Assam water resources department workers build an embankment near Fancy Bazar on Tuesday to prevent water from entering Guwahati. Fancy Bazar faces the threat of inundation by the Brahmaputra after Pandu, with the floodwaters precariously close to flowing over MG Road. Picture by UB Photos
Sept. 25: Majuli, the seat of Vaishnavite culture propagated by Srimanta Sankardev, gave the saint’s 564th birth anniversary a miss today as the island continued to reel under floods that have submerged it almost entirely.
People of the river island were in a subdued mood, trying to cope with the ravages of the floods as thousands put up at makeshift camps on embankments along the Brahmaputra with their livestock and meagre belongings.
Narayan Chandra Goswami, xatradhikar of Natun Kamalabari Xatra of Majuli and winner of Sankardev award and Sahitya Akademi award, told The Telegraph over phone that the island, being under water, wore a gloomy look instead of the festive atmosphere usually seen on this auspicious day.
“It is disheartening. We were not able to perform even the minimum — devotional hymns and rituals and offerings of fruits and soaked grams — as the water level was waist-deep. We are praying for restoration of normalcy at the earliest,” he said.
There are around 30 xatras on the island.
Ghana Nath, the principal of Pitambar Devagoswami Junior College, Majuli, who is in his mid-fifties, said this was the first time in his life that the island had not celebrated the anniversary. “Celebrations take place in around 50 pandals erected to mark the day and bhaonas (religious drama introduced by Sankardev) are staged by night,” he said.
Though the situation is improving, Majuli subdivisional officer (civil), Laya Madduri, said 238 of the 243 villages under 20 gaon panchayats were still submerged.
Jorhat district administration this evening decided to lift the suspension of passenger boat service between Jorhat and Majuli from tomorrow.
Official sources said the toll in the recent round of floods in Assam had touched 18. Seven persons have been reported missing.
Tinsukia district deputy commissioner S.S. Meenakshi Sundaram said the water level in the three major rivers, Luit, Lower Dihing and Dibang, was subsiding. Sadiya subdivisional officer (civil) Kishore Thakuria said there were now 13 relief camps from the 29 three days ago.
Tinsukia superintendent of police P.P. Singh said Makum police had registered a case under Section 304A IPC (causing death due to negligence) against a few army personnel on the basis of an FIR lodged by the parents of four children, three of whom were drowned and another went missing at Barekuri under Doomdooma revenue circle on Sunday when the kids were on a boat anchored near Hatibat relief camp. The situation in Morigaon district has remained unchanged for a week. It has taken a turn for the worse in Bhuragaon and Moirabari areas with the Brahmaputra damaging a ring bund at two places in the past 72 hours. “Steps are on to repair the damage,” Morigaon deputy commissioner Vishal Vasanth Solanki said.
Bokakhat subdivisional officer (civil) Bijen Singho said water was flowing over NH 37, which passes through Kaziranga, in seven places in Bokakhat subdivision of Golaghat district and in three places it was almost knee-deep. The places most affected are Hatikhuli, Maajorline, Halodibari and Bagori.
“We are regulating the passage of all vehicles and they will be stopped only if there is a law and order problem. Otherwise, the district administration is not empowered to stop passage of vehicles on a national highway,” Singho said. He said though the water was decreasing in Dibrugarh, it was rising in Bokakhat.
The carcasses of four more hog deer have been found in Kaziranga National Park, taking the flood toll of animals to 11. Earlier, the carcasses of five hog deer, a wild boar and an elephant calf had been found.
Revenue minister Prithibi Majhi, agriculture minister Nilamoni Sen Deka and chief secretary N.K. Das carried out an aerial survey of Majuli and Sadiya today. “We also held meetings with district officials at Tinsukia and Dibrugarh,” V.K. Pipersenia, principal secretary, revenue and relief and rehabilitation, told The Telegraph.
He said things were looking up in upper Assam as there was no rainfall throughout the day but the scene in lower Assam was one of concern and could remain that way for the next couple of days. “In a week’s time, everything remaining equal, things should return to normal. The Indian meteorological department and Central Water Commission’s forecasts of no-or-less rainfall have come true,” he added.