Friday, 5 August 2016

Assam Flood: An overview

Mahadyuti Dutta Choudhury.



The past few weeks have been the most devastating of the year so far for the people of Assam. Mother Nature has unleashed her fury in the harshest manner possible. Incessant rains have inundated vast areas of land in the state, causing massive damage to communication infrastructure, roads, bridges and cropland. Over 37 lakh people have been affected by the flood affecting 22 districts of Assam.  As of filing this report, 28 lives have been lost. People have been forced to vacate their homes and take shelter in relief camps. Even animals have not been spared;80% of Kaziranga National Park is submerged under water and news channels are rife with reports of animals taking refuge on the highway itself. 221 hog deer and 21 one horned rhino have died so far. Poaching during floods as animals move to residential area is another big problem worrying the forest officials.

As usual , the state government went into overdrive after the floods, with the home minister Rajnath Singh visiting the state and aerially assessing the situation. A relief of Rs 4 lakh has been announced for the kin of the deceased.473 relief camps have been opened in around 18 districts, housing 1.5 lakh people. No flood package has been announced by the centre, instead the state has been asked to utilize money from the State Disaster Response Fund, to the tune of around Rs 620 crore.

This flood situation is nothing new for the people of Assam, they are an annual feature in Assam. Since 1954, Rs 33,000 crore has been spent for flood management, but it has brought little relief to the people. Timely repair of embankments on Brahmaputra and the other rivers are crucial to contain the excess waters of the monsoon. And this is where the government's efforts fail. What is appalling is the fact that the state government and the Centre only seem to buckle up after the floods have occurred.  If concrete steps and precautionary measures would have been taken before the floods with the help of experts, then perhaps the death toll would have been much less.

Spare a thought for the people affected by the floods. Think of the people who have watched their whole fortune being washed away, right before their eyes. Everyone can do their bit, no matter how small it may be. Every little bit helps. When you waste your food, think of the thousands of people who are hunger stricken in those camps. Donate whatever you can, for while you might have a sound night’s sleep, most people in these camps cry themselves to sleep. The national media turns a blind eye to the problem faced here, it's time we stand up on our own for our people. Donate generously.