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Assam & The North-East : Floods 2000

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Over 6 lakh people hit by floods

GUWAHATI, June 30: The number of people affected by the current wave of flood in the State has reached 6,39,422 today, even as the Brahmaputra and its tributaries were showing signs of recession in their water levels throughout the State.

The rising trend maintained by the rivers Barak and Katakhal in Barak valley is also expected to subside after 24 hours since 3 pm today, said Central Water Commission (CWC) sources here this afternoon.

An official press release here this evening stated that though due to the recession in the Brahmaputra water level the overall flood situation in Jorhat District was improving today, erosion is continuing in several places of the district. Shifting of the erosion-affected families of Konpati and Darbar Chapori in the district is continuing, the press release said.

The Brahmaputra was flowing above the danger level at Dhubri today and so far a population of about 12,000 under Dhubri circle has been affected by the flood. In Bijni subdivision of Bongaigaon district 9,161 people of 22 villages have been affected by flood, the release said. [AT]


City drainage system fails to serve its purpose

GUWAHATI, June 30:In other Indian cities, including Delhi, drainage has not remained a primary problem. Because by making proper land acquisition, big size drains, nullahs and channels have been laid in these cities maintaining proper slopes to carry the storm water when storms lash these cities. During the dry season, these storm drains remain dry.

But in Guwahati, we have a peculiar problem. Our drains are to carry waste water from the residences and commercial complexes, etc., throughout the year, though as per modern sanitation concepts, these polluted waste water should have gone to a sewerage system for treatment.

Moreover, in Guwahati, the roadside drains are mostly constructed by the PWD. The purpose of these drains, as claimed by the PWD, is basically to take out the storm water of the road surface. Therefore, a minimum required size and depth is maintained all throughout by a long drain laid by the side of the roads.

However, it is to be understood that these drains are also to receive the storm water of each and every plot and lanes and by-lanes abutting on the roads. Naturally, these PWD drains are not meant for these purposes.

Until and unless bigger and proper size of drains are provided as per required designs, to relieve these PWD drains, submergence will remain a problem for most of the Guwahati area, said Dr Binoy Kumar Das, the internationally renowned environment engineer, who prepared, around 30 years back, the masterplan for city drainage, sewerage and water supply for the State Town and Country Planning Organisation.

According to Dr Das, Guwahati has only three outlets for draining out its storm water -- these are, the Bharalu basin with the river Bharalu as the outlet, the Silsako basin with the Silsako Beel and an outlet under the railway bridge at Narengi and the Deeper basin with the Deeper Beel and an outlet via Khanajaan to the Brahmaputra.

The Bharalu basin receives good amount of storm water from Khasi and Jayanta Hills of Meghalaya, besides its own catchment area in the city, -- including the old Guwahati area starting from Khanapara to Bharalumukh and the Guwahati Refinery to Fatashil Hills.

The Silsako basin includes a part of the Khasi and Jayantia Hills, part of Khanapara, Panjabari, Satgaon, Hengerabari, Narengi, Panikhaiti and Chandrapur areas.

The Deeper basin includes Birubari area, a part of Beltola, Deepaar Beel area, Maligaon and Jalukbari upto BSF regional headquarters at Patgaon. However, outside the city, two more outlets of Deepar Beel are there -- one via Dharapur and old Palasbari and the other via Kalbhog river at the Brahmaputra downstream of Palasbari.

Major measures suggested by the 1971 masterplan for improving the drainage system of Guwahati and prepared by Dr Das and his divisional colleagues with the help of the Calcutta Metropolitan lanning Organisation (CMPO) experts, included (a) demarcation of the low lying areas as reservoirs and measures to ensure undisturbed natural storage of storm waters in these reservoirs as per the law of nature, (b) resectioning of the main outlets of each of the above mentioned basins and (c) improving all internal drains, -- that is, the natural drains, to the required size and shape with continuous and integrated slopes and levels.

Elaborating, Dr Das said, while talking to The Assam Tribune, it is important to understand that water never deserves its own properties in matters of its flow and always flows down by gravity. Therefore, the topography and the level of the land is to be followed while designing any drainage system.

During the preparation of the 1971 masterplan, the entire Greater Guwahati area was surveyed from Great Trigonometrical Survey (GTS) Bench Mark, and, Temporary Bench Marks (TBM) were established all over the area (over 400 TBMs were established) which gave the correct elevation of each of the places, Dr Das said, adding, this bench marks are required to ascertain the continuous fall of the bed levels of the drains from the apex to the outlet mouth in an integrated manner, so that, flow of water is not blocked at any place.

Without applying such bench marks if the drains are laid, it is but natural that even a nicely constructed drain will fail to act as a proper drainage outlet, but, will serve only as a storage and silt deposition reservoir, he said.

Besides soil erosion, one of the main causes of heavy siltation in the city drains is their inadequate designs, faulty size and slope and careless implementation without bothering about the level survey with the use of TBMs. The minimum self-cleansing velocity should be maintained in the drains to carry all the silt and floating matters from the apex to the outlet, Dr Das observed.

Considering the above facts, the authorities should now follow the 1971 masterplan for Guwahati's drainage system and revise it wherever needed, should make adequate and quick land acquisition for widening and remodelling the Bharalu, Silsako and Deeper Beel outlets for the next 100 years, and proper levels and slopes of the drains should be followed by the agencies engaged in city drainage improvement activities, Dr Das said.

He also suggested that a drainage cess may be levied on the land area of the city to meet the cost of the drainage system. Even though it is late, it is still possible to take steps for a permanent improvement of the drainage condition in Guwahati. But, this will require enough political will and that too continuously for several years. The works so far done in a bid to improve the drainage condition in the city though seemed to be good, may not deliver the desired results until and unless the natural outlets are freed from congestion, Dr Das asserted. [AT]


Centre's Apathy To Flood Problem
[Editorial, The Assam Tribune, June 29, 2000]

Assam is again in the grip of a flood with rivers of the Brahmaputra and the Barak system swollen by heavy rainfall in the catchment areas and the unprecedented spate in the Siang flowing from Tibet region of China affecting both Arunachal Pradesh and Assam. The calamity befalling the people in two adjoining States is beyond the capacity of the respective State governments to tackle unless the Centre comes forward with a helping hand. The calamity relief envisaged under the Finance Commission Award is far from adequate as the quantum envisaged for the current financial year is Rs.80 crore out of which the share of the central assistance is only rs.60 crore while the State has to contribute Rs.20 crore. The story of central assistance to fight natural calamities is a sad one as the BJP-led government at the Centre released only Rs.59.90 core in 1998-99 as against the total loss caused by floods in 1998 was of the order of Rs.1200 crore. Significantly, a Central team also toured the flood-hit areas for assessing the extent of damage and loss with a view to helping the Centre to ascertain the requirements of funds for repair of flood damage and rehabilitation of affected people and reconstruction of installations destroyed.

This attitude of the Centre contrasts with the sympathetic generosity shown towards Utter Pradesh and Bihar during the same period as UP alone received Rs.300 crore of special assistance and smaller amounts were sanctioned for West Bengal, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh while denying any assistance to Kerala even though all these State were affected by 1998 floods. So far Assam is concerned the inadequate response from the centre in extending financial assistance for flood control and erosion prevention has been viewed with disappointment and frustration. There is anguish that the Vahpayee government is not honouring the commitment given by his predecessors--- HD Deve Gowda and Inder Kumar Gujral in the package of initiatives for the NE region. The NE package announced by the United Front Government was the commitment of a regular government not a caretaker one. Therefore, the virtual negation of the commitment by the BJP-led government is the repudiation of the basic principle of normal governance as the government is continuity which is not affected by changes in the political complexion of persons constituting government at any point of time. It is, however, true that Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee has proposed and sanctioned some funds for flood control measures in Assam and has also provided Rs.5 crore from the non-lapsable pool of resources garnered from 10 per cent of the annual budget of different Central ministries earmarked for the NE region.

