Guwahati: Heavy rain over the past few days has worsened the flood situation in Assam, with eight rivers flowing above the danger level and inundating 25 of the state's 32 districts.
The flood report of Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA) issued on the evening of 15 August stated that about 33.3 lakh people in 3,186 villages/localities were affected by the deluge. River embankments gave way in many places, affecting humans, cattle and crop alike.
In central Assam, 83 villages in Biswanath district and 64 in Sonitpur district lie submerged. The third wave of flood has affected about 1.13 lakh people in Sonitpur, according to the ASDMA. Tezpur, Thelamara, Nadaur and Dhekiajuli are the worst-affect regions in the district.
A huge part of Silghat near Kaliabor sub-division is submerged with flood water of Brahmaputra river, resulting in closure of the Assam Co-operative Jute Mill for the time being. Sonitpur Deputy Commissioner Manoj Kumar Deka said the water level of Brahmaputra and its tributaries had crossed the danger level but has been receding since Tuesday.
The flood has cut off Dhemaji district in the eastern part of the state completely from the rest of the world. The Kumotia bridge, which connects it to Lakhimpur in Assam and to Pasighat in Arunachal Pradesh, has been closed as per the district administration's order. The overflowing Jiya Dhol river has breached embankment in Dihiri village in the district, submerging 22 villages.
Dipankar Rajbanshi, a farmer from Bamun Gaon in Dhemaji district, told Firstpost that water level started rising in the wee hours of Tuesday night and they had to evacuate the village with whatever essentials they could get their hands on.
The Goriakhana embankment in Adarsh Gaon in Dhemaji also gave way on Monday night, inundating National Highway 15 and leaving hundreds of vehicles stranded. Seventy-two habitations in Majuli, the world's largest river island and Assam chief minister's assembly constituency, are completely inundated, according to the ASDMA. Like Dhemaji, Majuli too lies cut off from the rest of the state as the ferry boat service to and from Jorhat district has been stopped. Reportedly, a four-year-old child died in Majuli owing to the flood.
Ranjan Bora, a local reporter from Majuli, told Firstpost while the death toll is low this time, the extent of damage is quite high. He said while some people are returning to their homes, the destruction of crop will have them suffering a lot.
According to the ASDMA's report dated 15 August, more than 1.82 lakh hectares of crop area has been affected. Morigaon district is the worst hit, having almost 29,500 hectares of harvested land under water. Till July-end last year, the quantum of affected crop area was 1.49 lakh hectares in the state.
The state government has set up 315 relief camps in 21 districts. Reports of people in the flood-affected regions dying or going missing came in from across the state and the ASDMA pegged the death toll at 10 till the evening of 15 August. The State Disaster Response Force has been given the charge of rescue operations.
Residents of Balaji sub-division of Barpeta district said about 250 families have been displaced owing to the breach in Kaldia river's embankment. The flood has affected about 4.37 lakh people in Barpeta alone, making it one of the worst-hit districts. Seasonal islands formed amid rivers and tributaries, called char in Assam, have been reeling under the impact of flood for the last two months. Many schools on these islands are under water. In Dhubri district, embankments have been reportedly giving way in new areas every day.
More than half the area of Kaziranga National Park in Golaghat and Bokakhat districts is under water, Divisional Forest Officer Rohini B Saikia said. She said animals have been moving to highways and other high land outside the park, making them extremely vulnerable to poachers.
“The flood situation in Kaziranga is gradually improving. Till a few days ago, 90 percent of the park was under water. Now, water is receding. At present, our prime focus is to guard the animals,” she said.
As many as 115 animals have died at Kaziranga National Park between 10 and 16 August because of the flood. The death toll comprises six rhinos, two elephants, 99 hog deers, two swamp deers, one water buffalo, one sambar, three wild boars and one porcupine. The local people and the forest officials have rescued eight animals from the flood within this period, said a report released on 16 August by the office of the Divisional Forest Office, Kaziranga National Park.
In the third wave of the floods, 102 people had lost their lives till 14 August itself. This year's flood is said to be the worst in the past 13 years.
(With inputs from Abhideep Choudhury, a journalist from Bongaigaon district in Western Assam.)
(Syeda Ambia Zahan is a Guwahati based freelance writer and a member of 101Reporters.com, a pan-India network of grassroots reporters. She tweets @syedaambia)
(Pranab Kumar Das is a Guwahati-based writer and a member of 101Reporters.com, a pan-India network of grassroots reporters.)
Updated Date: Aug 17, 2017 09:30 AM