Update: Sonowal meets PM Modi, requests help for flood-affected Assam

New Delhi, July 18: Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal who is in New Delhi met Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the latter’s office in New Delhi on July 18, 2017. MPs Kamakhya Prasad Tasa, Rameswar Teli, Bijaya Chakraborty, Ramen Deka, RP Sarma and Pradan Baruah also took part in the meeting.

Earlier, PM Modi also took to Twitter to express solidarity with the people of the north-east and asserted that the entire nation stands by the people of the affected region.

He tweeted, “I am anguished by the situation arising due to floods in various parts of the Northeast. I share the pain of all those affected by floods. The entire nation stands with the people of Northeast during this time. Centre assures all possible help to normalise the situation.”

Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal requested the PM to launch ‘Prime Minister’s Special Programme for Flood and Erosion Control’ for developing road-cum-embankments stretching 5,000 km.

Chief Minister Sonowal drew the attention of the Prime Minister that most of the existing embankments of the State constructed way back in 1950s are vulnerable to breach due to perennial flood and river bank erosion. “If these 5000 km embankments are developed as road- cum-embankments, it will ensure regular maintenance and sustainability of the embankments,” he said. He, however, mentioned that the State lacks resources for developing road-cum- embankments and pleaded for an exclusive programme under Prime Minister’s supervision to act as deterrent to flood and erosion.

Sonowal also briefed Prime Minister Modi about the two waves of flood lashing the State affecting more that 25 lakh people across 29 districts prompting the State administration to set up 1,098 relief camps and distribution centres. “Though the current wave of flood has receded, 21 districts are still reeling under the impact of floods and 60 precious lives were lost,” he added.

Drawing the attention of the Prime Minister, Sonowal advocated for constitution of a high level inter-ministerial team headed by a Cabinet Minister to study the impact of floods and erosion and suggest permanent measures for mitigating the problem.

Sonowal also submitted a memorandum to the Prime Minister requesting him to direct the Ministry of Water Resources for early release of central share amounting to Rs. 1138 crore for completion of schemes undertaken under the Flood Management Programme (FMP) during the 11th and 12th Five Year Plans.

It may be noted that, under FMP, Government of Assam took up 100 and 41 schemes respectively during the 11th and 12th Five Year Plans. State share against these schemes has already been released, as the State is awaiting for the Central share.

Sonowal also requested for a New Industrial Policy to keep the investment momentum in the State going. The NEIIPP, 2007 had expired on 31st March, 2017 and presently there is no industrial policy in place. However, the State recorded investments of more than Rs.6,500 crore up to March, 2017. Keeping this in view, the Chief Minister requested Modi to take necessary steps for announcement of a new industrial policy to keep the business confidence on a high trajectory.

The Chief Minister also pleaded for revival of HPC’s two paper units at Jagiroad in Morigaon district and Panchgram in Hailakandi district. Stating that closure of these two mills had adversely affected the industrial climate in the State apart from delving a blow to the lakhs of bamboo farmers, Sonowal requested the Prime Minister to direct the Ministry of Heavy Industries to take steps for revival of these units at the earliest.

Chief Minister Sonowal also requested the Prime Minister for repatriation of Assam cadre IAS officers who are on Central deputation to Assam, as the State is facing severe shortage of IAS officers. At present around 35 officers are on deputation to the Central Government.

Prime Minister Modi assured Sonowal that the Centre would actively consider the demands of the State Government in right earnest.