It’s water and chaos all round in Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal’s constituency of Majuli. With no let up in the rains, the surging water of the river Brahmaputra has forced the people to abandon their submerged houses and take shelter in makeshift dwellings made of plastic by the roadside and on embankments.
Life and death has little difference as an elderly man who had passed away last evening had to be cremated on the embankment itself as the cremation ground was flooded. A few yards away, children are poring over whatever books they managed to salvage, while women huddled over a pot to rustle up dinner.
In the world’s largest river island of Majuli, flood waters from the Brahmaputra and the Subansiri inundated 47 revenue villages, affecting 33,123 people.
The fresh wave of floods has submerged upper and lower Assam, affecting nearly 3.54 lakh people in 19 districts. The death toll this time around is 12, taking the total deluge-related toll to 91. Altogether 13,743 people are taking shelter in 51 relief camps. About 19,481 hectares of cropland in the 15 districts and 11 anti-poaching camps in Dibru-Saikhowa National park in northern Assam are under water.
The flood situation is likely to turn worse as nine rivers, including the Brahmaputra, are flowing above the danger level in different places. In Dibrugarh, the Brahmaputra is flowing slightly below it’s record level of 106.48 m in 1998 at 106.40 m.
NDRF and SDRF teams are helping the state administration in evacuating people and providing relief material in various places. Nearly 2,000 people have been rescued by the State Disaster Response Force teams so far.
National Highway 31, which connects Northeast to the rest of the country, was closed to traffic as flood waters flowed over the road.
Taking stock of the situation, Assam chief minister, Sarbananda Sonowal said, “ If we need to protect the people from floods, we need strong dykes. Our government has undertaken the work of strengthening and fortifying the existing 5,000-km long embankments and converting them road-cum-dykes, which will help not only improve connectivity in rural areas but also address the flood fury.
More worrisome is the situation in the frontier state of Arunachal Pradesh. The Sino-Indian border adjacent to Arunachal Pradesh’s Dibang Valley district remains cut-off after the Deopani washed away Siku bridge, the only link connecting Dibang Valley with the rest of India. The loss of Deopani bridge assumes significance given India’s stand-off with China over Doklam.
The loss of the bridge which is now being restored on a war-footing has cut off the movement of Armed Forces to the border from Anini, the last town prior to reaching the Sino-Indian border.
While floodwaters have submerged more villages and cropland in Arunachal Pradesh, the district administration has been kept on high alert to prevent any untoward incident. Complete ban on fishing has been imposed so that more lives are not lost to the fury of the floods.