Paucity of funds owing to adjustment of principal and interest of Central loan assistance for flood control measures from new assistance is responsible for non-execution of even short term measures for prevention of floods and erosion. If such is the condition of short term measures requiring modest resources the fate of long term projects entailing huge investment can only be imagined. No progress could be made for mega projects like those of the Subsansiri and the Dehang of for that matter of the Tipaimukh project for various reasons. Even the Pagladiya dam project which got environment clearance and necessary approval is yet to reach the rake-off stage. This situation calls for provision of substantial central assistance for effective and time-bound programme for both short term and long-term flood control and hydro power generation measures for both the Brahmaputra and the Barak systems. It is beyond the capacity and ability of the state Government to execute such measures. Besides, pending completion of fool-proof flood control projects, the centre should be prepared for extending adequate financial assistance to relief and rehabilitation of the flood ravaged economy.


No let-up in flood scene

NORTH LAKHIMPUR, June 29: The flood situation in the worst-affected Lakhimpur and Dhemaji districts has turned more critical today. The Lakhimpur district remained cut off with the rest of the country for the third consecutive day today. All the rivers in Lakhimpur district are rising rapidly affecting about 38,870 people of 64 villages of North Lakhimpur subdivision and 28,090 people of 116 villages of Dhemaji subdivision. The rising water of the Jiadhol river has breached a major portion of the PWD road linking Dhakuakhana and North Lakhimpur near Jamuguri. It is learnt that there is no sufficient stock of food and medicine to cope with the situation in Dhakuakhana subdivision.

The Lakhimpur Deputy Commissioner, Mr Bhaba Gogoi today visited Dhakuakhana to take stock of the situation. He also instructed the departments concerned to ensure adequate supply of food and medicines.

In Dhemaji district, the Gai river has inundated many new areas. Kabu chapori, Mesaki chapori etc. under Jonai subdivision have been totally devastated by flood. A total of 67,897 people and 21,068 hectares of land have been affected by flood in the district which has remained cut off from the rest of the country for the tenth day. [S]


'Arunachal flash floods may be due to burst in dam in Tibet'

ITANAGAR, June 29: Union Agriculture Minister, Nitish Kumar has expressed his fear that the flash flood in river Siang in Arunachal Pradesh might be due to sudden release of water from a reservoir in the river Tsangpho within China's Tibet region. "You cannot rule out the possibility of bursting of a dam in the other side of the border or else how could there be a flood without any rainfalls in those affected areas," Sri Kumar told mediapersons at Raj Bhawan here on Tuesday late evening after making an aerial survey of those affected areas. He added, "I am not sure about the occurrence of the flood but there is certain possibility of bursting of a dam in the river Tsangpo due to human or technical errors."

The Union Minister stated that government of India would soon take up the issue with the Chinese counterpart on priority basis without making any delay to ascertain the facts for devastating floods resulting in huge losses of lives and properties. The State Chief Minister Sri Mukut Mithi who was also present during the press conference informed that he had already directed Arunachal's resident commissioner in New Delhi to interact with the Chinese embassy to ascertain the facts.

Describing the recent floods as unfortunate, Sri Kumar disclosed that the extent of flood was unprecedented and caused irreparable damages to the state in particular and the nation as whole. He said the Centre will take up the matter very seriously and will extent all possible help to the state in restoring surface communication. Disclosing that the Centre has already released an amount of Rs 8.6 crore as first installment as natural calamities assistance, he said it is contemplating release of the second installment of the assistance with 50 per cent increase in the allocation. He also stated that he will apprise the Prime Minister of the flood situation in the state on his return to Delhi. [AT]


Floods affect several villages in Goreswar

GORESWAR, June 29: More than 200 families of several villages, including Satpara, Chechapar, Haloongbari, Tongabari, Balabari Makaldonga, Barpathar and Bagaribari of Kaurbaha mouza; Hahcharapar, Rongmahal, Dolongdia and No. 5 Goreswar of Betna mouza and Garogan, Pub-Parlora and Bardagerikuchi of Patidarrang mouza falling under Rangiya subdivision, have been affected by floods.

Breaches in the embankment of Puthimari river near Balabari, Satpara (Kelengchowk) and Bagaribari villages under Goreswar revenue circle worsened the flood situation.

It may be noted that the embankment at Balabari breached earlier also. Floods also breached the western embankment of the Puthimari river on Wednesday last at Bagaribari village, affecting sixteen families.

The flood waters also damaged several hutments, granaries, fisheries, standing crops of an area measuring about 500 hectares, sali seedlings, Jnanadai M E School and Nehru Smriti Puthibharal.

Sri Milan Das, Sri Bhagirath Das, Sri Manik Das, Sri Pratap Deka, lat mandal and Sri Brihaspati Boro, Gonbura alleged that no medicines were supplied among the flood victims. Other relief materials like mosquito nets, CI sheets and polythene for making sheds of relief camps on high land and other safer places were also not supplied by the concerned authorities.

The relief materials like 3 quintal rice and 42 kg masur dal, chira, etc. were however distributed among the flood victims by the district administration. These were not sufficient, flood affected people alleged.

Meanwhile, Sri Anupam Chandhury, i/e SDC, Goreswar revenue circle and Sri J Pathak, SDO, Rangiya sub-division reportedly visited the affected village to take stock of the situation.

Sri Umesh Kalita, vice-president, Kamrup District Cong (I), Smt Jotila Baishya, president, Kamrup District Cong (I) Mahila Samiti and Sri Pratap Das, publicity secretary, BAC Contractors' Santha also visited the locality. [AT]


City deluged by showers, master plan gathers dust

GUWAHATI, June 29: This is a story of a water supply, sewerage and drainage masterplan for Guwahati. It was prepared with a time frame of 30 years for implementation in three phases and after two years' meticulous study of the related problems and topographical features of Guwahati. About 29 years after submission of this masterplan, Guwahati, now the capital city of Assam, is reeling under storm water, sewage and silt during the rainy days, while it continues to cry hoarse for drinking water during the dry season. For, the masterplan has remained on paper !

The Town and Country Planning Organisation, Government of Assam, with the help of the Calcutta Metropolitan Planning Organisation (CMPO) started works on the masterplan in 1969 and it was submitted to the State Government in September 1971.

It was aimed at providing basic services of water supply, sewerage and drainage to the people living in an area of 243.2 square kilometre, which included a part of North Guwahati, two town committees, namely, North Guwahati and Kamakhya, 85 rural areas like Narengi, Beltola and Deepar Beel etc areas, 15 other areas like Satgaon Military cantonment, Guwahati Refinery, Pandu-Maligaon Railway Colonies and Jalukbari Gauhati University (GU) campus.

It is worthmentioning here that Guwahati was not the capital of Assam when this masterplan was prepared.

The masterplan called for measures to prepare the individual schemes based on its directions and suggested completion of their implementation in three phases -- immediate (1971-1975), intermediate (1976-1985) and final (1986-2001).

It was prepared by Dr Binoy Kumar Das with the help of CMPO project engineer R N Banerjee and its deputy project engineer Manas Banerjee, along with his divisional colleagues. Dr Das was the executive engineer of the Town and Country Planning Organisation, Assam.

A new division of drainage and sewerage was created in the Town and Country Planning Organisation for the purpose of preparing the masterplan. Dr Das, a Ph D in sanitary engineering from Strathclyde University, Glasgow, UK, was made the executive engineer of the division and was asked to prepare the masterplan working with the CMPO experts.

The masterplan was approved by he State Government and the State Assembly. The design was meant for the period between 1971 and 2001. Over 400 Temporary Bench Marus (TBM) were established all over the Guwahati Metropolitan district (GMD) area to facilitate subsequent detail design and execution of the schemes. But, with the passage of time, it appeared that the State Government lacked the sincerity to implement the masterplan and finally Guwahati was turned into a messy city with the shifting of the State capital to it in a haphazard manner and the subsequent burgeoning of its population and size.

Today, a heavy shower of 80 mm is enough to deluge Guwahati. [AT]


Floods hit 1428 villages

GUWAHATI, June 29: Altogether 4,82,220 people of 1,428 villages in thirteen districts of the State have been affected by the current wave of flood, even as due to the sharp decrease in rainfall water levels of most of the rivers are receding in the State. Death toll due to flood and landslide has gone upto five in the State so far.

However, flood situation in Goalpara has remained grim, said Our Goalpara Correspondent.

According to Central Water Commission (CWC) sources here this evening, the Brahmaputra was flowing at 104.83 metre at Dibrugarh this afternoon (danger level 104.24 metre), 84.43 metre at Neamatighat (danger level 85.04 metre), 48.92 metre at Guwahati (danger level 49.68 metre), 47.61 metre at Pandu (danger level 48.77 metre), 36.06 metre at Goalpara (danger level 36.27 metre) and 29.21 metre at Dhubri (danger level 28.50 metre) this afternoon.

