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Taking strong note of the delay in repairing embankments along the Brahmaputra and other rivers that were damaged during last year’s floods, Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal on Tuesday warned officers of the water resources department vested with those tasks of dire consequences if they fail to complete them on time. Reviewing the progress of embankment repairing works in his office, Sonowal said a record amount of Rs 347.67 crore was released under SDRF for 2016-17 for strengthening and repairing of the damaged embankments and carrying out various erosion protection works.
While the chief minister had last year set April 30, 2017 as the deadline to complete all strengthening and repairing works of embankments, an official press note issued by his office said Sonowal warned erring officers of “stringent action” if the deadlines were not met. Embankments were the major safeguards of rural economy against the ravages of flood, the chief minister said.
Underlining the urgent need for developing a competitive temperament amongst government departments, Chief Minister Sonowal also said the water resources department should strive hard to dispel its negative image. “This department should resolve to execute quality work and bring about a visible change,” he said.
The floods in 2016 had caused immense loss to Assam with the state government estimates saying over 36.67 lakh people in 4026 villages across 28 districts were affected, leading to 26 human deaths and damage to 2.29 lakh hectare standing crops. The Brahmaputra and its tributaries, on the other hand, caused 26 breaches to embankments.
Sonowal had last Wednesday asked the Brahmaputra Board, a central government undertaking, to expedite its work worth Rs 207 crore for protection of Majuli island from recurring floods and bank erosion before the monsoon season started. He also took strong exception to absence of senior Board officials in Majuli, and asked the Board to set up a permanent office complex with senior officials in the island. Referring to the bleak past record of the Board, Sonowal said people of Assam in general and of Majuli in particular were very dissatisfied with the functioning of the Brahmaputra Board.