GUWAHATI, July 28 - The seven member inter-ministerial Central team, which came to Assam on July 25 with Union Home Ministry Joint Secretary V Shashank Shekhar as its head to make an on-the-spot study of the flood damage in the State, today described the flood devastation as �profound and large-scale�.
The team, which is visiting the State as per the Prime Minister�s directions, today called on Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal at the Janata Bhawan here. The team apprised the Chief Minister about the findings of their visit to the flood-affected districts.
Shashank Shekhar informed the Chief Minister that they personally saw the damage and the distress and migration of the flood-hit people and observed that the devastation was very profound and large-scale. He mentioned that the team was divided into two groups to visit the flood-hit districts of Brahmaputra and Barak valleys. The team members interacted with the affected people and respective district administration officials to find out the intensity of the damage caused by the flood, he said.
Appreciating the Central team�s visit in the midst of floods, Sonowal said most of the embankments, which were constructed to safeguard the rural economy and habitations, had already outlived their life. He further informed the team that a proposal was already submitted to the Government of India to take up �Prime Minister�s Special Programme for Flood and Erosion Control� for developing embankments of the State as road-cum-embankments stretching to a length of 5,000 km.
Suggesting the team to include the above proposal as one of its recommendations in its report, the Chief Minister said that once the 5,000-km-long embankment network is converted into road-cum-embankments, it would help rural people in terms of connectivity, besides benefiting rural economy and tourism. The initiative would also facilitate implementation of PMGSY to connect every village in the State, he said.
Citing survey reports of international organizations which revealed that the Brahmaputra poses the highest threat to its adjacent areas due to the river�s heavy undercurrent, the Chief Minister also suggested the team to incorporate the survey findings in their report so that a holistic approach involving both the Central and State governments could be taken up for intensifying flood protection measures.
Sonowal also referred to the issue of resettlement of people who became homeless and landless due to floods and urged the team to incorporate the issue in their report for release of funds by the Centre for smooth rehabilitation of the flood-hit people.
Considering the gravity of the situation and the intensity of flood damage in Assam, Shashank Shekhar informed the Chief Minister that the team would submit its report at the earliest to the Government of India so that funds for tackling the flood-related issues could be released expeditiously.
Earlier, the Central team met Chief Secretary VK Pipersenia in the presence of senior officials of various State government departments to brief him about their findings.