“Observe good faith and justice toward all nations. Cultivate peace and harmony with all.”
– George Washington
Ravages, devastation and loss of life and property due to floods and erosion have become an annual feature in Assam. Still worse, the loss and destruction caused seem to be ever increasing with accelerating momentum as the years roll by. With the Monsoon still in its early days, the State has already witnessed the loss of at least 30 precious lives in the first wave of flood, while the rainy season in all its fury is still awaited. Going by the trend would it be premature to presume that a lot more devastation could be on the cards as Monsoon downpour intensifies in the coming months? It is high time that the powers that be in Dispur realize that flood and erosion problem in Assam is over a century old. As per the records of the British era (known for their scientific approach and years of research in evaluating a problem) the size of the island of Majuli in the middle of the mighty Brahmaputra was much larger than its present size a century or so ago. While the British regime also initiated some flood control measures like construction of embankments, significantly, the same have out-lived their life span, necessitating the total reconstruction of the same. Mere repair of the spurs with truck-load of earth and sand by the present flood control or water resources dispensation at Dispur can in no way be an answer to the fury of flood in the state. Unfortunately, more often than not, the present Government takes to such ineffective and cheap measures. The result being instant breaches in embankments while countless number of villages hit by the surging waters are reduced to a naught and hundreds of crores of rupees in the name of flood and erosion control, relief and rehabilitation vanishing into the blue.
Coming to the post-independence era, the embankments and other flood-control measures initiated, particularly those constructed in the last three or four decades, have virtually proved to be purely sub-standard works in comparison to those of the British days. The reason is not far to seek. Fortunately, for a handful of high and mighty, floods and erosion are huge blessings. Over the last few decades corruption has assumed a galloping trend and presently poses as the prime order of the day, irrespective of departments. While a handful of heavyweights, bureaucratic and political, could probably wait for the ‘blessing’ of flood and erosion for their personal coffer to inflate, on the political front too, flood fury seemingly turn out to be succor to their agenda.
Records show that the period of flood from June to September give Dispur the opportunity to dump all burning issues of the State in the back burner while playing to the gallery that its prime concern is taking care of flood and erosion and mitigating the sufferings of the flood-hit multitude. Floods also provide an opening to Dispur to postpone, administratively of legally, matter of vital public importance to an indefinite future with a view to grind a political axe. On this count there is no dearth of instances. Alas, if only Dispur could attend to the sufferings of flood-hit millions with just a drop of milk of human kindness!