Flood control activities in Assam started after announcement of National Policy for Flood in 1954 by the Govt. of India. Though there was short term and long term measures in National Flood Policy of 1954, to get the immediate relief to the flood ravaged state, construction of embankments as short term measures had been widely adopted because this could be constructed quickly with local resources and abundant manpower to protect large area with comparatively smaller outlays.
The Department performed works under the name Public Works Deptt. (PWD) till 1970 when the Deptt. along with Irrigation Deptt. bifurcated from the parent Deptt. i.e. PWD vide Notification No. ABP 135 / 70 / 10 Dt. 18-09-1970. Again in the year 1974 the Irrigation Deptt. was separated out from the Flood Control Deptt vide Notification No. ABP 74 / 73 / Pt / 17 Dt. 22-01-1974. Subsequently, the Deptt. was renamed as Water Resources Deptt. in the year 2002 vide Notification No. AR 21 / 2002 / 4 Dt. 01-11-2002.
During post independence period, Assam faced major floods in 1954, 1962, 1972, 1977, 1984, 1988, 1998, 2002 and 2004. Almost every year three to four waves of flood ravage the flood prone areas of Assam. Average annual loss due to flood in Assam is to the tune of Rs. 200.00 Crores and particularly in 1998, the loss suffered was about Rs. 500.00 Crores and during the year 2004 it was about Rs. 771.00 Crores.
After the unprecedented floods in the country in 1954, the Govt. of India announced a National Policy on Floods comprising three phases viz.-
The flood control activities in Assam started mainly after the announcement of National Water Policy formulated in September 1954. Subsequently, “outlined plan for flood control in Assam” along with various comprehensive plans were prepared and the priority areas, which need immediate and urgent attention were identified.