Sept. 26: Assam revenue minister Prithibi Majhi has termed the latest wave of floods as “abnormal” though the situation in Upper Assam has been improving since Sunday.
In lower Assam, however, rising water of the Brahmaputra has inundated nearly 500 villages in Nalbari, Barpeta, Goalpara, Bongaigaon and Dhubri districts and displaced over 10,000 people.
Low-lying areas in Dhubri town have also been inundated and floodwaters even entered the main town area, inundating the Netaji Subhash Road, Durga Das Road, H.N. Road, Arifulla Road, Amco Road and the entire area covered by ward numbers 3, 11, 12 and 13.
For the second straight day, Majhi, along with chief secretary N.K. Das, principal revenue secretary V.K. Pipersenia and director-general of police Jayanto Narayan Choudhary surveyed flood-hit areas from the air. Yesterday, the team surveyed Tinsukia and Dibrugarh districts and today, Dhemaji, Lakhimpur and Jorhat districts.
Majhi told reporters in Jorhat that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had contacted him last night to enquire about the flood situation. “The Prime Minister had called up to take stock of the flood scene. He had asked the government to prepare an estimate of the funds needed for repair and relief work. He promised to offer necessary financial assistance.”
He said the Centre had released Rs 499 crore for meeting damages caused by floods three months ago in accordance with the announcement the Prime Minister had made during his visit to the state’s flood-hit areas in July.
Das said more funds were expected from the Centre in accordance with the flood damage assessment report prepared by a team of central government officials.
Majhi said the floods, which had come late in the rainy season, had affected 16 districts and 16 lakh people besides claiming 18 lives. Around 3.4 lakh people are taking shelter in relief camps.
PWD and urban development minister Ajanta Neog was also present during the interaction. Minister of state for water resources Rajib Lochan Pegu, who is the MLA from Majuli, said the Centre had recently circulated a draft proposal to all northeastern states regarding setting up of a regional water authority — the Brahmaputra Valley River Authority.
He said the development was a follow-up of Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi proposing a regional autonomous body to tackle floods and erosion in the region under the name of the Northeast River Water Authority.
Official sources in Dhubri said the water level of the Brahmaputra had risen by 20cm yesterday, but the rise today was just 4cm. The river is, however, still flowing much above the danger level (28.62m), affecting over 2 lakh people.
Dhubri circle officer Mrigesh Narayan Baruah said 39 engine-fitted boats were used for rescue operations today. Sub-divisional officer (computer) of Bilasipara sub-division J.V.N. Subramaniam said till yesterday, 28 char villages were reportedly inundated, but no reports of any fresh inundation had reached him.
On the other hand, Barpeta deputy commissioner Siddhartha Singh said altogether 284 villages had been hit by the second wave of floods with the breaching of a ring bund at Bhogerpar in the district.
Officials said things would look up in the next couple of days.
At a review carried out by public health engineering minister Gautam Roy at Dispur today, the Jorhat superintendent engineer raised problems regarding distribution of materials in relief camps of Majuli because of shortage of boats. Additional chief secretary P.P. Verma, who was also present, promised to take up the matter with the Jorhat district administration and initiate necessary action.