Platforms of refuge for Assam flood vicitims

People being taken to the Katakhal railway station on a trolley on the submerged track.

People being taken to the Katakhal railway station on a trolley on the submerged track.

Katakhal’s railway station has 14 trains and about 500 passengers pass through it on a normal day. For the last week, though, it has seen no trains but 1,200 people are on its platforms. They’re not there waiting for trains: they’re just seeking refuge from the floods that have wreaked havoc in southern Assam.

Since the rail line here was converted to broad gauge a few years ago, many stations now have raised pucca platforms and much improved infrastructure. The junction in Hailakandi district — tracks branch off here from the main line to Agartala, to Silchar, and then Jiribam in Manipur and Bairabi in Mizoram — is among the very few patches of dry and high ground in the area.

More than 400 others have taken shelter in nearby smaller stations such as Salchapra — a railhead for Food Corporation of India, which has a storage facility there — and Algapur. Even Silchar, the biggest city in southern Assam, has refugees seeking shelter in the station.

“Katakhal, at an elevation of 20.85 metres above sea level, has escaped the fury of the flood that has submerged railway tracks and much of region,” S. Umesh, Badarpur area manager of NFR, told The Hindu.

“This has been the worst scenario in 13 years, so we let the people use the platform and the tracks as shelter.”

Pranav Jyoti Sharma, spokesperson at NFR headquarters in Guwahati, said that railway officials and security personnel ran sorties on motorised trolleys on submerged tracks and used boats to provide medicines, food and other relief material to people who have taken shelter on station platforms. “About 50 families have been allowed to take temporary shelter in railway coaches too,” he said. “We placed 15 spare coaches at Silchar railway station for this.”

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Printable version | Aug 14, 2022 12:14:38 am |