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India’s flood-fighting abilities do not hold water, finds auditor

Prime News, National (New Delhi), July 21:- As lakhs of people are still reeling under the damages caused by massive floods in Assam, concerns on flood management programmes across the country were raised in the parliament on Friday as Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) report was presented.

Besides huge delays in completion of flood management works due to non-approval of detailed project reports in time, the auditor also found non-functionality of flood forecasting systems in many places.
India’s total flood prone area, according to government data, exceeds 45,000 square kilometres, which is around 14 per cent of the total area of the country. On an average, 7,550 sq km area is affected every year resulting in a loss of more than Rs. 1,800 crore.

In recent floods in Asaam, more than 25 districts were affected leaving 60 people dead and displacing around 20 lakh others. The Kaziranga National Park was inundated and highways were cut. Over 70 animals found dead till now.

Though experts suggest advance preparedness and early warning system as a solution, the CAG report showed that the funds were not being released adequately by center to states. In many cases, the states are also not releasing the funds to executing agencies causing delay.

Between 2007-08 to 2015-16, Assam’s share from centre was Rs. 2043.19 crore but just Rs. 812.22 crore was released for flood management programmes. So, there was a shortfall of 60 per cent in central assistance. The report said that the state too did not release 84 per cent of the allocated budget which adversely affected the implementation of schemes. This problem is not limited to one state. CAG which sampled 206 flood management programmes projects said there was inordinate delay in 48 projects of four states in releasing first installment of central assistance to state government after the approval granted by empowered committee. Maximum 25 such cases were in Uttar Pradesh and 20 were in Bihar.

On the other hand, Central government did not recover the money amounting more than 600 crores from states which was given as loan and was not disbursed by states to executing agencies in stipulated time. The report listed a total of 66 such cases in seven states. (MR, Inputs: Agencies).

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