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Fury of flood continues in Assam

Even as the national media is focusing in solving the mystery of socialite Indrani Mukerjea and her daughter’s murder and media is Assam is busy in strong Congress leader Himanta Biswa Sarma joining the BJP, lakhs of people are still suffering due to flood across the state.

Till August 29, more than 12 districts of the state were reeling under flood water which affected at least 2.50 lakhs. Besides, flood alerts under the Flood Early Warning System (FLEWS) have been issued by Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA) in Barpeta and Dhemaji districts on Saturday. The ASDMA said that chances of occurring is low to moderate flood in next 24 to 48 hours in these areas.

So far Dhemaji, Kokrajhar, Bongaigaon, Sonitpur, Barpeta, Goalpara, Morigaon, Golaghat, Cachar, Nagaon, Lakhimpur and Karimganj districts are under water. Among these, Dhemaji, Lakhimpur, Karimganj, Goalpara and Barpeta districts have been worst affected.

The river Barak has also crossed the danger level at Cachar and Katakhal at Hailakandi besides Kushiyara at Karimganj in the Barak valley.

More than 1.30 lakh population have been affected in Dhemaji district alone besides around 29,000 hectares of crops were destroyed by the flood water on Saturday after a slight development of the scenario.

Though the state government has claimed, setting up relief camps to accommodate the victims the reality seems to be different in the locality.

“The situation in Dhemaji is extremely pathetic. With the incessant rain, even the assessment work is getting disturbed. Honestly speaking, no such work towards rehabilitation could be seen here,” said Luit Goswami, Director of Rural Volunteer Centre, a Dhemji based NGO.

Goswami said that the national highway link at Demow is placed at a crucial point. “It can be washed away at any moment by the waves of flood water. If the water takes it away, the people of the district will suffer more,” Goswami added.

The people who have lost their crops and domestic animal now pray for the safety of their family members at the temporary relief camps. “This has been the part and parcel of lives for decades. We are poor people and the fury of nature makes us suffer more. The crops are destroyed in the fields. We just cannot do anything,” said Hemanta Deori, a farmer.

A report by Jhai Foundation which has been working for relief and rehabilitation in the flood affected areas revealed that huge number flood victims from char (riverine) areas are taking shelter in a very deplorable condition.

There are many shelter camps set up in raised areas and schools in char areas, however those shelter camps are not recognized by administration and thus no relief and humanitarian support are reaching those flood victims, the report revealed.

“We conducted assessment in three char villages — Tapajuli Pathar, Mazidbhita and Number 4 Bhera under Baghbar Revenue Circle of Barpeta district. These three villages have around 450 households with a population of over 2500. The char is surrounded by river Beki and Bhelengi. The water of river Beki is still flowing over danger level. There are certain needs for the victims,” said Abdul Kalam Azad, chief functionary of Jhai Foundation and a community worker.

The assessment team has found that there are some serious need in the field of health and hygiene besides food and shelter.

The report adds: There is no sanitary toilet available in the assessed areas. In char areas most of the toilets are not of concrete structure and set up in the plain land. The flood water has submerged all the toilets, as a result 100 percent char people are going for open defecation. On the other hand, a large number of people use flood water for washing cloth, cooking and even drinking purpose. There are a few hand-pumps are working which were set up in relatively raised areas. Due to flood water, cattle, earthworm and other insects have died and polluted the water. As far as personal hygiene is concerned, women and adolescent girls are facing serious issues.

Kalam said that there are needs of water purifying tablet, plastic buckets for water storing, sanitary napkin, phenyl, soap, detergent power and toilets among others.

Besides, the health is a major concern for the victims during and after any flood. So far at least 14 people have been killed by the flood waves in the state this year.

The central government has assured all possible support for flood-ravaged state, and rescue and relief operations have been intensified in several districts of the state following the chief minister Tarun Gogoi’s request to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi for Rs 500 crore assistance.

DoNER minister Jitendra Singh who visited the state recently announced the advance release of second instalment of the central share of state disaster relief fund amounting to approximately Rs 207 crore.

[Abdul Gani’s Article Published by]

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