The Tyranny of Assam Floods
-BY AISHNA MISHRA
On Friday, Assam COVID19 cases crossed over 9000 as Assam floods remain grim. It is estimated that around 15 Lakh lives across 23 districts have been affected. The flood has caused more deaths than COVID19. It has not just destroyed human lives but also animals and crops. Crops on more than 75,700 hectares of land have been destroyed, according to The Hindu. There is also a surge in the number of animal deaths due to the flood.
Three Blunder, One State
The State has been hit by 9000 cases of Coronavirus, Assam Flood, and major blowout at Oil India Limited in Tinsukia. The Oil Field is in the vicinity of Dibru Saikhowa National Park and Maguri Motapung Beel has caused the displacement of families and caused adverse effects on the Biodiversity of the region.
Secondly, 256 relief shelters have been set up and around 25,000 have been given shelter. The National Disaster Response Force and State Disaster Response Force team have been deployed by the Government to rescue those stuck in the flood. Barpeta is the most affected region with over 5 lakh people being affected. Moreover, continuous rainfall has affected crops in 75,000 hectares and about 20.33 lakh domesticated animals and poultry.
Thirdly, 80% of the Kaziranga National Park has been affected by the Flood. Animals in the flooded Kaziranga National Park have started fleeing the area. Hog Deer face a real threat as they migrate towards the hills.
They are targeted for meat by the locals and are often hit by Vehicles. The Hog Deer falls under the category of Schedule I species of Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 that prohibits hunting through strict regulations.
Why do floods occur frequently in Assam?
The main reason for the flood is the increasing riverbed of the Brahmaputra River. While Assam already lies in an Earthquake-prone region, the instability of the mightiest river of India makes the situation worse. The reason why the Brahmaputra causes flood is because of its high sedimentation and steep slope. It is the largest water carrying river and second largest silt carrying river in India. Moreover, Climate Change has led to the melting of glaciers in Eastern Himalayan and has increased the river’s water level.
Moreover, the annual flood is also caused due to the building of dams and breach of embankments. These poorly maintained embankments have only made the situation worse. These Floods not just affect people but also spread diseases. The situation is set to become worse during the ongoing pandemic.
According to the Quint, on average flood kills 50 people every year and the state loses 8000 square kilometers of land due to flooding.
Do we have a solution?
There’s no doubt that Assam lies in a region prone to Earthquakes. The Brahmaputra divides Assam into two regions. During Floods, it causes a huge loss of vegetation and people are displaced from their homes. This catastrophic situation has become a new normal for them.
Indian Meteorological Department should coordinate with the Assam Government. Flood forecasts can help the government in fighting the disaster on time. Assam Government disaster management has failed at a large level. The government’s response has been heavily dependent on short term measures despite the annual flooding. The government is yet to come up with a solution that would save lives on a longer run.
Environmentalists have proposed banning the construction of dams and other construction on low lying areas to give more room for the river to flow. It is important to restrict the construction of embankments as it protects one district and causes blunder in the nearby region.
It took a few months for the government to implement NRC and set up detention camps despite the protests. Even many citizens were involved in the protest terming it a human rights violation. However, it is surprising to see that people haven’t realized the disaster Assamese people are facing right now. It is quite important to know why Assam faces floods every year and what can be done to protect people from such a catastrophic disaster. The situation in Assam needs nationwide attention as it faces a cascade of disasters. The Modi Government needs to build more relief camps over the detention centers as it is yet to make an effective plan for the annual floods.