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Govt mulls autonomy for water hub

Guwahati, Feb. 6: The state government plans to make Assam Water Research and Management Institute an independent centre.

Water resources minister Rajib Lochan Pegu sought the Centre’s help in making the institute a “centre of excellence” during the inaugural session of the second Assam Water Conference here today.

“We have started the institute. We need support of the Centre for its development,” he said.

Organised by the state water resource department, Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi formally inaugurated the two-day conference themed — Sustainable development of water resources in the Northeast region.

Last year, the state government renamed Basistha-based River Research Station as Assam Water Research and Management Institute in a bid to expand its activities.

“In the long run, the institute will be an independent one which will cover all water-related sectors like irrigation and public health,” Haren Kakati, the secretary of state water resource department, said.

He said the institute was modelled on one in Bangladesh. “It will be an institute where experts will converge.”

The institute has set up a separate wing to preserve various water-related data like river water level and rainfall of the past 50 years, he added.

“These data are hard copies and hence they are prone to damage. That is why to preserve them we have set up the wing,” he said.

Experts from across the state and abroad are participating in the conference that will deliberate on ways to find a solution to water-related problems in Assam like flood and erosion.

Forty per cent land of the state is flood-prone while about 8,000 hectares of land are lost in erosion in every year.

“The Northeast is a unique storehouse of natural resources. Management of fresh water as a finite and exhaustible resource together with sector-wise water plans and programmes within the framework of national policy and mission is of paramount importance. Management of flood and erosion problem, irrigation, navigation, development of hydro power, management of ground water needs to be addressed in an integrated manner,” said Kakati.

An exhibition was also organised.

where various government departments and agencies like the Brahmaputra Board, state irrigation department, state agriculture department and state fishery department have put up stalls.