India

Assam flood toll up to 73; CM Sonowal seeks release of Rs 1138 crore central share for flood control

Assam flood toll up to 73; CM Sonowal seeks release of Rs 1138 crore central share for flood control

The flood situation in Assam improved significantly on Wednesday with the Brahmaputra water-level receding below the red mark throughout the state. But with four more deaths reported during the day, the death toll in the current floods rose to 73. The official flood report said 2.67 lakh people in 14 districts of the state were still in the grip of floods, with about 8,000 people currently lodged in relief camps in these districts. Of the four deaths that occurred on Wednesday, two were in Morigaon district and one each in South Salmara ans Lakhimpur.

Meanwhile, chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal met union finance minister Arun Jaitley in the national capital and pleaded with him to release the central share of Rs 1138 crore under the Flood Management Programme (FMP) during the 11th and 12th Five Year Plans. The state has already released its share against 141 schemes under FMP, Sonowal told Jaitley.

Sonowal, who is on a three-day visit to the national capital, had on Tuesday told met prime minister Narendra Modi that most of the state’s existing 5,000-km embankments along the Brahmaputra and other rivers were constructed way back in the 1950s and had thus become increasingly vulnerable to breach.

Apprising the prime minister of the state’s flood situation, Sonowal requested him to launch a ‘Prime Minister’s Special Programme for Flood and Erosion Control’ for developing road-cum-embankments stretching 5,000 km, ensure regular maintenance and sustainability of the embankments.

“If these 5000-km embankments are developed as roads-cum-embankments, they will ensure regular maintenance and sustainability of the embankments,” Sonowal told the prime minister, a press release issued by the CM’s office said. He however informed the prime minister that the state lacked in resources for developing the roads-cum-embankments project and pleaded with him for an exclusive programme under the Prime Minister’s supervision to act as deterrent to flood and erosion.

Briefing the prime minister about the devastations caused by two successive waves of flood lashing the state in the past two months, Sonowal said altogether 25 lakh people across 29 districts have suffered. “Though the current wave of flood has receded, 21 districts are still reeling under the impact of floods and over 70 precious lives have been lost,” he added.

Sonowal also requested the prime minister to constitute a high-level inter-ministerial team headed by a cabinet minister to study the impact of floods and erosion and suggest permanent measures for mitigating the problem. Submitting a memorandum to the prime minister, Sonowal requested him to direct the ministry of water resources for early release of central share amounting to Rs 1138 crore for completion of schemes undertaken under the Flood Management Programme (FMP) during the 11th and 12th Five Year Plans.