Two women try to repair their house that was damaged in floods at Deeghal Ati village in Assamís Morigaon
district on Sunday. (AP)
Guwahati, July 9: The Assam Human Rights Commission (AHRC) today ordered an inquiry into alleged misappropriation of hundreds of crores of rupees by a section of water resources department officials, leading to untold hardships and misery for the flood-ravaged people of the state.
A division bench of the rights panel, comprising chairperson Aftab Hussain Saikia and member Jyoti Prasad Chaliha, passed the order today, directing Assam chief secretary N.K. Das to start an inquiry into the allegations by a three-member committee headed by an officer not below the rank of an additional chief secretary.
The commission stipulated that one of the committee members must be an officer of the rank of an additional director-general of police and another must be a technical expert from either IIT Guwahati or any engineering college or university of the state.
“The committee will examine and inquire into the entire gamut of operations of the water resources department, including technical and financial aspects, in the worst flood-affected districts of Dhemaji, Lakhimpur, Jorhat, Dibrugarh, Sivasagar, Barpeta, Nalbari and Cachar between the financial years 2005-06 and 2011-12,” the order said.
It also stated that the probe report should be furnished before the commission within 12 weeks.
The rights panel took up the matter after taking suo motu cognisance of “allegations and media reports” about misuse of several hundred of crores of rupees released by the Centre and the state governments between the financial years 2005-06 and 2011-12 to the water resources department for taking up anti-flood and anti-erosion measures by some of its officials.
This amount includes Rs 17,463.28 lakh received as assistance from National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Nabard), Rs 1,104.52 lakh released by North Eastern Council (NEC) and Rs 62,491.46 lakh released from the consolidated sinking fund (CSF) of the state government.
There were allegations that some officials of the department siphoned off a lion’s share of the funds and an infinitesimal amount was spent on implementing anti-flood and anti-erosion schemes. It is believed that if these schemes had been implemented properly, people could have got some respite from the fury of floods.
The commission said if the allegations were true, then it was a case of gross violation of human rights because the current spate of floods had caused largescale destruction in the state.
According to the State Disaster Management Authority, 108 lives were lost in the floods and 17 persons were reported missing till yesterday, while lakhs of people were rendered homeless and 2.55 lakh hectare of crop area was affected.