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Assam seeks Rs 8 billion aid for floods

Assam Govt seeks central aid for damages caused by three waves of devastating floods that left over 100 dead and 12 mn displaced.
IANS | By HT Correspondent, Guwahati
UPDATED ON OCT 30, 2007 01:24 PM IST

The Assam government has sought Rs 8 billion in central assistance for damages caused by three waves of devastating floods that left over 100 people dead and 12 million displaced.

"These are preliminary estimates and the figures could go up with the process of assessing the damage caused by the floods still going on," Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi told IANS over the phone from New Delhi Tuesday.

The chief minister met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi Monday and submitted a detailed memorandum seeking grants for relief and rehabilitation for the flood-hit state.

"The response from the prime minister was positive. He is likely to visit Assam sometime in December," Gogoi said.

Three waves of flooding since July left 102 people dead and displaced nearly 12 million people in 25 of Assam's 27 districts - the worst hit districts being Cachar, Karimganj, Hailakandi, Dhubri, Morigaon, Barpeta, Lakhimpur and Nalbari.

Close to 10,000 villages in an area of 825,000 hectares were affected by the raging floods that cut a swath across the state.

Thousands of people were still lodged at makeshift shelters in many parts of eastern Assam with their homes swept away by surging floodwaters.

"The prime minister expressed his happiness over the relief and rehabilitation measures announced by the state government," Gogoi said.

Every year the monsoon causes rivers to flood in Assam, a state of 26 million people. In 2004, at least 200 people died and millions were displaced.

During the meeting, the prime minister called for expeditiously implementing an action plan to preserve and protect from erosion South Asia's largest river island of Majuli in eastern Assam.

"The steps include the acceptance of a detailed project plan of Rs 860.50 million to be executed in three phases for Majuli," the chief minister said.

Majuli, about 320 km east of Assam's main city Guwahati, with a population of about 150,000 people, once covered a prosperous 1,500 sq km that was dotted with Hindu monasteries. This was some time before India's independence in 1947.

Today Majuli is in danger - the island now reduced to just about 421.65 sq km and prone to extensive flooding and erosion, a new study by the Department of Applied Geology, Dibrugarh University in Assam has said.

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