Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sikkim demands inclusion in Brahmaputra Board

GANGTOK, November 15: State flood control and irrigation minister Dawcho Lepcha has called for the inclusion of Sikkim as a permanent member in the Brahmaputra Board, a statutory body under the Union Ministry of Water Resources.
The board had been set up in 1980 for the planning implementation of measures for the control of flood and bank erosion in Brahmaputra Valley and its jurisdiction includes both the Brahmaputra and Barak valleys and covers all the States of the North Eastern Region either in full or in part.
Sikkim should be considered for permanent membership along with other Northeastern States in the Brahmaputra Board, said the minister while inaugurating the 50th meeting of the Brahmaputra Board today here in Gangtok.
Mr. Lepcha said that though the board had been established by an Act of Parliament in 1980, Sikkim was included in the board only in 2005-06 as a special invitee. He said that several projects have been sanctioned for Sikkim for flood control and river training works and the projects have been successfully completed.
The minister pointed out to the gathering that Sikkim is landslide prone zone and the frequent occurrence of landslides should be addressed through protective walls and other measures which fall under the purview of the Union Ministry of Water Resources. River training works is very essential for Sikkim, he said.
The departmental secretary BK Pradhan said that 24 projects have been taken in Sikkim under the Brahmaputra Board out of which 10 projects have been completed. Other projects have the progress rate between seventy to eighty percent, he said.
The secretary pointed out that though the works have been completed, timely release of funds for payment of these works is an issue for Sikkim. Although projects have been completed and other projects are under process of completion, release of funds from the Brahmaputra Board has not been timely to make payments for the works completed, he said. He requested for release of funds for payments of works already completed and expressed his confidence that the fund concerns will be deliberated during the meeting.
Mr. Pradhan also urged the board to take proactive action for sanctioning the various proposals of Sikkim relating to river training and flood control measures.
Delegates from all Northeastern States including Sikkim along with North Bengal are participating in the meet, the second meet this year.
The Brahmaputra Board conducts two meeting annually and it is the first meeting in Sikkim. The meeting was chaired by Brahmaputra Board chairman Rajan Nair.
The Brahmaputra Board has been tasked to carry out surveys and investigations in the Brahmaputra Valley and prepare the Master Plan for control of floods, bank erosion and improvement of drainage in the valley. It is also mandated to prepare detailed project report and estimate in respect of the dams and other projects and schemes in the Master Plan as approved by the Central government and indicate in each case the cost attributable to different purposes or uses.

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