When nature proposes, we cannot dispose. This is the recurring lesson for humanity which I am reading once again as I see nature’s fury all around me from Silchar to Siphajhar, Kampur to Pathsala. Even Guwahati was not spared by torrential rains in the month of June. Whereas the State Government had put all its machinery into service, ably assisted by the Centre’s ‘ever-ready to assist’ approach, we could not prevent colossal damage to life and property. I have already instructed respective deputy commissioners to assess the damage and start distributing assistance to the victims at the earliest. But I know for sure that these are losses beyond the material aspects. Losing one’s dear ones; one’s home and hearth built with so much care; pet animals and farmland is a very subjective experience. My Government and the people of Assam will stand by those hit by floods, come what may. The Central Government has reassured us of all help to rebuild lives and livelihood of a significant percentage of our population. I am indebted to individuals and institutions who have come voluntarily to contribute whatever they can towards the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund. Among the donors were people from all walks of life, MLAs, industrialists, businessmen, self-employed and organisations, all bound by their love for humanity. This year, the rains arrived much earlier, and have been unrelenting. Despite preemptive measures, we just could not put up enough resistance to this wave of flood.
Around the same time when flood waters were ravaging Assam, I interacted with the deputy commissioners of all districts for two days. Spread over 27 hours, these interactive sessions enabled us to review the progress of the various Central and State schemes and their last-mile delivery. I was impressed to know the hard work the district administrations are putting in for people’s welfare. If at all one needed a proof of it, it came about during the flood relief measures undertaken by them. I know for sure that many of these DCs, depending upon the ground realities in their respective districts, are working almost 24×7 to assist relief and rescue measures. Yet, there are people who are dissatisfied with the fact that relief or the benefit of some schemes have not reached them. I understand the ground reality. Whereas I have asked the DCs to go all out to ensure that these schemes reach the beneficiaries, I also urge the people to have patience. I want to reassure them that no one will be left out.
Just prior to the time when floods hit Assam, we had a minor expansion of my Cabinet with young and talented representatives Mr Jayanata Mallabaruah and Ms Nandita Garlosa being inducted to take additional responsibilities. Cabinet expansion or for that matter portfolio allocation is not a matter of power and privilege but always about shouldering greater responsibilities of the people. In addition to being accountable to one’s own constituency, these ministers then become accountable to the people of the State. Rejig in portfolio is seen as a power equation by many, but I can tell you that in my Cabinet it is about responsibility. We were operating for a year with limited ministers, so it was natural for us to expand. Now, my Cabinet is a mixture of experience and youth although I must recall Benjamin Franklin, the famous American statesman, who said that “experience was not always about years and youth was not always without it”. I am sure that the entire Cabinet would continue to work towards the progress of the State and the welfare of the people without an eye on positions and privilege. In due course, we will go for another round of expansion to reduce additional responsibilities of some while asking others to take on the role.
In the third week of June, I had a chance to interact with corporate honchos of public and the private sectors as part of an idea to exchange views and explore opportunities. I was very happy to note that they share a common vision of a progressive and developed Assam. Whereas I and a few of my Cabinet colleagues spoke about our commitment to help them, they were all buoyant about the State’s potential. Although the investment figures that we came to know of are staggering, for me as a Chief Minister what was important was that there was optimism and hope regarding the growth story of our State.
My Government and the people of Assam will stand by those hit by floods, come what may. The Central Government has reassured us of all help to rebuild lives and livelihood of a significant percentage of our population. I am indebted to individuals and institutions who have come voluntarily to contribute whatever they can towards the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund.