Over 19 of 27 districts in the state of Assam in Northeast India have been hit by flood affecting more than 17 lakhs of people. A total of 18 people have been killed by this flood over the past week, according to the latest figures from the local disaster management authority on Tuesday. The situation is expected to improve in a couple of days.
The state, which was rocked by violence last month, has been flooded three times this year by the mighty river Brahmaputra, which often breaks its banks during monsoon. Thousands of affected people in Majuli, a large river island about 350 km from Assam’s main city of Guwahati, have fled to higher grounds or are crowded onto embankments.
The National Disaster Response Force, the State Disaster Response Force, the army and the IAF are engaged in rescue and relief operations. Air force helicopter was seen dropping packets of rice, water, biscuits and baby food on one embankment, sparking a scramble among young and old.
“We just had enough time to pick up some clothes and drinking water bottles before we got onto a boat to reach a highland some distance away,” said an elderly local to a local TV channel on Tuesday.
There was a breach in the dyke and soon water swept through the village before anybody could react. Rain was continuing to pound Assam and adjoining Arunachal Pradesh, where the river Brahmaputra flows into India from its starting point in bordering Tibet. The number of displaced people stood at 1.5 million on Monday.
According to the Central Water Commission, the river was flowing above the danger level in at least 10 places in Assam. A government relief effort is gathering pace to help the stranded and displaced, though bad weather is hampering the progress.
“We have opened more than 3000 makeshift camps so far across the state,” said Assam Agriculture Minister Nilamoni Sen Deka.
Parts of the National Highway 52, which connect Dhemaji in Assam to Arunachal Pradesh, have come under flood waters and there are fears of scarcity of food and other materials in the district.
Floodwaters have also submerged the internationally famous 430 sq. km. Kaziranga National Park in eastern Assam, home to the world’s largest concentration of endangered one-horned rhinos. Almost the entire park is under water with animals fleeing the sanctuary to safer areas.
Although vast areas of Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary in Morigaon district and Dibru Choikhowa National Park in Tinsukia district were also submerged by floods, no animal death has been reported from there till Tuesday.
The Brahmaputra has flooded twice this year already, in June and in August, and this has affected the standing crops too to a great extent, informs an official in the local weather office.
Assam’s main city Guwahati also came under threat of floods and many areas of the city like Pandu and Adabari are still submerged.