'Accept river erosion as a natural calamity in Assam'

Centre's push to accept river erosion as a natural calamity in Assam

The 15th Finance Commission has recommended for accepting Assam's long problem of river erosion as a natural calamity, a push which can bring compensation for lakhs of people, who either became displaced or lost their agriculture land in erosion over the years.
 
The push has come when the state is witnessing this year's first wave of floods in which five people have died and over 3.72 lakh people have been affected so far. As many as 348 villages in six districts remained under the floodwater on Saturday (May 30).
 
Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, who visited the flood-hit Nalbari district on Saturday said that the 15th Finance Commission's recommendation came after the state government had written a letter with the same demand. 
 
"In response to the state government’s letter, the 15th Finance Commission accorded river erosion as a natural calamity and recommended for adequate compensation including rehabilitation under State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) and National Disaster Response Fund (SDRF). The Centre has asked the state to submit a detailed report incorporating the details of those victims in the state already rendered landless and homeless due to erosion. The state government is preparing a report. I hope this would ultimately bring to an end to the long-pending problem that the people of Assam have been going through owing to erosion," an official statement quoting Sonowal said.
 
According to an estimate by the state water resource department, more than 4 lakh square kilometer land has been eroded by the two major rivers--the Brahmaputra, the Barak and their tributaries since 1950. Although, Rs. 4 lakh is given as compensation to the family members of those dying in floods, but no compensation is allowed under the NDRF for erosion as it has not been accepted as a natural calamity.
 
The Congress governments in the past had also several times written to the Centre with a request to accept erosion as a natural calamity. The request, however, did not get the nod. 
 
The daily flood bulletin issued by Assam State Disaster Management Authority on Saturday said several areas in Hojai, Sonitpur, Dibrugarh and Majuli districts reported river erosion. More than 500 people have been affected and a relief camp was opened for those rendered homeless due to river erosion in eastern Assam's Dibrugarh district. 
 
Sonowal said the Centre had allocated Rs. 772 crore under SDRF for Assam, of which the state government already received Rs. 386 crore. 

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