GUWAHATI, April 2 � A private member�s resolution on covering the State�s problem of erosion under the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF)/State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) was defeated in the State Assembly today. The resolution was moved by Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) members Phani Bhusan Choudhury, Keshab Mahanta and Bhupen Roy.
Moving the resolution, Phani Bhusan Choudhury said that so far flood, earthquake, tsunami, cyclone, etc., natural disasters are covered under the NDRF/SDRF but erosion is excluded.
Referring to a State Government memorandum, Choudhury said that a cumulative loss of Rs 36,000 crore was incurred by the State on the 2004 price index, since 1954, due to flood and erosion.
Keshab Mahanta said a Group of Ministers (GoM) has been formed by the Central Government with Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar as its head to look into this problem. DoNER Minister Pawan Singh Ghatowar and Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi are special invitees to the meeting of this GoM.
It is expected that the GoM will arrive at a favourable decision on the issue, he said.
Around 7.4 per cent of the total land area of Assam has been lost to erosion so far and erosion has left a major impact on the people and the economy of the State. As the erosion caused by the sea or the ocean is covered under the NDRF, there is no question as to why the erosion caused by rivers cannot be covered under it, he said.
Bhupen Roy also spoke on the issue. Emanuel Mushahary (BPF), Monoranjan Das and Ranjit Das (both BJP) and Aminul Islam (AIUDF) also supported the resolution.
Water Resources Minister Rajiv Lochan Pegu said Central Government provides fund to the State to check erosion. The State has sent 102 schemes to the Centre for the purpose. But schemes with estimates of up to Rs 7 crore are to be undertaken by the State on its own.
The State has lost 4.27 lakh hectares of land to erosion since 1954. It has hit 9 lakh people so far and 105 lakh families hit by this problem are still taking shelter in the temporary shelters.
The Chief Minister sent two letters to the Prime Minister on April 24, 2012 and on August 7, 2012 on the issue of covering erosion under the NDRF. Following these requests, the Prime Minister has formed the GoM with Sarad Pawar as its head.
It is expected that the GoM will adopt a resolution in favour of Assam and in case it fails, the State Government will move a resolution on the issue in the next session, he said and requested the members to withdraw the private member�s resolution.
The movers of the resolution then requested an assurance from the Government that it would move the resolution on April 5, the last date of the current session which has also been earmarked for moving resolutions.
But WRD Minister Pegu and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Nilamani Sen Deka insisted that since the matter has been seriously taken up by the Chief Minister the resolution should be withdrawn or it would send a wrong message. Finally the resolution was put on voice vote by the Deputy Speaker.