Updated: Jul 6
People in Assam are facing unimaginable difficulties because of the floods that have come at a time of the coronavirus crisis, otherwise floods are nothing new for Assam state. This year, however, compounded by the coronavirus crisis.
A phenomenon that ravages different parts of Assam every year like clockwork — displacing people, destroying crops and damaging homes — floods are not unusual in this part of the country, particularly during monsoons. This time, however, it is not just the threat of rising waters that is facing the people of the state. Immediate damage aside—of agricultural fields inundated, roads and bridges broken, cutting off communication—the looming threat of COVID-19 in the flood relief camps set up by the administration, threatens to push the already-vulnerable to higher risk.
Over 16 lakh people in Assam have been affected by the second wave of floods.
Over 22 districts have been affected in the state.
The death toll due to the floods has gone up to 34.
The floodwaters have submerged 72,717 hectares of croplands and affected 2,053 villages under 60 revenue circles in the flood-hit districts.
A total of 12,597 people have taken shelter at 171 relief camps and many others still taking shelter on roads, embankments and other safer places.
The novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has added to the challenge, particularly in the flood relief camps.
Flood has affected over 16 lakh domestic animals.
More than 50 per cent areas of Kaziranga National Park and Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary are still inundated and the current flood has forced many animals to move to safer places like the Karbi hills area.
Assam has been struck by the season’s first flood, triggered by cyclone Amphan, affecting nearly three lakh people in nine districts.
State authorities have had an uphill task organising their response, even as they also deal with the COVID-19 epidemic. Before the floods, government officials had also been preoccupied with arranging quarantine facilities for people returning to the state from around the country, which were already in disarray thanks to Cyclone Amphan.
In early June, the blowout at Oil India’s Baghjan oil field in Tinsukia district caught fire, and has been burning since.
Most of the protected areas in the state, including Kaziranga, Manas, Dibru-Saikhowa, Orang, Nameri, Pobitora, Laokhowa and Bura Chapori, are flooded. In the absence of good infrastructure and sufficient human resources, floods spell doom for the plants and animals in this area every year.
The Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary has India’s highest concentration of rhinoceroses, and over 90% of it is currently underwater. The Brahmaputra is currently flowing over 70% of Kaziranga National Park. Locals have spotted animals crossing over to the adjacent Karbi Anglong hills. But in the process, a number of animals were killed or injured by speeding vehicles on NH 37. Until now, 18 animals have been found dead and 13 have been killed by speeding vehicles on the highway,” according to park authorities.
According to the Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA), as many as 8.60 lakh have been affected in Barpeta district while 1.95 lakh people have been hit by the flood in South Salmara.
Additionally, around 95,000 people in Goalpara, 85,700 people in Nalbari, 62,500 people in Morigaon, 55,000 people in Darrang, 47,800 people in Dhemaji and 41,500 people in Dhubri district have been affected.