Following heavy monsoon rainfall, on 26 June 2012, flooding commenced across many districts in Assam which is situated in the northeast of India. Over the past two weeks, 124 people have lost their lives due to these floods including a large number of children. There is a report of sixteen people losing their lives in a landslide caused by heavy rain. At least 2.2 million people have been affected by this flooding. The torrential rains started early this monsoon season and the rains were exceptionally heavy this year. There has been an increase of 28 per cent in rainfall (from 1 June – 28 June 2012), 528 mm against normal rainfall 413 mm was recorded.
Since the onset of flooding, 43 breaches of embankments have been reported on the Brahmaputra banks and 14 breaches have been reported on the banks of its tributaries that spread across 14 districts. In most areas, the waters have begun to recede. Though there has been gradual improvement in the flood scenario since June, many areas remain submerged under water and it is likely that the water will recede gradually from these submerged areas. However, there is a threat of a second phase of flooding later in the season.
The crucial rail link between Lumding and Badarpur, which is also the lifeline for Tripura, suffered extensive damage due to landslides at various locations. The rail track had been washed away at 23 critical locations and one tunnel had collapsed, in addition to the damage to several bridges.
The authorities have been distributing relief to those affected, aiming to meet basic food needs and 150 medical teams, together with 16 National Disaster Response Force Teams have been deployed by the government across 13 of the most severely affected districts. The state government has also provided teams for the relief operation. The Prime Minister announced a relief package of Rs. 500 crores to the State of Assam. Indian Red Cross Society (Assam branch) has been working in close cooperation with these authorities and the action of IRCS (NHQ) is detailed below.
INDIAN RED CROSS, NATIONAL HQ ACTION:
A control Room has been set up in the National Headquarters since 29th June 2012 and the condition is being reviewed daily by the Secretary General along with the senior officers of the NHQ and partners from the IFRC. It was decided to immediately release 500 family packs from the NHQ Warehouse at Noonmati, Guwahati as well as mobilize 1500 family packs from the Saltlake Warehouse at Kolkata. The cost of these family packs (which include items of clothing, bed sheet, tarpaulin, Bucket, mosquito nets, blankets and kitchen sets) is approximately Rs. 56.22 lacs. Necessary orders were issued and additionally Rs. 1 lac was released for Transportation of the packs from Kolkata by road and Rs. 2 Lacs was sanctioned to the Assam state Branch for distribution of these non food items. These items have since been received at Guwahati.
A joint assessment team was deployed to Assam on the 4th July 2012, comprising of Dr. Satish Pingal and Dr. VLS Kumar, NDRT/ NDWRT members from Uttarakhand and Karnataka respectively along with Mr. K. Kukde from the IFRC. The team travelled to several villages in the worst affected districts of Jorhat, Barpeta and Nalbari between the 4th and 8th of July 2012. They submitted their report to the Secretary General on the 9th July 2012.
A meeting was called by the SG at the Multipurpose Conference Hall, NHQ on the 10th July of all senior officers of NHQ, Head of IFRC along with the DM team, Head of ICRC and those of other partner National Societies.
It was decided in the meeting:
i To deploy 1 nos. NOMAD Water purification units and 3 nos. Man packs Water purification units, along with NDWRT members for proper operations, as well as train volunteers in the state as well as community members in Sanitation and hygiene.NHQ to bear the cost of deployment.
ii Release further Non food items (8000 family packs) of the approximate value of Rs. 2.25 crores.
iii Financial assistance for the procurement of 6, 75,000 chlorine tablets for 10000 families for 2 months. iv In case Assam State branch would organize the Health camps, financial assistance to the tune of Rs 2 lacs to be provided. v. Deployment of NDRT members for training, organizing logistics, identification of beneficiaries and assisting in distribution of family packs. The cost involved to be met by the IRCS, NHQ. vi. In addition IFRC would be requested to raise DREF appeal.
Letters have been dispatched to the Partner National Societies for their response as well as to the Secretary Assam State branch for their concurrence to the proposed Plan of action. A reply is awaited. A DREF pledge through IFRC for approx Rs. 1.58 crores has been received for replenishment of stocks as well as other activities.