NEW DELHI, April 17 - The move to restructure the ailing Brahmaputra Board is caught in legal wrangles, with the Ministry of Water Resources now opting to make changes within the ambit of the Brahmaputra Board Act itself to make it more efficient, while trying to evolve a consensus on the issue.
The proposal to create North East Water Resources Authority (NEWRA), brainchild of former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, has been given a quiet burial by the Centre following stiff opposition from the Arunachal Pradesh government, sources said.
Highly placed sources disclosed that it was initially felt that an �Authority�, titled �North-east and Brahmaputra River Rejuvenation Authority (NEBRRA) may be created to replace the Board. However, it was later thought that a �Corporation� may be set up in place of the Board, with the title �Brahmaputra Barak North-East River Development Corporation (BBNERDC)�.
The Ministry was working closely with all stakeholders, such as the eight NE States, West Bengal as well as the Central ministries, to effect necessary changes. The process of creating a different organisation, especially to replace an organisation set under an Act of the Parliament requires quite a few steps, provided all the stakeholders come to a consensus, said sources.
The Brahmaputra Board is a statutory authority set up under Section(4) of the Brahmaputra Act, 1980. Its main function is planning and implementation of measures for the control of flood and bank erosion in the Brahmaputra valley. The Ministry of Water Resources has been considering restructuring of the Board since 2004.
Sources admitted that the Ministry needed time to make the changes for setting up a new organisation in place of the existing one, which will involve substantial ground work. Meanwhile, it was felt by this Ministry that an attempt can also be made to make the Board more effective and efficient within the ambit of the existing Act itself.
According to sources, currently the Board is Guwahati-centric and 95 per cent of the works that are taken up by the Brahmaputra Board relate to Assam. The immediate change being contemplated included shifting of surplus staff to other places.
At least 45 employees of the Board have been posted to other places. The problem with the Brahmaputra Board is that there were no senior-level officers in it and the initial plan was to fill up the post from the Central Water Commission (CWC) staff. �We�ll make efforts to see to it that the person should be posted within the State. Now, we have advertised the same and the post is likely to be filled in the next couple of months,� said sources.
Keeping in view the functional need of the Brahmaputra Board and to revamp the existing structure to make it more efficient, the Board is working on a plan to create four new posts of Deputy Chief Engineers, while the number of posts in Junior Engineer (JE) grade may be reduced and the number of posts of Assistant Engineers (AE), which is the next higher level of JE and also the number of posts of Assistant Executive Engineers, which is the next higher level of AE, may be increased.
In order to infuse new talent and cope with the need of immediate manpower, it was felt that there could also be an element of direct entry at the Assistant Engineer level. It was suggested that at least 50 per cent of the posts in the AE level could be recruited through Direct Recruitment basis, while the remaining 50 per cent posts could be filled up through promotion of JEs, said sources, referring to plan for restructuring the Board.