The flood situation in Assam showed little improvement on Friday. Official sources reported the death of three more persons, taking the death toll in the calamity to 52. The water level in the Brahmaputra dropped below the danger mark in Dibrugarh district, but the river continued to flow above the danger mark in Jorhat, Tezpur, Guwahati, Goalpara and Dhubri. Over 17 lakh people spread over 25 of the state’s 32 districts, have been affected by the floods. More than 25,000 people are lodged in 122 relief camps, while more than a lakh have taken shelter on highways and other highlands. The three deaths reported on Friday occurred in Dhemaji, Dhubri and Nagaon districts.
Preliminary reports have put the number of houses damaged so far at about 15,000. The State Disaster Management Authority has said in its daily report that villagers had lost a large number of cattle, poultry and other animals that are linked to their livelihood. Friday’s report put the number of big animals (like cattle) affected at 5.39 lakh, and small animals (like pigs and goats) at over 3.46 lakh. Apart from this, over five lakh poultry birds have been affected, said the report. An official of the Kaziranga wildlife sanctuary said that about 73 animals were killed in the calamity, three of them rhinos.
Minister faces protest in Majuli
Assam’s Water Resource Minister Keshab Mahanta on Friday faced protests in Majuli, where he had gone to inspect a breach in an embankment. The island is represented in the Assembly by Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal. The CM has dispatched his cabinet colleagues and legislators to the flood-affected areas. Villagers who had taken shelter in a relief camp or in temporary sheds blocked the road and tried to prevent the minister from visiting Selek, a village where a breach in the embankment along the Brahmaputra on Tuesday had left about a dozen villages inundated. As Mahanta tried to talk to them, a group of youths misbehaved with him. Some of them also manhandled the District Magistrate.
“There has been no shortage of food, fodder, materials for shelter, toilets and handpumps. But a group of youths who have been trying to disrupt relief work over the past three-four days, tried to get close to the minister with sticks in their hands. They also blocked the road. Two youths tried to manhandle the District Magistrate,” an official told The Indian Express over telephone from Majuli. Mahanta left the spot after inspecting the breach and interacting with some of those affected.