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Northeast stares at essentials, fuels crisis after ‘first wave’ of floods

State Disaster Response Force personnel evacuate villagers from a flood-affected village after heavy rainfall, in Nagaon district, on May 18.

State Disaster Response Force personnel evacuate villagers from a flood-affected village after heavy rainfall, in Nagaon district, on May 18. | Photo Credit: PTI


Parts of the Northeast stared at a shortage of essentials and fuel due to the snapping of an arterial railway line and roads as floodwaters inundated 29 districts of Assam leaving at least nine people dead, five of them in rain-induced landslides.

According to an update by the Assam State Disaster Management Authority [ASDMA], the “first wave” of floods have affected 4.16 lakh people across 1,374 villages and damaged 8,290 houses. More than 41,400 people have been shifted to 89 relief camps in the flood-hit districts.

The floods have so far affected 38,889.69 hectares of cropland.

“Four rivers — Kopili, Disang, Barak and Kushiyara — are flowing above the danger mark. People in vulnerable areas have been cautioned with the Met office’s prediction more rainfall in the coming days,” an ASDMA official said.

No power, Internet

Central Assam’s Dima Hasao is the worst affected district, with roads and an arterial railway line damaged at 56 sections. Landslides have hit the electricity and telecommunication infrastructure and virtually cut-off the district.

The Dima Hasao administration has asked all educational institutions in the district to shut down until further orders due to the precarious situation.

Fuel rationing

The extensive damage to the railway infrastructure in Dima Hasao has had a domino effect in the flood-hit Barak valley of southern Assam and Mizoram and Tripura beyond, which are largely dependent on the railway track for supplies.

The local authorities have said there are sufficient stocks of essentials and fuel to last a month, but this has not stopped panic from setting in, especially due the surge in prices of vegetables and food grains after the rail link snapped on May 14.

“The situation is really bad and we are ensuring people get their supplies,” Cachar’s Deputy Commissioner, Keerthi Jalli, said.

But Tripura has begun rationing fuel in view of the impending crisis with Northeast Frontier Railway officials saying the restoration of the rail link may take several weeks.

“There are enough stocks of fuel but we started providing petrol and diesel in limited quantities from May 17. We are in touch with the Assam and Meghalaya Governments for transporting essentials and fuel by road,” Tripura’s Food and Civil Supplies Director Tapan Kumar Das said.

The State government has issued an order asking retail outlets to not sell more than ₹1,000 worth of fuel for four-wheelers, ₹300 for three-wheelers, and ₹200 for two-wheelers.

‘Airlines fleecing people’

The Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Silchar MP, Rajdeep Roy, has asked the Civil Aviation Ministry to crack down on airlines, taking advantage of the disruption of surface communication to fleece people. “I am stunned to see Silchar-Guwahati airfare reach ₹31,000 for a 25-minute flight for 300 km,” he tweeted.

Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya M. Scindia replied that the route is subject to a fare cap within 15 days of travel to ensure exorbitant fares are not charged from travellers. He said the airlines operating from Silchar have been asked to adhere to the directions.

Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma would be visiting Dima Hasao on May 19 to take stock of the flood situation in the district.

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Printable version | Jun 17, 2022 4:23:18 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/northeast-stares-at-essentials-fuels-crisis-after-first-wave-of-floods/article65427168.ece