GUWAHATI, July 20 - The Assam Government will seek special package from the Centre to restore the damages caused by flood and erosion after the flood water recedes, said Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal. He also said that Assam witnessed a spike in the number of COVID-19 positive cases because the number of people tested increased sharply.
Talking to The Assam Tribune, the Chief Minister admitted that Assam is facing multiple challenges like outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic, floods, erosion, landslides, storms , swine flu, Baghjan fire etc at the same time, which posed major challenges before the Government. But at the same time, he said, �I am confident that with the cooperation of all sections of people, we shall overcome the challenges.�
Sonowal admitted that natural calamities created severe hardship to the people and according to records available, over a hundred persons already lost their lives in flood and landslides, while, more than 70 lakh people have been affected. A large number of people are taking shelter in relief camps. He said that he is personally monitoring the relief operations to the affected people and all officers have been directed to ensure the quality of the food provided to the affected people. The concerned officers have been directed to ensure that medical assistance is provided to the affected people, while, veterinary care is also provided to animals. Protecting the wild animals in the National Parks and sanctuaries has also become a major challenge, he said.
The Chief Minister said that there is no shortage of fund to provide relief to the affected people. But at the same time, he said that flood and erosion severely affected the communication network in the State as roads including National and State Highways have been damaged. Paddy fields, houses etc have also been damaged all over the State. He admitted that it would not be possible for the State Government to repair the damages with its own funds and that is why, immediately after flood water level comes down, the Government would carry out a proper survey to assess the damages and seek special assistance from the Centre. He said that the Prime Minister has already assured to extend all possible help to the State Government and hoped that the State would get adequate funds from the Centre to repair the damages.
�The Prime Minister, Union Home Minister and the Minister in charge of the Department for Development of the North East Region are in constant touch with us and all of them have assured all necessary help,� he added.
Sonowal said that apart from Government officers, MPs, MLAs and the elected representatives of the local bodies are also working among the flood affected people.
Replying to a question on the failure of the Government to repair the damaged embankments on time, Sonowal admitted that the lockdown because of COVID-19 pandemic slowed down the process, while, the State also received early rainfall this year, which also affected the works. Moreover, a few flood control structures constructed by the soil conservation department and the local bodies could not withstand the fury of floods, he admitted.
The Chief Minister also claimed that Assam has seen a spike in the number of COVID-19 positive cases because of the fact that the number of people tested has increased. �We have boosted our testing facilities, which helped us to detect more people infected by the virus. The health care facilities have also been augmented to deal with the situation,� he added.