Court asks Brahmaputra Board for plan to check Majuli erosion

Guwahati, May 7 (IANS) The Gauhati High Court has directed the Brahmaputra Board to submit a report within next three months on how it plans to secure the lives and property of people on Majuli island from the devastating annual floods and erosion, a petitioner said Tuesday.

The direction of the court came after the board’s chairman appeared before the court Monday and admitted its failure to stop the annual floods and erosion problems, said Majuli resident Manoj Bora, on whose 2010 PIL (public interest litigation) the court order came.

The Brahmaputra Board, which was set up by the central government under an act of parliament, came into existence in 1982 and was entrusted with the responsibility of planning and integrated implementation of measures for the control of floods and bank erosion in the Brahmaputra Valley and for matters connected therewith.

“The Board had prepared a master plan in 2003, divided into four phases, to control the floods and erosion problems in the river island and received fund worth over Rs.100 crore for the purpose,” said Bora.

In his PIL, Bora contended that though the central government had assigned the board the task of carrying out anti-erosion projects on the island in 2003, the latter had not taken adequate steps to check erosion, while most of the projects undertaken by the board have remained incomplete.

“After having 26 hearings over the PIL since 2010, the court had asked the chairman of the board for personal appearance in the court yesterday (Monday) and instructed him to submit a report by Aug 27 this year detailing on how the Board plans to check erosion and floods in Majuli,” said Bora.

The court had earlier directed the central government to wake up to the potential problems that residents of Majuli island have been facing during the monsoon season and asked the board to ascertain how much money was required for rehabilitation of victims in the event of a big flood on the island.

The river island, which spread across an area of about 1,244 square km in 1950, had now been reduced to a mere 650 sq km due to severe erosion. It is believed that Majuli had been witnessing large scale erosion and floods since 1950, when an earthquake measuring over 8.6 on the Richter scale changed the course of the Brahmaputra.

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