About 36.50 lakh people are affected by the current floods that have hit Assam. The state, which has 33 districts, has reported 26 districts affected by the floods. These include Dhemaji, Lakhimpur, Biswanath, Sonitpur, Darrang, Baksa, Nalbari, Barpeta, Chirang, Bongaigaon, Kokrajhar, Dhubri, South Salmara, Goalpara, Kamrup, Kamrup (Metro), Morigaon, Nagaon, Hojai, Golaghat, Jorhat, Majuli, Sivasagar, Dibrugarh, Tinsukia, Karbi Anglong. Dhubri is known to be the worst-hit with about 5.51 lakh people affected; with 5.30 lakh people affected in Barpeta; 4.28 lakh in Goalpara; 4.20 lakh in Morigaon; and 2.25 lakh in South Salmara district.
The floods are known to have already caused damage to 191 embankments, 133 bridges and culverts and 1,414 roads across Assam. Several other infrastructure are known to have been damaged at places in Lakhimpur, Biswanath, Chirang, Kokrajhar, Barpeta, Darrang, Bongaigaon, Udalguri, Nagaon, Kamrup, Baksa and Dhubri districts.
Presently, it is known that 3,363 villages under 91 revenue circles of 26 districts are under water and nearly 1.29 lakh hectares of crop areas have been submerged or damaged across the state.
As per a report by the Assam Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA), the death toll due to the floods in Assam has reached 68, having claimed two more lives today. So far, 94 people have died in the flood-related incidents in the state – 68 in the floods and 26 in landslides.
It is reported that about 4,000 people have been rescued in the last 24 hours by the NDRF, the SDRF, district administrations and local people by deploying 180 boats across the state. Authorities are also running 629 relief camps and distribution centres across 23 districts, where around 36,320 people are known to have taken shelter.
The Brahmaputra River is reportedly known to be flowing above the danger mark at Neamatighat in Jorhat district, Tezpur in Sonitpur district, Guwahati, Dhubri and Goalpara. Its tributaries – Dhansiri at Numaligarh in Golaghat, Jia Bharali at NT Road Crossing in Sonitpur, Kopili at Kampur and Dharamtul in Nagaon, Beki at Road Bridge in Barpeta and Kushiyara at Karimganj town – are also flowing above the red marks, as reported. Massive erosions have been reportedly witnessed at various places in the districts of Nalbari, Baksa, Bongaigaon and Kokrajhar.
But floods and erosions have been destroying lives, people and properties around the Brahmaputra since ages now, and the river island Majuli has been witness to some major disasters over time. These floods and erosions were known to be annual events for years together and corrupt officials and contractors were known to have viewed this as a great opportunity to make quick money. It was known that before the onset of floods year-after-year, various agencies would show a surge in activities to build on and strengthen the embankments and find temporary solutions to resist the Brahmaputra. However, most of these were rendered useless by the river, making only a few corrupt government officials and contractors the true beneficiaries of this activity.
Notably, way back in 1915, the Majuli island was known to be a bustling cultural and economic centre of 787 sq km. In 2005, this has been reduced to just 508 sq km. Evidently, Majuli – a cultural nerve centre of Assam – can be an economic growth engine, only if the government strives to make it happen.