India: Situation report - Assam floods, 13 Jul 2004

Report
from UN Development Programme
Published on 13 Jul 2004


Due to incessant rain since the last week of June, 2004 through out the State of Assam and catchment areas of Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Nagaland and Bhutan, the river Brahmaputra and its tributaries started swelling up. As a result of this the State witnessed a devastating flood in Brahmaputra and Barak valleys.
MAP - India: Flood affected districts of Assam - 2004

23 out of 28 districts have been affected by floods so far. The affected districts are Tinsukia, Dibrugarh, Shivsagar, Jorhat, Golaghat, Nagoan, Morigaon, Kamrup, Kamrup Metro, Darrang, Sonitpur, Dhemaji, Lakhimpur, Nalbari, Berpetta, Bongaigaon, Kokrajhar, Goalpara, Dhubri, Chirang, Karbi Anglong, Karimganj and Hailakhandi but Kamrup and Nalbari, Darrang, Sonitpur, Dhemaji and Lakhimpur are the worst affected districts. The flood has caused widespread damage to human life and property, standing crops, flood control embankments and other basic infrastructure.

CURRENT SITUATION:

- Vast area of human habitation is under waters in the affected districts and people have taken shelter on the embankments

- 2,794 nos. of villages have so far been affected by floods this year affecting a population of 2.5 million approximately.

- 15,000 houses have been washed away and 400,000 houses have been partially damaged (approximate figures).

- Loss of human lives so far is 13 numbers (official).

- Railway tracks on the Guwahati- Bongaigaon have been overtopped by flood waters at three sections and the Lumding- Badarpur rail traffic has been suspended due to landslides since 10-7-2004. Trains in the Rangia-North Lakhimpur section have been suspended since 9-7-2004. Rail communication on the north bank of the Brahmaputra has also been suspended due to inundation of the rail tracks at three sections. However the communication has been maintained through the tracks on the southern bank of the river.

- Total crop area affected is estimated to be 400,000 hectares.

- Altogether 58 breaches of embankment have taken place since April, 2004 of which 24 major breaches have taken place during the month of July, 2004 only. There is a threat of few more fresh breaches on the embankment of river Brahmaputra and it’s tributaries as the water level continues to rise. At present it is flowing above the danger level.

- The situation of Barak valley is very critical as the Kushiara and Katakhal, both the tributaries of Barak river has flooded vast areas causing extensive damage in Hailakandi and Karimganj districts.

- Vital installations, telephone lines, educational institutions and other electricity substations are badly damaged. In the Lower Assam flood water has submerged National Highway-31 and other State PWD roads at many places. A stretch of 81 kms has been damaged on NH-31. The road connects Abhayapur in Bongaigaon district to Chansari in Kamrup district. Similarly a stretch of 1 km on NH-37 in Tinsukia districts has been damaged.

SITUATION IN SEVERELY AFFECTED DISTRICTS:

Kamrup The entire Rangia sub-division has been flooded affecting around 3, 65,500 people and 15650 cattle. 244 villages and land area of 8484.53 hectares have been affected. Breach on the embankment of river Puthimari has taken place at 10 places in the district of which, 6 are in the Rangia Sub-division alone Around 430 villages in different other revenue circles have been affected. 300 students of Navodaya Vidyalaya have been rescued by using IAF helicopter.

Nalbari The entire district is under the grip of high flood and situation remains grim. Breach of embankments of Pagladia river at 6 places has flooded the entire district affecting 350 villages and population of 350,000. The district has taken the shape of an island and there is no surface communication to the district.

Goalpara The district has been affected by flood water of river Brahmaputra causing large scale damages to villages and crop areas. Population affected is estimated to be more than 200,000. Flood water has entered the Municipal Town.

Sonitpur The flood water or river Bordikarai caused extensive damage to Bordikarai Irrigation Dam and canals. The road connecting Assam and Arunachal Pradesh has been damaged as flood water carried silt and timber logs. Gohpur sub-division of the district has also been affected by floods. River Brahmaputra and its tributaries are still flowing above danger level in the district.

Barpeta 525 villages and a population of 650,000 have been affected. The total area affected is 34370 hectares. Two human lives have been lost. 500 houses have been fully damaged. 42 relief camps have been opened. The water level of the river Brahmaputra as well as tributaries Manas and Beki are reported to be rising.

North Lakhimpur The water level of river Brahmaputra is rising. Around 200,000 people are estimated to have been affected

Cachar Out of five revenue circles, three have been affected i.e Silchar, Udharbond andKatigorah. Flood water has inundated few areas of Silchar town like Fatak Bazar, Kali bari road, Janiganj People have taken shelter in schools and other Govt. buildings. Road communication in NH-53 Silchar-Imphal road has been disrupted due to overflowing of river Barak at several places. Silchar-Kumbhirgram road(Airport road) is likely to be closed if the water rises. Railway route between Silchar-Badarpur- Lumding remains closed due to heavy landslide in the N. C .Hills. The NH-44 i.e. Silchar - Guwahati road is closed due to heavy landslide in Sonapur area, Garo hills of Meghalaya. About 300 meters of the highway has been blocked. This is the only lifeline highway for entire Barak Valley, Tripura, Mizoram and Manipur too.

