New Delhi: As many as 86,536 people have become landless in Assam in the last five years due to soil erosion, the minister of state for water resources, social justice and empowerment, Rattan Lal Kataria, told parliament.
Of this lot, the largest chunk of those displaced by soil erosion – mainly triggered by the annual floods – belongs to the state’s Sonitpur district. The written information provided by the Union minister in response to an unstarred question by the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) chief and Lok Sabha MP, Badaruddin Ajmal, on July 4 stated that 27,111 people have become landless, as per government records.
While in Morigaon district the number of displaced has been officially recorded at 18,425, in Majuli island, as many as 10,500 people were noted as being displaced due to soil erosion. As per records, 9,337 have been mentioned as landless in Kamrup district. The lowest number of landless persons – two – has been stated to be in Charaideo district.
Quoting figures provided by the state’s Revenue and Disaster Management Department, the minister said the area of land eroded till date has been the highest in Majuli (4,0500 bigha) followed by Barpeta district (1,20,493 bigha), Kamrup (92,734 bigha, 5 katha, 71 lessa), Dhubri (87,036 bigha,9 katha, 43 lessa) and Dibrugarh (56186 bigha, 4 katha and 19 lessa).
The minister said even though flood management, including soil erosion, comes under the state’s list, the Central government – through its flood management programme (FMP) launched in the XI Plan to help the state government take up flood-related work – has since been providing financial assistance. He said: “A total of 141 projects costing Rs 2,383.11 crore were approved and included under FMP.”
“During the XI Plan, 100 projects with an estimated cost of Rs 996.14 crore were approved, while during the XII Plan, 41 projects with an estimated cost of Rs 1,386.97 crore were approved. Since the start of XI Plan, total central assistance released by the government of India to the state government of Assam under FMP till date is Rs 1,201.36 crore.”
The minister underlined that the central funds meant for anti-erosion protection schemes have been channelised to the state water resources department North Eastern Council, Non-Lapsable Central Pool of Resources, National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD), etc.