The Assam government’s Water Resources Department has missed a deadline to repair river embankments in the state resulting in fear and panic among residents living in flood-prone areas ahead of the upcoming monsoon season.
In February, chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal had asked the department to complete all its repair work by April 30.
Assam has about 5,000 km of embankments which were built way back in the 1950s. Most of them, which have deteriorated over the years due to poor maintenance, are prone to breaches during the floods.
“We have heard about the chief minister’s instruction to the Water Resources Department to repair the embankments. However, nothing has changed here. The repair works are yet to begin,” said Ikramul Hussain of Kaladoba along the Indo-Bangladesh border in Dhubri district.
“A project to repair the embankments of Gangadhar river had started long time ago which is yet to complete. The contractors have just dumped sand which is not sufficient to prevent the floods,” he added.
Another villager said: “Every year we bear the brunt of floods and erosion. Large tracks of agricultural lands have already been eroded. Many farmers have lost their income source. The government spends large amounts of money every year in repairing embankments as well as to protect lands from erosion. But we become the victims every year.”
“We just want some permanent solution to the flood problem. Every year we have to vacate our houses and we are displaced for several days. It is difficult to rebuild the houses again. We lose people and our cattle besides losing large amounts of lands,” he added.
Meanwhile, state water resources minister Keshab Mahanta had recently claimed that 26 embankments which were breached during the monsoon season last year, have been repaired.
According to the Assam government, the state had suffered an estimated loss of Rs 2,939 crore, in the monsoon season last year affecting over 25 lakh people in 29 districts. The floods also damaged 1,012 roads.