Kolkata: Floods continued to devastate the northeastern states of India on Tuesday, with reports of four more deaths in Assam and Meghalaya — taking the death toll to 96.
According to the report published by the Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA), 495 villages across six districts have been devastated, with more than a million people still reeling due to the latest wave of floods in the state.
Goalpara, is the worst affected district. Nineteen people have lost their lives, nearly 370,000 people have been severely affected with around 73,000 staying in relief camps.
Crops worth millions have been destroyed, as more than 37,000 hectares of farmland has been destroyed, 81,582 houses have either been fully or partially damaged — hitting nearly 83,000 families.
These are the worst floods the state has witnessed in many years and it will be a long road to recovery, said Jitesh Khosla, chief secretary of Assam.
“The floods have severely affected the infrastructure of the state, where numerous roads, bridges, schools, health centres and offices in the affected districts have been partially or fully damaged,” said Khosla.
West Garo Hills in Meghalaya has been the worst affected in the state. The devastation has left 52 people dead and millions homeless, as property worth millions have been destroyed.
‘Picture of despair’
“The state has moved back by ten years, as a majority of the infrastructure that was developed has been severely affected. Everywhere we went there was only a picture of despair,” Chief Minister of Meghalaya Mukul Sangma told Gulf News over the phone.
“This is the worst we have faced in Garo Hills and the devastation is unprecedented in terms of scope. Most people managed to survive because they were adept at water navigation,” Sangma added.
The densely populated Bholarbitha village with around 300 households near Chibinang in West Garo Hills is almost gone. Eighty per cent of the village was completely washed away, rendering many people homeless. The village was situated close to the mighty Jinjiram River, a tributary of Brahmaputra.
The state has demanded Rs20 million (Dh1.18 million) from the central government, as the erosion has changed the course of the river and many villages have simply disappeared.
Assam will now task a group of ministers (GOM) to study the causes of devastation and to suggest suitable and effective measures to mitigate the risk of flooding. Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said that the decision to constitute the GoM had been taken following his visit to flood-hit areas in Goalpara district.
The GoM will make a thorough study of the flood in this particular belt after consultations with experts from disaster management, water resources, hydrology and other fields and submit its final report to the Chief Minister. They will also formulate strategies to help put in place measures that will reduce medium and long-term disaster risk and a programme of emergency reconstruction to restore access to essential services in the short term, complemented by longer-term measures.