The Centre will soon release Rs 346 crore as an initial amount for handling the flood situation in Assam, which has so far affected 56 lakh people in the northeastern state, an official statement said on Wednesday.
Union Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat held a detailed discussion with Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal over the flood situation in the state through a video-conference, during which he conveyed the decision, it said.
Mr Sonowal apprised Shekhawat of the scale of devastation caused by the current wave of flood, along with erosion, in the state and the various steps taken by his government to manage the situation.
"To effectively manage the relief and rehabilitation works, the Union Jal Shakti Minister assured that an amount of Rs 346 crore will be released immediately from his ministry to the Assam government as the first installment under the Flood Management Programme (FMP)," the statement said.
Mr Shekhawat urged Mr Sonowal to send more proposals for sanctioning under the Disaster Risk Management Fund, which will enable the state government to receive more funds from the Centre, it added.
"The chief minister also appealed to the Union minister to allocate funds to the state government to strengthen 5,000 kms of embankments built since 1951 in the state, which will now be turned into road-cum-embankments," the statement said.
Accordingly, Mr Shekhawat urged the chief minister to send a letter stating the same so that the Union ministry can incorporate the proposals in next year''s plan, it said.
The opposition Congress and AIUDF have been attacking the BJP-led government at the Centre for allegedly neglecting the flood situation in the state by not releasing funds announced earlier to handle the perennial problem.
Mr Sonowal also urged Mr Shekhawat to take up the matter of floodwaters from Bhutan inundating large areas in Lower Assam every year, to which the minister responded favourably.
"The central government will soon hold discussions with the Bhutan government in this regard so that permanent solutions can be found," the CMO communique said.
During monsoon, the release of excess water from the dams in Bhutan leads to flooding in the downstream areas in all the Lower Assam districts, especially Barpeta, Nalbari and Kokrajhar.
Mr Shekhawat also stressed on the need to adopt latest technologies in flood management and assured all help from his ministry in finding lasting solutions to the problems of flood and erosion in the state, the statement added.
Water Resources Minister Keshab Mahanta, ASDMA Chief Executive Officer M S Manivannan and Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister Sanjay Lohia, along with other officials, were present during the video-conference.
According to the Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA), 115 people have lost their lives in floods and landslides so far this year -- 89 were killed in flood-related incidents and 26 died due to landslides.
The flood situation in Assam deteriorated with two more persons losing their lives, even as over 26 lakh people remained affected in 26 districts. Cumulatively, nearly 56 lakh people have been affected by the deluge across the state this year, the ASDMA said.