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Gogoi meets PM over river water issue



Guwahati/New Delhi, February 7 (IANS): With the Arunachal Pradesh government opposing setting up of a board to tackle riparian issues, Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the national capital and urged him to take steps for constituting a North East Water Resources Authority (NEWRA). The chief minister also requested Manmohan Singh to revamp and restructure the Brahmaputra Board so that adequate measures can be taken to control the problems of flood and erosion in Assam.
The Assam government had suggested setting up of NEWRA as it wanted all mega hydel projects in the upper reaches of the Brahmaputra river in Arunachal Pradesh to be brought under one authority. However, Arunachal Pradesh objected to the proposal, saying that constituting NEWRA would have serious socio-economic implications for the state. The Arunachal Pradesh government stated that setting up the authority in the way it is conceived would create complications rather than help tapping hydropower.
"With Arunachal Pradesh opposing NEWRA, how long can we wait? That is why I requested the prime minister to initiate measures to make the Brahmaputra Board vibrant and resilient. So that it can take up effective measures to control floods and especially erosion which has eaten up nearly 4 lakh hectares of land in Assam, rendering scores of people homeless," said Gogoi. The prime minister assured that he would take up the matter with the ministry of water resources (MoWR), Gogoi added.
The MoWR, which has been mandated to handle the setting up of NEWRA and revamp of the Brahmaputra Board, had set up a nodal group in October last year to look into all aspects of restructuring of the board with a wider mandate as a basin-level authority. However, despite five rounds of meetings so far, the contentious issue of constituting NEWRA involving the two states has not been clinched.

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