The Brahmaptura is thus seen receding all along its course, but flowing above danger level at Dibrugarh and Dhubri. Its tributaries are also receding and hence in the State, the CWC sources said, adding, rive Barak was slowly rising and was flowing at 18.39 metre at Annapurnaghat, while another river of the valley Katakhal was flowing at 20.34 metre (danger level 20.27 metre) at Matijuri during the afternoon today.

According to Meteorology (Met) sources here, river Kopili was flowing above danger level at Dharmatul and Beki at Road Bridge point too was flowing above the danger level this morning.

Met sources attributed the recession in the water levels of the rivers to the formation of a low pressure area over the West Central Bay of Bengal and its adjoining Coastal Orissa and Andhra Pradesh, which reduced the rainfall over NE region during the past 24 hours.

An official release here this evening said that 40,992 people of 96 villages in Lakhimpur district, 27,809 people of 70 villages in Bishwanath Chariali sub-division of Sonitpur district and 1,44,992 people of 123 villages in Kamrup district have been affected by the flood.

The official release named Dhemaji, Tinsukia, Jorhat, Dibrugarh, Kokrajhar, Bongaigaon, Darrang, Karimganj, Dhubri and Goalpara as the other districts affected by the flood this time. Standing crops of 49,231 hectares of land were affected by the flood.

Our Correspondent from Goalpara reports: Vast areas under human habitation and under cultivation in Goalpara district particularly in the western parts of the district continues to be under water following heavy rainfall, breach in Brahmaputra dyke and flash flood. According to information available about 1,500 hectres of crop area have been damaged by the current flood.

The dyke from Kharmuja to Beldubi which experienced erosion in the last few days was breached between Fetengapara and Sulkanipara near Bawrartal at midnight on June 26 as a result of which flood water of the Brahmaputra entered into Lakhipur circle affecting Takimari grazing reserve, Kharubhaj, Manashpara, Takimari Bidyapara, Borbila and about twenty other villages. [AT]


Monsoon... Time for Kaziranga's elephants to migrate

GUWAHATI, June 28: Every year beginning from May, just at the outset of the monsoon, herds of elephants migrate out of the Kaziranga National Park (KNP) in the south-west direction along the same route which is called an elephant path, said silvic-ulculturist and former conservator of forests Manindra Kumar Sinha, while speaking to The Northeast Daily on Sunday.

Every year at around this time, a growing human population and consequent expanding human habitat intersect with this elephant trail, triggering a conflict between elephants and people, said Sinha who has studied elephant migration patterns in the park. He pointed out: "The entire elephant corridor is disturbed in the sense that human habitation cuts through it at numerous points. "Wild elephants destroy whatever obstacle that comes on their way, feed on standing crops and even kill people if they are irritated. Naturally, humans retaliate."

"The government has a sound policy to minimise this elephant-man struggle, but the implementation leaves much to be desired," observed Sinha. The forest department has provisions for crop and animal protection forces which are supposed to drive and keep elephants away from human habitation. "Moreover, compensation for crop damage and human life loss should be prompt," he stressed. Elephants do not recognise borders drawn up by humans and roam around freely -- inter-state migration between Assam and the surrounding states is a commonplace, Sinha pointed out. Except for a few elephants who stay behind in woodlands and high grounds, most of the parkfs 700-800 elephants leave, some even swim across the Brahmaputra to make their way to Arunachal Pradesh. Elephant movement is a historical phenomenon, which occurs because of food shortage or saturation of a regionfs carrying capacity i.e., grazing area. "For instance, when paddy in the plains is exhausted, the elephants go to the hills to feed on the jhum cultivation," he explained.

Elephants move out of the KNP in an organised manner, batch by batch, through Burapahar and Kanchenjuri in the south-west direction. The herds cross over to Karbi Anglong, move into North Cachar Hills and then onto Kumming reserves, Borail reserves, Norpu, Sipu, Lumding reserves and beyond. The route is circular, and by September-October the elephants are homeward bound in the north-east direction. Come November, the parkfs elephants re-enter the park via Numaligarh. The elephants use the same path or corridor, and this habit could be attributed to instinct, Sinha said.

The elephants usually move by night and feed during daytime. Sinha recalled: "On one occasion, I saw a herd of elephants cross the Diffolo river on their way out of Kaziranga. The bigger elephants supervised the entire exercise and crossed only after ensuring that the smaller ones are safe." [NED]


Nimatighat sinks for apathy and politicking

JORHAT, June 28: Erosion at Nimatighat, has become the issue of the day, for all political parties in the State. They have started clamouring only when there remains very little or no remedy left for retrival of Nimatighat.

Erosions at Nimatighat actually started from 1988 onwards. Initially the rate of erosion were vigorous from 1988 to 1994, when the river Brahmaputra eroded nearly 100 to 200 metre of the landmass every year. The then political parties were silent spectators to the devastating erosion. About 10 villages of Nimatighat sank into the river, and 742 of the affected families were rehabilitated elsewhere in the district. During the last decade Nimatighat had lost 2,500 metre of its total landmass into the river, as evident from the official data of the Flood Control Department. The Government had then taken no initiative to save Nimatighat during this entire long period. Gosaigaon, Musalmangaon, Koibortagaon sank into the Brahmaputra, one by one. The railway line, the bridge and the godown too sank into the swirling waters. Still no preventive arrangements were done or thought of being done. The erosion slowed down from 1994 onwards. About 15 to 20 metre of land eroded every year. The political parties were not alarmed at that juncture even, until the last hope of saving Nimatighat was now ultimately found to be totally lost.

Now when the Ministers, MLAs, MPs and a host of leaders of different parties are inspecting and reinspecting the erosion site and blame each other, it now makes no difference at all to poor Nimatighat. This only shows the conspiratory nature of our politics/political leaders who only shift their responsibilities onto other forever.

The entire area from Nimatighat to Hatishal Dainygaon is a lowland. With the slightest upsurge of the Brahmaputra waters the vast watery expanse extends upto the Bor Ali. That the PWD road at Nimatighat is on the verge of extinction, Bor Ali now will have to withstand the wrath of the Brahmaputra's turbulance. Any eventual damage to it, spells a definite disaster for a major part of the district, and will only be repeating 1987. [S]


Rs 8-cr grant for Arunachal flood

ITANAGAR, June 28 (UNI): The Centre will give more than Rs 8 crore to Arunachal Pradesh from the National Calamity Fund towards flood relief, Union Agriculture Minister Nitish Kumar, who made an aerial survey of the affected areas of Siang Valley yesterday, said. In the first instalment about Rs 2 crore had already been released, Mr Kumar said briefing newsmen at Raj Bhavan last night. Mr Kumar said the flash floods in Siang river on June 11 had caused untold destructions to roads, bridges and human habitations. The flood waters had caused siltation on several hectares of cultivable land in East Siang district. Surface communication had been badly damaged in upper Siang, west Siang, east Siang and Dibang Valley districts, he said. [S]


Flood situation improving

GUWAHATI, June 28: The overall flood situation in Assam still remains grim but the water level of the Brahmaputra and its tributaries has been receding in most parts of the state. So far seven persons have lost their lives in flood and landslides.

An official release said that 4,47,969 persons of 12 districts have been affected by floods so far.

One person was drowned in Dhemaji district, where more than 67,000 people of 175 villages have been affected so far. The rail and road communication to the district still remain disrupted. In the Jonai sub-division of the district, the road communication between Jonai and Tinmelighat has been restored.

The water level of the river Brahmaputra has been receeding in the Majuli sub-division of Jorhat district. However, erosion is still posing a threat to Pomua and Kaupati areas and the road communication between Kamalabari and Bongaon remains disrupted. One Kerpai Kalita, aged 55 years, of Dakhinpat Kumargaon drowned on the Brahmaputra river on June 24.

The overall flood situation in the Tinsukia district is improving as the water level of the rivers Brahmaputra and Nadehing is receding . The situation is also improving in the Bilasipara sub-division of Dhubri district. About 40,000 people of the sub-division have been affected by floods. Altogether 52 houses were damaged in floods.

