GUWAHATI, Aug 12 - Leading academician and social worker Prof Basanta Deka has asserted that the announcement made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Guwahati on August 1, 2017 on the allocation of Rs 100 crore for conducting a study towards finding time-bound long-term solutions to recurrent problem of floods in the NE region had no mention of the Brahmaputra. The State Government has been making a wrong assertion by linking the name of the Brahmaputra in connection with this study, he claimed.Talking to this newspaper, Prof Deka said the Prime Minister’s official website has stated, “The Union Government will also provide Rs 100 crore for carrying out a study to synergize efforts towards finding time-bound long term solutions to recurrent floods in the region.”
There is no mention of the Brahmaputra in this sentence. Contrary to the claims made by the Assam Government, this amount is obviously meant for the other rivers of the NE region, besides the Brahmaputra. And significantly, this amount is a very meagre one for the NE rivers, and the time-frame for initiating and completing the study is also not mentioned here, which exposes the lack of home work on the part of both the Governments in the State and at the Centre.
Again, the next paragraph of the August 1, 2017 news update of the Prime Minister’s website under the head – ‘PM reviews flood situation in North-Eastern States at a series of high-level meetings in Guwahati; announces assistance of over Rs 2000 crore,’ – states, “The North-Eastern region, with eight per cent of India’s land area, contains one-third of the country’s water resources. The Union Government will constitute a High Level Committee, with representation from Ministries of the Government of India and the States, for proper management of the region’s vast water resources.”
Here, there is no mention of the engagement of the experts in this exercise. Rather, Government officials will be engaged in this exercise. Without the involvement of the experts working in different areas of river dynamics, this exercise will be a futile one.
Moreover, the announcement concerning sanction of an amount of Rs 400 crore for improving the water holding capacity of the Brahmaputra, which will assist in flood control, is obviously for carrying out dredging operations in the Brahmaputra bed. But the announcement has no mention of the express highways, which have been repeatedly announced by the Union Surface Communication Minister and the Assam Government.
The Union Surface Communication Minister and the Assam Government have been giving the impression repeatedly that two express highways would be built along both banks of the Brahmaputra utilizing the silt dredged out from the river’s bed.
But in the case of the dredging operations, sought to be carried out in the bed of the Brahmaputra by the Governments in the State and at the Centre, should be preceded by a proper DPR. This DPR should also get the environmental clearance and public approval.
The Assam Government is talking about dredging the Brahmaputra bed, without knowing the official procedures to be followed in this respect. Without these steps, the whole project may land in trouble.
The Governments at the State and the Centre should come out with clear-cut statements on the objectives sought to be achieved in these areas, taking the people into confidence, Prof Deka said.