Flood situation grim, army called out for rescue ops

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HT Bureau

GUWAHATI, Aug 13: Army personnel have been called out to rescue marooned people and IAF has been put on standby as the flood situation in Assam turned critical on Sunday. As many as 14 people died till Sunday and 22.5 lakh people were affected in 21 of 33 districts that have been affected by the fresh wave of flood.

A crucial dyke at Hatimura was breached by the Brahmaputra at 2 am on Sunday resulting in submerging more than more than 70 revenue villages in Kaliabor sub division of Nagaon. The people rushed to the railway stations and highlands for shelter at the sudden incident.

Meanwhile in Kaliabor, a bridge connecting Uluboni and Milan Nagar crashed down in seconds and was submerged into the heavily flowing flood water. The disaster has now turned out to be a major headache for locals of the two villages as commuting between the places has become impossible now. The fresh wave of floods this time has devastated four bridges in total in the state.

In another major incident, an embankment that was recently rebuild, has been damaged and flushed away by the flood water in Laokhowa village, Nagaon. Following the incident, 12 villages near the embankment have come under the grip of heavy flood and have been totally submerged.

Locals of Laokhowa village have accused that the authorities used sand from Brahmaputra bank to build the embankment because which it wasn’t properly developed and strong enough.  The embankment was constructed with a budget of INR 22 crore recently.

Three more persons died in Bongaigaon and one in Biswanath on Sunday. Following Sunday’s toll in flood-related incidents, the total number of persons losing their lives in this year’s flood-related incidents in the state went up to 99, including eight in Guwahati, an Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA) report said.

“Army has been called out and IAF has also put its men on standby, their choppers can be deployed in minimum time for air dropping of relief materials and to carry out rescue operations,” an official of the Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA) informed The Hills Times here on Sunday evening.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi called up Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal, who toured various flood-affected areas in Dibrugarh district, an official release said. “The Prime Minister expressed concern and assured all possible help and support to the state government in handling the situation,” the release said.

Sonowal informed Modi about the devastation caused by the flood in middle and upper Assam and the disruption to vehicular movement on National Highway 37, the lifeline between the two areas.

The Army’s Red Horns Division of the Gajraj Corps has dispatched multiple teams after receiving calls for help from various district administrations, a defence spokesperson said.

Principal Secretary of Prime Minister’s Office Nripendra Mishra asked Assam chief secretary VK Pipersenia to submit a report detailing the damage and devastation caused by the current wave of floods in the state.

The flood situation is likely to worsen with Brahmaputra and 10 other rivers flowing above the danger mark at 15 places, including Guwahati. The districts are Dhemaji, Lakhimpur, Biswanath, Sonitpur, Darrang, Baksa, Barpeta, Bongaigaon, Chirang, Kokrajhar, Dhubri, South Salmara, Morigaon, Nagaon, Karbi Anglong, Golaghat, Jorhat, Majuli, Sivasagar, Dibrugarh and Tinsukia.

A crucial dyke at Hatimura was breached by the Brahmaputra at 2 am and its flood waters inundated vast areas of the district. The authorities have issued an alert in the district with flood waters submerging the NH-37 at four places between Kaliabor and Jakhalabandha, forcing the authorities to stop traffic, thereby cutting the link between upper and middle Assam. NH 37 passes through Kaziranga National Park. Singh said personnel from the Army, NDRF and SDRF have been engaged in rescue operations, while people in Nagaon town have resorted to panic purchase of goods from the market.

Altogether 3,000 people have been rescued by the Army from Bodoland Territorial Area Districts and Karbi Anglong. As per the ASDMA report, Dhubri is the worst-affected with 3.98 lakh sufferers, followed by Morigaon with 3.14 lakh people affected in the deluge.

The condition in Morigaon suddenly worsened after the surging water breached the dyke of Brahmaputra in Lahorighat and flooded more than 100 villages in Lahorighat and Bhuragaon revenue circle, affecting over one lakh people.

Currently, 2,734 villages are under water and over 1.35 lakh hectares of crop areas have been damaged across the state, the ASDMA said.

Authorities are running 678 relief camps and distribution centres in 17 districts, where 1,83,584 people are taking shelter at present.

At least 4,000 persons have been evacuated to safer places by the SDRF, NDRF and Army personnel in many districts. The devastating flood has damaged many embankments, roads, bridges and other infrastructures in Dhemaji, Udalguri, Darrang, Nalbari, Barpeta, Kokrajhar, Bongaigaon, Morigaon,  Nagaon, Majuli, Golaghat, Charaideo, Chirang, Dhubri, Sivasagar, Jorhat and Biswanath.

Currently, the Brahmaputra is flowing above the danger mark at Guwahati, Nimatighat in Jorhat, Tezpur in Sonitpur, Goalpara and Dhubri towns.

Other rivers like Burhidehing at Khowang in Dibrugarh,  Subansiri at Badatighat in Lakhimpur, Dhansiri at Numaligarh in Golaghat, Jia Bharali at NT Road Crossing in Sonitpur,  Puthimari at NH Road Crossing in Kamrup, Manas at NH Road Crossing at Barpeta, Beki at Road Bridge in Barpeta, Sankosh at Golokganj in Dhubri, Katakhal at Matizuri in Hailakandi and Kushiyara at Karimganj town are flowing above the danger marks.

Meanwhile, minister of state for revenue Pallab Lochan Das and chief secretary VK Pipersenia in a video conference held directed the DCs of the flood-affected districts to gear up relief and rescue of the affected people on a war footing. They also directed DCs to keep vigil on relief and rescue works upto the grass-root level by smoothly co-ordinating in all sphere. During the video conferencing the minister also directed the DCs to distribute GRs door to door if situation arises.

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