Guwahati, Saturday, May 20, 2017
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WB flood management project in State
Ajit Patowary
 GUWAHATI, May 19 - The World Bank and the State Water Resources Department (WRD) are working on a Rs 1,500-crore project for strengthening institutional capacity for water resources planning and management, and to build resilience to flood and erosion risks in selected areas of the Brahmaputra and Barak basins of the State within a period of six years from the next year.

A task team of the World Bank recently visited the State and had a series of discussions with the WRD officials on the project.

The project is to take up initially six tributaries of the Brahmaputra and two tributaries of the Barak for detailed study. Thereafter, one or two tributary basins would be taken up for structural intervention, said highly placed official sources here.

A World Bank technical team, including experts from all related disciplines, is likely to camp in the city for formulating the details of the project from the next month. The Bank team will study the river basins along with the WRD engineers.

The Brahmaputra tributaries being taken up for the purpose are Beki, Jia Bharali, Jiadhal, Gai Nadi, Burhi Dihing and Bhogdoi, while the Barak tributaries are Singla and either of Jatinga or Madura.

By December next, the detail plan and programme for the project is likely to be completed. It is expected that work on the project would be started by the next year, subject to the mandatory clearances, source said.

It needs mention here that the Brahmaputra is joined by 52 major tributaries from both north and south banks. The flood discharge of the Brahmaputra is the fourth highest in the world. Its annual sediment transport is about 700 million metric tonnes.

Significantly, the total number of tributaries of both the Brahmaputra and the Barak stands to be 121.

Rampant degradation of the catchment areas due to unplanned developmental activities is leading to heavy sedimentation in the State’s rivers resulting in gradual rise in their bed levels and changes in their courses. In the absence of holistic planning at the basin scale, ad hoc and piecemeal approach to management of the rivers in the past has proven less effective compared to the scale of investment.

Moreover, sectoral approach to the management of the rivers by different government agencies is also leading to conflicting interest, sources said. The institutional framework and policy mechanism to deal with inter-state transboundary issues is also absent in this regard.

A baseline information and knowledge base is also absent in the region, even as productive use of water resources is catalyst for the development of the region.

This World Bank-sponsored project will focus on development of a framework, including policy mechanism for programmatic approach to the Brahmaputra and Barak basins’ development, recognising the complexity of the issues like limited knowledge base and institutional capacity, sources said.

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