Abhinav Khare deep dives into the reasons why Assam floods have been ignored perennially, from newspaper headlines, from prime time television, everywhere…. But let us not forget that floods in Assam are a yearly tradition. Till July 24, the death toll was 66 and it is likely to go up. Out of the 33 districts, 28 have been affected and over 4000 villages are submerged. Out of the 3 crore people in Assam, over 53 lakh people have been affected in these floods. Even the rhinos of Kaziranga National Park have suffered significant damages.

Floods have historically caused immense damages to Assam. According to Central Water Commission data (1953-2016), on an average, 26 lakh people are affected every year in Assam; 47 lose lives, 10,961 cattle die, Rs 7 crore worth of houses get destroyed and the total damage comes up to Rs 128 crore every year.

 

So, why is Assam so flood-prone?

Assam falls under the meteorological zone which receives extremely high rainfall during monsoon. According to the Brahmaputra Board, a central body under the ministry of Jal Shakti tasked to monitor and control floods, the region receives rainfall "ranging from 248 cm to 635... Rainfall of more than 40 mm in an hour is frequent and around 70 mm per hour is also not uncommon." They have also recorded 500mm of rainfall during a single rain.

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Assam is also extremely prone to earthquakes, which causes landslides thus depositing silt and debris into the rivers, raising the river beds. According to a paper published in the International Journal for Scientific Research and Development, "Brahmaputra water contains more sediments raising river by 3 metres in some places and reducing the water carrying capacity of the river."

The government needs to take up serious measures to solve this crisis. They should construct like dykes, reservoirs, embankments, watersheds, and create different channels for diverting river waters when it is above the danger levels.

The yearly Assam floods have failed to garner the attention of our government. The loss of innocent lives, have failed to make it to the national news. While we cannot stop the floods entirely, we can definitely reduce the damages. Both, the central and the state governments need to work in tandem to ensure that innocent lives are not lost and also to help survivors get back on their feet.