“Assam flood cannot be considered as a national disaster,” replied Minister of State for Jal Shakti and Social Justice and Empowerment Rattan Lala Kataria in reply to a question by Bodoland People’s Front (BPF) MP Biswajit Daimary at the Rajya Sabha on Monday.
The announcement by Kataria hence made it clear that even after wreaking havoc years after years and destroying properties and taking lives in large numbers, Assam flood will never attain the status of the national disaster.
“Under the various schemes of the State Disaster or National Disaster Response Fund, natural disasters like flood and others are not considered as national disasters,” Minister Rattan Lal further said.
The announcement made by the minister hence made it clear that no matter how much the various individuals and organisations from Assam put pressure on the Centre or rant slogans to declare Assam flood as a national disaster, but in reality, this is never going to happen.
However, the Jal Shakti minister did accept the fact that flood in Assam every year wreaks havoc, destroying properties worth in crores and bringing down loss in great numbers.
“Flood is a natural disaster and it is caused by various factors. Under the current schemes of the SDRF or the NDRF, floods cannot be declared or considered as a national disaster,” the minister further said.
“However, to compensate for the flood damages funds can be provided from the State Disaster Relief Fund. Moreover, funds can also be released from the National Disaster Relief Fund once the flood situation is reviewed by a central review committee,” added Rattan Lal.
He clearly stated that to mitigate flood and to carry flood relief operations is a state-government affair and the central government can only aid the state government in certain technical aspects.
It can be mentioned here hat the announcement made by the minister on Monday was sharply criticized by the people of Assam on Tuesday.
“The Centre and the Sarbananda Sonowal-led Assam government has cheated on us. They have failed to live up to the hopes and aspirations of the people of Assam and have broken the promised they made to us,” said a group of people in Barpeta.
“The Sonowal government showed us dreams of a floodless Assam. But that dream was shattered into pieces by the Central minister yesterday,” they further added.
They further said that irrespective of whosoever is in power at the Centre, Assam’s problems will never get the center-stage or the status of national disaster.
“When there are floods in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, the Prime Minister, and other senior central leaders do ariel surveys and declare flood packages in crores. But when there are floods in Assam, no one cares to visit the state,” bemoaned the group.