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Blame game on

- Gogoi struggles to find solution to flash floods

Guwahati, June 27: Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi today waded through knee-deep water in the MLA Hostel area to survey the waterlogged city in the face of widespread criticism that his government had failed to fix the problem in 13 years.

Besides visiting inundated areas such as Bharalumukh, Rajgarh Road and MLA Hostel to inspect the flood situation, Gogoi directed chief secretary Jitesh Khosla and other senior officials to visit the affected areas and take up measures on a war footing to tackle the situation.

He asked additional chief secretary V.B. Pyarelal, principal secretary to chief minister M.G.V.K. Bhanu, commissioner & secretary (political) Prateek Hajela and deputy commissioner in-charge, Kamrup (metro), Rajiv Prakash Baruah, to monitor relief and rescue operations. He asked the revenue and disaster management department to press country boats into service to evacuate the marooned and asked Baruah to provide immediate gratuity relief to the affected people.

He conveyed his condolence to the families of the victims and said the government would pay adequate compensation to their next of kin.

Taking cue, the Kamrup (metro) administration promptly extended ex gratia of Rs 10,000 each to the victims’ families. It arranged for the last rites of the victims and free medical treatment for those who sustained minor and grievous injuries besides providing relief materials and food to people in the flood-hit areas, the CMO said.

Though Dispur promptly got into damage-control mode, public anger over the recurrent flash floods was best reflected in four-time Congress MLA and parliamentary secretary Chandan Sarkar’s subtle comment. “Now that water has entered the homes of MLAs and ministers, they (read government) will know how much the common man suffers because of waterlogging,” he told The Telegraph.

Most of the old-styled cottages in the MLA Hostel area were under water.

Sarkar said water entered the cottages around 1.30am. “Water has entered the hostel before too but the water level was never so high. Our daily chores went for a toss. The government should take adequate measures to ameliorate the problem of flash floods,” he added.

The Congress’s Tezpur MLA Rajen Borthakur said last night’s experience was nightmarish. “Garbage entered my cottage with floodwaters. Our government has to take responsibility,” he said.

Gogoi visited the area in the afternoon and waded through knee-deep water to minister Basanta Das’s house.

Pranjal Sarma of Lachit Nagar said artificial floods were not new to him but the severity of last night’s downpour had crippled their lives. “Knee-deep water, no power, no telephone network sent everything haywire. It will take at least two days for normality to return. The government has not done anything even to minimise the problem, forget a solution,” he said.

People wondered what the government has achieved by spending crores in cleaning drains. “Funds have been misused in the name of cleaning drains. Why doesn’t Gogoi come and tell us now that such floods are common in America?” one of them asked. Gogoi has often tried to dilute the problem by saying that flash floods were a routine affair.

The high court had earlier pulled up former Guwahati development department minister Himanta Biswa Sarma for his comment that people of Guwahati should try to live with floods. Sarma is no longer the GDD minister but his successor, Ajanta Neog, too appears clueless in finding a solution.