Other States

Assam floods | Silchar town cut off for a week

Villagers take shelter on a submerged house’s rooftop, at the flood-affected Chanaka village, in Morigaon district.

Villagers take shelter on a submerged house’s rooftop, at the flood-affected Chanaka village, in Morigaon district. | Photo Credit: PTI


Floodwaters have refused to drain out from a southern Assam town where about 2.8 lakh people have been marooned for almost a week.

On June 20, Silchar’s BJP legislator Dipayan Chakraborty sent an SOS to the Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) to set up relief camps on the high platforms of the railway station in the town, the nerve-centre of the landlocked Bengali-dominated Barak Valley.

Without any trains to operate since mid-May when the arterial track through the adjoining hill district of Dima Hasao was damaged extensively, the NFR obliged. “Some 200 people have taken shelter on the platforms since June 21, and more are coming,” a railway spokesperson said on Thursday.

Railway authorities said the pressure would ease in a few days. About 80% of the 26.88 sq. km town remains flooded, an improvement though from the 95% a couple of days ago.

The headquarters of Cachar district, Silchar is about 310 km southeast of Guwahati.

“Among the 2.8 lakh affected people are our officers, staff, grocers, labourers and drivers. This has affected the relief service delivery and we have not been able to go to areas such as NH Road, Sharatpally and Das Colony, where the [water] current is still strong,” Cachar’s Deputy Commissioner, Keerthi Jalli, said after Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma made an aerial survey of the flood-hit district.

“Despite the odds, we have been able to distribute 40,000 litres of water, 24,000 milk cans and 10,000 quintals of rice with dal and oil to the people in the district,” she added.

“All the police stations and police lines in Silchar are under water. But that has not stopped our personnel from joining six teams of NDRF [National Disaster Response Force] in rescue operations. Four NDRF teams had to be brought from Odisha because the scale of operations has increased,” Cachar’s Superintendent of Police, Ramandeep Kaur Dhillon told The Hindu on Thursday.

Breached dykes

Incessant heavy rainfall in the upstream of the Barak River — it originates in Manipur and flows into Bangladesh as the Surma — has made it flow above the previous highest level of 21.84 metres recorded in 1989. Near Lakhipur town upstream, the river had risen 2.6 metres above the danger level of 23.88 metres a few days ago.

The situation worsened due to breaches in a series of dykes. But the main damage was done by some people of Mahisar Beel, about 4 km from Silchar, who cut a wide passage through the Bethukandi embankment a month ago to drain out the floodwaters. The water had then accumulated after overtopping the embankment along the Barak River.

“We registered an FIR against some people for damaging the embankment in May. The matter will be followed up after the flood situation improves,” a Water Resources Department official said.

Transformers under water

Assam’s Transport Minister Parimal Suklabaidya, who represents the equally affected Dholai constituency nearby, said many areas of Cachar district have been without power and mobile phone connectivity for at least four days. “Some 4,000 transformers are under water in the district,” he said.

Watch | Why does Assam flood every year?

“Power Department officials are arriving from Guwahati to restore electricity to the extent possible. Ten officers are also arriving to assist the Cachar Deputy Commissioner and we have requested the Army for help from tomorrow [Friday],” he said after the Chief Minister reviewed the flood situation in Silchar.

“We are used to floods almost every year, but this is perhaps the worst in decades. And we see no hope unless it stops raining in Cachar and the areas upstream of the Barak River and its tributaries,” local resident Aniruddha Laskar said.

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Printable version | Jun 23, 2022 11:42:14 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/assam-floods-silchar-town-cut-off-for-a-week/article65557925.ece