A girl wades through flood waters in the flood affected Morigaon district of Assam last month. Photo: Ritu Raj Konwar
Against the backdrop of frequent floods in Assam and allegations of its failures to deal with the situation, the Centre has decided to restructure the Brahmaputra Board and turn it into a body to develop and manage water resources of the entire Northeastern region.
The Water Resources Ministry has sought feedback of Chief Ministers of the seven northeastern States on the draft proposal to restructure the Board which came into being 32 years ago.
The Government may bring in a new legislation to transform the Brahmaputra Board into the Brahmaputra River Valley Authority and replace the current Brahmaputra Board 1980 Act.
“A review of the functioning of the Brahmaputra Board reveals that it did not have a mandate to provide a strong framework for the holistic development of the Brahmaputra river,” said the draft.
It also said the Board failed to build up competent engineering cadre to support its activities which remained largely concentrated in the state of Assam.
According to the draft, the proposed Authority will be mandated to coordinate development and management of water, land and related sources to maximise economic and social welfare without compromising the ecosystem of the Brahmaputra valley.
It will have two parts — a policy making apex council and an executive wing.
The Council will be headed by the Water Resources Minister as Chairman and include the Chief Ministers and Ministers for water resources of the NE states.
The Executive Board will be responsible for implementing the decisions of the council.
After the Authority is set up, the Centre will create a fund called the Brahmaputra Fund. The fund will be used to finance the water resources activities in the member states.
The Centre will be the custodian of the fund which will be controlled by the Authority, the draft said.