The flood situation in Assam, Bihar, Uttarakhand, and Uttar Pradesh worsened on Thursday (July 23), and rescue and relief operations are underway at Assam and Bihar.
A total of 16 National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams have been deployed in Assam and 20 in Bihar, according to NDRF Director General S N Pradhan.
The floods come amid the already existing crisis with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Two more persons were killed on Wednesday (July 22) and over 26 lakh people across 26 districts in Assam were affected.
The total number of people losing their lives in this year’s flood and landslide has gone up to 115 across the state — 89 in flood-related incidents and 26 in landslides.
According to Wednesday’s flood report of the Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA), one person each died at Baghbor of Barpeta and Morigaon revenue circle in Morigaon district.
Goalpara is the worst-hit district with over 4.68 lakh people suffering, followed by Barpeta (3.82 lakh people affected), and Morigaon (3.08 lakh people).
Residents evacuated as water breaches bank
The sudden increase in the water levels at the river that flows down from Meghalaya in Gova Mouza left hundreds homeless overnight.
“The killing river got flooded quickly. It was a sudden flood. We somehow managed to escape. Today, water has receded here but is increasing on the other end,” NDTV quoted Ranjit Baishnab, a flood survivor, as saying.
All those who have been evacuated are now in relief camps, including the elderly to children.
Over 300 villages in Morigaon district have been affected by the floods. The Mayong circle in Morigaon has one of the highest-affected villages.
As of Wednesday night, 2,525 villages were under water and 1,15,515.25 hectares of crop areas have been damaged across Assam, the ASDMA said.
The deluge has so far killed 120 animals, while 147 others were rescued in Kaziranga National Park, the bulletin said, quoting the forest officer of the Eastern Assam Wildlife Division. The flood has also affected 23,89,401 domestic animals and poultry across the state, it added.
Centre announces ₹346 crore as first installment to tackle flood situation in Assam
The Centre will soon release ₹346 crore as an initial amount for handling the flood situation in Assam, an official statement said on Wednesday.
Union Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat held a detailed discussion with Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal over the flood situation in the state through a video-conference, during which he conveyed the decision, it said.
“To effectively manage the relief and rehabilitation works, the Union Jal Shakti Minister assured that an amount of ₹346 crore will be released immediately from his ministry to the Assam government as the first installment under the Flood Management Programme (FMP),” the statement said.
Shekhawat urged Sonowal to send more proposals for sanctioning under the Disaster Risk Management Fund, which will enable the state government to receive more funds from the Centre, it added. “The chief minister also appealed to the Union minister to allocate funds to the state government to strengthen 5,000 kms of embankments built since 1951 in the state, which will now be turned into road-cum-embankments,” the statement said.
Accordingly, Shekhawat urged the chief minister to send a letter stating the same so that the Union ministry can incorporate the proposals in next year’s plan, it said.
The opposition Congress and AIUDF have been attacking the BJP-led government at the Centre for allegedly neglecting the flood situation in the state by not releasing funds announced earlier to handle the perennial problem.
Sonowal also urged Shekhawat to take up the matter of floodwaters from Bhutan inundating large areas in Lower Assam every year, to which the minister responded favourably. During monsoon, the release of excess water from the dams in Bhutan leads to flooding in the downstream areas in all the Lower Assam districts, especially Barpeta, Nalbari and Kokrajhar.
“The central government will soon hold discussions with the Bhutan government in this regard so that permanent solutions can be found,” the CMO communique said.
Shekhawat also stressed on the need to adopt latest technologies in flood management and assured all help from his ministry in finding lasting solutions to the problems of flood and erosion in the state, the statement added.
Meanwhile, in Bihar, 4.6 lakh people in 10 districts have been affected by the floods which have displaced over 13,000 people, said a release issued by the state government. As of Wednesday, there was no report of any loss of life in deluge anywhere in the state, according to the release.
Rivers like Kosi, Budhi Gandak, Kamala Balan, and Lal Bakeya are flowing above the danger level at many places, but showed a receding trend or were stable.
Normal life has been affected in parts of 10 districts: Sitamarhi, Sheohar, Supaul, Kishanganj, Darbhanga, Muzaffarpur, Gopalganj, East Champaran, West Champaran, and Khagaria.
“In Bihar, the situation was a little alarming yesterday because of the possible influx of almost 5 lakh cusecs of water into the Gandak river and also because of incoming water in other river systems of north Bihar,” National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) Director General S N Pradhan said.
Meanwhile, in Uttarakhand, three people were killed when their car was swept away by a swollen stream following heavy rains in Pauri district.
The mishap occurred about 5 km from Najibabad-Buakhal national highway towards Dugadda on Tuesday, Kotdwar police station SHO Manoj Raturi said on Wednesday.
In the neighbouring Uttar Pradesh, two children drowned in a pit filled with water at Gurusandi village in Mirzapur district on Wednesday, police said.
Dev Narain Yadav (12) and Satish (8) had gone to graze buffaloes when the incident took place. They were sitting near the pit when they slipped into it, police said.
(With inputs from agencies)