Other States

All you need to know about Assam floods

A marooned village in the flood-affected Morigaon district of Assam on August 14, 2017.   | Photo Credit: Ritu Raj Konwar

Floods wreak havoc in Assam every year, and this year has been no different. This year, floods caused by three long and heavy spells of rain since March have claimed 157 lives so far. Although the situation in the State has improved over the last week, the damage to life and property has been enormous. There are thousands of people who, having lost their homes, are still living in relief camps. Here are some questions and explanations on why Assam faces this problem every year, and what could be done about it

Was the rainfall in Assam above normal this year?

No. According to the India Meteorological Department, Assam’s rainfall this year has been in the normal zone.

Why does Assam get flooded every year?

Topography plays a major role. Because most of the rivers flow downstream in the State, they do so with so much force, especially during incessant rainfall, that breaches in embankments are all too common. There are also human-induced problems like destruction of wetlands, deforestation, and encroachments on river banks. Most cities and towns suffer due to poor planning.

Both Brahmaputra and Barak, along with their tributaries, were flowing above danger levels at some point during the monsoon season. Dhansiri, Jia Bharali and Kushiyara, a Barak tributary, continue to flow above danger level.

Rainfall in upstream also contributes to flooding, as the water flow increases downstream. China shares water flow information of the Brahmaputra and Sutlej rivers with India during monsoon as a part of bilateral ties. The hydrological data helps understanding water level downstream. However, this year India did not receive any information from China, said MEA.

 

Villagers wade through flood waters to their marooned house to bring valuables in Morigaon district of Assam on August 13, 2017.

Villagers wade through flood waters to their marooned house to bring valuables in Morigaon district of Assam on August 13, 2017.   | Photo Credit: Ritu Raj Konwar

What does the State do to tackle this?

Rivers in Assam, including the Brahmaputra, are embanked in places. During the monsoon, the Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA) and NGOs identify dry lands in upper regions and organise shelter for people living in low-lying areas. Those affected often take shelter in schools, which remain shut till the situation improves.

According to ASDMA, it has run 954 relief camps providing shelter to a total of 4,51,846 people this year.

However, many people have to help themselves during flood and find a safe place to live during the floods.

Do floods claim many lives every year?

In the past five years, only in 2013, no death was reported due to floods. It's noteworthy that an organised system of flood-related data logging is fairly new in the State. Also, the State Disaster Management came into being only in 2010.

How many animals died?

398 animals died in Kaziranga Natioanl Park this year. Following are the numbers of animal affected (not dead) and washed away.

Animals affected

Big

Small

Poultry

15,99,657

10,98,519

28,87,612

Animals washed away

Big

Small

Poultry

111

109

228

Which are the most flood-affected areas?

Thirty-one of the 33 districts of the State were affected by the floods. In 26 districts, a total of about 61,923 people were evacuated to safety, according ASDMA. The only two districts not to see flooding were Karbi Anglong West and Dimaha Sao, both hilly regions.

As of September 4, a report of the ASDMA says that 44,618 people continue to be affected by floods in Dhemaji, Lakhimpur, Chirang, Morigaon, Nagaon, Jorhat, and Cachar districts.

How has agriculture been affected?

Over 3,90,000 hectares of agricultural lands, growing paddy and vegetables, were inundated by the floods.

Are people still in relief camps?

According to data as of September 4, there are still 6,580 people are living in relief camps.

Medical officials of the Jhargaon Public Health Centre (PHC) on their way to conduct medical camp in the flood affected Morigaon district of Assam on August 18, 2017.

Medical officials of the Jhargaon Public Health Centre (PHC) on their way to conduct medical camp in the flood affected Morigaon district of Assam on August 18, 2017.   | Photo Credit: Ritu Raj Konwar

What could be the cost of all this damage?

The Water Resource Department in Assam submitted a flood memorandum to the Centre in 2016 following the flood seeking an ₹5038.00 crore for repairing embankments, flood control structures and repairing of damages to river banks, the department said to The Hindu.

This year, the State government has allocated ₹2,723.34 crore to the water resource department.

What could be a long-term solution?

According to Himanshu Thakkar, an IIT graduate and water activist who is a coordinator of the South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People, it is "not possible to flood-proof the whole of Assam." However, here are a few measures that can be followed:

I) Rejuvenation of wetlands,

II) Reconstruction of embankments,

III) Decentralised weather forecast.

Flood affected children collect medicines from medical officials of the Jhargaon Public Health Centre on August 18, 2017.

Flood affected children collect medicines from medical officials of the Jhargaon Public Health Centre on August 18, 2017.   | Photo Credit: Ritu Raj Konwar


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Printable version | Nov 27, 2021 10:31:54 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/all-you-need-to-know-about-assam-floods/article19629482.ece

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