‘Centre meting out step-motherly treatment to Assam’

New Delhi, Sep 4 (IANS) With as many as 19 out of 32 districts in Assam reeling under floods, the state’s ruling Congress on Friday charged the Centre with meting out step-motherly treatment to the affected people by not disbursing much-required funds.

Addressing media persons here, Ripun Bora, vice-president of the Assam unit of the Congress, said that despite the state government submitting a memorandum, detailing the amount required to get over last year’s floods, the central government has not released any money till now.

“On November 29, 2014, visiting Assam for the first time since becoming prime minister, Narendra Modi sought details of funds required to deal with the devastating floods of June, July and August that year,” Bora said.

“Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi accordingly submitted a memorandum, seeking Rs.2,534.15 crore — Rs.1,915.15 crore for flood damages and Rs.619 crore for relief and rehabilitation of the affected people,” he stated.

Though union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who visited Assam soon after, said this amount would be released immediately, the Centre has released only Rs.380 crore till now, according to Bora.

Even then, he alleged, the Centre, instead of releasing the Rs.380 crore from the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF), asked the Assam government to adjust this from the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF).

According to Bora, the state government in August last year had urged the Centre to send a team of experts immediately to take stock of the situation arising out of the devastating floods.

“But that team came to Assam only in February this year when there was no sign of floods,” he said.

The Congress leader also said that, as per the directions of the BJP government at the Centre, the state government had submitted an estimated proposal for central assistance of Rs.6,700 crore for repairing and building embankments on various rivers in the state and to prevent erosion.

“Till today, not a single rupee of this has been disbursed,” he said.

According to Bora, for repair and construction of embankments, Rs.257 crore was allotted under the 11th Five-Year Plan and Rs.1,016 crore under the 12th Five-Year Plan — Rs. 1,273 crore in all.

“That money, too, has not been released by the central government,” he alleged.

“This shows how the Centre is meting out step-motherly treatment to the flood-affected people of Assam.”

Bora said that though union Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports Sarbananda Sonowal making an aerial survey of the flood-affected areas on Thursday was welcome, it was not enough.

“We would like to know what has Sonowal done to pressure the central government to release the much-required funds,” he said.

He said that, ahead of coming to power at the Centre, various BJP leaders, especially Sonowal, expressed dissatisfaction over the functioning of the Brahmaputra Board and wanted it to be replaced by the Northeastern Water Resources Authority.

“However, after coming to power, the BJP government agreed to the formation of a Northeast Brahmaputra River Valley Authority,” Bora said.

“The Assam government accordingly submitted the required proposal and documents. However, the Centre has not given its consent till now.”

The Assam Congress vice-president said Sonowal and other BJP leaders should show their responsibility to the people of Assam by ensuring that the Centre immediately disburses the earlier due funds and central assistance to meet the current critical situation.

Bora lambasted BJP MP from Assam Kamakhya Prasad Tasa for saying on Thursday that Chief Minister Gogoi should not go to the Centre “to beg for flood aid”.

“What does he mean by beg? This is our constitutional right and we are asserting this,” he said.

Gogoi last month met union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and sought Rs.500 crore as immediate central assistance to meet the current situation.

Following this, Minister of State for Development of the Northeastern Region Jitendra Singh, after visiting the flood-affected areas in Assam, announced the advance release of the second installment of the central share of the SDRF, amounting to Rs.207 crore.

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