Water Resources dept set for major reform

R Dutta Choudhury
 GUWAHATI, Aug 17 – The Government of Assam is planning to go for a major reform of the Water Resources Department, while a move is also on to procure two or three dredgers, so that the beds of a few tributaries of the Brahmaputra can be dredged as an experimental basis in the immediate future.

Highly placed official sources told The Assam Tribune that under the present circumstances, when the State has been facing the fury of floods every year, the government felt it necessary to go for a reform of the Water Resources Department and opinions of national and international level experts would be sought in this regard.

The government is planning to float global tenders seeking bids from companies and experts and initial preparations for the same are being initiated.

Sources pointed out that under the present set-up, it is becoming almost impossible for the Water Resources Department to tackle the floods and erosion and only a major reform of the department with adequate funds can deal with the problems.

The government is also of the view that Bhutan and the neighbouring states must be taken on board while trying to control the floods in Assam. Sources pointed out that deforestation in Bhutan and the neighbouring states has resulted in siltation of the Brahmaputra and its tributaries and the water-carrying capacity of the rivers is diminishing every year.

“During his last visit to the State to get first-hand information about the fury of floods, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was also apprised of the State’s view in this regard and he appreciated the same and admitted the need for a comprehensive study of the problem,” sources added.

Sources said that around 91 breaches of the embankments were plugged before the onset of the rainy season this year and most of the newly plugged areas could withstand the force of two waves of floods. But, 26 new breaches took place this year in these two waves of floods and this resulted in worsening of the situation. Most of the embankments outlived their life span and there is a need for a major overhaul of the embankment network. But, over the years, only repair works are being carried out due to paucity of funds, sources admitted.

Sources revealed that the government is planning to procure two to three dredgers soon to try and dredge the beds of a few Brahmaputra tributaries on an experimental basis during the dry season. If the experiment turns out to be a success, the same can be done in the other tributaries as well. The government is also thinking of an idea of constructing reservoirs near one of two tributaries on an experimental basis, so that river waters can be stored there during the rainy season and the same can be used for providing drinking water or irrigation in the dry season. But, no concrete plan in this regard has yet been finalised.

Source : http://assamtribune.com