The celebrities being tested corona positive, political dramas, water-logging in Delhi is all over newspapers and Indian news channels. India’s northeastern and eastern states are facing devastating floods which hardly receive any spotlight. And this isn’t novel like the corona pandemic, our country suffers a loss of life and property due to floods every year. 20% of the deaths due to floods happen alone in India. Since Independence, loss of more than 1 lakh lives and 3.5 trillion rupees have been registered along flood disasters in India. North East India is drowning and just like every other northeastern issue, this is also being overlooked.
Why Flood every year in the North East?
Assam had frequent floods every 4 to 5 years but since the last few years, this has been an annual disaster. Brahmaputra River and its tributaries are the main cause of floods in Assam. 72% of Assam is placed flanking the Brahmaputra River. The 1950 earthquake raised the ground, increasing the water level which led to an annual flood and became a part of Assam’s ecosystem. It made the soil of the area fertile. But what changed this flood from natural phenomenon to natural calamity is the continuous deforestation in the northeast and parts of Assam. Because of this, during monsoon, the Brahmaputra River carries 2.12 million metric tons of sediment every day and the river flows beyond the red alert level.
River Ganga divides Bihar into North Bihar and South Bihar. Rivers from Jharkhand merge and increase the water level of Ganga which leads to flooding in the capital Patna and other districts. North Bihar gets flooded every year mainly because of rivers that come from Nepal. These rivers have a high flowing tendency and flowing from a height causes more water flow. The incessant rainfall during the monsoon adds to the annual flood. The recent cyclones in the Bay of Bengal has increased the intensity of rainfall in the North East which further stretches the flooding fiasco.
Catastrophe in the North Eastern States
Assam and parts of North Bihar are submerged in floods for months now which furthermore increases the threat of Covid-19 spread. Habitats of humans and animals have been ruined leading to chaotic conditions of these states. The focal disappointment is that any terrible damage in the North-East is treated as the Northeastern issue. It doesn’t receive the national attention as it should regardless of the mayhem.
In a total of 33 districts of Assam, 28 are brutally affected by floods. Assam is facing the third wave of flood this month which has left them helpless and no improvement can be seen. 7 million people are stuck in the chaos, they became homeless overnight and several are starving. Thousands of people are still stuck in their houses and are trying to survive with neck-deep waters until help reaches them. Those who are not in the relief camp have been camped by the roadside. Flood has taken twice the number of lives in Assam than COVID. “Two more people have lost their lives in the floods in the state, taking the total death toll to 87,” said the Government of Assam, (ASDMA).
Crops in 1,09,600 hectares in 24 districts have been damaged. Assam is home to the largest population of one-horned rhinos and houses more than 2,600 of them. The KAZIRANGA NATIONAL PARK keeps them safe from Poachers. But today 95% of Kaziranga is submerged. Animals are drowning. Some are moving to the Highways, where they are either attacked by poachers or killed by accidents. Over 200 wild animals are dead. 10 Rhinos have lost their life. This is a major loss for the world’s biodiversity.
In Bihar, villages and cities are equally affected by the flood. Even the capital Patna is flooded with water. More than 7.6 lakhs people are affected. Floods have washed away a school building in Bihar’s Bhagalpur district. Amidst this situation, a pregnant woman was taken to the nearest government health care facility, for delivery, on a makeshift raft in Bihar’s flood-hit Darbhanga district. Doctors at a COVID-19 care facility in Bihar’s Supaul district have been forced to rely on cycle-carts to reach the medical center, where COVID patients are receiving treatment after heavy rains left surrounding roads waterlogged.
Attention deficit of the public, policy dyslexia and lack of political will lie at the roots of the recurring tragedy of flooding in Assam and Bihar. If India starts acting on the yearly floods in Bihar and Assam, that would be true nationalism– Yogendra Yadav (National President of Swaraj, Political analyst and Activist)
An estimated 2.4 million children have been affected by the recent floods said UNICEF. They are working with the government and partners to respond quickly and effectively. The havoc may outstretch way beyond as the weather forecast informs of more haunting rain in the northeast. The government has set up 276 relief camps and 192 relief distribution centers across the districts to help the people affected by the floods in the state of Assam. The Chief Minister directed officials to create awareness regarding Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) among farmers while expediting relief measures to those affected by the Assam floods. 21 teams of the National Disaster WorkForce have been employed in Bihar.
The country is making a possible effort to support its people. Though it took a bit longer, people and celebrities are now donating in the Relief Funds by the Government and other Organizations. The Government and the public need to take serious concern about flood management and should work out long term projects for handling the floods in the North East.