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River engulfs Majuli

- Essentials air dropped, power supply shut and prisoners evacuated

Sept. 24: The flood scene in Upper Assam worsened today with Majuli in Jorhat district almost submerged. Food and essentials were air dropped in the island and Sadiya subdivision of Tinsukia district.

The Jorhat administration also sent supplies to Majuli by two special boats to prevent a possible shortage after floods hit the Brahmaputra island last Thursday. The Majuli subdivisional administration evacuated 41 prisoners of the jail in the island to Central Jail Jorhat in a special boat as floodwaters inundated a large portion of the prison.

The situation in Tinsukia improved slightly with the water level in all the three major rivers beginning to recede. It remained unchanged in lower Assam with the water level in the rivers not showing any receding trend.

Official sources said about 200 of the 243 villages under 20 gaon panchayats in Majuli have been under water, affecting about 1.8 lakh people and over 30,000 hectares of agricultural land. Power supply to the island has been shut down since last night as a precautionary measure, leading to snapping of mobile phone communication.

Jorhat deputy commissioner R.C. Jain told The Telegraph today that the situation had worsened with almost entire Majuli being submerged. He said relief and rescue measures were on with the local administration distributing materials on boats and the State Disaster Response Force team being deployed to search for marooned people.

An Indian Air Force helicopter, with Jorhat subdivisional officer (Sadar) Gurpreet Singh Panisar on board, dropped one tonne of rice, one tonne of flat rice, jaggery and medicine packets in five locations of the island this afternoon. “We could fly only one sortie because of unfavourable weather. Tomorrow we will try again,” Panisar said.

Jain said two boats carrying 2,000 quintals of rice, 200 quintals of dal and medicines were sent from Neematighat (Jorhat) to Majuli today. A consignment of 500 kits, comprising food items, medicines, utensils and tarpaulin offered by the Red Cross Society, reached here from Guwahati today and will be sent to Majuli. A team of doctors and paramedical staff will be sent to the island within a day or two. Power supply was restored for a few hours earlier in the day but was suspended in the afternoon as a preventive measure, he added.

In Tinsukia district, the water level in the three major rivers — Luit, Lower Dihing and Dibang —was receding. Tinsukia deputy commissioner S.S. Meenakshi Sundaram said the situation had improved slightly and there were no further reports of floods affecting new areas.

He said an IAF helicopter made four sorties to Sadiya subdivision and dropped food and medicines in Amarpur. The helicopter also airlifted food and medicine to Chapakhowa (headquarters of Sadiya) to be distributed locally by the administration. Besides, a boat carried 1,000 litres of diesel, 200 LPG cylinders and 20 quintals of dal to the subdivision. Altogether 120 villages have been affected and 60 relief camps opened.

The DC said a magisterial inquiry had been ordered into yesterday’s boat capsize at Hatibat near Barekuri area under Doomdooma revenue circle in which three children drowned and one went missing. Additional deputy commissioner Arup Arandahra will conduct the probe.

In west Assam, the flood situation in Kamrup (rural), Nalbari, Barpeta and Baksa remained unchanged with the water level in the rivers not showing any receding trend.

Sources said three more embankments were breached today — at Balijhar in Nalbari by the Mara Pagladiya river, at Rangiya in Kamrup (rural) by the Nona and at Goreswar in Baksa by the Pagladiya.

According to official reports, nearly 60,000 people of 55 villages have been affected in Rangiya, Hajo, Nalbari and Baksa districts.

With the Puthimari flowing through the gaps in the embankment it had breached during the last floods, most areas of Rangiya subdivision in Kamrup (rural) district have been submerged. The river has since changed course and has been flowing over NH 31 at Bangalikuchi locality since last night.

Flood affected people of 10 villages under Barama revenue circles in Baksa district protested against the administration’s failure in providing flood relief material. More than 1,000 flood-affected people carrying dishes, glasses and bowls in their hands blocked NH 31 at Suradi in protest against the admi-nistration’s indifferent attitude.

In Kaziranga National Park, there were unconfirmed reports of poachers killing a rhino and removing its horn.

“Our vets have been sent to the site but as the rhino is lying under water we cannot say for sure whether the death has been caused by poachers or by flood waters,” park director Sanjib Bora said.

He said of the 152 anti-poaching camps in the park, two to six feet of water was flowing under 116 camps and 16 camps had to be evacuated today. The toll of animals killed by the floods has risen to seven. Anthony Thangcho, a CWRC vet attached to Wildlife Trust of India said the carcasses of seven animals (five hog deer, a wild boar and an elephant calf) had been found.

The Indian meteorological department, Guwahati division, said there would be moderate to heavy rainfall in Arunachal Pradesh and heavy rainfall in the Pasighat area in the next 24 hours. Pasighat witnessed 97.4mm of rainfall from September 23 (8.30am) to September 24 (8.30am).

Criticising Dispur for its indifference, the AGP demanded that the Centre send representatives to take stock of the situation and release a special package for rescue and relief operations.

Lambasting chief minister Tarun Gogoi’s decision to tour Japan in such trying times, AGP president Prafulla Kumar Mahanta said, “At a time when floods have taken a toll on people’s lives and property, the chief minister is away on an overseas tour. The CM’s decision to invest public money on a foreign tour remains a mystery when people are battling a natural calamity.”


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