Assam flood situation grim, 2.1 million affected

September 7th, 2008 - 11:51 am ICT by IANS  

Guwahati, Sep 7 (IANS) The flood situation in Assam continued to be critical Sunday with an estimated 2.1 million people displaced and 24 dead so far. There were fears of an epidemic breaking out with reports of people hit by waterborne diseases, officials said. “The situation is still grim with 20 of the state’s 27 districts affected by the floods displacing about 2.1 million people and 24 dead,” Assam Relief and Rehabilitation Minister Bhumidhar Barman told IANS.

A Central Water Commission bulletin said the main Brahmaputra river and its tributaries were flowing above the danger level in at least 10 places with the trend likely to increase.

“The worst hit districts are Dhubri, Jorhat, Kamrup, Lakhimpur, Dhemaji and Morigaon where the situation is still critical,” the minister said.

The swirling floodwaters of the Brahmaputra river have cut a treacherous swathe across Assam breaching more than a 54 vital embankments, besides sweeping away road bridges and stretches of highways.

“Thousands of people are staying in makeshift shelters with the government providing food and other essentials to the displaced people, besides healthcare facilities,” Barman said.

Despite teams of doctors and paramedics working round the clock in flood-hit areas, there were reports of people suffering from various waterborne diseases in Kamrup and Jorhat districts.

“People in large numbers have complained of diarrhoea, stomach ache and fever. This is mainly because of unhygienic food and water consumed in makeshift shelters,” said Ramani Das, a private doctor working in one of the flood-hit areas in Kamrup.

Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said all steps were being taken to prevent the outbreak of an epidemic.

“Doctors and paramedics have been rushed to the flood affected areas with adequate stocks of medicines and we are taking all possible steps to see that people do not suffer,” Gogoi said.

There were, however, complaints from locals about inadequate supplies of relief and essentials.

“We did get some rice and pulses, but it is not sufficient. We lost everything to the floods, we don’t have utensils,” said Bhagirath Das, a community leader of Puthimari village in Kamrup.

Two of Assam’s major wildlife sanctuaries, the famed Kaziranga National Park and the Pabitora Wildife Sanctuary, are under water with at least four rhinos killed and several deer mowed down by speeding trucks while trying to cross the park to escape the floodwaters.

The Regional Meteorological Centre warned of more rains and thunder showers in the next couple of days.

The 2,906-km long Brahmaputra is one of Asia’s largest rivers that traverses its first stretch of 1,625 km in China’s Tibet region, the next 918 km in India and the remaining 363 km through neighbouring Bangladesh before converging into the Bay of Bengal. Every year, floods in Assam leave a trail of destruction, washing away villages, submerging paddy fields, drowning livestock, besides causing loss of human life and property.

In 2004, more than 200 people were killed in floods in Assam.

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