Assam to revamp Brahmaputra Board
The Assam government will revamp the Brahmaputra Board, which monitors flood control measures in the state's Brahmaputra valley, as the proposed task force on flood control in the northeast has not yet taken shape, Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi announced in New Delhi on Tuesday.
"We have agreed to revamp the Brahmaputra Board as the flood control authority recommended by the prime minister's task force has not yet become a reality," Gogoi, who met Minister for Water Resources Saifuddin Soz on Tuesday, said at a press conference.
The Brahmaputra Board was set up by the government under an act of parliament in 1982 for the planning and integrated implementation of measures for the control of floods and bank erosion in the Brahmaputra Valley.
However, it has failed to deliver on its agenda and has been more in the news for alleged corruption and other irregularities.
Gogoi said that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is taking the issue of floods in the state seriously.
"The prime minister had set up the task force and it submitted its recommendations in 2005," he said.
However, the recommendations could not be implemented due to non-cooperation from the neighbouring state of Arunachal Pradesh from where the mighty Brahmaputra and most of the other flood-prone rivers flow down to Assam, he said.
"The task force recommended the setting up of the North East Water Resource Authority to work on flood control measures. But it has not yet been formed, as the Arunachal Pradesh government has not agreed to the recommendations. Even the present chief minister (of Arunachal Pradesh) has asked for more time," he said, adding that this was why the Brahmaputra Board was being revamped.
Stating that around 6.8 million people were affected by floods in the state this year, he said: "On an average, floods cause damages of around Rs 700-800 crore (Rs 7-8 billion) every year. Since 1951, eight lakh (800,000) hectares of land has been lost to erosion. And there are 31.60 lakh hectares (3.16 million hectares) of flood-prone areas in the state."
The chief minister said that releasing of dam waters in Arunachal Pradesh and the neighbouring country of Bhutan was another reason for the floods.
"We have also asked the ministry (of water resources) to set up suitable flood forecasting mechanisms in Arunachal Pradesh and Bhutan besides creating dam water retention areas at suitable reaches," he said.
Stressing that the state needed Rs.6 billion for repairing 4,463 km of embankments along rivers in the state, Gogoi said: "We have asked this money under the 11th Finance Commission as also the 11th Five-Year Plan (2007-2012). It is still pending."