Assam Floods: The shrugged off recurring disaster

The Northeastern parts of India have been infamous for the excess of the waterfall they experience each year. India Meteorological Department’s data shows that while Sikkim, Meghalaya, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh are the regions in the Northeast that face the most rainfall, it is Assam that suffers the aftermath year after year. The floods of […] The post Assam Floods: The shrugged off recurring disaster appeared first on The Sikkim Chronicle - Sikkim News.

Assam Floods: The shrugged off recurring disaster

The Northeastern parts of India have been infamous for the excess of the waterfall they experience each year. India Meteorological Department’s data shows that while Sikkim, Meghalaya, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh are the regions in the Northeast that face the most rainfall, it is Assam that suffers the aftermath year after year.

The floods of 1988, 1998 and 2004 were the worst that hit Assam if one considered the impact on human life, not to mention the wildlife in Assam that face the disaster. 2004 floods, according to the Indian Express’ report, affected 12.4 million people and claimed 251 lives. The current 2020 wave of floods have affected 57 lakh people and claimed 107 lives so far. The number of deaths due to the flood reached 107 in Assam on Wednesday after three more people died due to drowning.

A bulletin by Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA) informed that three people died at Barpeta, Kokrajhar and Kamrup, one person each from the given areas. Additionally, apart from the deaths due to drowning, 26 more people died in landslides induced by heavy rains in the state since May. 

Around 1.65 million people in 1,536 villages in 21 of the Assam’s 33 districts are still affected by floods, as per the ASDMA bulletin. Over 37,000 people displaced by flooding are still taking shelter in 208 relief camps. Also, 93,000 hectares of crop area has been rendered useless. 

According to a Central Water Commission (CWC) bulletin, Brahmaputra, Dhansiri, Jia Bharali and Kopili rivers continued to flow over the danger mark at several places. According to CWC and ASDMA reports, Goalpara district is the worst-hit with over 419 hundred thousand people affected, after that Morigaon district with more than 263 hundred thousand people and then South Salmara district with around 250 hundred thousand people have been hit. 

Sourced from Hindustan Times: Chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal visited the flood-hit areas in the state on Wednesday. He inspected an embankment on Charikoria river in Lakhimpur’s Dhakuakhana. Sonowal also visited the Jiadhal river site, a tributary of the Brahmaputra, where floods have caused huge damage.

Assam is hit year after year with floods and these cries go unheard to some extent, apart from the usual monsoons, the river Brahmaputra and sedimentation it brings play a major factor in the floods. 

“This is only the first major flood wave this season. We are expected to experience two to three more flood waves until the end of the rainy season, which will last till mid-October.

In terms of total annual scale and effect of flooding, we had seen worse floods in 1988, 1998, 2004 and 2012. But if a few more large flood waves hit the state in the next two-and-a-half months, this year could well be recorded as one of the most severe flood years,” said Partha J Das, who heads the Water, Climate & Hazard Division of Guwahati-based Aaranyak.

The vast amount of sediment comes from Tibet, where the river originates with addition from Bhutan. “That region is cold, arid and lacks plantation. Glaciers melt, soil erodes and all of it results in a highly sedimented river,” says Dhrubajyoti Borgohain, a retired chief engineer of the Brahmaputra Board.

“As the river comes from a high slope to a flat plain, its velocity decreases suddenly and this results in the river unloading the sediment,” he adds.

Indrajit Lodh, a resident of Assam, an aspiring journalist who runs a news and communication page/blog, Assam Daily, spoke to Sikkim Chronicle on what is happening in Assam and how people are dealing with it. He informed that Kaziranga is being hit worse than any other area but isn’t being reached, just like many prone areas due to Covid-19 guidelines. 

“The government is doing the relief work but we can’t take a stock of the situation since there’s inter-district movement prohibition,” Lodh says.

Hiranmoy* says, “All of my village has been washed off, I am thankful that I am alive but till when? All of my property is gone and I don’t know what I will do. Government rations are giving sustenance till now but after that, we will have nothing.”

Lodh shares a statement from a source, “The Brahmaputra river washed away all the village, 120 houses, gone. I and my family are devastated. The relief camp we are in is also close to a river, with water both sides of us, and this also might get washed away. There is no peace in here, everybody is crying even the fathers, maybe it’s because all of our belongings are gone.”

The centre announced on July 29th that there will be a phase-wise release in relief amounts under the Flood Management Program, with its first phase releasing ₹ 346 Crores to help Assam.

The centre also announced that it will hold talks with Bhutan to solve the flood problem that’s seen to reoccur more often than not. With the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF), National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF), NGOs and Locals jumping into the water to help, the hope is that situation will get better and hopefully a long-term solution will spawn through all the struggle. 

*Name changed on request

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