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State seeks special package to strengthen dykes
KALYAN BAROOAH

Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal interacting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in New Delhi on Tuesday. – UB Photos
 NEW DELHI, July 18 - Faced with devastating flood and erosion, the Assam government today called for a special package for strengthening the network of embankments in the State, besides deputation of a high-level Central team led by a Union minister to assess the damages caused by floods and erosion.

A delegation of BJP MPs led by Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal this afternoon met Prime Minister Narendra Modi at his Parliament House office here and discussed a host of issues concerning the State. The delegation included Ramen Deka, RP Sharma, Bijoya Chakravarty, Kamakhya Prasad Tasa, Rameswar Teli and Pradan Baruah.

Later talking to this newspaper, the Chief Minister said that their prime demand was sanction of a special package for repair and re-enforcement of the 5,000-odd kilometres of embankment. The dykes have not been repaired for the last 50-60 years.

The Chief Minister said they have also demanded that a sum of Rs 1,138.5 crore due to the State under the Flood Management Programme (FMP) should be restored to the State to meet the situation caused by the floods. The amount sanctioned in the last financial year had lapsed, Sonowal added.

The Prime Minister wanted to know how many districts have been affected by floods and details of the devastations caused by the floods, said sources.

The delegation also urged the Prime Minister to despatch a delegation under a Cabinet minister to assess the damages caused by the floods.

Meanwhile, the Chief Minister urged the Prime Minister to ensure that India raises the issue of illegal infiltration with Bangladesh. The delegation apprised the Prime Minister that Bangladeshi political leaders have been claiming that India has never raised the problem of illegal migration from Bangladesh to India. They referred to State Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh Md Shahriar Alam’s claims made in Guwahati recently.

RP Sharma said that he underlined the need to resolve the problem urgently reminding the Prime Minister about his election promise made in Assam.

The delegation also referring to the uncertain fate of the Panchgram and Jagiroad paper mills sought the Prime Minister’s intervention for revival of the two paper mills, whose employees have not received their salaries for months.

Sonowal said that they also drew the attention of the Prime Minister to the need for promotion of investment in the Northeast and urged him to revive the Northeast Industrial Investment and Promotion Policy that has expired last financial year.

Sonowal further said that they also urged the Prime Minister to revive Tocklai Tea Research Institute set up in 1901.

The Chief Minister said that he informed the Prime Minister about the initiative taken to declare Majuli river island carbon-free. He also informed him about the step taken to plant 10,000 trees, including flower plants. The initiative will not only boost the scenic beauty of the area but also act as major tourist attraction. The ultimate aim is to turn Assam into the organic hub of the Northeast, he said.

Meanwhile, Lok Sabha MP Ramen Deka said that during the interaction with the Prime Minister, he underlined the need to bring Darrang district on the railway network, a move, which he claimed would be beneficial for movement of goods and passengers. The railway connectivity also has security implication as the area is near to the Chinese border.

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