NEW DELHI, Feb 7 � Dismayed over the delay in establishing the proposed North East Water Resources Authority (NEWRA), Chief Minister, Tarun Gogoi on Tuesday urged the Centre to revive the plans to revamp the ailing Brahmaputra Board.
After waiting in vain for the ambitious project to take off, which incidentally was Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh�s brainchild, the Chief Minister has all but given up. Gogoi, who called on the Prime Minister on Tuesday at his South Block Office suggested that the Centre should think in terms of restructuring the Brahmaputra Board, pending since long, in the face of floods and erosion posing grave threats to the State.
The proposal to set up NEWRA got stalled following stiff opposition from Arunachal Pradesh. The Ministry of Water Resources has since been trying to break the logjam and has also constituted an expert group to resolve the impasse. The team has since visited the State twice but Arunachal Pradesh Government is yet to change its mind.
�With Arunachal opposing NEWRA, how long can we wait. That is why I requested the Prime Minister to initiate measures to make the Brahmaputra Board vibrant and resilient so that it can take up effective measures to control floods especially erosion which has eaten away nearly 4.27 lakh hectares of land.
�The Prime Minister has assured me that he would take up the matter in right earnest with the Ministry of Water Resources,� he said.
Gogoi�s meeting with the Prime Minister was more of a pre-Budget discussion, when he apprised the Prime Minister about some of the pending projects in the State including railway project and the mega gas cracker venture. Gogoi had earlier in the day met Congress president, Sonia Gandhi.
The Chief Minister later met Railway Minister, Dinesh Trivedi and sought appointment with Union Finance Minister, Pranab Mukherjee.
The Chief Minister further briefed Dr Singh on the prevailing internal security situation and the threats posed by growing Maoist activities in the State. The Naxals are trying to fill in the vacuum created by surrender of so many militant groups, Gogoi later told this newspaper.
The Chief Minister had in the past waved the red flag over the activities of the Maoists alleging links between a section of the anti-dam protesters and the Maoists.
Gogoi further apprised the Prime Minister about the ongoing ULFA talks and reiterated the demand for effective rehabilitation of the surrendered militants.
�I requested the Prime Minister for funds to rehabilitate the surrendered militants numbering around 6,000 by providing skill development training so that they are gainfully and meaningfully employed. The Prime Minister agreed with what I proposed and assured me that he would take up the matter with the Planning Commission.�
About the mega gas cracker project, the Chief Minister admitted the venture has suffered delays. The project, which is monitored by the Prime Minister�s Office (PMO) has slipped deadlines and is now scheduled to be completed by July 2013.
The progress of Bogibeel rail bridge was also reviewed at the meeting, said Gogoi.
The Chief Minister urged the Prime Minister to provide adequate funds for the Development Councils and Autonomous Councils. �Though we have been providing the funds, it is not enough, so I have requested the Prime Minister to provide additional central assistance,� he said.
Earlier, Chief Minister Gogoi met UPA chairperson and Congress president, Sonia Gandhi and briefed her on the prevailing political situation in the State.
The Congress president also enquired about the high infant mortality rates in the State. The Chief Minister briefed her as the steps being initiated by the state Government to reduce infant mortality rate (IMR) and maternal mortality Rate (MMR).
�I apprised her about the steps taken by the government to identify the areas where the incidence of IMR and MMR is high, especially the riverine and tea garden areas, and to reduce the IMR and MMR rates,� Gogoi Said.
Meanwhile, Chief of Army Staff, General VK Singh called on the Chief Minister at Assam Bhavan here yesterday to present a set of coffee table book on North-east and Assam, brought out by the Army.