Floods wreak havoc in Assam’s Barak valley

Floods overwhelm people of northeast India, but is the Indian media more interested in reporting on Shiv Sena MLAs in Assam


Shadowed by heavy clouds and the apathy of Indian mainstream media, north-east states’ residents are battling heavy rain, floods and water-logging. Houses and resources have been washed away amidst flooding river-water and landslides, even as people are boarding any means of transport available to gain higher ground. The Assam team of Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) has been working tirelessly to help locals live through these trying times. They report a grim picture for Barak Valley residents.

Plight in Barak valley

Although 33 out of 35 districts have been affected by floods by June 23, 2022 night, CJP Team’s State in-Charge Nanda Ghosh was particularly concerned about Silchar town and nearby villages.

“The situation of Barak valley, especially in Silchar and nearest villages, is out of control. There is a sudden increase in the Barak river’s water-level. Barak Valley districts Cachar, Hailakandi and Karimganj were flooded by the rising water of Barak and Kushiara rivers,” said Ghosh.

The ordeal for this town has persisted for the last five days. Hundreds of villages were submerged. In towns, flood water even reached the second-floor of buildings. People stuck inside similar such buildings await rescue personnel. However, Ghosh said there is no help from the administration to provide drinking water, food and medicine to the people until then. And though the Indian media is busy speculating upon the political leanings of the Shiv Sena MLAs who are currently in Assam, it is not bothering to report if any local MLA or MP has reached out to the trapped and helpless people of Assam. Residents told CJP Team that only local youth have ventured out to help fellow citizens.


Assam Flood

“There is no medicine, no food, and everything is unhygienic. We are requesting for a few boats to look after our neighbour but they only made one boat available on Thursday,” said a resident of Radha Nagar speaking to CJP Team.

According to official reports, the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and Border Security Force (BSF) continue with their rescue operations. 54 additional teams of the NDRF have been airlifted for this with another 54 teams about to come.

Such is the sheer volume of the water that it flooded into the Badarpur area by breaking embankments. Ghosh said the administration has yet to reach out to Badarpur residents. One after the other, struggles build up for people in the whole region. A heart-rending challege was reported by Barak folk recently.

No place to cremate, bury the dead

Residents told the CJP Team that there is no place left for cremation. The single place that was operational on Monday was submerged by June 21. Similarly, many prominent areas like Gopalganj, Neelpara, Public School road, Samsan Road are underwater. For now, Ghosh said local Congress MLA Kamalakhya Dey Purakayasthya and some others made temporary arrangements for cremation places for last rituals.

As per the Assam Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA) report on Thursday, seven out of the 12 deaths reported on that day were confirmed by 4 PM. Two of the deceased were children, one each from Barpeta and Dhubri, while the rest were men from Bajali, Barpeta, Cachar, Dhubri and Tamulpur. All of these deaths were categorised as “flood deaths”.

Unofficial reports claim over a hundred people have lost their lives so far.

Assam’s 33 districts affected

A total of 1,13,485.37 hectares of land has been affected due to the flood. According to Ghosh the flood situation in Assam is worsening day by day.

“Till Thursday, the total number of people affected was 54,57,601 as per the ASDMA. There are 2,71,125 affected people who took shelter in relief camps,” he said.

As per team’s observations, in the Brahmaputra valley area, the worst affected areas include Barpeta with over 11 lakh affected people, followed by around 7 lakh affected people in Kamrup, over 5 lakh affected people each in Dhubri and Nagaon.

As many as 2,07,143 persons in 449 villages of Cachar were affected till June 22 out of which 154 villages are from Katigorah, 85 villages are in Lakhipur, and 98 villages are in Silchar, 76 villages are in Sonai and 36 villages are in Udharbandh. Altogether 129 relief camps were set up in the district. In the Karimganj district, 88,408 persons were affected.

In addition, there was large-scale erosion in Barpeta, Dhubri, Bongaigaon, Chirang, Kokrajhar, Nagaon, Bongaigaon, Goalpara, Morigaon, Baksa, and South Salmara-Mankachar districts. As a result, a lot of agricultural land was washed away along with household animals like cows, goats and so on.

“It is going to badly affect the agriculture sector in Assam,” said Ghosh.

Floods have also made it impossible for pregnant women to go to nearby hospitals for medical treatment. CJP Team recollected how locals in the Baghbar constituency of Barpeta recently demanded that the government provide access to boat ambulances in flood-affected areas. This demand came after a pregnant woman was referred from Mandiya hospital to another place for treatment. At the time, local MLA Sherman Ali helped the woman reach the other hospital.

Reacting to all this, Congress MP Gourab Gogoi said, “The BJP has gone blind for power. There are floods in Assam. The Prime Minister should visit the state and announce special package. But he is busy toppling the government of Maharashtra or in Gujarat elections[sic].”

Aside from the government, there is something to be said about the apathy of the media that has altogether ignored the flood situation in north-east India.

What is the mainstream media covering?

All one can see on TV channels and newspaper headlines nowadays is the recent possible-toppling of the Maharashtra government, the scandal regarding the party-change of 40 MLAs and if there is some extra time left, some coverage of Agnipath reports. Yet, barely any prime-time slot in recent days has been dedicated to the state of the people in Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram.

Summary reports from NDTV show that 18 people died in Meghalaya in this week alone. Two of its regions, Mawsynram and Cherrapunji, received their highest rainfall since 1940. Around a week ago, the state government had asked for fiscal assistance of ₹ 300 cr. A portion of NH6 at Lum Shnong in East Jaintia Hills was damaged.

The TV channel reported how multiple landslides in the area had disrupted the land commute between Jaintia Hills in Meghalaya to three neighbouring states of Assam, Mizoram, and Tripura. Similarly, water from Subansiri river in Arunachal Pradesh submerged a dam that was under construction for a hydroelectric power project. Yet, a large section of the media has turned a blind eye to this.


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