The overall flood situation in Assam showed little sign of improvement despite the water level receding by a few centimeters, but continuing to remain above the danger mark, with official sources reporting the death of three more persons on Friday. The death toll in the current wave of floods has thus risen to 52.
The Brahmaputra water level had gone below the danger level in Dibrugarh in eastern Assam, but was above it in Jorhat, Tezpur, Guwahati, Goalpara and Dhubri. While over 17 lakh people have been affected by the floods, more than 25,000 people were still lodged in 122 relief camps, apart from more than a lakh taking shelter on highways and other highlands across 25 of the state’s 32 districts.
The three deaths that were reported on Friday occurred one each in Dhemaji, Dhubri and Nagaon districts. While preliminary reports put the number of houses damaged by floods so far at about 15,000, the State Disaster Management Authority in its daily flood report said villagers had lost a large number of cattle, poultry and other animals that are directly related to their livelihood. Friday’s flood report put the number of big animals (cattle and buffalo) affected at 5.39 lakh, and small animals (pigs and goats) at over 3.46 lakh, apart from the loss of over five lakh poultry birds.
Minister faces protest in Majuli:
Even as Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal has dispatched his cabinet colleagues and legislators to the flood-affected areas and stand by the people in the time of distress, state water resource minister Keshab Mahanta on Friday faced protests in Majuli, the island district, where he had gone to inspect a major breach in an embankment caused by the Brahmaputra four days ago. Majuli island is also an assembly constituency represented by chief minister Sonowal.
Flood-affected villagers who had either taken shelter in a relief camp or in temporary sheds on the roadside, blocked the road and tried to prevent the minister from visiting Selek, a village in Majuli where a major breached on the embankment on Tuesday had inundated about a dozen villages. Even as Mahanta tried to listen to the people, a group of youth misbehaved with him and tried to even push and heckle the district magistrate.
“Though there has been no shortage of food, animal fodder, materials for shelter, toilets and handpumps, a group of youth who have been trying to disrupt the relief work in the past three or four days, tried to get close to the minister with sticks in their hands. They also blocked the road by putting bamboos on it, while two youth also tried to manhandle the district magistrate,” an official told The Indian Express over the telephone from Majuli.
While the road was soon cleared and minister Mahanta left the place after inspecting the breach site and interacting with a section of the affected people, the police picked up two persons who were released later in the evening.