Environment

Assam Floods Claim 19 Lives as Sonowal Reviews Situation

A view of the flooded Katoguri village in Morigaon district of Assam on Thursday. Credit: PTI

A view of the flooded Katoguri village in Morigaon district of Assam on Thursday. Credit: PTI

Guwahati: The death toll in the current spate of floods in Assam mounted to 19 on July 6 with over four lakh people in 15 districts suffering after the deluge.

The situation has prompted the state government to open 128 relief camps with the chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal taking stock of the situation, a government release said.

Shankar Dolui, a ten-year-old boy in Lakhimpur district, died on July 6 after he drowned near his house, pushing the death toll on account of the floods to 19, the release said.

The Brahmaputra, Dikhow Dhansiri, Jia Bharali, Beki and Kushiyara rivers are in spate, affecting 47 revenue circles and 857 revenue villages, it said, adding the surging waters have damaged more than 16,000 hectares of crop area in the state.

The flood affected districts are Lakhimpur, Jorhat, Golaghat, Sivasagar, Cachar, Dhemaji, Biswanath, Karimganj, Sonitpur, Hojai, Majuli, Barpeta, Chirang, Nagaon and Nalbari.

Both rhino habitats of Kaziranga National Park (KNP) in upper Assam and Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary in Central Assam, which is the most dense habitat of one horned rhinos in the world, are under water, forest department officials said.

Over 50% of KNP has been submerged by flood waters forcing the animals to shift to higher grounds in and around the World Heritage Site, they said.

Prohibitory orders have been clamped along NH 37 from Jakhalabandha to Bokakhat and vehicles plying on the busy road have been restricted to speed limit of 40 km per hour, while barricades at several points have been erected and forest personnel are manning the highway round-the-clock for safety of the migrating animals, officials said.

Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary has been completely submerged by flood waters forcing all animals including the rhinos to move to nearby highlands for shelter, divisional forest officer, Guwahati Wildlife Division, P. Boruah said.

The deluge breached the main connecting PWD Road from National Highway to Pobitora at several points on July 6, disrupting communication to the sanctuary, he said.

In an emergency review meeting here, Sonowal directed the Revenue and Disaster Management department and district administration to reach out to the affected people and step up relief and rescue operations across the state.

He asked the department officials to disburse ex-gratia relief to the family members of those killed in the floods within 48 hours of their death, the release said.

Instructing the Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Department along with the SDRF to undertake rescue operations of marooned animals and provide fodder to cattle, Sonowal directed the Agriculture Department to ensure supply of superior quality seeds to the farmers whose crops have been damaged in the flood, the release said.

MPs and MLAs have been asked to remain in their constituencies and supervise rescue and relief operations, while public sector power company APDCL has been asked to ensure no casualties take place due to flood-induced electrocution, it said.

Water Resources minister Keshab Mahanta, chief secretary V. K. Pipersenia, additional chief secretaries and other senior officials were present at the meeting.

(PTI)