Darrang The Lamabari bridge is reported to have been washed away by the flood waters.

Dhemaji 581 villages and 220,000 population have been affected. Total Cropped area affected is 11,268 hectares and 2 lives have been lost There has been a breach of 400 metres on National Highway -52 and it is reported to be widening due to soil erosion.

Marigaon Total area affected is 39421 hectares and 17,800 hectares of cropped area have been affected Population affected is 418,000 covering 319 villages

Jorhat All communication (including ferry service) has been disrupted in the river island (subdivision) of Majuli. 53 villages in Majuli subdivision and 41 villages in Jorhat subdivision have so far been affected.

Dhubri All the three sub divn., Hatsingmari(HSM), Bilashipara(BLP) and Dhubri(DBB) have been affected. 744 villages and a population of 1,013,000 are reported to be affected by the ongoing floods.

PROJECTED THREATS:

- Fresh breaches on the embankments are likely to occur as the water level of Brahmaputra and its tributaries continues to rise above danger level.

- As all the water sources have got submerged, there may be scarcity in drinking water

GOVERNMENT MEASURES:

- Administration in all districts has taken steps for relief and rescue operation in war footing. The officials of all line departments have been asked to assist the district administration in relief and rescue operations

- Additional amount has been sanctioned for distribution of relief materials like food stuff, drinking water, medicine, fooder, veterinary care to the cattle population.

- Army and Air Force assistance are being utilized in relief and rescue operation. 4 Airforce helicopters are engaged for rescue of marooned people of Kamrup, Nalbari and other lower Assam districts. Army speed boats are also rescuing the affected people. 3 composite flood relief columns are providing assistance in Nalbari with 6 BAUTs; 6 composite flood relief columns and 7 BAUTs in Kamrup; 1 composite flood relief column and 4 BAUTs in Darrang; 1 composite flood relief column and 6 BAUTs in Sonitpur and one composite flood relief column (is on stand by) in Kokrajar district.

- 22 HF and 44 VHF sets have been made available to the Govt. of Assam for communication.

- The state government has requested the Railways for allotment of additional rakes of essential commodities, due to snapping of road communication at several places.

- At the request of the state Government, the Central Government has been made available helicopters at Guwahati, Tejpur, Diburgarh, Jorhat, Silchar and Tezpur. Army speed boats are also utilized for rescue of the affected people.

- The central Govt. has already released Calamity relief fund of Rs.462.6 million. In addition Rs. 550 million is being released from National Calamity Relief Contingency Fund (NCCF).

- Ministry of Petroleum has already released 400,000 litres of K Oil as additional allocation to the state of Assam.

- Ministry of health has been requested to provide 5 million halogen tablets and to send a specialist team to flood affected areas of Assam to advice the State Govt. on actions to be taken to prevent the outbreak of epidemic situation.

- To sanction central fund as hundred percent grant for urgent repair of all breached embankments, strengthening of all embankments and anti-erosion measures for taking up immediately on receding of flood water. Similarly request to provide central fund for restoration of State road net-work has also been made..

- The state Government has requested the Government of India to take up with Royal Government of Bhutan for ensuring adequate measures to safe guard the Kuresu River Dam.

CURRENT NEEDS:

The State Government has requested the Central Government to provide food items,. Medical aid, polythene sheets, tents and other essential items such as candles and matches.

SOURCE OF INFORMATION:

- Relief Commissioners office

- UNDP Team

- Media Report

- NGOs in Assam

CHANNEL FOR DELIVERY & CONTACT DETAILS:

State Control Room, Assam: 91-361-2230982 (Telephone)
Relief Commissioner’s Office, Assam: 91-361-2262898 (Telephone) 91- 361 - 2261901(Fax)

BRIEF FLOOD HISTORY OF THE AREA

45 per cent of Assam's total area is flood-prone. The Brahmaputra river with its 34 tributaries causes regular floods in the state. The average annual rainfall in the state is 1662.2 mm. Ninety per cent of the heavy downpour occurs in the months of April-September. In 1996, floods in Assam damaged 7,848 dwellings killing 38 people. In 1999, more than 200 villages were inundated, and 0.27 million people in 749 villages of 10 districts were affected. In 2000, 1,94,382 people in 12 districts and 483 villages were severely affected. Road and rail communication was cut off in many districts. In 2000 alone, 3 million people lost their homes and vast stretches of paddy were swallowed by floodwaters.

MAP - India: Assam flood zone

During 2002 floods 41 people have lost their lives,19827 houses damaged and 0.3 million hectares of cropped land has been affected. During 2003, 30 people have lost their lives, 4660 houses have been damaged, 0.2million hectares cropped area has been affected in the floods