CAG expose on flood woes

THE report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India with regard to ruling parties in New Delhi neglecting the flood situation in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur, could be construed as yet another testimony about successive Union governments not very much concerned with issues afflicting the north east region. The CAG coming out with the damning report about the Central government not releasing the entire funds meant to fight natural calamities in between April 2007 and March 2016 also tantamount to gross violation of constitutional rights of citizens of the region, who have for long also been subjected to racial abuse and profiling in major cities in mainland India. The same report, at a time when several parts of the region, including Meghalaya and Nagaland are being lashed with heavy rains and facing flash floods and landslides, could also be inferred as confirmation of the general perception by people of the north east region that the Centre seldom attaches any importance to the region unless the issue concerns national security. Out of the three states, flood problem has been a chronic and annual issue for Assam but the suffering that the natural disaster caused to Assam is unlikely to last for long as was evident from past experience when the state, having the best developmental infrastructure and all means of transportation compared to other states of the region, recovered quickly. While it would not be prudent to comment on the flood situation in Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur undoubtedly faced the worst flood scenario ever since cyclone Mora hit the state.

For underdeveloped economies, the CAG report stating that Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur received 60 per cent, 78 per cent and eight per cent less flood assistance respectively from the Centre between April 2007 and March 2016 is a cause for serious concern, especially for Manipur which has been depending on sops handed out by the Union government for various activities and aspects. The report linking insufficient flow of funds with slackness in implementing various schemes to fight floods in the region will also suffice that the gravity of flash floods triggered by breaching of river banks and submergence of houses and agricultural land is most widespread and devastating this year compared to the past two decades. Unlike past flooding, official report put the flood-related death toll in the state to 12 and loss of over Rs 130 crore properties thereby implying that it is the worst natural disaster experienced so far. Subsequent to declaration of the situation as state calamity, followed by the administration setting up 76 relief camps to help 30,000 flood affected people in different parts of the valley, the state government has been expecting financial assistance from the Centre to tide over the crisis. It may sound ironic but it remains a fact, as per the CAG report, that curtailment of funds for flood fighting projects was most rampant when the Congress-led UPA government was at the centre and the said three NE states were ruled by Congress party. Hopefully, existence of BJP-headed governments at the Centre and in Manipur will not witness repetition of such ill-treatment but will help the new government in the state to implement various projects being envisioned to ease flood woes in the future.

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