An official release said that the Brahmaputra is flowing above the danger level at Goalpara. A breach in the embankment between Fatengapara and Sukanipara resulted in innundation of 20 villages under Lakhipur circle. Due to overtopping of PWD roads, the road communication between Jaleswar and Khalishavita has been disrupted. A DRDA embankment was also breached, affecting the Kalapani and Chandmari villages.

The release said that about 300 families hit by erosion in the North-Salmara sub-division have been shifted to safer places.

The water-level of the Brahmaputra and its tributaries is receding in Darrang district. However, the road communication between Ghorabandha and Garukhuti remains disrupted.

Meanwhile, member of the state Assembly, Smt Pramila Rani Brahma today alleged that the state government has failed to take adequate steps to deal with the problem of floods in Kokrajhar district.

In a release here today, Smti Brahma said that floods created havoc in Kokrajhar district and a number of roads, bridges and culverts were washed away. She alleged that the state government has failed to give due attention to the problem.

Smt Brahma said that the administration of the Bodoland Autonomous Council is now in the hands of persons who are not at all interested in the welfare of the area. [AT]


Flood situation remains critical

GUWAHATI, June 27: The overall flood situation in Assam remains critical and according to official records, the number of persons affected has increased to more than four lakh.

An official release said that altogether 1,180 villages of ten districts -- Dhemaji, Lakhimpur, Tinsukia, Jorhat, Dibrugarh, Kokrajhar, Bongaigaon, Darrang, Dhubri and Karimganj, have been affected by floods so far. The government has opened 32 relief camps in the affected districts to provide shelter to the affected people.

The road communication between Dhemaji and the rest of the state remained cut-off since June 22. However, the water level of the river Brahmaputra has been receding. However, the situation remains unchanged in the Jonai sub-division of the district. The road communication in the sub-division remains disrupted.

Subansiri river is floowing above the danger level in Lakhimpur district. The official release said that 38,840 persons of 64 villages have been affected. In the Dhakuakhana sub-division of the district, 116 villages with a population of over 28,000 have been affected.

In Tinsukia district, the water level of the Brahmaputra is receding. However, the road communication in the Guijan area remains disrupted. In the Sadiya sub-division also, the situation is improving. So far about 12,000 people of 30 villages in Sadiya have been affected.

In Jorhat, the Brahmaputra is still flowing above the danger level and heavy erosion has posed a serious threat to Neamatighat. A portion of the PWD road leading to the existing ferry ghat has been eroded and 30 families have been cut off from the main road. Flood waters innundated the low lying areas in Kumargaon area of west Jorhat revenue circle.

In Kokrajhar, a breach in the dyke of the Brahmaputra at Boratal late last night innundated 30 villages. However, the water level of the Gaurang and Saralbhanga rivers is receding.

In the Bijni sub-division of Bongaigaon district, more than nine thousand people have been affected. Erosion is posing a threat to Goraimari and Garugaon villages.

The Brahmaputra and its tributaries are flowing above the danger level in Darrang district, affecting more than 2,500 people of 14 villages. [AT]


Erosion at Neamatighat
Gogoi expresses helplessness

JORHAT, June 26: In an apparent case of paying lip service, State Flood Control Minister Sri Pramode Gogoi on Saturday expressed utter helplessness in the face of severe erosion taking place at Neamatighat off Jorhat city. Addressing journalists at a press meet held at the Circuit House here on the day following his visit to the erosion-hit area, local MLA and State Power Minister Sri Hitendra Nath Goswami put the blame for the present state of affairs on the Centre's lackadaisical attitude in releasing funds since 1995 for checking erosion at the site.

"Except taking palliative measures to somehow check erosion till September next, I see no other alternative," confessed Sri Gogoi. "Permanent measures like construction of boulder spurs can be taken up only in October. Till such time, the Bor Ali embankment will remain as the only line of defence," Gogoi added.

Majuli Scene: In the meantime, the current wave of floods has till date affected over 28,000 people in the world's largest river island Majuli, with 55 villages being inundated, while Salmara and Sumoimari have been under the grip of severe erosion, where a 6-7 km stretch along the river bank has witnessed near uniform erosion to the tune of around 70 metres during the current season. Since over two weeks now, 47 flood-hit families have been taking refuge in an embankment. However, the subdivisional authorities have provided them ration to see them through for a week. [AT]


Over 3 lakh people hit by floods

GUWAHATI, June 26: The overall flood situation in Assam remains grim as over 3.28 lakh people of eight districts of the State have been affected so far.

An official release said that altogether 967 villages of the districts of Dhemaji, Dibrugarh, Lakhimpur, Jorhat, Tinsukia, Kokrajhar, Dhubri and Karimganj have been affected. The Government has opened 29 relief camps to provide shelter to the affected families.

The rail and road communication to Dhemaji district remain cut off and the Brahmaputra is flowing above the danger level. About 27,000 people of the Dhemaji subdivision have been affected by flood. The situation is worse in the Jonai subdivision of the district as more than one lakh people of 205 villages have been affected. The road communication in the district has been snapped at several places. The Jebcom-Berachapori embankment was breached at seven places. The administration has opened 13 relief camps to provide shelter to the affected people.

In Lakhimpur district, the water level of the river Subansiri and its tributaries are rising, affecting more than 23,000 people in Narayanpur and Bihpuria revenue circles.

The Brahmaputra is flowing above the danger level at Dibrugarh and more than 21,000 people of 39 villages in the district have been affected. In Tinsukia district, the Brahmaputra is flowing above the danger level in Sadiya subdivision, affecting 9,000 people. More than 6,500 people have been affected in the Doom Dooma subdivision.

The flood situation in the Majuli subdivision of Jorhat district remains grim and 52 villages with a population of 37,000 have been affected. Motor boats are being used to shift the erosion affected people from different parts of the subdivision.

The situation in Kokrajhar district also remains grim and the road communication to the district headquarter remains disrupted. More than 35,000 people of the district have been affected so far. In the Gossaigaon subdivision of the district, about 23,000 people have been affected by floods. However, the National Highway-31 has been reopened for traffic today after the two wooden bridges damaged in floods were repaired.

The official release said that 38,430 people of 242 villages of Bilasipara subdivision of Dhubri district have been affected so far. Altogether 36 houses including an LP school were damaged.

In the South Salmara area of Dhubri, more than 5,000 people have been affected. Motor boats have been pressed into service to shift the affected people to safer places.

Train suspended: As a portion of the railway track between Dhemaji and Gogamukh has been washed away by floods, the train services between North Lakhimpur and Mugkongselek has been suspended from today. An NF Railway release said that the 5813/5814 Arunachal Express will now run between Kamakhya and North Lakhimpur, while, the 173/176 passenger train will run between Rangapara and North Lakhimpur. [AT]


Floods hit Kokrajhar, Bilasipara and Nalbari

KOKRAJHAR, June 25: Several parts of Kokrajhar district have been submerged by flood waters following incessant rains since Thursday. Flood waters partially damaged the Chapar bridge over Majati river on NH-31, Malvog bridge under Kachugaon PS over Saralvanga river. All kinds of vehicles stopped to ply on the NH-31 due to the damage suffered by the bridge by flood waters.

Floods also affected Bengtol, Bhowraguri, Kenduguri, Runikhata, Ramfalbill, Patgaon, Bamarhat, Fakiragram area of the district.

Several roads and relief camps also submerged by flood water.

Meanwhile, Deputy Commissioner JI Kathar and other senior civil officers visited the affected areas of the district. Our Correspondent adds from Nalbari: Heavy rains on Friday submerged the entire Nalbari town throwing life totally out of gear. The Central Water Commission recorded 69 mm rain in Nalbari town at about 8.30 am.

All the important roads of the town including PNC road, NT road, Palla road, Circuit house road, Barama road, College road, Post Office road, Bidyapur road are under one to two feet waters. The rain waters also inundated the Nalbari bus stand resulting in the buses suspended their parking. The attendance in the government offices and movement of the people on the roads was very thin as the continuous rain made life miserable for the people.

Our Correspondent adds from Bilasipara: About 1500 people and standing crop of over 500 hectares were affected while road communication on the NH-31 was snapped due to flash floods which occurred on June 23, according to official sources.

