Worst floods in Assam since 1998, toll mounts to 22
The flood situation in Assam worsened on Thursday with new areas coming under water and the toll reaching 22.Updated: Jun 29, 2012 11:35 IST
The flood situation in Assam worsened on Thursday with new areas coming under water and the toll reaching 22.
Altogether, 21 districts have been affected following the week-long incessant rains.
The river has breached embankment at five places, affecting 1,744 villages across nine districts and 70,000 hectares of crop land.
The situation in Kamrup, Nalbari and Bongaigaon in lower Assam worsened on Thursday, after the tributaries of Brahmaputra breached their banks at eight places."The current flood is biggest since 1998," said Nilamoni Sen Deka, agriculture minister and government spokesman. "The river island Majuli is the worst sufferer."
About 1 lakh people were hit by floods in Majuli after Brahmaputra its embankment at Haldibari Sonowal Kacharigaon.
“About 70% of the island has been affected,” said Ramesh Chandra Jain, deputy commissioner of Jorhat district. “Most of the people have been rescued.” A team from Kolkata reached Majuli on Thursday for rescue operations.
The administration has opened 154 relief camps, where nearly 2 lakh people have taken shelter. On Thursday, the state government sought more relief material. A Central team is likely to visit the state soon.
The flood waters have submerged vast areas of Kaziranga National Park, forcing the animals to move to high lands of Burapahar in Karbi Anglong district.
Services affected by the floods
Flood-induced price rise
Fortunately for Assam and the rest of the Northeast, the access route to the mainland -- from where most essentials come -- hasn't yet been severed. But locally available vegetables, food grains and animal products have taken a hit.
This is primarily because large swathes of three 'food bowls' -- Barpeta district in western Assam, Darrang in north-central Assam and Nagaon-Morigaon in cental Assam -- are under water.
Take chillies for instance. Priced Rs 10 per pauwa (one-fourth of a kilo) a fortnight ago, the low-on-supply hot stuff is now selling at Rs 40. Other vegetable products are similarly costlier by three-four times. Poultry products, wherever available, are commanding 45-50% more than a fortnight ago.
The worst affected areas, however, are southern Assam, Mizoram and Tripura after heavy landslides cut off road and rail link to the rest of the country. "We are trying to keep the prices under check," said civil supplies minister Nazrul Islam.
More rains predicted
Assam has this monsoon received 31% more rainfall than normal. The average annual rainfall is 2,818mm.
Indian Meteorological Department has predicted more rain across the Northeast in the next 48 hours. The wet session is likely to scale up in the first week of July. This translates into a grimmer flood scenario.
Arunchal Pradesh too has received excess rainfall (12%), as have Mizoram (25%) and Tripura (12%) while rainiest Meghalaya has recorded normal. Manipur and Nagaland, on the other hand, have witnessed deficient rainfall of 67% and 24% respectively.
Four years ago, floodwater from river Brahmaputra nearby had temporarily affected operations at the Lokapriya Gopinath Bordoloi Airport on the western edge of Guwahati. The river is flowing above the danger mark, putting the airport under threat.
The airport has an average daily movement of 80. Take-off and landing of an aircraft is taken as a single movement.
Fortunately, the access roads to the airport from Guwahati and elsewhere are on higher ground. But an estimated 40-60 passengers stranded in water-logged areas of the city often miss flights on days of heavy downpour.
Train services affected
Floodwater is yet to hit train services on arterial tracks, though perilously close to being submerged. But train services in the hill section – from Lumding in central Assam to Barak Valley in southern Assam, Mizoram and Tripura – have been affected owing to landslides.
"There have been more than 90 breaches in the hill section (Dima Hasao district) and one of the tunnels (number 17) has a longitudinal crack. The section will take at least 25 days for restoration, that too if the weather clears up," Northeast Frontier Railway general manager RS Virdi said.
Of the 2714 passengers stranded in four trains on the hill section, 400 have been forced to stay in Harangajao railway station. The others have had to walk a bit to be moved out to the nearest serviceable road.
Apart from four passenger trains in the hill section, goods train cannot service southern Assam, Mizoram and Tripura for almost a month. This is expected to trigger a price rise.
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First Published: Jun 28, 2012 20:08 IST