Four people lost their lives and two one-horned rhinos drowned in Kaziranga National Park (KNP) on Tuesday as Assam continued to reel under floods and rain-induced landslides.
The day also saw Union Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat inspecting some of the worst-hit areas and the Centre releasing ₹251.52 crore as part-payment for relief and rescue operations in the State.
Nearly all districts
Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA) officials said this year’s flood has spared only one of the State’s 33 districts, affecting 44.96 lakh people across 4,620 villages. More than 1.01 lakh people have taken refuge in 226 relief camps while 562 relief distribution centres have been established.
“Four people drowned today [Tuesday], taking the human toll to 19. Landslides in two districts killed two of them,” an ASDMA official said.
Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal updated Mr. Shekhawat about the steps taken to deal with the crisis. “We have requested the Union Minister to expedite the setting up of the North East Water Management Authority, as recommended by the NITI Aayog. We have also sought inclusion of river erosion in the list of admissible natural calamities under the State Disaster Relief Fund,” he said.
More than 90% of KNP remained underwater, forcing animals to escape to the hills of Karbi Anglong district across the highway that runs along the southern edge of the park.
“Smaller animals such as deer and wild boar usually suffer the most during floods, but two rhinos and an elephant drowned during the last 24 hours. Nine of the 30 animals that have died so far were hit by speeding vehicles while trying to cross the highway,” KNP’s Divisional Forest Officer Rohini B. Saikia said.
Three other rhinos and four hog deer rescued from the flooded park are under treatment at the Centre for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation at Kaziranga. A total of 30 animals were taken to the centre; 23 of them were released after treatment.
Assam also continued to suffer from Acute Encephalitis Syndrome and Japanese Encephalitis. Health officials on Tuesday reported the death of 17 people due to these related diseases, taking the casualty count to 201 since January.