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Sunday, 5 July 2020

Cascade of calamities hit a Flooded Assam

State authorities struggle with flood relief measures in the face of the COVID-19 and japanese encephalitis outbreak.


Cascade of calamities hit a Flooded Assam


𝐂𝐚𝐭𝐚𝐬𝐭𝐫𝐨𝐩𝐡𝐞 𝐚𝐟𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝐂𝐚𝐭𝐚𝐬𝐭𝐫𝐨𝐩𝐡𝐞
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As another surge of floods hit Assam in less than a month, authorities face the uphill battle of handling multiple disasters including disease outbreaks and oilfield fires at once.

The Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA) officials said that in the current wave of floods in the past two weeks, at least 22 persons have died in Morigaon, Tinsukia, Dhubri, Nagaon, Nalbari, Barpeta, Dhemaji, Udalguri, Goalpara and Dibrugarh districts, taking the state’s flood-caused death toll to 37, as COVID cases today rose by 1,202 in the largest single-day increase.

FLOODS WREAK HAVOC ACROSS DISTRICTS 


• Due to a second surge of floodwaters that washed over Assam since the third week of June, over 11 lakh people in 25 districts stand affected; the death toll has climbed to 37. 

• The lower districts of Assam like Barpeta and Nalbari was inundated due to excess water being released from the Kurichu Dam of Bhutan, this made the situation exacerbated.

• Some 20,000 people have taken shelter in 270 relief camps across the state according to sources at the Disaster Management Authority Assam State (ASDMA).

DISEASE OUTBREAKS WORSEN SITUATION 


• Besides the COVID-19 pandemic, the state is dealing with a monsoon vector based Japanese encephalitis outbreak - overwhelming hospitals across the state. 

• Although returning residents were in disarray during Cyclone Amphan,  Government officials had  been preoccupied with quarantine facilities for returning residents before floods.

• To protect against the outbreak, ASDMA has drawn up a standard operating procedure for relief camps; however, these measures, are hardly being implemented.

OILFIELD FIRES CONTINUE TO FLARE 


• The blowout at Oil India's Baghjan oil field is still burning; however, floodwaters washed away the bridge connecting Doomdooma to Baghjan. 

• Inorder to prevent the stucking of emergency service vehicles on either side, Army personnel laid a Bailey bridge.

• However, waters entered shelters in Baghjan, Dighal Tarang and Guijan, affecting 2,500 families within; with scanty hygiene facilities, physical distancing has become 'near impossible'.

FLOODS WASH OVER FLORA AND FAUNA 


• Besides harming human lives, the waters took a heavy toll on livestock and affected over 87,000 hectares of cultivated area. 

• In the absence of good infrastructure and sufficient human resources, floods spell doom for the plants and animals in the area every year, as forest officers fight both water and poachers. 

• Furthermore, the Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary, with India's highest concentration of rhinoceroses, is currently 90% underwater and the Brahmaputra is flowing over 70% of the Kaziranga National Park.

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STATE RAMPS UP RELIEF MEASURES 


• Relief material were distributed by the National and Local Response force along with the local administration to the marooned villagers.

• PM Modi announced ex gratia of Rs 2 lakh each to the next of kin of persons who lost their lives. 

• But, as governments largely focus on short-term measures of damage assessment and relief, floods continue to push Assam to the brink of socio- economic ruin in the absence of proper control mechanisms.

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