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Dispur sticks to rainfall red alert

Bikers plod through a waterlogged road in Guwahati. Picture by UB Photos

Guwahati, July 5: The Assam government today stood by the red alert on heavy rainfall it had sounded on Wednesday for four districts.

It said the alert was issued after analysing data posted on the Indian meteorological department (IMD) website and on ground realities such as rising water level of some rivers.

The chief minister’s office had issued the red alert for Lakhimpur, Barpeta, Sonitpur and Golaghat districts, asking for evacuation of people living near rivers.

However, the government was left embarrassed yesterday after disaster management minister Prithibi Majhi said the alert was based on incorrect information.

Chief minister Tarun Gogoi told reporters today that Majhi and the Assam state disaster management department had failed to comprehend the objective of issuing such an alert and had thus made such comments. Standing by the government’s warning on likelihood of disaster, he said the department had “much to learn”.

Jitesh Khosla, additional chief secretary (water resources department), who was present at the news conference, said the IMD makes weather forecasts, particularly about the possibility of rainfall, for every district in the country four to five days in advance and uploads this on its website.

“On July 1, the IMD website made rainfall forecast till July 6, which included Assam’s districts. For example, Sonitpur was to receive 55mm of rain on July 2, 77mm on July 3, 129mm on July 4, 127mm on July 5 and 100mm on July 6. We went by the forecast that Sonitpur was to receive a huge quantum of rain. The same was the case with the other three districts. Considering the ground conditions like erosion and flowing of rivers above the danger mark, a red alert was sounded to avert a Uttarakhand-like situation,” Khosla said.

Gogoi said the red alert was still on and the district administration must be prepared to tackle any situation.