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Dispur takes stock of Majuli damage

Probe into relief delays

Guwahati/Jorhat, July 12: The Assam Human Rights Commission took suo motu cognisance of inadequate relief to flood victims in Majuli on a day when a seven-year-old girl was swept away by the swirling waters of the Brahmaputra on the flood-hit island today.

The rights panel passed the order after flood-affected villagers protested against distribution of inadequate relief materials yesterday.

The commission also directed Dispur to conduct an inquiry into the matter.

Taking note of media reports, a division bench of the AHRC, comprising chairperson Aftab Hussain Saikia and member Tarun Phookan, has also expressed concern over the fact that the people marooned by floods were half-starved because of distribution of insufficient relief materials.

According to residents of Kamjan village in Majuli, apart from 600 grams of rice and 100 grams of pulses per family, which was given to them nearly a week ago, they are yet to get any other relief materials from the local administration.

The aggrieved villagers also staged a sit-in in front of the Bongaon panchayat office yesterday.

More than one lakh people were rendered homeless as the floodwaters wreaked havoc in the state.

Property worth several lakhs of rupees was also washed away.

The commission said it was deeply perturbed by the 200-metre breach in the 37km-embankment in the Sonowal-Kachari sector on the night of June 27, rendering nearly 1,30,000 people homeless, besides washing away almost all their household belongings and thousands of cattle.

“Equally alarming has been the sweeping away of the three stone spurs at Salmora, which were constructed at a cost of Rs 31 crore,” the rights panel said.

Seven-year-old Rubi Bora had gone to the riverbank along with two of her friends to fetch water, when she was swept away this afternoon at Salmora, one of the worst affected villages in Majuli. Her body is yet to be recovered.

A sub-divisional administration official said the water level in the Brahmaputra has risen today following rain in the last two days.

The river is flowing almost a metre above the danger level in Jorhat district.

“If there is heavy rain in the next few days in the Arunachal Pradesh hills, the water level will rise further, inundating vast areas both in Jorhat district, including Majuli,” he said.

Yesterday, the river was flowing nearly half-a-metre above the danger level in Jorhat.

The AHRC division bench also expressed concern at Majuli’s fast shrinking land mass because of floods and erosion, which posed a threat to the very existence of the island, considered the hub of Assamese culture and a potential eco-tourism hotspot.

The division bench issued a notice to Assam chief secretary N.K. Das to institute an inquiry by an officer of the rank of an additional chief secretary and a technical expert, into the anomalies in relief and rehabilitation.

The inquiry committee will also examine the measures taken or proposed to be taken to control flood and erosion, the amount of money sanctioned and spent in anti-flood and anti-erosion work, particularly in repairing and maintenance of the embankment and the stone spurs, which were washed away.

The commission also asked the chief secretary to list the names of officers and engineers of the Brahmputra Board and water resources department who were posted in Majuli during the past five years.

“The inquiry report and other information sought by the commission must be sent within 90 days of receipt of this notice,” the order said.

Cachar floods: The Cachar district administration yesterday submitted a report on the damage caused by the floods in the district last month to a three-member committee of the Centre, headed by G.V.V. Sarma, joint secretary in the Union home ministry. Deputy commissioner H.K. Dev Mahanta presented the report last night, seeking Rs 65 crore as compensation.

The report said the floods had swamped 353 revenue villages in the district and the standing ahu crop and sali seedlings in 16,402 hectares sustained extensive damage. The toll stood at five and ex gratia grant of Rs 10,000 each to the next of the kin of the deceased was also disbursed.

Altogether, 337 heads of cattle were washed away by the floods.

The district administration has sought Rs 2.52 crore to repair 37 PWD roads and Rs 5.77 crore to repair the national highways.

According to official sources here, the highest amount of compensation, Rs 49 crore, was sought from the Centre to repair the 37 embankments around the Barak river and its 20 tributaries.


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