At least 12 people have been killed and thousands left homeless following incessant rainfall in Nagaland for over a month. Since July 26, at least 5,386 families have had to leave their homes. Some have moved to relief shelters. Over five hundred villages have been affected and 300 locations hit by landslides.
Describing the damages as “extensive”, Abhishek Singh, Commissioner and Secretary to Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio, said the landslides have destabilised connectivity through the small state. “The top soil in Nagaland is soft, making it prone to landslides. These have severed connection to remote districts,” he said.
On August 29, Nagaland CM Rio sent out a plea for help on Twitter — “#Nagaland needs your #help. Incessant rain has caused floods & landslides in several parts of the state & have affected many.”
While the state government is yet to receive any monetary help from the Centre, all hopes are pinned on the visit of the inter-ministerial team from the Ministry of Home Affairs, that is slated between September 4 and 7. In the meantime, the Indian Air Force has been deployed to drop relief packages to remotes area that are worst-affected by the rains.
Kiphire District on the Myanmar border, reportedly the worst-hit, was visited by CM Rio along with a few Cabinet ministers on Thursday. The CM announced Rs 10 lakh for immediate relief and rehabilitation measures in Kiphire. The district is about 12-13 hours from Dimapur and is connected by only one arterial road.
“This road is the lifeline of Kiphire — and because of the landslides it has been cut off. As a result, provisions, especially rice, has not reached even close to one lakh people,” said Deputy Commissioner, Kiphire, A Shihab, adding that “things have improved now” and they are using “alternative routes” to reach the district.
The affected areas includes Tuensang, Kiphire and Phek districts (which have all lost connectivity due to landslides) while parts of Dimapur and state capital Kohima have been submerged by floods. “The road between Kohima and Dimapur is still cut off. It will take more than a month to restore,” says Johnny Ruangmei, officer on special duty, Nagaland State disaster management authority.
While reports from the Regional Metrological Centre, Guwahati imply that the Northeast has received less rainfall this year, it is the intensity of the rains which has caused distress in Nagaland. “While the state receives similar sort of rains every monsoon, this year’s impact has been different”, says Ruangmei. “It is because the nature of rainfall is changing. We receive about 100mm rainfall in one-two hours — the volume is very high and dangerous from the meteorological point of view,” he added. Additionally, the floodwaters released by the Doyang Hydroelectric project in the state’s Wokha District have made matters worse.
At present, one National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) team is stationed in Dimapur. “Monsoons in Nagaland start in May. They usually go on until October. So there is no saying that the situation will improve. Right now we are trying to manage with what the resources we have. But we want to be prepared for what’s coming,” says Ruangmei.