NEW DELHI, June 2 � Waiting in vain for the ambitious North East Water Resources Authority (NEWRA) to take off, the Centre has finally started the process of revamping Brahmaputra Board. A report by a nodal group to convert the Board into a Basin Level Authority is likely to be cleared soon.
The Central Government has constituted a nodal group to look into all aspects regarding restructuring of Brahmaputra Board with a wide mandate as Basin Level Authority. The report has been submitted by the nodal group on restructuring of Brahmaputra Board. The proposal is to restructure the Board as a basin level body is currently under consideration of the Centre, said sources.
The move by the Centre followed pressure from the North Eastern States, mainly Assam, to act fast on the long-pending proposal to restructure Brahmaputra Board. Assam Chief Minister, Tarun Gogoi had on several occasions raised the issue with the Centre. Assam wants the Centre to either act on the proposal to set up NEWRA, which has become a non-starter because of objection by Arunachal Pradesh or expedite the long-pending move to revamp the Board by passing the Brahmaputra Board Amendment Bill.
Sources in the Ministry of Water Resources (MoWR) admitted that the working of Brahmaputra Board has come under a lot of criticism from the NES. The Bill to amend the Brahmaputra Board Act has been revived and the idea is to make the Board more responsive and better functioning. The budgetary allocation for Brahmaputra Board, has been earmarked at Rs 90 crore, marking a hike of from Rs 56 crore.
The funds have been earmarked for Majuli island protecton project and flood management works, said sources.
The North Eastern Region with its geographical area of 26.52 million hectares has a combined water resources potential of (Brahmaputra and Barak rivers) 586 BMC, which is among the highest of all river basins of the country.
Meanwhile, the Parliamentary Standing Committee attached to the MoWR has called for early implementation of the plan to restructure the Brahmaputra Board. The Committee desires to see speedy completion of the re-structuring process of the Board. However, it felt that there was no rationale in creating a nodal group on restructuring the Board since the legislative process is already under way for amendment of the Brahmaputra Board Act, 1980.
The original proposal to revamp the Board mooted in 2004 has been lying in the cold storage.