Dear Assam: The annual destruction of a State
Dear Assam: The annual destruction of a State

Dear Assam: The Annual Destruction of a State

Dear Assam,
I know you are in Danger.
I know you are in pain.
You are losing your daughter and sons every day,
Yes, I know the pain can’t be explained.
I know you will stand up and rise again.
Dear Assam our prayers are with you
We know you will glow again.

I don’t know when our people will stop looking natural disaster / humanitarian crisis through the specs of political benefits / strategic importance or TRP. A natural calamity is a social, economical and physical devastation of humanity and state. You can not treat it with a particular ideology or concept. It requires a universal ideology which is known as ‘Help’ -Without any discriminatory grounds.

Ground Reality

The flood-prone area of the state is 31,500.00 Sq Km as assessed by the Rashtriya Barh Ayog which is about 39.58 % of the total land area of Assam. This is about 9.40% of total flood-prone area of the whole country. The flood-prone area of the country as a whole stands at about 10.2 % of the total area of the country. But the flood-prone area of Assam is 39.58 % of the area of the state. It signifies that the flood-prone area of Assam is four times the national mark of the flood-prone area of the country.

Massive problems

Save-Assam

The bigger problem is that over the years, the successive state governments have resorted to short term and medium-term measures for flood management. Such short and medium-term measures include the construction of floodwalls, porcupines, embankments, sluices, river channelization etc. The progress with respect to long term measures such as reservoirs for water storage is minimal. Dredging of the entire river in Assam up to Chittagong in Bangladesh is in the pipeline. Dredging will surely have some positive impact however the biggest apprehension is that as water flow is increased will it result in more erosion due to the soft edges of the river banks. There have been calls to firstly undertake river training and river edge development and then resort to dredging.

Also, most of the flood and erosion problems are due to external forces beyond the control of the Assam Government. Most of the river dams in the North East whether it be the Ranganadi 450 MW Project dam waters towards the North of Assam that completely inundated Lakhimpur District or the Meghalaya Dams. It partially inundates the Khanapara-Jorabat stretch, there is little that the state government can do. Also, these hydropower dams do not have substantial storage capacity. They have to release excess water that floods the downstream areas.

Factors responsible

In the last six decades, the Assam Government has built a network of about 5,000 km of embankments along the Brahmaputra and its numerous tributaries. Yet there is still no respite from floods. Why? Embankments have confined the course of the river, which means that during the monsoon. When the river swells up, it puts excessive pressure on the riverbanks, causing breaches.

Another big factor that is going to have a huge impact in the Lower Subansiri 2000MW Hydro Power Project which if and when completed would likely decimate the land in Assam’s Majuli district through dam waters apart from other apprehensions relating to seismic zone dangers, Chinese opposition among others. Again both the Congress and BJP led governments have done little to protect Assam’s interests in this dam conundrum.

Lastly, flood control measures have proven to be successful at times. Use of Tubular Sand Filled Mattress in Nalbari, use of Geo Tubes in Matmora, Lakhimpur, use of Vetiver Grass in Morigaon district and Dibrugarh district, use of Anti Erosion Gabion in Kaliabor, Dibrugarh, Ring Bund at Dibrugarh, Concrete Cement Blocks at Dibrugarh etc. Problem is these measures even though are innovative. There are huge doubts regarding their sustainability and cost.

The agony you are facing today,
Shall be pass tomorrow.
You are strong, you are Brave.
Dear Assam, we are always praying for you.

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