Environment

More Than 90,000 Affected by Assam Floods, Kaziranga Under Water

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In a flooded village near Kaziranga, July 5, 2016. Credit: PTI

Guwahati: Nearly 90,000 people have been affected in the latest wave of floods across seven districts in Assam. Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA) sources said more than 88,000 people had been affected in 257 villages across Lakhimpur, Dhemaji, Nagaon, Jorhat, Golaghat, Morigaon and Biswanath districts.

ASDMA said that the Brahmaputra was flowing above the danger mark at Nematighat in Jorhat district and Tezpur in Sonitpur district, Subansiri at Badatighat in Lakhimpur, Dikhow at Sivasagar, Dhansiri at Golaghat town and Numaligarh in Golaghat and Jia Bharali at the NT Road crossing in Sonitpur.

Authorities have opened seven relief camps in the Lakhimpur district. More than 6,000 hectares of crop have been damaged in these districts. Flood waters also inundated a CRPF camp in Jorhat, while erosion by Dhansiri river has been reported from Golaghat.

 

Navi Gopal Das of Assam Water Resource Department said, “Four districts of northern Assam have been adversely affected by erosion, while erosion had started in the Barpeta district of southern Assam.” He said all the usual steps taken to tackle floods and to provide aid were being taken.

The Kamrup Metropolitan District Administration has stopped ferry services on Brahmaputra in Guwahati indefinitely.

The rising water levels pose a threat to wildlife population. This could become a serious concern for forest authorities as animal migration may create havoc in neighbouring villages.

Kaziranga rhinos affected in floods in Assam, 2015. Source: PTI

Kaziranga rhinos affected in floods in Assam, 2015. Credit: PTI

The Kaziranga National Park, which has the largest population of the great Indian one-horned rhinos, has been greatly affected by the floods. Almost 40% of the park area was submerged, officials told the Indian Express.

Forest officials however claimed that the water level was relatively stable and migration of wildlife had not started yet. “Almost 15% of the forest camps are submerged in water. Migration [of wildlife population] will be evident in 10-20 days as water level rises”, Divisional Forest Officer Subhashish Das told The Wire. He added that animals migrated every year because of unavailability of food material and floods, and that the “rhinos will go looking for higher grounds”.

When asked about the preparations to handle the approaching crisis, he claimed that the forest authorities were prepared.

Speaking to the Indian Express, Das had earlier said, “The district administration, however, has imposed Section 144 of the CrPC on the NH that forms the southern boundary of the Park in apprehension that animals would start migrating to highlands across the road at any time due to increase of water level.”

Kaziranga is not the only sanctuary that has been affected by the floods. Flood waters also entered the Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary – the area most densely populated by one-horned rhinos in the world.

According to PTI, forest officials said more than 70%  of the sanctuary was presently under water, forcing wild animals look for higher ground.

A defence spokesperson said the Army was monitoring the current flood situation and the level of the Brahmaputra closely.

“The Army flood relief columns are in a state of full readiness to be deployed for flood relief action as and when required in any of the affected areas,” the spokesperson added.