Assam Flood: All You Need to Know

Floods wreak havoc in Assam every year during the monsoon season. These floods caused by long and heavy spells of rain and causes very severe loss of lies and  property and shamble the economy of the state.  Floods are caused mainly by two river systems – the Brahmaputra and the Barak. The geographical setting of the region, high intensity rainfall, easily erodible geographical formations aggravates the floods situation.

Extent of Flood:

  1. Most of the districts of the State were affected by the floods. Generally only two districts not to see flooding were Karbi Anglong West and Dimaha Sao, both hilly regions.
  2. Over 3,90,000 hectares of agricultural lands, growing paddy and vegetables, were inundated by the floods.

Main Reasons:  

  1. Heavy Rainfall in some year or some continuous spell of heavy rain either in Assam or in the upstream region of it’s main rivers.
  2. Rainfall in upstream also contributes to flooding, as the water flow increases downstream.
  3. Physiology of the region is still young and the lesser Himalaya regions are still in the process of forming. The soft rocks, in the absence of green top cover, easily gives way to gushing waters.
  4. Brahmaputra valley carries huge amount of water and is one of the most hazard prone area. Sediment load of Brahmaputra is highest in the world and thus it makes 40% of Assam’s land as flood prone.
  5. Human-induced problems like destruction of wetlands, deforestation, and encroachments on river banks.
  6. Most cities and towns suffer due to poor planning.
  7. Organised system of flood-related data logging is fairly new and inexperienced in the State. Also, the State Disaster Management came into being only in 2010.
  8. Explosive population growth in the state which led to encroachment of riverine areas, char areas, natural water reservoir areas etc. which alter and degrade the natural drainage system.

Losses due to Flood:

  1. Loss of lives are in thousands. In the past five years, only in 2013, no death was reported due to floods.
  2. Loss of animals are also very huge as the area is a bio-diversity hot-spot with 5 National Parks and so many species of unique animals.
  3. Loss of property is unprecedented, and it is more significant as most of the sufferers of Assam flood are the poor who lose their bare-minimum assets like stock of grains, cattles and huts.
  4. Loss of Agriculture due to prolong inundation
  5. Loss to infrastructure includes damages to houses, dykes, embankments, roads, bridges, schools, angan wadi centers costing hundreds of crores every year.
  6. As per Oxfam India, 2017 flood of Assam have resulted in a loss of over Rs 2939 crores.
  7. The aftermath of deluge brings the threat of malnutrition, diarrhoea, water-borne diseases like cholera and dysentery, psychological stress and human trafficking. Drinking water and sanitation also remain a challenge.

Steps taken by the Govt:

  1. Rivers in Assam, including the Brahmaputra, are embanked in places.
  2. During the monsoon, the Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA) and NGOs identify dry lands in upper regions and organise shelter for people living in low-lying areas.
  3. Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA) was established in 2010.

Possible long-term solutions

  1. Rejuvenation of wetlands.
  2. Reconstruction of embankments.
  3. Increase the water carrying capacity of rivers by dredging them.
  4. Constructing reservoirs to hold water during monsoon.
  5. Increasing forest cover.
  6. Construction of storage dams upstream.
  7. Decentralised weather forecast.
  8. Plan well and clear the drainage system in urban areas.
  9. Development of Extensive and effective rainwater harvesting plans.
  10. Control of population growth

FACT FILE: Assam Flood 2017

1.Number of People Affected: 33.5 Lakh
2.Villages Affected: 3186 villages were severly damaged in 25 districts*.
3.Districts Affected: Lakhimpur, Jorhat, Golaghat, Cachar, Dhemjai, Biswanath, Karimganj, Sonitpur, Majuli, Barpeta, Nagaon, Nalbari, Sivasagar, Morigaon, Chiranng, Dibrugarh, Dhubri, Kokrajhar, South Salmara
4.Oxfam’s Goal: To reach out to 8000 Households
5.Reported human lives lost – 157
6. ASDMA has run 954 relief camps providing shelter to a total of 4,51,846 people.