'Aasu for probe into Majuli funds misuse'

JORHAT: The All Assam Students' Union (Aasu) on Wednesday said there are massive irregularities in utilizing Centre's funds meant for Majuli's protection and that the government should conduct an immediate probe into it.

On Monday, members of the students' body discussed the matter with authorities of the Brahmaputra Board headed by chief engineer Dhruba Jyoti Buragohain. Dhruba assured the Aasu members of an investigation into the issue.

Aasu's Jorhat district president Biren Saikia said, "Despite repeated demands to the authorities concerned for conducting a probe into projects meant for Majuli's protection, they have turned a blind eye to us. That's why, we had gheraoed the Brahmaputra Board office in Majuli to put pressure on them."

He added that though the Centre has released cores of rupees for the island's protection in the last few years, the same could not be utilized properly due to the apathy of government officials and contractors. Saikia said, "The chief engineer of Brahmaputra Board assured us of conduct a probe on strengthening embankments and flood fighting schemes taken up during the last season. He also promised to stop the use of bamboo work as an immediate measure during floods to complete the ongoing bolder spar work by March 2012."

Aasu and several other organizations like the Majuli Suraksha Samannya Mancha and Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chhatra Parishad have been seeking completion of bolder spar work at the earliest and to include the Lower and South Majuli areas under the jurisdiction of central funds implementing agency. They had also taken up several protest programmes in support of their demands.

The Brahmaputra Board had taken up anti-erosion projects in Majuli since 2004-05. According to the official record of the board, it had spent Rs 56 crore till November 2008 and Rs 115 crore has been sanctioned for another project in September 2009. During the last one year, more than Rs 40 crore has been spent for anti-erosion measures.