Assam CM appeals to Centre over river authority

Guwahati, Oct 1 (IANS) Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi Wednesday urged union Home Minister Rajnath Singh to expedite the process to set up the Brahmaputra River Valley Authority (BRVA) as a long-term mitigation measures for floods on Brahmaputra and Barak river basins.

“Flood causes a temporary setback but erosion causes permanent damage. So far four lakh hectare of land has been gobbled up by the Brahmaputra and Barak rivers in the past 50 years, with the rate of erosion being 8,000 per hectare every year,” Gogoi told Rajnath Singh, who visited Assam and Meghalaya to take stock of the flood situation.

He also informed the central minister that the state government has added thrust on reclamation of land to minimize the pressure on the existing land in the wake of rise in population and requested Rajnath Singh to consider the state government’s long-standing demand for treating erosion as a natural calamity.

The chief minister while lauding the efforts of State Disaster Rescue Force (SDRF) and National Disaster Rescue Force (NDRF) in rescuing marooned people in the recent flood, requested Singh for three additional battalions of NDRF for the northeast region, out of which two battalions exclusively for Assam.

“There is a need for permanent stationing of NDRF personnel in the flood prone areas so that they can reach out to the people at the time of exigency,” Gogoi said.

The state government in its memorandum to Rajnath Singh sought Rs.2,010 crore for damaged infrastructure which include roads and bridges, dwelling houses, health centres and school buildings; Rs.660 crore for rescue and relief operations and Rs.6,700 crore as special assistance that include Rs.3,500 crore for raising and strengthening of embankments and Rs.1,000 crore for mitigating of flood problem in Guwahati city.

The state government also sought some changes in the SDRF guidelines for raising the ex-gratia to the next of kin of persons who lost their lives in natural calamities from the existing Rs.1.5 lakh to Rs.3 lakh to people up to 14 years and Rs.5 lakh to people above 14; Rs.1.50 lakh to fully damaged pucca houses and Rs.10,000 to partially damaged pucca/katcha houses.

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