Guwahati: A novel approach towards managing floods and erosion in the river Brahmaputra and increase livelihood opportunities and income of local people was adopted at a meeting here Tuesday.
The method was discussed in the meeting attended by representatives of the Union Water Resources Ministry, Assam Water Resources Department, IIT-Guwahati, Assam Engineering College, the World Bank and the local riverine communities, an official release said.
Recurring floods and riverbank erosion in Brahmaputra and its tributaries have been posing a serious problem for Assam causing devastation to crops, people and materials every year hampering human development and economic growth, the meeting noted.
Union Water Resources Development Additional Secretary Amarjit Singh, who is here to develop specific initiatives that promote people-friendly development in the river basin, recommended use of vast water resources and sediments load to develop income generation opportunities for the people.
Focus could be laid on areas like eco-tourism, fisheries, high-value agriculture, inland water transport, trade, hydropower, and environment-friendly construction technologies, the release quoted Singh as saying.
Experts were unanimous that long-term planning is essential to people-friendly development of water resources and management of the erosion problem of Brahmaputra with emphasis on overall basin and state-wide river planning and to develop priorities based on social, cultural, economic and strategic needs.
In this regard, the meeting proposed to set up a Centre of Excellence in Assam to study and address the water resources needs of the northeast with expertise and funding from the World Bank, the release said.
Instead of the current piecemeal approach, an integrated, comprehensive and multi-sectoral basin-wide approach and planning will be adopted, the meeting decided.
It was also proposed to set up a centre to collect a comprehensive database, study and monitor river behaviour, address human resources, capacity building needs of the stakeholders and work on long-term river development plans.
Advocating use of extensive wetlands and thousands of water bodies in the state, Assam Additional Chief Secretary Davinder Kumar said, "We will begin scientific management of such water bodies to enhance the fisheries potential of Assam as despite the presence of large water bodies, Assam imports most of its fish requirements from other states."
An earlier World Bank study had identified several ways to realise economic and social opportunities in the Brahmaputra basin, the release said, adding, currently only about 32 per cent of Assam's farmers have irrigation facilities for more than one crop per year.