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AASU wants Centre�s white paper on flood

By R Dutta Choudhury
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GUWAHATI, July 22 - The All Assam Students� Union (AASU) today demanded a white paper from the Government of India on the roadmap prepared by it for permanent solution of the problems of flood and erosion in Assam. The student body is of the view that the white paper should also include the steps taken by the government so far for dealing with the problems and the funds released over the years for construction of flood and erosion control structures and to provide relief for the flood-affected people.

Talking to The Assam Tribune, AASU chief adviser Samujjal Bhattacharya said that over the years, the Government of India has been assuring the people of Assam that flood and erosion would be considered as national problems but nothing has been seen on the ground so far. He said that of late, several Central ministers issued contradictory statements on the funds released by the Centre and under the circumstances, only a white paper can reveal the truth.

Bhattacharya pointed out that the Government of India has been spending thousands of crores of rupees on cleaning and maintaining the flow of the river Ganga and its tributaries. He said that if the government considers the North East region as an integral part of India, similar action should be taken on the river Brahmaputra and its tributaries without further delay.

�We are not opposed to the Centre�s move to spend huge amounts on the river Ganga and its tributaries. Our main concern is that why a similar action cannot be taken on the river Brahmaputra and its tributaries,� he added. He also alleged that over the years, the Centre has been showing interest only on the resources of the North East but not on the problems faced by the region.

On the present flood situation, Bhattacharya alleged that there have been irregularities in distribution of relief materials. Though the State government has been claiming that there is no shortage of funds to provide relief to the flood-affected, the people in many parts of the State are facing severe shortage of foodstuff, particularly baby food, medicines, cattle feed, etc. He said that if the government does not have shortage of funds as claimed by the ministers, then there must be some irregularities or lack of proper planning to deal with the situation. He said that members of the AASU have been on the ground in all the flood-hit areas of the State and distributed relief materials among the affected people. He said that several organisations including the Pathan Hazarika Foundation also helped the AASU by providing relief materials.

The AASU chief adviser pointed out that after the floodwater recedes, the possibility of outbreak of diseases cannot be ruled out and the government must chalk out a detailed scheme to deal with the situation. The government should also make proper planning for rehabilitation of the affected people and for helping out the farmers, he added.

Meanwhile, the AASU also said that water released from the Ranganadi project created havoc in Lakhimpur district and pointed out that the government should give due consideration to the opinion of technical experts before going ahead with the Lower Subansiri project. �The 405 MW Ranganadi project proved that unscientific dams can create havoc and the 2000 MW Subansiri project can create much more devastation if the views of experts are not given due consideration,� he added.

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AASU wants Centre�s white paper on flood

GUWAHATI, July 22 - The All Assam Students� Union (AASU) today demanded a white paper from the Government of India on the roadmap prepared by it for permanent solution of the problems of flood and erosion in Assam. The student body is of the view that the white paper should also include the steps taken by the government so far for dealing with the problems and the funds released over the years for construction of flood and erosion control structures and to provide relief for the flood-affected people.

Talking to The Assam Tribune, AASU chief adviser Samujjal Bhattacharya said that over the years, the Government of India has been assuring the people of Assam that flood and erosion would be considered as national problems but nothing has been seen on the ground so far. He said that of late, several Central ministers issued contradictory statements on the funds released by the Centre and under the circumstances, only a white paper can reveal the truth.

Bhattacharya pointed out that the Government of India has been spending thousands of crores of rupees on cleaning and maintaining the flow of the river Ganga and its tributaries. He said that if the government considers the North East region as an integral part of India, similar action should be taken on the river Brahmaputra and its tributaries without further delay.

�We are not opposed to the Centre�s move to spend huge amounts on the river Ganga and its tributaries. Our main concern is that why a similar action cannot be taken on the river Brahmaputra and its tributaries,� he added. He also alleged that over the years, the Centre has been showing interest only on the resources of the North East but not on the problems faced by the region.

On the present flood situation, Bhattacharya alleged that there have been irregularities in distribution of relief materials. Though the State government has been claiming that there is no shortage of funds to provide relief to the flood-affected, the people in many parts of the State are facing severe shortage of foodstuff, particularly baby food, medicines, cattle feed, etc. He said that if the government does not have shortage of funds as claimed by the ministers, then there must be some irregularities or lack of proper planning to deal with the situation. He said that members of the AASU have been on the ground in all the flood-hit areas of the State and distributed relief materials among the affected people. He said that several organisations including the Pathan Hazarika Foundation also helped the AASU by providing relief materials.

The AASU chief adviser pointed out that after the floodwater recedes, the possibility of outbreak of diseases cannot be ruled out and the government must chalk out a detailed scheme to deal with the situation. The government should also make proper planning for rehabilitation of the affected people and for helping out the farmers, he added.

Meanwhile, the AASU also said that water released from the Ranganadi project created havoc in Lakhimpur district and pointed out that the government should give due consideration to the opinion of technical experts before going ahead with the Lower Subansiri project. �The 405 MW Ranganadi project proved that unscientific dams can create havoc and the 2000 MW Subansiri project can create much more devastation if the views of experts are not given due consideration,� he added.