The SDO (Civil), Bilasipara informed that no report of loss of life and cattle has been received so far. He stated that over 15000 hectares of land area have been affected. However, since afternoon of June 23 the water level has receded in and around Bilasipara town. Marooned people have taken shelter in four schools so far. [AT]


2 killed, 5 hurt in landslide

SHILLONG, June 25: A mother and her minor son were buried alive while another five children injured when their house was swept away in a landslide triggered by incessant rains for the last five days, at Mawblei village, 10 km from here on Saturday, official sources said on Sunday. The landslide completely swept away the house when the mother along with her six children were sleeping. The mother identified as Aidaline and her eight-year-old son Shainborlang were buried alive by a big swamp of mud while the other five children, two sons and three daughters, were critically injured, the sources said. The deceased were retrieved from the debris and sent to Shillong civil hospital for postmortem. The injured were also admitted in the same hospital, the sources said. [AT]


Flood situation still grim

GUWAHATI, June 25:The flood situation in Assam remained grim today, despite a lull in rainfall, with the river Brahmaputra continuing its rising trend from Tezpur to Dhubri while most of its tributaries, except Dhansiri and Kopili, are falling.

An official communique said less rainfall, compared to the previous few days, has prevented the flood situation from worsenin. The Brahmaputra is flowing above the danger level in most of its course in the State, it said. The Chief Minister, while assessing the flood situation with officials here last night, asked all district and sub-divisional heads in flood affected districts to remain alert and meet any eventuality.

According to the Central Water Commission (CWC), middle Brahmaputra division, the Brahmaputra was flowing above the danger level at Dibrugarh (1.24m), Neamatighat (0.47m), Tezpur (0.66m) and Dhubri (0.46m). It was falling, however, in the first two locations but rising in the last two. Also flowing above the danger level were the Jiabharali at NT Road crossing (0.3m), the Dhansiri (S) at Numaligarh (0.4m), the Puthimari at NH Road crossing (0.42m) and Beki at road bridge (0.71m). While the Dhansiri (S) was rising, the other three were falling.

Even in Guwahati, the Brahmaputra was flowing 0.92m above warning level but below danger level though it was rising. The trend was similar at Goalpara (0.67m). The Kopilli was also rising and flowing above the warning level at Kampur (0.63m) and Dharamtul (0.44m) as was the Burhidihing at Khowang (0.3m).

The Manas and Sankosh were flowing steady but above warning level at NH road crossing (0.43m) and Golakganj (0.92m) respectively. The Pagladia was falling but still above warning level at NG Road crossing (0.21m).

In Dhemaji district about 300 villages, including a hundred in Jonai sub-division, have been affected by the floods, officials stated. The sityuation there is reportedly improving and relief work is on among the over one lakh affected people. In the Hajo area of Kamrup district about 50,000 people of 22 villages have been affected and four relief camps have been set up. Flash floods of the Kulsi river has affected a few villages in the Chaygaon area.

Our Jorhat Correspondent adds: Flood waters of the Brahmaputra that had inundated vast areas of Majuli were today maintaining a receding trend as per sub-divisional administration sources. Of the 160 homeless families that had been taking shelter on the Sumoimari PWD road in Majuli since 1993, 68 of them have recently been allotted land by the Jorhat district administration along the Assam-Nagaland border at Panikheti under Titabor revenue circle. Hence, along with another 47 erosion-hit families that are presently taking shelter on an embankment at Salmara in Upper Majuli, the total number of homeless families taking shelter on roads and such other highlands in the riverine island has risen to 229. Though the water level of the Red River was also maintaining a falling trend at Neamatighat off Jorhat city today, it was none the less flowing a few centimetres above the danger level. [AT]


Arunachal flood situation worsens

ITANAGAR, June 24: The overall flood situation in Arunachal Pradesh further deteriorated on Saturday with river Lohit inundating fresh areas in the district, reports UNI. Official sources from Tezu, the headquarters of Lohit district, said that all the rivers including Lohit and Noa -Dihing were rising rapidly following incessant rains in the catchment areas for the past one week. Tezu remained cut off by road for the third day on Saturday.

State Chief Minister Mukut Mithi visited some of the flood-affected areas of Lohit district on Saturday and reviewed the latest situation with Relief and Rehabilitation Minister Tingpong Wangham. He was also accompanied by Minister of State for education Roding Pertin and Minister of State for Home Rima Taipodia among, others. The Chief Minister directed the authorities to carry out relief and rehabilitation work on a war footing.

Four villages had been submerged by the waters of NOA-Dihing in Mahadevpur area on Saturday, affecting thousands of people, official sources said and added that no casualties had been reported from anywhere till now. [AT]


232 villages hit by floods
Road links to NE snapped

GUWAHATI, June 24: Surface communication between the North East region and the rest of the country remained severed for the second consecutive day due to flood, even as about 1,25,000 people in 232 villages have been affected in the current wave of flood in the State.

A Central Water Commission (CWC) flood bulletin, this evening, said that the Brahmaputra is rising from Neamatighat to Dhubri, while, barring Dhansiri at Numaligarh, most of the mighty river's tributaries are in falling trend.

At 3 pm today, the Brahmaputra was flowing 1.61 metre above danger level at Dibrugarh, 0.7 metre above danger level at Neamatighat, 0.37 metre above danger level at Tezpur and 0.3 metre above danger level at Dhubri.

Its tributary Dhansiri was flowing 0.08 metre above danger level at Numaligarh and Puthimari, 0.77 metre above danger level at NH Road crossing, Beki, 0.58 metre above danger level at Road Bridge crossing and Manas, 0.49 metre above danger level at NH Road crossing.

Brahmaputra was 0.32 metre above warning level at Guwahati, and 0.12 metre above warning level at Goalpara, while its tributary Jiabharali at NT Road crossing was 0.74 metre above warning level, Pagladiya 0.55 metre above warning level at NT Road crossing and Sonkosh was 0.89 metre above warning level at Golokganj at 3 pm today.

According to an official release here this evening, if rain continue, even at Guwahati and Goalpara the water level of the Brahmaputra may cross the danger level at any moment.

At Jorhat the ferryghat at Neamatighat has been shifted to the upstream as the ghat has almost been over topped by flood water, the official release said, adding, relief operations for the affected people in Majuli is continuing, while the district administration of Lakhimpur is monitoring the situation in the district where about 2,000 people have been affected by flood in the Narayanpur circle.

Meanwhile, Meteorology (Met) office sources here warned this afternoon that rainfall activity is likely to continue during the next 24 hours over the NE region.

The Met sources also said that particularly in Arunachal Pradesh and its adjoining areas and in Nagaland, Manipur and Tripura rainfall is likely during the said period, with one or two heavy spells in isolated places over these States.

However, to refute the suggestion that there was an abnormal rainfall-related situation in NE region, the Met sources said that till date Guwahati experienced a rainfall of 33.85 cm, against the normal rainfall of 38.71 cm in the month of June.

Similarly, Mohanbari (Dibrugarh) experienced till date 30.12 cm of rainfall, against the June normal of 42.86 cm, and Cherrapunji -- 219.10 cm (till June 22 last) against the June normal of 279.39 cm. However, Tezpur and Shillong, experienced excess rainfall during the period. Tezpur recorded 38.75 cm of rainfall, against the June normal of 30.56 cm and Shillong, -- 69.59 cm, against the June normal of 47.60 cm, the Met sources said.

Kokrajhar Deputy Commissioner J I Kathar said river Sapat had damaged two bridges at Malbhog and near Gossaigaon. "One is restored and I am going now to inspect the other. But at the moment the road link will remain cut off although the flood situation in the district has started improving", he said.

Kathar hoped that by evening the other bridge would also be restored. But everything depended on the rain that continued to pour heavily in lower Assam with Dhubri recording a highest 236 mm in the past 24 hours.

Our Staff Correspondent in Dibrugarh adds: The overall flood situation in the Dibrugarh and Tinsukia Districts remained steady today, with the major rivers stabilising after rising yesterday. The Brahmaputra and its tributaries are all flowing well above the danger mark throughout their courses. In the city, the Brahmaputra has touched the 106.00 metre level, the danger level being 104.24 metres. However, this is way below the highest Brahmaputra water level here of 106.48 metres, recorded on May 27, 1998. On June 10 this year, the river touched the 106.40 metre level. Though the Brahmaputra level here is way above the danger mark, there is no panicky situation here, contrary to reports in a section of the media. [AT]


Flood situation grim

GUWAHATI, June 23: With the incessant heavy to very heavy rainfall during the past 24 hours, beginning from 8-30 am yesterday, over Assam and Meghalaya and isolated heavy rainfall over Arunachal Pradesh during the period, the overall flood situation in the State aggravated today.

