Erratic floods kill 4 more in Assam

Tea garden labourers catch fish as flood water enter into their garden in Morigaon district of Assam. File
  | Photo Credit:
Ritu Raj Konwar

Number of affected people increases to 28.32 lakh

The erratic floods in Assam have killed four more people, taking the death tally to 93, with landslides claiming 26 more lives since May 22.Officials said unlike most years, the water level across the flood-hit districts has been rising and ebbing frequently over the past two months. The affected people have consequently been moving back and forth between their now-submerged-now-liveable houses and the makeshift camps on higher grounds.“The damage of 212 embankments along the banks of the Brahmaputra and its major tributaries like Jia Bharali, Beki and Sonkosh has been complicating the situation this time,” an Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA) official said.Weak embankmentsWater resources experts said most of Assam’s embankments, in the first place an ill-advised step taken after India’s independence, have become too old to withstand the force of large volumes of water. Their poor maintenance has also been an issue, they said.An ASDMA spokesperson said a person each died in Bongaigaon, Golaghat, Kokrajhar and Morigaon districts on Thursday to add to the 89 who had died till Wednesday. The government, she said, has been working on a suitable compensation package.Rains in the upper reaches of the major rivers, six of them flowing over the danger mark, saw the number of flood-affected people across 26 of Assam’s 33 districts increase by 2.01 lakh to more than 28.32 lakh. Similarly, the number of people across 286 relief camps increased from 45,281 to 47,213 during the last 24 hours.Goalpara was the worst-affected district with 4.7 lakh people marooned, followed by Barpeta (4.22 lakh), Dhubri (2.87 lakh), South Salmara (2.5 lakh) and Nagaon (1.53 lakh).Barring Nagaon, all are western Assam districts.Animals hit The past 48 hours have been fatal for domesticated animals too, with at least 16 heads of cattle washed away.The situation in Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve (KNPTR) also has worsened overnight with 92% of the one-horned rhino domain now submerged. Officials said 152 of the 223 anti-poaching camps were inundated at the last count while the number of animals killed increased to 123.The animals killed include 12 rhinos and four Asiatic water buffaloes besides 93 hog deer. “Our staff and rescue workers of a rehabilitation centre have so far rescued 150 animals, 127 of which have been released in the wild after minor treatment,” said P. Sivakumar, KNPTR’s Director.

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