Assam seeks central help against floods

June 3rd, 2008 - 6:05 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, June 3 (IANS) Even as 100-odd villages of Assam’s Dhemaji district face a threat of being washed away in floods, the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) have asked the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) to immediately take up the state’s perennial flood problem as an issue of national importance. They accused the central government of backtracking from its promise of providing rescue and rehabilitation measures to flood-prone areas of the state.

“A tripartite agreement was signed between the central government, the state government and AASU May 5, 2005, to declare the state’s flood problem as an issue of national significance,” AASU adviser Samujjal Kumar Bhattacharya told IANS over phone from Guwahati Tuesday.

“Even after the declaration, the government is yet to release any funds from its Calamity Relief Fund (CRF) for rehabilitation of displaced population of floods last year.”

Floods took place May 28 this year in Dhemaji and North Lakhimpur. “Government officials have sounded maximum alert and have already kept disaster management teams on standby,” said a source at the chief minister’s office.

According to the state’s government estimate, almost 50,000 people have been displaced across the state in last year’s floods in which a total of 90 people lost their lives. Last year, floods caused havoc in Dhemaji, North Lakhimpur, Golaghat, Sivasagar, Cachar and Karimganj districts of Assam.

“Most of these flood victims are still languishing in relief camps, waiting in anticipation to be rehabilitated in their homes. All the relief camps are in poor shape and are in no way suitable for human habitation,” said an AGP leader.

“If quick relief measures are not provided to the state, a very grim situation will arise due to floods as monsoon is all set to hit the state in July.”

To deal with natural disasters like flood, drought and tsunami, the government has especially allotted CRF. A total of Rs.213.33 billion were allotted in CRF for 2005-10.

“Unfortunately Assam, the country’s worst hit flood zone, is yet to get a single penny from CRF,” said Bhattacharya.

According to official records, Assam has suffered a loss of Rs.31 billion in the past five decades. Out of 27 districts of the state, floods regularly hit 21 districts.

In 2002, the estimated loss of property in the state was put at Rs.724.2 million, highest in recent times. The total area hit by floods was 429,657 hectares.

“The loss of lives in floods is not less than 10,000 in the past two decades,” said a senior official of Assam’s water resources department.

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