Assam witnessed its worst flood scenario in decades recently. Unlike previous years, this time the flood affected all 33 districts of the state which also includes two hill districts of Dima Hasao and Karbi Anglong. More than 80 people lost their lives whereas loss of property amounted to crores.
The Kaziranga National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, witnessed the worst in its recorded history. The wildlife suffered a huge loss as 90 percent of the park was submerged in water, with the only silver lining being that the floods have historically led to renewal of the plant ecology in the park. Now, as with the worst of the flood situation having come to an end, waters have receded, but the plight continues especially for the poor farmers and those living close to the Brahmaputra and its tributaries. Due to heavy silt deposit during the floods, much of the agricultural land is now almost useless, not fit for any cultivation. In some places the situation is so bad that one to two feet of silt have covered the plots.
In a remote char (small river island) of Dhekiajuli, Siraj Ali, a farmer Republic spoke to lost all his lifetime savings. He invested around Rs 5 lakh to cultivate corn this year. The cultivation was good. But the sudden flood washed away his corn field. Helpless, he now has no door to knock on as it was not insured.
"I'm devastated. I'm looking towards the government now," said Siraj.
Many farmers in Assam never insure their crops, mostly because of lack of awareness. Another major threat for the people living near the Brahmaputra and its tributaries is posed by erosion. Every year lakhs of hectares of land are being gulped by the rivers. Erosion has been a major threat to the state since a long time. But so far no concrete solutions have been formulated to solve this issue once and for all. Be it Rohmoria in Dibrugarh, Ghunahuti in Lakhimpur, Lahorighat in Morigaon, Binapara in Dhubri by the Brahmaputra or Kachubari in Karimganj by Longai, Nandigram in Silchar by Barak, across Assam the scenario is very grim.
After the flood, as the water level receded, the current of the rivers- be it the Barak or the Brahmaputra eroded their the banks. People in many parts of Assam have been forced to relocate due to erosion. If we closely observe, the figure of displaced people due to erosion stands tall in lakhs over the last 3 decades. Flood and erosion have been claiming lives of more than 100 people every year, on an average. However, the state still awaits a solution to it as people and the government gear up to face the third wave of flooding which might hit the state towards late September-Octorber.