The flood disaster in Assam continued to remain alarming with more than 35 lakh individuals affected on Wednesday as the death toll rose to 92 with 7 new deaths recorded during the day.
As per the Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA), more than 35,73 lakh inhabitants from 3,376 villages in 26 of the 33 districts are affected by Assam floods.
From the 7 deaths reported on Wednesday, three died in the district of Morigaon, two in Barpeta and one died each from the districts of Sonitpur and Golaghat, the SDMA said. While 66 people have died in massive flooding, 26 died in heavy rains caused by landslides.
Rescue operations are extensive in affected areas, and several SDRF, NDRF, state police, and local teams are helping those impacted by the Assam floods. The district administrations organized 629 relief camps and distribution centers in 30 districts, where more than 1,25 lakh men, women, and children took shelter.
Rising waters continued to destroy the affected districts and submerge highways, embankments, and bridges. 3 bridges in district Barpeta and one in Dhubri got destroyed on Wednesday. Nalbari, Baksa, Bongaigaon, and Kokrajhar districts reported many instances of destruction.
As per a Central Water Commission (CWC) newsletter, most of the state ‘s rivers continued to witness water-level surges. In some cases, the Brahmaputra, Dhansiri, Jia Bharali, Kopili, Beki, and Kushiyara soared above the danger level.
The national park, Kaziranga has been flooded
Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve (KNPTR), the largest single-horned rhinos habitat in the world, has also been threatened by flooding. As per park officials, nearly 90 percent of the national park distributed across 430 sq km is now immersed in flood waters.
According to the World Wildlife Fund, the park is home to elephants, Indian hog deer, wild buffalo, and the one-horned rhino, a group experiencing a significant risk of wildlife extinction.
Throughout this monsoon, 66 animals from the reserve already died until Wednesday. Including 23 deaths due to flooding (rhino-2, wild boar-5, swamp deer-1, hog deer-14, and porcupine-1), and 12 deaths caused by vehicle crashes (all hog deer).
Forest resources have relocated 117 animals along with a one-year-old female rhino calf that has been separated from her mother till date.
Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal went to visit Kaziranga National Park in flood-affected regions. “The National Park staff here are committed to the animal welfare,” he said.
The Brahmaputra River in the cities of Guwahati, Dhubri, and Goalpara is flowing above the danger threshold. The flood waters of the river are also dangerously high in Nimatighat, Jorhat, and Tezpur, Sonitpur. It’s own tributaries Dhansiri at Numaligarh in Golaghat, Jia Bharali at NT Road Crossing in Sonitpur, Kopili at Kampur and Dharamtul at Nagaon, Beki at Road Bridge at Barpeta and Kushiyara at Karimganj City are also flowing over the red marks.
Many parts of the state also reported considerable damage to the infrastructure. At various places in the districts of Lakhimpur, Biswanath, Chirang, Kokrajhar, Barpeta, Darrang, Bongaigaon, Udalguri, Nagaon, Kamrup, Baksa and Dhubri, embankments, roads, bridges, and culverts collapsed. Tremendous soil erosion occured in districts of Nalbari, Baksa, Bongaigaon, and Kokrajhar, according to the press release.
Government responding to the Assam floods
State authorities have always had an uphill task planning their response, even as they are still dealing with an outbreak of Japanese encephalitis and the COVID-19 epidemic. Due to the flooding, government officials were also concerned with securing quarantine facilities for people from all over the country who were still in disarray.
The forest department had also prepared itself for the annual event well in advance, but there’s always been a difficult situation. For most forest camps flooded within, it’s not easy to use boats to control the wildlife casualties. A female rhino carcass has recently been reclaimed from the Tuplung camp area.
The Brahmaputra and Barak tributaries flood most Assam each year, as a result, Assam is certainly most severe in Indian states with floods between April and September. As reported in the Assam State Climate Change Action Plan (2015-2020), climate change is playing an important role in worsening floods. This year, repairs and renovations of reservoirs and other erosion projects were also postponed, after the country’s lockdown began on 24 March.
Even so, Assam’s preparedness for disasters remains nonexistent. While the state government focussed on long-term steps such as damage assessment and relief, in the absence of a systemic flood management mechanism floods repeatedly lead to the state’s social and economical ruin.