The rainfall-related situation in the region is unlikely to improve before the next two days, said Meteorology (Met) sources here this afternoon, even as the Brahmaputra and its tributaries are maintaining a rising trend.

Meanwhile, flood waters of the Jiadhol washed away the Dhemaji approach road to Jiadhol bridge today and over 100 villages in Dhemaji district have been inundated by the flood waters of the river.

In Gossaigaon and Kokrajhar sub-divisions of Kokrajhar district, the flood situation has deteriorated with the Saralapar river breaching its embankments near Sapkata and Saralbhanga. Plying of heavy vehicles on the NH 31-C near Bismuri has been prohibited following the inundation of the Highway there by flood waters.

A UNI report this evening said quoting district authorities, that the approach road of Melbhog bridge on National Highway near Kachugaon had been damaged.

The Brahmaputra (Lohit) was flowing one metre above the danger level at Tezu this evening, while at Dibrugarh it recorded a water level of 105.11 metre (danger level 104.24 metre) this morning.

At Neamatighat, Brahmaputra recorded 85.15 metre (danger level 85.04 metre) of water level during the morning today, while it maintained a water level of 64.53 metre at Tezpur (danger level 64.23 metre), 47.76 metre at Guwahati (danger level 49.68 metre), 35.40 metre at Goalpara (danger level 36.37 metre) and 28.25 metre at Dhubri (danger level 28.50 metre) during the time, said Met sources here, adding, the overall trend of the river was to keep rising.

The Pagladia and Puthimari, the two turbulent tributaries of the Brahmaputra on the north bank in Nalbari and Kamrup districts respectively were also in spate, while the other tributaries of the mighty river were also maintaining a rising trend.

Pagladia recorded a water level of 52.70 metre (danger level 52.75 metre) this morning, while Puthimari maintained a water level of 53.66 metre (danger level 51.81 metre), Beki, -- a water level of 45.40 metre (danger level 44.38 metre) and Manas, -- a water level of 48.38 metre (danger level 47.56 metre) during the time, the sources said.

Our Rangiya Correspondent reports: Four rivers in the Rangiya sub-division, namely, Puthimari, Baralia, Nona and Pagladia are rising alarmingly. Puthimari breached a 200-metre stretch of its right bank embankment at Bagaribari village this morning inundating several villages under Goreswar and Rangiya Revenue Circles.

Rangiya town is also threatened by the rising Baralia, our correspondent said.

According to Met sources, the heavy to very heavy rainfall over the region is resulted from the shifting of the monsoon trough to the foothills of the Himalayas. In such cases, the monsoon trough generally stays in this location for a period of about three to seven, or eight days. This time only two days have passed since the phenomenon occurred, said the sources. [AT]


Second wave of floods in Assam

GUWAHATI, June 23 (UNI): Incessant rain throughout the North-east in the past three days has threatened second wave of flood in Assam as almost all the major rivers are flowing above the danger mark.

With the MET office warning of more heavy rains in the next three days, the situation looks grim as the Brahmaputra is already flowing more than a meter above the danger level in most parts of the upper Assam, the central water commission monitoring report said.

What has worried the flood control and revenue authorities is the rapid rise in the water level of rivers originating from Arunachal Pradesh: Subansiri, Lohit and Sinang. All these rivers are flowing more than a meter above the danger level.

The authorities apprehend that the second wave of flood will be much stronger than the first, which was a mild one. In the Dibrugarh city, which has been protected by a dyke, the river is flowing 1.40 meter above the danger level, heading towards an all time record set in 1988.

The dykes in Madhupur and Bogibeel Dalani village have been damaged by the rising waters which have affected Paroliguri, Tinsukia, Naharani and Deorigaon. In lower Assam, situation is even worse as Puthimari and Beki were flowing more than two meters above the danger level inundating huge areas. However, detailed reports were awaited. Nearly a million people of six districts have been affected.

Meanwhile, traffic on the National Highway 31 near Kokrajhar have been affected by flood waters. Trucks are stranded since 1300 hours yesterday and the Deputy Commissioner of the district JI Kathar have inspected the areas.

The Guwahati city has also not been spared by floods as as major portion of the city is under water and two most important roads are under water. [S]


2 killed in landslide

GUWAHATI, June 23: Landslide claimed two persons, a mother and her minor daughter, near the Kamakhya temple in the city today. Following incessant rains during the last few days, a large chunk of earth fell from a hill top on the thatched house crushing to death Argina Begum (36) and her two-year-old daughter Khursida Begum.

The police rushed to the spot and rescued Begum's two sons, Samim Alam and Samsed Alam, who were buried under the debris.

The Government has sounded an alert to the people residing near the hills to be cautious of landslide as the city has been experiencing heavy and continuous downpour during the past couple of days. [S]


Guwahati waterlogged in many places
Flood havoc all over Assam

JORHAT, June 23: The flood situation in Jorhat district worsened further following the incessant rains for the last few days. With the water of the Brahmaputra flowing 35 metres above the danger level at erosion-prone Nimatighat area, the people are under a constant threat that the area may be swept away by the mighty river at any time as barely a metre of the approach road to the Nimatighat ferry is left to be eroded. Seven of the 40 families residing there have already shifted to safer areas themselves. According to the flood control cell here, the water level of the Brahmaputra may rise alarmingly in the district within the next 12 hours.

The situation in Majuli subdivision too worsened today. In Ahatguri mouza in lower Majuli, one of the worst erosion-hit areas in the subdivision, as many as 15 villages were inundated, and more areas are likely to be submerged tonight. The surface communication to lower Majuli has been disrupted. Bao, ahu and other crops were destroyed in the subdivision.

Our Bongaigaon Correspondent adds: The rising water of the Aie river inundated as many as 17 villages in Sidli circle in Bongaigaon district and the district administration shifted the families of 116 villages to safer areas. In Bijni subdivision of the district, four villages were inundated, and the NH-31 (C) was badly affected due to erosion near Rakhaldubi by the Aie river.

A Staff Reporter in Guwahati adds: According to official reports received here, the flood situation in Kokrajhar district is very critical. Due to breaches in the dam beside the Saralpara river at two places -- one near Saraibhanga bridge and the other near Dhaniaguri village -- seven villages were inundated. The flood water damaged the approach road of Malbhog bridge on the NH-31 (C) near Kachugaon. The national highway was inundated near Bishmuri and Anthaibari.

NORTH LAKHIMPUR: The rising water of the Subansiri and its tributaries inundated 22 villages affecting 22,200 people in the district.

DIBRUGARH: The water level in the district is 105.53 metres against the danger level of 104.24 metres.

DHEMAJI: The water level of the Siang is rising steadily. The Jonai-Tinimileghat Road was inundated at several points.

Heavy rains likely in next three days
UNI adds: With the Meteorological Office warning of more heavy rains in the next three days, the situation looks grim as the Brahmaputra is already flowing more than a metre above the danger level in most parts of the upper Assam. The Central Water Commission is monitoring the situation, reports said.

What has worried the Flood Control and Revenue authorities is the rapid rise in the water level of rivers originating from Arunachal Pradesh: the Subansiri, the Lohit and the Siang. All these rivers are flowing more than a metre above the danger level.

The authorities apprehend that the second wave of flood will be much stronger than the first. In the Dibrugarh city, which has been protected by a dyke, the river is flowing 1.40 metre above the danger level, heading towards an all-time record set in 1988.

The dykes in Madhupur and Bogibeel Dalani village have been damaged by the rising water which has affected Paroliguri, Tinsukia, Naharani and Deorigaon. In the lower Assam, situation is even worse as Puthimari and Beki were flowing more than two metres above the danger level inundating huge areas. Nearly a million people of six districts have been affected. [S]


Mithi asks Centre for flood relief

ITANAGAR, June 22 (UNI): Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Mukut Mithi has requested a central relief of Rs 100 crore to carry out relief and rehabilitation work in the flood affected areas of the State.

