Over 33% of flood deaths in 8.82% area of Assam

Two waves of floods have so far claimed the lives of 86 people and 163 wild animals in Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve

Updated - July 11, 2024 10:03 am IST

Published - July 11, 2024 06:33 am IST - GUWAHATI

Forest officials try to chase away a wild elephant who came down from a flood-affected area after crossing Brahmaputra river, at Barhardia near Hajo in Kamrup district, on July 7, 2024.

Forest officials try to chase away a wild elephant who came down from a flood-affected area after crossing Brahmaputra river, at Barhardia near Hajo in Kamrup district, on July 7, 2024. | Photo Credit: PTI


More than 33% of the people who died in two waves of floods in Assam since May were from Barak Valley comprising 8.82% of the State’s total geographical area.

According to the Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA), the floods in receding mode claimed the lives of five people on Wednesday. This took the flood-related death toll to 84.

The death of two more people – both in the Kamrup (Metropolitan) district – has been listed separately under the category of urban floods while two others died in a rain-induced landslide close to Assam’s border with Meghalaya.

One of the five who died during the last 24 hours was the 22nd victim of the flood in Barak Valley’s Cachar district. Six more died in the remaining two districts of the valley – four in Hailakandi and two in Karimganj.

Barak Valley covers an area of 6,922 sq. km, which works out to 8.82% of Assam’s total geographical area of 78,438 sq. km.

People in Barak Valley said the annual floods cause as much or more devastation in their region compared to the much larger Brahmaputra Valley.

“With just two MPs and 15 MLAs, our region is not politically strong enough to attract attention or funds for flood management measures as much as it should although all parts of Assam are equally important,” S.R. Swami, a Silchar-based retired chief engineer of the State’s Water Resources Department said.

He underlined the encroachment of wetlands and natural drainage systems as the main reason why the flood situation has been worsening in Barak Valley over the years with 90% of Silchar – the valley’s power centre – going underwater in 2022.

“Three to four hours of rainfall leads to water-logging in Silchar, Hailakandi, and Karimganj towns because the water cannot drain out (toward Bangladesh) at the speed it should. The valley also bears the brunt of heavy rainfall in the hills of Manipur, Mizoram, Meghalaya, and Assam’s Dima Hasao district,” he told The Hindu.

14.39 lakh people affected

An ASDMA spokesperson said 14.39 lakh people remain affected across 27 flood-hit districts of Assam with 45,620 of them taking refuge in 209 relief camps.

“Dhubri continues to be the worst affected with 2.37 lakh people displaced followed by Cachar with 1.82 lakh people,” she said.

Along with the rest of the State, the flood situation improved in central-eastern Assam’s Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve. Forest officials said 51 of the park’s 233 anti-poaching camps remain inundated up to 5 ft.

On Wednesday, the tiger reserve authorities reported the death of four more animals – all hog deer. The floods have claimed 163 animals so far while 116 others were rescued, treated, and released back to the wild.

“Contrary to the popular narrative, floods are essential for Kaziranga’s unique ecosystem. The floodwaters flush out aquatic weeds and deposit silt to give the grasslands and forestlands a fresh lease of life,” Bibhab Kumar Talukdar of the biodiversity conservation group Aaranyak said.

He also said there is nothing to be alarmed about the flood-related deaths of the park’s animals unless their passage to the hills across National Highway-715 (on the southern edge of the park) is blocked or they are run over by vehicles while trying to cross over.

“The fittest animals survive the floods and the not-so-fit perish, whether one likes it or not. The fact that only two animals [hog deer] have died because of vehicle hits this year indicates better management or patrolling on the highway,” a wildlife rescue worker said, declining to be quoted.

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