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Floods hit Meghalaya plains villages

A flooded street at Baghmara in South Garo Hills on Monday. Picture by Saidul Khan

Tura, Aug. 25: At least 1,20,000 people in three districts of Garo hills in Meghalaya have been affected by floods with the plain belt areas of West Garo Hills being the worst hit, where about 1,17,292 people are affected.

West Garo Hills deputy commissioner Pravin Bakshi today declared that the plain belt areas were under the grip of floods.

Most villages in Rajabala, Bhaitbari, Phulbari and Chibinang are under water as Brahmaputra and its tributary, Jinjiram, are flowing above the danger mark. People have shifted to higher grounds and schools for shelter.

“We declared the areas flood-hit after disaster management teams gave us their feedback and findings. We are looking at ways to ensure things are handled properly,” said Bakshi.

A report by the district administration of West Garo Hills indicated that 92 villages in Selsella have been severely affected and 30 villages partially. “Many villages under Tikrikilla block are partially affected,” said Bakshi.

Incessant rain since August 11 has led to rising level of water in Brahmaputra and Jinjiram, which flow through the plain belt areas of the West Garo Hills.

Food and civil supplies minister Clement Marak took stock of the flood-hit areas yesterday.

Bakshi said the district administration has decided to extend gratuitous relief to the fully submerged villages for five days and three days to partially submerged villages.

Altogether 32,000 houses have been partially or fully submerged and 142 villages in the entire district have been affected, of which 17,407 households have been severely affected and 5,200 partially.

Bakshi said an early warning on flood was issued on August 14 about low intensity floods and the situation was under very close watch for the past week.

He said the agriculture department has already done a preliminary assessment of the damage to crops. Around 1,550 hectares of sali paddy crop have been submerged affecting 1,580 households in 57 villages.

The Majhipara-Solartek embankment has been breached, which is the main reason for the floods.

“All steps are being taken to repair the embankment but the rising water of Jinjiram is posing hurdles. Other line departments have also been alerted and a survey for damage assessment will be done. The PHE department has been asked to arrange for drinking water and sanitation needs. The emergency operations centre of Tura has been activated. Boats are being requisitioned for evacuation if needed in Phulbari,” Bakshi added.

In the East Garo Hills and South Garo Hills, the rising waters of the Simsang have affected Williamnagar and Baghmara towns.