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Friday, September 17, 2021

First wave of floods in Assam: two children dead, over 70 per cent of Kaziranga under water

While by September, Assam usually sees at least two waves of flood, a rainfall deficit this year has meant delayed floods and distress for farmers in many parts of the state.

Written by Tora Agarwala | Guwahati |
August 31, 2021 5:14:15 am
Assam: Prolonged floods force rhinos of Pobitora to seek refuge in housesKaziranga: Rhinos with their calves standing on an elevated land in the flooded Kaziranga National Park in Assam. PTI Photo

The year’s first wave of floods in Assam have killed two children, with over 3.63 lakh people affected in 17 districts across the state, authorities said.

Nearly seventy per cent of the Kaziranga National Park (KNP) is inundated, too, and on Monday, three hog deer, fleeing the floodwaters, were killed by vehicles on the National Highway-37 (NH-37), which lies on the periphery of the park. During the floods, the highway often emerges as a death trap for animals fleeing the inundated grasslands for safer grounds in the hilltops of Karbi Anglong district.

“The situation is not critical yet,” said KNP director, P Sivakumar, adding that it was the “first proper flood of the year.” While by September, Assam usually sees at least two waves of flood, a rainfall deficit this year has meant delayed floods and distress for farmers in many parts of the state.

Sivakumar added that a speed restriction of 40 kmph had been implemented for vehicles plying on the NH-37. “Despite that, accident free movement is a challenge. 90 per cent may obey rules, but even if two per cent does not, it leads to deaths,” he said, adding that animals had begun to migrate to safer ground.

Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma appealed to people to take an alternative route till the waters abate. “We all take pride in Kaziranga National Park. In wake of floods causing displacement of Kaziranga animals & putting them on risk, may I appeal to truck / other vehicles to avoid NH 715 for commuting between lower & upper Assam & use NH 15 thru North Bank instead?” Sarma tweeted.

Sivakumar said that they were better placed than year, and this level of flood was necessary for KNP. “Especially because we have had no flood this year, we need the floodwaters to rejuvenate our grasslands, clean our wetlands,” he said.

Water has risen in Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary in Morigaon district, but forest officials said that the situation was not “dire” yet.

According to Monday’s bulletin from the Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA), the affected districts included Barpeta, Biswanath, Cachar, Chirang, Darrang, Dhemaji, Dhubri, Dibrugarh, Golaghat, Jorhat, Kamrup, Karbi Anglong West, Lakhimpur, Majuli, Morigaon, Nagaon, Nalbari, Sivasagar, Sonitpur, South Salmara, and Tinsukia.

Among them, Lakhimpur is the worst-hit district with more than 1.3 lakh people affected. There are 44 relief camps where 1,619 people are currently housed.

The bulletin added that 950 villages were under water and 30,333.36 hectares of crop areas have been damaged across the state.

The report said that the two casualties were reported from Chenga in Barpeta district and Mayong in Morigaon, where two children drowned in the floodwaters.

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