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Assam CM pledges to save land

- Gogoi says erosion of land more serious problem than floods

Guwahati, March 6: Chief minister Tarun Gogoi today said the state government would take measures to reclaim land lost in erosion.

Describing erosion as a more serious problem than floods, Gogoi emphasised the need for declaring erosion a natural calamity so that families who have lost their land because of riverbank erosion get government assistance under the Calamity Relief Fund (CRF).

Stressing the need for reclaiming eroded land, Gogoi said, “I know it may take a long time but we have to make a beginning somewhere. I will take up the matter with the Centre and try to find a solution by involving experts from abroad.”

While summing up the debate on the motion of thanks on the governor’s address in the state Assembly, Gogoi said erosion-affected people were the worst sufferers since they did not get any compensation from the government.

There is no provision for sanction of rehabilitation grant for erosion-affected people under State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) guidelines prepared by the Union ministry of home affairs.

According to government records, the state has lost more than four lakh hectares of land because of erosion since 1950. The erosion problem is rooted in the earthquake of 1950 that changed the course of the Brahmaputra and raised its bed. This is the major cause of floods and erosion in the state.

Gogoi said time had come to take up measures to effectively mitigate the erosion problem as there is huge population pressure on land.

According to government sources, around 8 lakh people have been left homeless because of erosion in the state.

The chief minister has called for a holistic approach towards solving the problem of erosion by adopting measures such as channelising and dredging of the Brahmaputra.

Gogoi said the Centre should set up some sort of an authority to deal with the problems of floods and erosion in the Northeast.

Gogoi said his government had proved that Assam can march ahead on the path of progress despite having the insurgency problem.

“It is unfair to compare Assam with those states which do not have militancy problem,” he said.

“We have started talks with the pro-talks faction of Ulfa because we cannot afford to wait for the Paresh Barua faction to come forward for talks. For Paresh Barua our doors are always open for talks,” Gogoi said.

“Our government has given maximum emphasis on vocational training and skill development to solve the unemployment problem of the state.”

“We are for employment-oriented education because economic development will create opportunities and our youths should be able to avail those opportunities,” the chief minister added.