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Assam floods: Death toll rises to 23

K Anurag in Guwahati | September 06, 2008 17:25 IST

The death toll due to the devastating floods in Assam has risen to 23. Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi on Saturday announced Rs one lakh compensation for the flood-affected victims.

He claimed that the overall flood situation had improved due to a brief lull in the rains. River islands Majuli, Lakhimpur and Dhakuakhana and Rangiya subdivisions in the state were worst hit by the current wave of floods.

The floods have affected as many as 20.68 lakh people from 13 districts. The government has so far set up 279 relief camps that are now housing over 20,000 people.

According to Gogoi, the floods have breached 54 river embankments across the state, but the accompanying erosion of land poses an immediate threat. He informed that the perennial problem of erosion by rivers has eaten away 4.25 lakh hectares of land in the state since 1954, thereby displacing over 8 lakh people.

"We have highlighted the critical problem of erosion to Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh [Images] during his last visit to the state. It needs a permanent solution, for which we require resources and a specific plan," Gogoi said.

The state government has also requested the Indian Institute of Technology -- Guwahati to prepare a blue print to find a permanent solution to the problem of annual flooding.

Gogoi demanded that a national level coordination body should be constituted to tackle the flood problem, which was affecting more and more states in the country every year.

Gogoi lambasted the Opposition Asom Gana Parishad and the Bharatiya Janata Party for trying to use the 'misery of the people for political mileage'.

"It is very unfortunate that the AGP and BJP are raising a hue and cry over the Prime Minister's offer of Rs.1,000 crore for flood-hit Bihar. It must be acknowledged that the Bihar floods are much more devastating than the current wave of Assam floods. But the manner in which the AGP and BJP are trying to make an issue out of it, just to gain political mileage, exposes their narrowness and insensitivity towards untold human hardship and sufferings," Gogoi said.

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