Sikh volunteers from Punjab have started relief work in the remote villages of Assam worst-hit by floods in the north-east. The operation first started in the south Assam districts- Karimganj, Cachar and Hailakandi- where volunteers distributed basic grocery packets and water-cleaning tablets. Government relief is yet to reach the villages which are still under water.
Gurpreet Singh, 24, from Patiala and Japneet Singh, 29, from Ludhiana in Punjab are leading the Khalsa Aid International team in Karimganj district along the India-Bangladesh border.
Speaking to The Indian Express over the phone, Gurpreet Singh said, “Karimganj is the worst-hit district in Assam. We have selected those villages which are still under water and inaccessible by roads. We have hired boats from locals here and have started distributing ration packets in these villages. In some villages, there is still at least 11-feet water. Initially, we provided them with bottled water to drink. Now, we are distributing water-cleaning tablets and masks so that dirty water does not lead to bacterial infections and other water-borne diseases.”
Singh added that a team of at least nine volunteers from Khalsa Aid is working in Assam and travelling to the affected areas, using boats. Basic grocery items, sanitation kit and water-cleaning tablets are being distributed in remote villages, including Tukurgram, Kalain and Badarpur.
“We were informed about a peripheral village Tukurgram, located along the border of Karimganj and Cachar. It is still completely under water and no aid had reached there. We reached there by boats and distributed relief kits,” he said.
The relief teams are hiring boats from locals to reach the concerned areas and fields that have been completely washed away in flood waters. “We are mapping more villages in need with the help of local administration. We are trying our best to help those places where government relief is yet to reach. The locals are cooperating with us and giving us their boats. Their kutcha homes and crops have been completely washed away,” Gurpreet said.
“The team also visited Unakoti district in Tripura but the situation proved to be better with flood waters receding,” he added.
“We are not providing cooked food (langar) here yet because people are more in need of grocery and sanitation kits. Also, with areas still submerged in water, it is difficult to distribute cooked food through boats,” he said.