“I don’t think anyone has taken it (Assam floods) seriously. There have only been quick-fixes and band-aids,” says Adil Hussain
Assam is in a state of crisis as it is being ravaged by floods. An annual natural phenomenon, floods have claimed lives, crops, property in the north-eastern state time and again. As per the latest reports (July 19) by Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA), 84 people have lost their lives and 2,400 villages devastated, taking the tally of total people affected to 25, 29, 312.
“I don’t think anyone has taken it seriously. All the governments since Independence, before we could blame it to the British, I don’t think anyone has actually bothered about it. There were quick-fixes and band-aids, but no research (which I know of) has been done. The flood happens every year, at the same time and the volume of water is almost the same. Even after that if we say we do not have a solution for it, I feel either we are either lying or we are not trying hard,” says actor Adil Hussain, whose hometown is in Assam.
Adil hails from Goalpara and his mother still lives there. Despite being in a high-lying area, their house faces the threat of rising flood waters. “I got an SOS some days back that the water is rising, but the rain stopped and it receded. I am in touch with them through video calls and I can see the situation. It doesn’t scare me because I have lived with it. My family is still in a better position, but imagine the situation of the poor people and animals. They have so little and everything, including their papers, is washed away,” he shares, talking from his home in Delhi.
There is an attitude of apathy among the authorities and the people. A lack of awareness about the north East and a ‘chalta hai’ outlook, is what Adil feels contributes to this negligence. But when all else fails, the resilience of the people is what sees them through. “That’s why India is great. People have learned how to live with extreme difficulties,” he says. With the current government in Assam, led by chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal, Adil hopes that things will change. “Their slogan was Jaati, Maati, Bheti (community, land and base). I hope these fundamental living conditions are uplifted. If this government doesn’t do anything, then where do you go?” he questions.
Assam floods, this time, have been put on the global map, thanks to the tweets by international football clubs Arsenal and Chelsea. Back in the industry, there are people who are voicing their concern. “Randeep (Hooda) is constantly in touch and is trying to find out how the river behaves, and is talking to people. Richa (Chadha) and Rahul Dev are also raising their concern and are constantly helping. There are also some film directors who have come forward. It is about creating awareness. It doesn’t take much; it is the intention that counts. I don’t know how the posts and tweets by Arsenal and Chelsea will pan out in the long run but it is in the world map now. It is wonderful to hear from people who can create public opinion about a certain issue which is happening for the last 70 years. You expect certain people to speak, so I was disappointed when it didn’t happen,” he says.
Natural calamities not only adversely affect people, they disrupt an entire ecosystem. Videos of injured animals flood social media as much as videos of people in distress. The inhabitants of Kaziranga National Park are faced with this situation every year. “Whenever there are floods, the animals from Kaziranga cross over to the higher lands, and in between that is the national highway (NH 37). It is adjacent to the Brahmaputra River which (swells during) floods. How can you build a national highway there? It does not take rocket science to understand this. If you care about the land, you will do something about it,” he says, adding, “You came and promised to take care of things, you are using our tax money, but you don’t deliver. This is fundamental human sincerity that you practice as a person who is in a powerful position.”
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