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Assam floods: Govt seeks IIT help

Assam government approach IIT Guwahati to get to the bottom of brittle embankments and misplaced priorities leading to devastating floods every year, reports Rahul Karmakar.

india Updated: Sep 06, 2008 23:17 IST

Only technologists can call technocrats’ bluff. This conclusion has made the Assam government approach IIT Guwahati to get to the bottom of brittle embankments and misplaced priorities leading to devastating floods every year.

This year, 17 of Assam’s 27 districts have turned into waterworlds leaving 23 dead and 20.68 lakh people displaced besides wasting 3,77,178 hectares of agricultural land. The flood related death toll since the 2006-07 fiscal has crossed 165.

According to Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, flood management experts and engineers often come up with ineffective measures that they justify on one pretext or the other. “As laymen, we take them for their words, but this cannot go on. So we have asked IIT Guwahati to prepare a long-term, cost-effective solution,” he said.

The IIT's mandate includes finding out where engineers have erred all these years and what needs to be done to rescue the flood-prone areas from doom. Some districts like Dhemaji are always under water even during ‘'dry’ years. No deadline has been set for the IIT.

Gogoi, however, said erosion has been a greater worry than floods in Assam.

Official estimates say Assam has lost 8 per cent of her land area of 78,438 sq km over the past few decades. Between 1954 and 2007, a network of rivers headed by the Brahmaputra ate away 4,25,932 hectares, and in the process displaced over 10 lakh people.

“We have been pushing for an erosion rehabilitation scheme too,” the CM said while countering criticisms that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's bled more for flood-affected Bihar than his equally deluged “home state”. Singh is a Rajya Sabha member from Assam.

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