We have in Assam an annual war with the flood caused by the river Brahmaputra. The flood is largely caused because the river has been expanding. Since 1970 this mighty main river of India has expanded double its width and in its wake it has consumed villages. It has almost consumed the Island of Majuli. It has thrown women and children on the streets. It has made farmers lose their land. It has made fish farmers lose their entire year’s production of fish. In 2011 it broke my heart to see the number of villages which had been destroyed, old people living in refugee camps without any clothes on their bodies and women barely being able to feed their children.
Sir, one of the major reasons for this annual flood is the amount of silt that is being deposited on river Brahmaputra by the upstream nations. The silt is causing the bed of Brahmaputra to rise and thereby expanding its width. Therefore, any flood management programme undertaken by the Union Government needs to have a silt management programme. The State Government of Assam has appealed to the Union Government to establish a Brahmaputra River Valley Authority which will take the views and opinions of all the States in Northeast India in order to have a trans-boundary flood management programme.
Sir, we are living in the age of science and technology but our flood management programmes belong to the 19th or 20th century. This is the century of the IT. This is the century of modern industrial design and yet we simply talk about embankments or merely solutions like geo-bags and geo-tubes. Sir, we need to have advanced flood forecasting systems. We need to have systematic dredging points. We need to have smart villages in addition to smart cities. Sir, we have to take into account the affected States in upstream parts of our country.
When hon. Minister of DONER, Gen. V.K. Singh came to Assam, he made a point that the Subansiri dam needs to be expedited but the concerns of the downstream States must be taken into view. At the same time, the hon. DONER Minister mentioned that such hydro power projects need to be undertaken with sensitivity. When Prime Minister went to Bhutan and inaugurated the huge hydro power projects in Bhutan, at that point no concerns related to the downstream impact of those hydro power projects were undertaken.
Sir, in my own district of Nagaon, there are villages in Samaguri, Rupahi, Dhing and Batadrava. There are many farmers who cultivate fish. Due to annual floods, their entire year’s production of fish flows away. Therefore, I would appeal to the Minister of Agriculture that when he talks about the flood insurance programme he must also have a specific insurance programme for farmers cultivating fish because they lose lakhs and crores of rupees in annual floods.
Sir, we must understand that the flood management programmes cannot be left to the State Governments. It needs a proactive role of the Union Government. We need a river basin management programme. We should not look at floods just from a State point of view. We will have to look at it as a river basin. If we want to have an effective solution for Brahmaputra, we should also have an international river basin understanding with China, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Myanmar. Sir, we need a systematic and holistic solution. Mere throwing away of money into different schemes will not help. This is a time when a new Government has come. It has to plan a long term vision. It has to have a long term roadmap. It cannot just come up with mere Budgets and mere financial resources.
We urge that this Government works in coordination with the State Governments and constitute the Brahmaputra River Valley Authority and plans a long term road map for its solution. ... Thank you.