According to an official release, Mr Mithi had apprised Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee in New Delhi yesterday about the damages caused by the recent flash floods in the State and had sought Rs 100 crore for carrying out relief work.

He also called on Union Minister of agriculture Mr Nitish Kumar and senior officers of the ministry. Mr Mithi while presenting the interim memorandum to Mr Kumar, invited his attention to the grim situation being faced by the State Government. [S]


Dhemaji district cut off

NORTH LAKHIMPUR, June 22: Following the incessant rains in Arunachal Pradesh, and in Sonitpur, Lakhimpur and Dhemaji districts of Assam for the last few days the rivers of the districts overflowed and inundated the catchment areas. The waters of the Gai, the Jiadhal and the Kumadia of Dhemaji district, and the Subansiri, the Pangunadi, the Dikrung and the Drupang of Lakhimpur district inundated the NH-52 near Samrajan, following which the surface communication between Dhemaji and the rest of the nation was snapped. It is feared that following the alarming rise in the water level of the Brahmaputra the dam at Matmora in Dhakuakhana subdivision in Lakhimpur district may be breached. [S]


55 families shifted to relief camps

DIBRUGARH, June 22: The Brahmaputra in Dibrugarh was flowing 1.38 metres above the danger mark at 7 p.m. today. All total 55 families at Rohmoria, 14 km from Dibrugarh have been shifted to relief camps. The district administration has set up two relief camps in the area. [S]


End of Neamatighat in sight
Brahmaputra erosion threatens Jorhat

JORHAT, June 21: The countdown began over three decades ago -- 1975 to be precise. But then, no one at the helm of affairs took notice, that is. Today, when a mere two metres of land is what remains of erosion-hit Neamatighat, prior to being totally wiped out forever from the land map of Assam, have the political masters at Dispur woken up and the subject generated some noise in the corridors of power. Strangely enough, the current year has recorded the lowest level of erosion at Neamatighat in a long time, with just over 20 metres, while figures from 1989 to 1999 are 520, 470, 190, 60, 75, 45, 40, 60, 60, 100 and 90 metres respectively. Come another wave of floods and with the existing last two metres of land being gobbled up by the Brahmaputra, the entire thrust of the river will be on the Bor Ali embankment. It is just a question of time when this reality turns into a nightmare. Infact, the alarm bells have already started ringing. The ferry ghat too will then have to be shifted to the Bor Ali, a road with a historical significance.

Numerous families residing by the mighty Red River and compelled to frequently change home and hearth overnight owing to the unpredictable pace of erosion, claim that the river has been changing course and heading southwards, i.e., towards the very heart of Jorhat city. From 1986 to 1993, over 1,200 hectares of land under Jorhat east circle and over 800 hectares in the west circle have been engulfed by the Brahmaputra and over 750 families rehabilitated from 1986 to 1997, as per official records. From Jhanjimukh to Neamati and within a decade from 1980, Gayanbari, Gohaingaon, Puroni Gohaingaon, Joritol, Charigaon Chapori, Dainigaon, Kinaichuk, Kokila, Namkokila, Bhitorkokila, Neamatikhuti Gaon, Kumargaon, Kumarbhetia Gaon Moriagaon, Bahadurchuk, Goriabhoga, Mussalman Gaon, Makoikhuti and Milan Nagar have been swallowed up by the Brahmaputra. Further, one higher secondary school, four primary schools and six namghars were also lost for ever. To put it differently, over four square kilometres around Neamati have been lost during the last 12 years. With its constant pounding in its bid to flow south wards, the only male river according to Hindu cosmology, has carved out new channels and created several sand bars in its wake.

Aiming to check the massive erosion, a Rs 31.62 crore Hatisal Neamati-Dainigaon protection proposal was submitted before the State government way back in 1989. Even as a state-level technical advisory panel along with Central Water Commission (CWC) experts verified the scheme's techno-economic viability and suggested a model study owing to its high cost, hydrographic survey on a 20-km reach of the Brahmaputra was undertaken from 1991 to 1994. As the survey report was in due course submited to Dr S B Kulkarni, then Joint Director, Central Water and Power Research Station, Pune, it was subsequently returned with several recommendations to help check erosion.

Based on the above, a Rs. 31.89 crore scheme was approved by the Central technical advisory committee and cleared by the CWC in September, 1995. It received investment clearance from the Planning Commission on February 7, 1996, while the State government's administrative approval came on August 14, 1996. Technical clearance from the Assam Flood Control Department was received in November, 1996, with scheme's worth being reduced to Rs 31.77 crore.

Even as the project was executed in a phased manner from March 1996, with 85 per cent of the earth work having been completed till date, and though the Centre had allotted an excess of Rs 1 crore over and above the annual Plan funds during 1996 for the project, the greatest hindrance came when the scheme was placed under the State Plan. Owing to sloth and lackadaisical attitude of the powers that be, work on the project progressed on a piece-meal basis while the State government adjusted funds for the project under the revenue deposit head. Though Rs 96 lakh has till now been released, contractors are by and large reluctant to work on the project as funds are released only in drops and trickles.

A high-level technical committee reviewed the progress of work during the later part of 1998 and following its report a state-level technical advisory panel again suggested a model test last year, results of which are still awaited. Meanwhile, continuous erosion has been wreaking havoc in the area, while only a two-metre stretch of PWD road separates reality from nightmare.

Assam Tribune photo.

Experts in the field suggest massive afforestation in the upstream areas in order to prolong water travel time and harp on retention reservoirs to reduce the thrust downstream. The highly braided nature of the Brahmaputra has led to its unpredictability, leading to many channels being active all at once. The name Flood Control Department too is a misnomer, say people in the know, who reason that there is nothing to do with flood control other than water management. As of now, the only significant factor is that the project under review has lately been adjusted under the Central loan assistance scheme.

While the political masters 'struggle' in the corridors of power at Dispur and New Delhi to get funds released in their last-ditch effort to save Jorhat city from being wiped out in the not too distant future, it remains to be seen what is left of the erosion-hit area if and when funds are actually made available. In the meantime, the plight of the landless has to be seen to be believed, as ruthless erosion has in its wake reduced landlords into a state of penury overnight.

As things stand today, with uncertainty staring Jorhatians in the face, the hapless citizens cannot but leave their fate to destiny. [AT]


Irate public take up cudgels to fight flood menace

GUWAHATI, June 19: Irked by their bitter experiences of facing constant waterloggings during the past nine years, the people in the Zoo Road-Rajgarh locality have started revolting against the administration breaking their long silence maintained over the years.

A joint meeting of the six Development Committees in the area was held at the SanatanNamghar on the RG Baruah Road yesterday with, Lt Col P C Choudhury in the chair. Aggrieved at the untamed artificial floods created in the area, year after year, yesterday's meeting held that the people have the right for compensations for the losses and the mental agony they had suffered due to frequent artificial floods in the area. The meeting decied to fight collectively to acquire this right.

By way of a resolution, the meeting demanded that the waterlogging in the Refinery area and the areas to the North-east of Hatigarh Chariali, during the monsoon, should be diverted to the Brahmaputra along the Refinery itself. The meeting attributed this to be the responsibility of the refinery.

In another resolution it has been demanded that the Vahini river course be diverted towards Bashistha. The meeting demanded creating of a permanent task force to keep the city drains clean. Other demands included immediate completion and activation of the sluice gate under construction at Bharalumukh. The meeting also urged the authorities concerned to ensure regular flow of the Bharalu's current.

The meeting demanded adoptionof appropriate measures to prevent entry of the upward current of the Bharalu river into the Anil Nagar box-drain and the Rupalipath underground drain. The meeting suggested keeping of a reserve land on both the banks of the Bharalu river, if required by requisition of such land. The meeting demanded that major constructions along the Bharalu's banks be stopped at once.

The meeting demanded eviction of all encroachment over the Bharalu. Legal steps should be initiated by way of issuing caveat to discourage any probable stay orders from court. One of the resolutions demanded formulation of appropriate schemes for the upkeeping of the roads, etc., in the waterlogging affected areas. Such plans should be made taking in confidence the representatives of the local people. The meeting also demanded formation of a high-level special committee ot check up the effectiveness of the underground drains in the area.

