With the season’s first wave of floods having already affected more than 1 lakh people in eight districts of Assam in the last one week or so, the seven-week old BJP-led government in the state is looking at the Centre to release a sum of Rs 1,800 crore that has been due to the state since the 2015 floods.
“The Centre owes more than Rs 1,800 crore to Assam for repair work carried out after the 2015 floods. Of this, about Rs 1200 crore is the central share against the state government’s expenditure for work carried out after the floods had receded,” state Water Resource Minister Keshab Mahanta told The Indian Express on July 6.
Mahanta said although most of the breaches caused by the Brahmaputra and its tributaries last year had been repaired, the state government needs to pay the contractors. “It will be difficult to ask them to carry out emergency repairs in the event of a major flood if their bills for last year’s work are not cleared,” the minister said.
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The Assam government had last year sought Rs 1,526.19 crore from the Centre to carry out repair of the damage caused. Among others, this includes Rs 860 crore for repair of breaches in embankments; Rs 200 crore for restoration and repair of roads and bridges; Rs 208 crore for crop damage; Rs 67 crore for anganwadi centres; Rs 59 crore for repair of fully and partially damaged houses; and Rs 38 crore for repair of schools. The floods last year had killed 64 people, and affected 36.67 lakh people.
Increased rainfall in the region in the last one month has made the authorities worry about a major flood this year, too. The meteorological department has already forecast heavy rainfall in Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Manipur and Tripura, as well as neighbouring Bhutan, in the next one week.
For Assam, heavy showers in the adjoining hill-states is dangerous, as rivers coming downhill play havoc in the plains every year. Increased destruction of forests in the adjoining states has worsened the situation, with the water bringing along huge amounts of soil and debris, which have raised the riverbeds in Assam plains, thus reducing their flow capacity.
The Army carried out a massive flood rescue drill in Guwahati last week.