The monsoons bring floods and landslides in many states. That is par for the course.
In the last one and a half years, however, the country unfortunately has had to contend with two floods of Himalayan proportions: in Uttarakhand and Kashmir.
Together, official estimates say, the two have killed around 7,000 people and displaced millions. Along with human lives, they have had a devastating impact on the poor, existing infrastructure in the states and both will take a couple of years at least to recover from the losses.
Understandably, the two incidents made big news and scores of ‘mainstream’ journalists descended on the flood-hit areas for stories/footage that covered almost every possible dimension of the natural calamities. In both cases, the state governments were ripped apart by the ‘national’ media for their faulty development polices and slow reaction time to the floods. The India Meteorological Department was taken to task for slipping up on its forecast.
While Kashmir is grappling with the after-effects of the natural calamity that took place earlier this month, another region of the country has also been facing a similar challenge.
However, don’t blame yourself if you don’t know the name of the region/states: Relentless rain in the North-East has triggered flash floods and landslides in Assam and Meghalaya. The worst-affected district in Assam is Goalpara, where more than 150,000 people have been told to leave their homes for higher ground.
In Meghalaya, the death toll has risen above 52 while in Assam it’s more than 40. Meghalaya’s North Garo Hills district, which borders Goalpara, is the worst hit in the state. These areas are prone to flooding during the June-to-September monsoon season. Yet, the governments seem to have been caught unawares.
While the post-flood script is similar in the four states, there is hardly any coverage in the ‘national’ media on the floods in the North-East. No ‘mainstream’ journalists have rushed to Goalpara or North Garo Hills districts to report on the plight of the people trapped by the water.
It is almost as if the region doesn’t exist even in the outer periphery of our collective consciousness. It seems that the Indian media has become hardwired to overlook the North-East and the challenges that it faces, which in many cases are not actually very dissimilar to what other states face.