The Telegraph
Friday , July 26 , 2013
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Dispur plans disaster solutions
- 4.25 lakh hectares of land lost to erosion in Assam, says minister

Guwahati, July 25: Assam has lost nearly 4.25 lakh hectare land to erosion, revenue and disaster management minister Prithibi Majhi said today.

The shrinking of land mass because of erosion and population growth has increased pressure on land in the state, the minister added.

Majhi said this while launching two disaster management projects taken up by the state government in collaboration with the Earth Institute of Columbia University, IIT Delhi, IIT Guwahati and the Bangalore-based Sustainable Urbanism International here.

“It is almost the size of a district,” Majhi said, referring to the land gobbled up by the rivers in the state. “So many families have lost their land and dwellings due to erosion,” he added, expressing concern over the problem.

The minister also said that erosion, which is a major problem in the state, is not included in the Centre’s list of disasters, based on which central grants are provided to states for disaster management projects.

“Chief minister Tarun Gogoi has taken up the matter with the Centre and sought inclusion of erosion in the list,” he added.

Majhi said to control erosion, the Brahmaputra will have to be tackled effectively, which would entail cooperation from Arunachal Pradesh and even China.

He emphasised putting in place a flood early warning system to reduce the damage caused by floods every year in the state. Majhi formally launched the two projects — Disaster Risk Reduction Including Climate Change Adaptation of Guwahati in the Context of Dynamic Growth and Flood and Erosion Risk Mitigation Planning in Assam — by inaugurating an inception workshop at the circuit house here this morning.

The workshop, organised by the Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA), was attended by professor Shiv Someshwar from the Earth Institute’s Centre on Globalisation and Sustainable Development and Tara Troy, an associate research scientist from Columbia Water Centre of Columbia University, among other experts.

The projects are the result of an MoU signed between the Assam State Disaster Management Authority and the Earth Institute in June 2012 during chief minister Tarun Gogoi’s visit to New York.

The project, titled Disaster Risk Reduction Including Climate Change Adaptation of Guwahati in the Context of Dynamic Growth, will seek to develop solutions for climate extremes-related disasters in Guwahati.

The second project will focus on climate-informed regional flood risk mitigation for the Brahmaputra. The key outputs of the project will be to create a database on flood impact in Assam, maps of flood-prone areas, to evaluate existing forecasts to improve flood forecasting and evaluate the ability to provide long-term forecasts of flooding potential, among others.

Both the projects will be completed in two years.

“The collaborative efforts initiated by ASDMA with leading academic institutions will cater to better understanding of disaster risk in the state, its neighbourhood and would, thereby, help to strengthen our preparedness by taking mitigation measures in advance,” an official source said.