Guwahati, November 9: Union Minister for Water Resources, Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, on Saturday said proper utilisation of water resources in the northeast can transform the lives of the people and economy of the region.
Chairing the 10th meeting of the high-powered review board of the Brahmaputra Board here, the union minister said the Board should work with a scientific approach to ensure successful implementation of projects in the region.
“Both the Brahmaputra and Barak valleys are high- priority areas for the ministry and the Brahmaputra Board requires to be more strengthened to be able to meet the needs and challenges of the northeastern states,” he said.
Urging the officials to work as facilitators, Shekhawat hoped that the Brahmaputra Board will turn the challenges like flood and erosion into opportunities for economic growth with cooperation from all stakeholders.
Minister of State for Water Resources, Rattan Lal Kataria, said the state governments of the region, with support from the Centre, are implementing various projects related to water resources.
The main focus is to complete ongoing projects and schemes on time so that the northeastern states are benefitted from them, Kataria said.
Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal urged the ministry to launch a special programme for flood and erosion management in the state.
He requested the ministry to convert 4,474 km of old embankments of the state into “road-cum-embankments”.
“The state government has constructed nearly 4,474 km of embankments since 1954 and most of them have become vulnerable due to expiry of their design period,” he said.
River erosion in Assam is of serious magnitude and the state has already lost hectares of land to it.
“Erosion is also systematically destroying the chain of embankments, that provide relief from annual floods. There is an urgent need to look into the matter for a permanent solution to protect the state from further erosion,” he said.
Sonowal also sought support from the ministry for the inclusion of erosion in the admissible list of calamities for assistance under the NDRF and the SDRF.
He said the matter has already been taken up with the Union Home Ministry.
Sonowal said as per the direction of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a high-level committee for proper management of water resources in the northeast was constituted under the chairmanship of vice-chairman of NITI Aayog for evolving an integrated flood management strategy.
The report of the committee suggested the establishment of North East Water Management Authority and there is a need to expeditiously prepare a road map for it, he said.
The chief minister also underlined the need for dredging Brahmaputra, Barak rivers and their tributaries in a time-bound manner for effective erosion management.
He also highlighted the need to study floods caused by rivers flowing downstream from Arunachal Pradesh and Bhutan and called for soil conservation and catchment area management in the hill state and the Himalayan country bordering Assam.
The chief minister also underlined the need for sharing hydro-meteorological data, adopting latest techniques of data analysis and flood early warning system and requested the ministry to take steps for establishment of North East Data Centre at Guwahati.
Sonowal also requested the ministry to revive the flood management programme. (PTI)