The six development committees involved in yesterday's meeting are the Nabin Nagar Kalyan Samiti, Palashpath, Lakhimipath, Senduri Ali Development Committee, Rupali Path Development Committee, besides the Navina Sangha and Deepsikha. [S]


Wild animals cross over to KA Hills to escape floods

JORHAT, June 19: The wild animals in the Kaziranga National Park particularly the deer have started deserting the park following submergence of a vast area of the park by flood waters.

The Government has promulgated Section 144 of the IPC over the entire national highway covering the area, so as to discourage gathering of people on the highway and to ensure security of the animals crossing the highway in search of safety on higher lands. The animals alarmed at the situation of rising floods are now taking refuge at the Karbi Anglong hills. Strict security duty has been enforced on the national highway.

One forest guard, named Lila Nath had been injured by a speeding vehicle passing along the road. The authorities have been hit by the recent retrenchment of 160 muster roll workers in the sanctuary. While the flood has created a havoc in the lives of the animals, there exists 50 posts of different categories lying vacant since long. The categories include grass cutters 17, boatmen 12 and the rest belonging to the grade IV category. Lack of financial sanction by the Government compelled the park authorities to remove the muster roll workers.

The spate of rhinos poaching by poachers within the Park has now marked a definite improvement during the last three years. Strict security duty and dedication on the part of those employed for the job, has made it all possible. Now taking advantage of the situation, the fishermen inside the park areas are running a brisk business selling fishes caught from the beels in the park illegally. The Divisional Forest Officer, Mr Partha Sarathi Das seized 250 nets during May. The forest security personnel arrested seven fishermen for illegal fishing inside the park. The people with doubtful citizenships living in the char areas near the Kaziranga are mainly involved in the fishing.

The Government's lack of will to evict these citizens has made these fringe area fishermen a potential threat to the park. These inhabited areas also act as hideouts and bases for the hardened poachers. Besides there has been illegal encroachment of the park's lands. An earlier eviction drive in the area had to be abandoned following ministerial-level interference in the past. Expansion works of the park has also stopped as the matter has now become subjudiced. [S]


3 buried alive in landslide in Noonmati

GUWAHATI, June 19: Three people, including a couple, were killed in a landslide in the Noonmati area of the city in the wee hours today. The landslide was caused by the heavy downpour over the city last night.

Noonmati police said Satish Nayak (40), his wife Niroda (30) and neighbour Jatin Boro (25) were killed in their sleep after a huge mass of loose soil fell over their rented tenements at Bapuji Nagar burying them under it. Their bodies were extracted from the debris later. Another man, Bijoy Ramchiary (25), sustained minor injuries.

A nearby house was partially damaged while another one, being constructed, was destroyed. The victims were tenants of one Narayan Deka, the police said.

It may be mentioned here that several persons were killed last year near Kalaphar in the city following a landslide. Illegal settlements on the hill slopes, along with rampant earth-cutting has made several areas in the city susceptible to landslides.

Kamrup Deputy Commissioner, D N Saikia, while speaking to The Assam Tribune this evening, said several areas in the state capital have been identified as prone to landslides and citizens notified about it after last year's accident. Despite this, people continue to encroach on such dangerous plots.

"The administration alone cannot do anything unless the people cooperate," Saikia said. The D C has sought a report on today's accident and said action may be taken on the guilty, if any. He added that a meeting with NGOs will be convened on June 23 to discuss issues, including the threat of landslides. [AT]


Brahmaputra rising alarmingly

GUWAHATI, June 18: The Brahmaputra and its tributaries were rising alarmingly in five districts of Upper Assam affecting more than one lakh population in 183 villages following heavy rainfall during the past few days in the catchment areas, official sources said here today, reports PTI.

In Jorhat district, 25 villages, several acres of agricultural land, including three tea gardens have been inundated following breach of embankments at two places along the Puthi river, a tributary of the Brahmaputra. The situation in Majuli, the worldfs largest river island was alarming with severe erosion threatening several villages.

The water level of the rivers Gai and Jiadhol in Dhemaji district also continued to rise with more than 100 villages affected and people moving to highlands for safety. In Jonai sub-division of the district, several bridges have been damaged and breaches have occurred in several points, the sources said.

The Barak river in the Barak Valley was also flowing above the danger level and several villages in Karimganj district have been affected. [AT]


Nimatighat on the verge of sinking into Brahmaputra

JORHAT, June 18: If the erosion in the south bank of the Brahmaputra at Nimatighat in Jorhat district is allowed to continue at the current rate, Nimatighat will very soon meet the fate of Gohaingaon, Bhaganiagaon, Musalmangaon, Goriabheta, Bahadur Chowk, Gayangaon, Kinai Chowk, Charigaon Chapori, Naam Kakila, Bhitar Kakila, Jarital Kumargaon etc., villages, which had been vanished from the map of Jorhat district following the erosion by the mighty Brahmaputra during the last 50 years. According to the State Flood Control Department sources, during the last 25 years, the mighty river eroded about 10,055 bighas of land from Janjimukh to Nimatighat. There is no way out to save the area from Janjimukh to Nimatighat unless the proposed rock dam from Hatisal to Nimatighat, which had been approved wayback in 1996 is constructed. The president of the Jorhat district committee of the AGP, MrHemanta Kalita, who is also the MLA of Titabor LAC, after visiting the erosion-affected Nimatighat area yesterday, in a message to the party president and Chief Minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, demanded immediate preventive measures. The Chief Minister reportedly assured Mr Kalita of immediate action after consultation with the authorities of the relevant departments.

State Power Minister Hitendra Nath Goswami, who is the MLA of Jorhat LAC, also demanded the State Government to act immediately to save Nimatighat from the erosion of the Brahmaputra. [S]


Rs 100-cr scheme on anvil for Rohmaria: Gogoi

DIBRUGARH, June 16: Assam Flood Control Minister Pramode Gogoi said he has asked his department to prepare a scheme for permanent solution to the flood and erosion control measures upstream of Dibrugarh, including Rohmaria. This scheme is likely to cost Rs 100 crore. He also brushed aside BJP's claim of a "Rs 365-crore plan to save Rohmaria" as a crude political joke on the people.

Talking to newsmen here late on Thursday evening, Gogoi said the proposed plan envisages blockade of the Ananta Nullah by lining it with boulders. He added that this will help divert the mainstream of the Brahmaputra towards the middle of the river, and thereby save both Dibrugarh and Dhemaji districts from recurring floods and erosion.

The flood control additional chief engineer here, BK Das said his department has all the requisite expertise to implement the project. But prior to this, the scheme will have to be finalised, submitted to the Central Water Commission and then the Planning Commission, for taking it up as a Centrally-sponsored scheme.

Sri Gogoi said that to maintain the Brahmaputra's mainstream towards the middle of the river, "it is essential to ply ferries and steamers regularly on the river," saying this will ensure a deep stream to carry a major chunk of the river's water. The Brahmaputra has been declared a national waterway long ago, but regular plying of the bigger boats between Guwahati and Dibrugarh is yet to materialise. [AT]


Arunachal floods toll rises to 9

ITANAGAR, July 16: The death toll in the current floods in Arunachal Pradesh went up to nine with the report of two more casualties, even as the overall flood situation in the State remained grim. Official sources from Pasighat, the headquarters of East Siang district, said two more deaths were reported from the district. Earlier, seven persons were washed away in flash floods of river Siang on Monday. However, water level of the river was receding gradually, sources said. Road link to East Siang, West Siang and Upper Siang districts remained cut off as several bridges had been washed away and roads badly damaged by the floods.

Over 25,000 people were affected in the floods in all the three districts while about 7,000 families were taking shelter in relief camps in Pasighat. Another one thousand families were staying with their relatives and friends. East Siang district is in the grip of darkness since Monday as the hydel plants in the district had been badly damaged by the floods. [AT]


Five districts hit by floods

GUWAHATI, June 16: About 1,00,769 people in five districts of the State have been affected during the ongoing second wave of flood, said an official release here this evening. The affected districts are Dibrugarh, Dhemaji, Jorhat, Lakhimpur and Karimganj. In these districts 183 villages have been affected with a crop area of 10,420 hectares. In Jonai subdivision of Dhemaji district, though the flood water is receding, 80,000 livestock have been affected and several bridges and roads have also been damaged, while in Majuli subdivision of Jorhat district the flood situation is improving, the press release said. So far, there are 16 relief camps opened to shelter the affected people, the press release added. [AT]



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