Centre rejects Gogoi claim, says 'substantial funds' released

The Centre on Monday contested Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi's statement that not a single penny was given to his state for flood relief and management, saying "substantial funds" had been released or sanctioned and the onus of executing plans and creating assets with the state government which apparently had not been done.

PTI| Updated: Feb 16, 2015, 21:47 PM IST

New Delhi: The Centre on Monday contested Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi's statement that not a single penny was given to his state for flood relief and management, saying "substantial funds" had been released or sanctioned and the onus of executing plans and creating assets with the state government which apparently had not been done.

The Centre countered Gogoi's argument by listing the steps taken by it in the wake of last year's floods and the funds sanctioned or released at various stages under various heads to the state.

Referring to Gogoi's statement, sources in the central government said today, "Nothing can be more far from the truth."

The central government has provided substantial assistance to the state government for flood relief and rehabilitation measures, they said.

According to the sources, the central government has provided short term as well as long term assistance to the state to deal with the flood problem.

"While substantial funds have been sanctioned/released by the central government, the onus of careful execution and asset creation lies with the state government," they said.

Giving details, the sources said ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh each was sanctioned to the next of kin in each death case and Rs 50,000 for every serious injury case was approved by the Prime Minister under the Prime Minister's National Relief Fund (PMNRF) for the floods in Assam in July and August, 2014.

Thus Rs 170 lakh was released to the state government in respect of 85 death cases "but it is not yet known whether the state government has disbursed this amount to the needy beneficiaries. The Utilization Certificates (UCs) for all the 85 PMNRF cases are yet to be received", the sources said.

Further, considering the floods in July and August last year in Assam, the central government had deputed a high level Inter-Ministerial Team to visit flood-affected areas of the state, they said adding the team is expected to submit its report soon.

During the current financial year, the central government has also released Rs 288 crore as on date, including the Rs 144 crore released on October 1, last year, the sources said.

"But state government has apparently not released this amount under SDRF to the affected districts. It has not even submitted UCs for the earlier releases.

"It is apparent that the state government has not utilised even the central funds available with it under State Disaster Relief Fund (SDRF)," they said.

Being a northeast state, the central government contributes 90 per cent share to SDRF of Assam, while the state government has to contribute 10 per cent fund. Under the long term efforts for flood management, the

sources said the central government set up the Brahmaputra Board for assisting the northeastern states to deal with flood and erosion challenges.

After rigorous technical studies, the Brahmaputra Board prepared 57 master plans for the affected areas. These plans have been shared by the Board with the government of Assam.

"But the state government has not fully implemented these important plans yet," the sources said.

"The central government, in fact, has recognised the recurrent floods and erosion problem in Assam as an issue of national importance. Considering the utility of integrated River Basin Management approach, the central government has taken up the restructuring of the Brahmaputra Board as Brahmaputra River Basin Authority (BRBA) with the state governments," they said.

The central government also provided substantial financial assistance to the state government through various Plan schemes to manage the flood problem.

Thus under the "Flood Management Programme", the central government has provided central assistance during the XI Plan (2007-12) and XII Plan (2012-17) for taking up river management, flood control, anti-erosion, drainage development, flood proofing, restoration of damaged flood management works and anti-sea erosion works.

Under the "Flood Management Programme", 90 per cent of the project cost is provided as grant in aid from the central government. Thus 141 projects/schemes of Assam were approved under the "Flood Management Programme" till now, the sources said.

Of these, 100 flood management works/schemes were approved during 2007-12 and Rs 745 crore (central share) was released to the state government.

During the XII Plan, additional 41 flood management works/ schemes of Assam, amounting to Rs 1387 crore, have been approved by the Inter Ministerial Committee for funding.

The central government has also considered the concept note on 'Assam Flood, Erosion and River Management Modernisation Project' prepared by government of Assam. This was examined by the Ministry of Water Resource (MoWR) in consultation with Central Water Commission (CWC).

The CWC held a special meeting with the World Bank officials to discuss the 'Assam Flood, Erosion and River Management Modernization Project' on April 30 last year. The officials of government of Assam also participated in the meeting.

Thus this proposal was qualitatively improved through detailed examination and discussions at the level of Chairman CWC. The proposal has been approved in-principle' by the MoWR in September 2014.

The Ministry of Development of North East Region (DONER) has also concurred with this proposal. The state government now needs to pursue the proposal for World Bank funding with the NITI Aayog for investment clearance and DEA for further examination.