Assam has 15 of India’s 25 districts most vulnerable to climate change

The State experienced exponential increase in flood events since 2010, Minister Keshab Mahanta said

September 16, 2022 09:30 pm | Updated September 17, 2022 12:17 am IST - GUWAHATI

File photo of floods in Assam for representation.

File photo of floods in Assam for representation. | Photo Credit: The Hindu Picture Library

Fifteen of India’s 25 districts most vulnerable to climate change were in Assam, the State’s Science, Technology and Climate Change Minister Keshab Mahanta told the 126-member Assembly on Friday.

Of these 15 districts, Karimganj was the most vulnerable in the country, he said while replying to a question by BJP legislator Mrinal Saikia.

Also Read | Climate change is driving 2022 extreme heat and flooding

“Districts under water”

Karimganj is one of the three districts that comprise southern Assam’s Barak Valley. The other two districts — Cachar and Hailakandi — were almost as vulnerable, Mr. Mahanta said.

Silchar, Cachar’s headquarters, experienced the worst flood in July with almost 95% of the town going under water.

“It is therefore important that adaptation plans to combat the impact of climate change are factored in the development process now to avoid the economic burden of adaption in the long run”Keshab MahantaScience, Technology and Climate Change Minister

The other districts of Assam vulnerable to climate change were Baksa, Barpeta, Darrang, Dhubri, Dibrugarh, Goalpara, Golaghat, Kokrajhar, Morigaon, Sivasagar, Sonitpur and Tinsukia.

Citing a 2021 report by the Council of Energy, Environment and Water, Mr. Mahanta said Assam had the highest overall vulnerability index in the country causing drastic change in the rainfall intensity. “Golaghat district, through which the Doyang River flows to join the Brahmaputra, has not witnessed a normal monsoon in the last 30 years,” he said.

“There is an exponential increase in the frequency of flood events since 2010. Last year, more than 1.4 million people were displaced by flooding along the Brahmaputra in 18 of 33 districts of Assam,” Mr. Mahanta said.

The Minister cited an Assam State Climate Change Action Plan report that had projected an increase in the mean average temperature by 1.7-2.2˚C by “mid-century with respect to the duration between 1971 and 2000”.

According to the report, extreme rainfall events were likely to increase by 5-38% and floods by more than 25% by the mid-century.

“It is therefore important that adaptation plans to combat the impact of climate change are factored in the development process now to avoid the economic burden of adaption in the long run,” Mr. Mahanta said.

He added that the State government had been taking up measures such as extensively planting indigenous species of trees and tapping renewable energy for minimising the impact of climate change.

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