Environment

Floods and Landslides Create Havoc in Northeast; Several Dead, Thousands Displaced

The water level in many states has reached waist level while power cuts and lack of water supply has further affected daily lives.

Residents of a colony in Guwahati being rescued by a team of Disaster Respond Force. Credit: PTI.

Residents of a colony in Guwahati being rescued by a team of Disaster Respond Force. Credit: PTI.

New Delhi: Flash floods and landslides, triggered by incessant rains, have continued to create havoc in the northeast, claiming several lives and displacing thousands of people besides damaging crops, properties and all means of communication.

On June 22, a young man was killed by electrocution in a waterlogged street of the largest city of the region, Guwahati. An employee of a fast food joint, Dulal Malakar, entered the water-filled street to his home in the city’s Zoo Road area, not knowing that a high tension power line from a post nearby had snapped due to the heavy rains.

Local media reports quoting eye witnesses said Malakar screamed as soon as he entered the water, forcing many others to stop from going ahead. They said he died within a few minutes. His body was thereafter washed away by rain and was fished out by local residents some distance away half an hour later. Reports said another person was injured due to electrocution in the same spot earlier in the day.

Since June 13, this is the third death on the flooded streets of the city due to electrocution. The city administration has ordered a magisterial inquiry into these incidents.

Meanwhile, all educational institutions have been closed in the city due to inability of school buses and other vehicles to ply on the inundated streets. The water level in many places has reached waist level, forcing a large number of people to stay away from work. Long hours of power cut and lack of water supply has further affected daily lives.

Assam chief minister Sarbanada Sonowal called an emergency meeting of city officials to take stock of the situation, soon after Malakar’s death due to electrocution was reported, and asked Assam Power Distribution Corporation Limited, responsible for power supply and upkeep of the lines, to pay a sum of Rs 2.5 lakh to Malakar’s family. The Kamrup (Metro) district administration also released an ex gratia of Rs 4 lakh under the State Disaster Relief Fund (SDRF).

Other parts of Assam too have been affected by flooding due to the heavy downpour since the last few days. The continuous rain has led to a rise in the water level of the Brahmaputra and its tributaries, particularly affecting those living in the districts of Lakhimpur, Darrang and Hailakandi. According to Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA), over 400 hectares of farmland with standing crops have been affected due to the rains in these districts. The Darrang district is reported to be the worst affected with houses of about 25,000 people from 52 villages under Sipajhar and Patharughat revenue circle submerged by the rising waters of the Nonoi river.

Meanwhile, the local administration has clamped prohibitory orders along National Highway 37 that passes through the Kaziranga national park to enable free and easy movement of the animals coming out of the park during the rains.

Bokakhat sub divisional officer (civil) Dhiraj Das told local reporters that like the previous years, Section 144 has been imposed along the highway since June 18 till further orders as the water levels of the Brahmaputra and Difloo rivers have been on the rise, submerging many parts of the park. Animals cross the highway to enter the highlands in the adjoining Karbi Anglong district during the monsoons. Presence of too many people and vehicles may disrupt their movement to safety. Keeping this in mind, the speed of vehicular traffic has also been ordered to be reduced to 30 km per hour.

Meanwhile, heavy rains have disrupted everyday life in most of the other northeastern states too. In Tripura, over 2000 families have been displaced after rain waters surged into their houses. As per local media reports, the displaced, belonging to West Tripura and Khowai districts, have been put up in 50 relief camps.

The state administration has used the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and Tripura State Rifles teams besides officials of the district administrations to supply relief and rescue to the affected. State chief minister Manik Sarkar held an emergency meeting with the concerned officials on June 20 to review the rescue and rehabilitation situation and directed the administration to open control rooms in the affected districts.

State meteorological department head Dilip Saha told local reporters that the capital city itself has received much more rains than it usually does this time of the year. “In June, 695 mm rainfall was recorded in Agartala against the expected normal monsoon rainfall of 421 mm,” he said.

In Manipur too, at least 14 people have been reported to be dead and several others missing so far due to heavy rains lashing the state. The rains have led to a rise in the water levels of rivers Imphal, Iril and Nambuk, causing submersion of low lying areas in several places, including the state chief minister N. Biren’s constituency, Heingang.

As per media reports on June 14, not just the roads of Imphal but even its flyovers were filled with rain waters, stopping vehicular traffic altogether. Reports said many houses in the Kangpokpi district have been submerged by the rain waters leading to displacement of people while several villages in Senapati district have lost connectivity with the rest of the state. Flood waters have also affected some parts of the national highway that connects Nagaland to Manipur and Assam besides affecting standing crops.

In Mizoram, since June 9, the incessant rains have triggered heavy landslides and floods. As per latest reports, at least 12 people have died and 877 buildings destroyed in the state. Around ten buildings have submerged in Aizawl itself. Around 100 families have been shifted to safer places from over 50 other buildings in the last few days. Power supply and telecommunication networks have been badly affected.

A vehicle is crashed after a heavy landslide near the base of a multi-storied building following heavy rains in Aizawl. Credit: PTI

A vehicle is crashed after a heavy landslide near the base of a multi-storied building following heavy rains in Aizawl. Credit: PTI

According to the state disaster management and rehabilitation department on June 18, the flood waters have damaged 137 hectares of cultivated areas and 62 fish ponds. As many as 2000 families have been affected, it said.

The entire south Mizoram bordering Myanmar has remained cut off from the rest of the state since June 15. State chief minister Lal Thanhawla has set up a high level committee to assess the flood situation.

In Meghalaya’s Ri Bhoi district, at least three people have been reported killed and three others missing due to landslides caused by the rains.

Meanwhile, the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) has opened the Bhalukpong-Charduar-Tawang road in Arunachal Pradesh for vehicular traffic on June 22. The strategic road, which connects the country’s border with China in Bumla area, had been closed since June 19 due to landslides caused by heavy rains. The landslides stranded over 200 people including tourists, leading the BRO to create a foot route to rescue them.

The rains have continued to throw life out of gear in the entire state. Power supply has been badly affected due to it. As per latest reports, the army rescued over 200 people, including 50 children, stranded due to landslides in the West Kameng district. On June 18, a school girl was killed and three others were seriously injured in a landslide in a village near the state capital, Itanagar. As per local police, at least five houses were destroyed in the landslide.

  • K SHESHU BABU

    This is perennial problem. The north east region has been facing excessive rainfall and floods partly due to it’s geographical disadvantage. The climate change by human made factors like deforestation, illegal constructions, plunder of resources,etc have added to the worsening situation. Central and state should prepare for rehabilitation measures much in advance so that people may not face problems when monsoon arrives

  • ashok759

    Assam has barely 12% of its cultivated area under irrigation. All this priceless water will soon empty into the ocean, carrying away topsoil and causing economic damage. All the countries in the region should explore ways of cooperating to make better use of shared water resources.