New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Centre and the Assam government to respond to a plea that the failure of effective flood management in the state was leading to large-scale loss of landmass due to soil erosion.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Altamas Kabir also issued notice to the Arunachal Pradesh government as the petitioner claimed that being a upper riparian state, it has not done much to combat the floods effectively.
The bench, also comprising justices S S Nijjar and P Chelameswar asked Attorney General G E Vahanvati to assist the court as the PIL alleged that the provisions of the Brahmaputra Board Act, 1980, enacted to deal with the problems of the Brahmaputra valley have not been implemented leading to the loss of 2,358 sq kms of landmass due to erosion.
The court posted the hearing of the petition, filed by management consultant and Assam state BJP President Prodyut Kumar Bora, after two weeks.
Bora said in his petition that the loss caused due to floods in any single year in Assam is to the tune of Rs 600 crore and even the Planning Commission has stated that poverty in the state was directly related to flood.
Bora`s counsel P Nirup Reddy submitted that the Majoli island in the state has alone lost 350 sq kms of landmass due to floods in the last 50 years and the Brahmaputra Act had never been implemented and has remained headless without a chairman since its inception.
The PIL sought directions to the Centre and two state governments for implementation of the 1980 law which provides for establishment of a board for planning, implementation of measures for the control of flood and bank erosion along with connected matters.
The petitioner said the legislation also provided that in any dispute among the board and the riparian states, the Centre will step in to resolve the dispute.
The PIL said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who is a Rajya Sabha MP from Assam, has in 2004 announced the establishment of NEWRA (North-Eastern Water Resources Authority) for tackling flood-related problems in north-eastern states but it could not take off due to lack of consensus among the riparian states, especially Arunachal Pradesh.