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) teams with deep divers have also been attached to the 27 Fire Stations of the State. Overflowing rivers are flooding new areas, making the situation worse.
Authorities in the State have opened more than 800 temporary shelters and food and medicines distribution centers across the State, a senior SDRF official said.
While addressing the media, OP Singh, DG NDRF told that NDRF and SDRF teams were deployed in flood-hit areas of Assam for rescue and relief operations. The NDRF had deployed 16 search and rescue teams in Jorhat, Bongaigaon, Dhubri, Barpeta, Kokrajhar, Morigaon, Kamrup rural, Dhemaji and Tinsukia districts of Assam, he added.
The NDRF has evacuated 1,347 persons and 2 dead bodies have been retrieved in Assam. NDRF personnel had also distributed 105.55 quintal relief materials provided by the State government.