DoNER for soil conservation scheme to tackle city flash floods
GUWAHATI, June 7 – The Union Ministry for Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) has asked the State’s Planning and Development (P&D) Department to re-prioritise a Rs 21.25 crore Soil Conservation Department scheme to control flash flood in Guwahati, for being funded under the Non-Lapsable Central Pool of Resources (NLCPR) during the 2010-11 fiscal.
The project, initially estimated to cost Rs 26.25 crore, was sent for the first time to the DoNER in 2004 with a plea for being funded under the NLCPR. The project failed to get the Inter-Ministerial NLCPR Committee’s approval in 2009-10 fiscal due to shortage of time.
The initial project was divided into two parts – Rs 5 crore sub-project for Basistha-Bahini Watershed and Rs 21.25 crore sub-project for RG Baruah Road-Bharalu Watershed. The first sub-project has secured sanction from the North Eastern Council (NEC) for funding in 2009-10 fiscal.
The implementation of this part of the project started in March last and its main thrust is on vegetative measures rather than the mechanical ones. The areas being covered under this part of the project include— Basistha near Panchakanya Ashram and the Narakasur Hill near Rupnagar (Kalapahar catchment). An amount of Rs 40 lakh has been spent on implementing this part of the project so far.
The main project has been awaiting approval of the DoNER for being funded since the 2004-05 fiscal due to confusion over its status and the funding agency. Initially named as the ‘Erosion Control for Managing Flash Flood in Guwahati City,’ the project was originally referred to the Ministry of Water Resources (MWR). But the MWR sent it back to the DoNER stating that it would ‘come under the purview of watershed management scheme.’
But the problem started when it came to light that there is no department under the Government of India (GoI), which deals with the urban area watershed management. Considering this, the project was again sent to the DoNER with a request for funding under the NLCPR.
The justification shown for inclusion of the project under the NLCPR is that it is prepared with an aim to creat necessary anti-erosion measures in and around Guwahati city, the capital city of Assam and the hub of the NE Region.
The shifting of the State’s capital from Shillong to Guwahati in the early 1970s resulted in rapid growth in the Guwahati population. And in 2,000, the city’s hill areas alone had a population of around 1, 70,000, which was almost equal to the size of the entire Guwahati population in 1970.
During the 1970s, there was no problem of landslip in the city hills, nor was the problem of flash flood known to the city dwellers. Since the problems of landslips and flash floods have become recurrent in the city in the rainy season nowadays, so there is the need to create permanent structures like boulder dams, RCC dams, water reservoirs, retaining walls, silt traps, water conservation structures etc on the city hills.
All these measures have been proposed with a view to arrest erosion and storm water runoff in the city hills once for all. Such measures would lead to recharge of the ground water table and the moisture regime in and around the city hills and thus boost up the process of natural regeneration of the vegetational cover, finally bringing an end to the city’s ordeals with landslips and flash flood.
Meanwhile, at the invitation of the P&D Department, the Soil Conservation Department had made a presentation on the technical feasibility of the second part of the project.
It needs mention here that before preparing the project, the Soil Conservation Department worked on two pilot projects at a cost of Rs 35.52 lakh for checking erosion and slowing down the pace of storm water runoff on the Sarania Gandhi Mandap Hill with the provisions of anti-erosion and water harvesting structures.
The two projects proved very effective in checking erosion and arresting considerably the storm water runoff on the Sarania Hill, claimed the Soil Conservation Department sources. Source: Assam Tribune