Assam: Technology to combat floods

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Guwahati, Sep 13: Combating erosion is the top priority in Assam, with the government now mulling on latest technology in building embankments to fight the dual problem of flood and erosion.

''Merely controlling the flood is not enough, we are concentrating on tackling flood and erosion together for maximum impact,'' state government spokesperson and Cabinet Minister Dr Himanta Biswa Sharma said on Saturday, Sep 13.

He informed that a host of schemes were being drawn up and funds would never be a constraint.

''Prime Minister Manmohan Singh himself, during his last month's visit here, said that all necessary money and expertise would be at Assam's disposal to fight flood and erosion,'' he added.

''Now flood and erosion control measures are included in infrastructure development schemes and that has helped in getting funds,'' he said.

As per a rough estimate, Rs 10,000 crore is needed for erosion control measures, Dr Sharma said, adding that Rs 1,160 crore has been sanctioned for it for the year 2008-09.

Another Rs 500 crore has been sanctioned for four embankments - Dibrugarh, Matmora in Lakimpur, Barkual in Golaghat and Palasbari - with the Centre providing the funds from a World Bank loan.

Moreover, the Prime Minister has already allotted Rs 13,000 crore to the state for flood and erosion control projects, the minister underlined.

Dr Sharma said the capacity of the water resource development department, which handles flood and erosion issues, has to be enhanced for it to be able to effectively utilise the massive funds available with the state.

Among the slew of initiatives set in motion, Dr Sharma said work for building of embankments involving over Rs 300 crore would be allotted to big contractors in a package form, with the small local contractors to be involved only at a latter stage. The earlier practice of allotting a single embankment to several petty contractors was not yielding results due to difference in work quality and other factors, he added.

On the delay in starting work that results in the embankments remaining incomplete even after the arrival of the monsoons, he said it was mainly due to the paper work involved and the bureaucratic process.

He informed that the government was mulling using satellite imagery in determining pre-fixed estimates for embankment construction to expedite the process to a great extent.

''Almost three months are lost in assessing the damage, getting sanctions, calling tenders and allotting the work, with actual work started only after December,'' he added.

Dr Sharma also dismissed Opposition allegations that the Prime Minister, who represents the state, was not doing enough for the flood problem in the state.


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