Guwahati/Bengaluru: More than 500,000 people have fled their homes in India’s northeastern state of Assam to escape heavy floods triggered by pre-monsoon rains that drowned seven, authorities said on Wednesday, as they warned the situation could worsen.
One of the world’s largest rivers, the Brahmaputra, which flows into India and neighbouring Bangladesh from Tibet, burst its banks in Assam over the last three days, inundating more than 1,500 villages.
Torrential rains lashed most of the rugged state, and the downpour continued on Wednesday, with more forecast over the next two days.
“More than 500,000 people have been affected, with the flood situation turning critical by the hour,” Assam’s water resources minister, Pijush Hazarika, told Reuters, adding that the seven drowned in separate incidents during the last three days.
Soldiers of the Indian army retrieved more than 2,000 people trapped in the district of Hojai in a rescue effort that continues, the state’s health minister, Keshab Mahanta, said.
Water levels in the Brahmaputra were expected to rise further, national authorities said.
“The situation remains extremely grave in the worst-hit Dima Hasao district, with both rail and road links snapped due to flooding and landslides,” said Assam’s revenue minister, Jogen Mohan, who is overseeing relief efforts there.
Cities elsewhere in India, notably the capital, New Delhi, are broiling in a heat wave.
Meanwhile, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) has issued Orange alert for urban and rural districts of Bengaluru, predicting heavy rainfall for the next 4-5 days in the city.
2 workers dead, thousands of homes inundated
The IMD has also forecast more rain in coastal and south interior places with thunder and storms. Those include Bengaluru, Madikeri, Chikmaglur, Wayanad and Kovalam.
In Bengaluru, Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai visited the rain-affected localities of the city and announced a compensation of Rs500,000 each to the families of two migrant workers, who were killed at a pipeline work site following a heavy downpour.
Devbrath from Bihar and Ankit Kumar from Uttar Pradesh drowned while working in the pipeline project in Bengaluru. Their bodies were recovered on Wednesday.
Bommai also announced Rs25,000 compensation for those whose houses were inundated with rain water. It is estimated that the water has inundated thousands of houses in the city.
He said that arrangements for food are being made for those badly affected. Asked about the repeated flow of water into residential areas, Bommai said that it is due to the geographical terrain of the city.
The work on the 800km of storm water drains has to be completed, while that on 400km is yet to be taken up. “This year, we will take up the work and complete it,” he said.
Besides, the storm water drains are encroached upon. Whenever there is heavy rain, the drains overflow causing problems. The drainage system overhaul has been pending for many years and a permanent solution will be found. “I have allotted Rs 1600 crore for the purpose”, Bommai said.
Incessant rains have caused havoc in the coastal districts of Dakshina Kannada, Uttara Kannada and Udupi. Mysuru district is also affected by the rains.
The IMD has sounded a red alert in the coastal districts and hilly regions of the state for Wednesday.
Bengaluru woke up to drizzles on Wednesday. However, the heavy rain that lashed the city late Tuesday disrupted normal life.
Traffic on the Bengaluru KempeGowda International Airport highway was thrown out of gear. The vehicles were stranded on the road for more than two hours.