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Assam: Floods have killed more people than Corona, yet no solution

The Assam floods have been rampant this year with the onset of monsoon. This has already affected major districts of the state. However, the effects have only increased when the 2nd wave of flood struck again.

The water level of several rivers including the mighty Brahmaputra at different parts of Assam is flowing above danger level causing flood and consequently leaving thousands of families homeless.

2020: Assam Floods

The Brahmaputra is flowing above the danger level at Neematighat in Jorhat and Dhubri, Tezpur. Burhidehing at Chenimari (Dibrugarh), Dhansiri (S) at Numaligargh (Golaghat); Jia Dharali at NT Road Crossing, Puthimari NH Road Crossing (Kamrup), Pagladiya at NH Road Crossing (Nalbari); Manas at NH Road Crossing (Barpeta); Beki at Road Bridge (Barpeta), Sankosh at Golakganj (Dhubri) in Assam as on 28th June.

The second wave of the flood has affected 1719 villages in 26 districts in the state – Dhemaji, Lakhimpur, Biswanath, Udalguri, Darrang, Baksa, Nalbari, Bongaigaon, Kokrajhar, Barpeta, Nagaon, Golaghat, Jorhat, Majuli, Sivasagar, Dibrugarh, Kamrup Tinsukia among other districts. There are 74 revenue circles which have been affected.

A total of 9,26,059 people and 72,665 hectares of crop area have been affected in the second wave of the flood so far. Meanwhile, 213 relief camps have been installed in three districts. In the relief camps, there are so far 49,339 people.

There are 586407 big animals, 3,08,866 small and 6,32,559 poultry.

4 deaths were announced on 29th June. 2 more deaths in Udalguri and Jonai, Assam. Earlier, 2 deaths in Goalpara circle taking the death toll to 24. The total number of deaths from landslides is 23.

2019 Assam Floods

The 2019 Brahmaputra Floods, till July 16, affected a total of 52,59,142 people, 1,63,962.02 hectares of crop area, in 30 districts in the state of Assam. In the State, the death toll rose to 59 on 20 July. At least 3,024 villages in the affected districts continued to be underwater and 44,08,142 people are hit in Dhemaji, Lakhimpur, Biswanath, Sonitpur district, Darrang, Barpeta, Nalbari, Chirang, Bongaigaon, Kokrajhar, Dhubri, South Salmara, Goalpara, Kamrup, Kamrup Metro, Morigaon, Nagaon, Karbi Anglong, Golaghat, Jorhat, Dibrugarh, Tinsukia, Cachar and Karimganj districts.

Notably, in this wave of floods, 2400 an endangered species of Indian rhinoceros in Kaziranga National Park were badly affected by the Flood.

The statistics from the last two years reveal the manace of floods and the numbers of lives it has taken and people it has affected. This year, however, the floods have coinicded with the corona pandemic, which makes it more vulnerable.

Also read: Assam: NHM employees brave dual challenge of corona and floods

The Corona equation

Assam reported a total of 327 COVID-19 cases on June 28th, 2020 taking the state’s total to 7492. Of the 7492 cases, 2390 are active cases while 5088 have been cured and discharged and nine died due to the infection in the state so far. Guwahati alone reported a surge of 195 cases on June 29th, 2020. At times like these, rampant testing and reaching out to the most vulnerable during the calamity is of outmost importance for the people in Assam.

The govt has thus decided to go for another lockdown since 27th June, which includes complete lockdown for Guwahati (Kamrup M) and weekend for the rest of the state. The lockdown has affected the markets of the city that has only started to recover after the initial lockdowns. Following the announcement, panic buying was done with prices of potatoes reaching almost Rs 100. There was also a lack of stock for the people as they struggle to get the basic essentials. The worst hit were that of the daily wage labourers who are finding it difficult to stock up items for the next 14 days.

Questions raised

The situation has raised a pertinent issue: whether the lockdown was necessary? Why the state government went for a full lockdown after announcing ward wise lockdown? The corona death toll so far is 11 and affected people are below 10,000 with recovery rate increasing. At the same time, more people have died from the floods. Then why has been the issue of flood always avoided by respective governments?

Former Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi further the matter. In a press conference, he said, “Why is there no expert committee in lockdown before the announcement was made. They should have consulted economist, medical experts. What happened to the Chinese kits? where are they? The govt should do strict measures but lockdown plan is wrong. The Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma also said cases will decrease by 10th June. If the mortality is less, recovery is more then why is he scared? There are more deaths in floods than from corona in Assam this year”.

Lastly, by giving a two-day window for people in Guwahati to return back to their native villages, has the government increased the risk for other areas since Guwahati has shown an increasing number of cases.

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