The flood situation in Assam improved marginally on Wednesday but left seven people dead, taking the toll to 57 since May 22.
Officials of the Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA) said six people drowned — three in Barpeta district and one each in Dhubri, Nagaon and Nalbari districts — while a 50-year-old man was electrocuted following a landslip in Cachar district.
So far, 33 people have either drowned or been washed away while landslips claimed 24 lives.
Slight reduction in number of affected villages
“The situation, however, has improved a little with the number of affected villages and localities decreasing from 2,235 to 2,197 across 21 districts. But the number of flood-affected people has increased by about 20,000 to reach 14.95 lakh,” an ASDMA spokesperson said.
“There are fewer people in the relief camps too,” she added.
From 25,461 who had taken shelter across 265 relief camps on Tuesday, there were 15,289 people in 109 relief camps on Wednesday.
The deluge triggered by heavy rainfall has affected crop in more than 87,018 hectares and about 20.33 lakh domesticated animals and poultry.
A few rivers have subsided after two consecutive days of sunshine, but the Brahmaputra and three of its tributaries were flowing above the danger level at a few stretches. The overflowing rivers breached embankments at several places and damaged vital roads and bridges, officials said.
Barpeta continued to be the worst-hit district with 5.95 lakh people affected followed by South Salmara (1.95 lakh), Goalpara (94,216), Nalbari (93,426) and Morigaon (85,238).
The water level at the Kaziranga National Park has receded over the past 24 hours. An update by the park authorities said 107 of the 223 anti-poaching camps were inundated, 36 fewer than on Tuesday.
Number of animals killed goes up
But the number of animals killed went up from 14 to 18. These included the first drowning victims of this year’s flood — a swamp deer and a wild boar.
While eight hog deer — one after treatment at the Centre for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation (CWRC) at Kaziranga — died of vehicle hits, six hog deer died of unspecified reasons and a rhino died of natural causes. A hog deer injured due to flooding died at the CWRC.
Three animals are under treatment at the CWRC, which released 20 others after minor treatment. Most of these animals were rescued by Forest officials and local people, who have had a history of creating space in their backyards for animals in flood-related distress.
“Speeding of vehicles on the highway continues to be a problem despite security checks and time cards requiring drivers to cover the entire stretch alongside the southern edge of the park within a specified time,” a Kaziranga official said, adding that more than 650 vehicles were found violating the speed limit of 40 km per hour.
Animals fleeing the flooded Kaziranga, which has a core area of 430 sq km, have to cross the highway for the relative safety of the hills in Karbi Anglong district. Many get run over by vehicles, particularly at nine major animal corridors besides numerous ‘hatidondi’ or pathways for elephants.