Assam water resources department is the nodal department for taking flood-control measures through construction of various flood and erosion control structures in the state including river bank embankments.
However, the two waves of flood that left the agrarian state in a state of devastation has raised questions about the functioning of the department, especially in respect of utilisation of huge amount of funds provided by both the Central government as well as the state government every year for flood control measures and flood-damage repair works.
There have been adverse reports in the media about the way of functioning of the department and reasons behind its failure to protect the people of Assam from flood devastation.
Moved by the immense plight of lakhs of flood-hit people in the state, Assam Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has instructed the government of Assam to constitute a three-member high-level inquiry committee to probe into the functioning of Assam water resources department that is responsible for prevention of flood in the state by constructing and maintaining flood-control infrastructure including river ban embankments.
The AHRC directive has been issued by a two-member Division Bench of the Commission comprising chairperson Justice (retired) Dr Aftab Hussain Saikia and member Jyoti Prasad Chaliha.
The AHRC directed Assam's chief secretary to constitute the three-member committee headed by an officer not below the rank of additional chief secretary and include at least one technical expert. The inquiry committee should submit report within three months from the day of its constitution.
The AHRC directive came in the wake of the commission taking suo moto congnizance of the plight of lakhs of people in Assam reeling under flood as reported in newspapers and failure of Assam water resources department to mitigate flood and save people of the state from flood related devastation though both Assam government and the Centre provided it with crores of Rupees for the purpose.
A spokesman of the AHRC informed that accusing the Assam water resources department of "wholesale violation of human right of most tragic dimension" in the recent devastating floods, the two-member division bench of the Commission (AHRC) asked for the inquiry into the functioning of Assam water resources department.
The AHRC expressed grave concern over the reported 'looting of several hundred crores of rupees' by a section of unscrupulous officials of the Assam water resources department which resulted in indescribable suffering, hardship and destitution of lakhs of people besides loss of well over a hundred lives and countless animal deaths.
"The committee will inquire into the entire gamut of issues related to the working of the department including technical and financial aspects in the worst flood-affected districts of Dhemaji, Lakhimpur, Dibrugarh, Sivasagar, Jorhat, Barpeta, Nalbari and Cachar districts during the years between 2005-06 and 2011-12, and would submit the report before the Commission within 12 weeks, " an AHRC source informed.