The Telegraph
Saturday , April 23 , 2016

Crops damaged by hail, not rain: Rakibul

- Incessant showers in Upper Assam swell rivers, breach embankment and inundate villages

An inundated area in Charaideo district. Picture by UB Photos

Guwahati, April 22: Hailstorm, rather than rain, has caused "unprecedented damage" to crops across Assam, state agriculture minister Rakibul Hussain said today, quoting field reports.

Hussain said the exact nature and extent of the damage would be known tomorrow once the two committees set up by him submit their reports.

"The reports will be subsequently submitted to the Assam State Disaster Management Authority and the revenue department on Sunday for extending prompt relief to the affected farmers. Funds are not an issue," he told The Telegraph today.

Field reports from Nagaon district and farmers in Samuagaon, Batadrava and Sakelahat, which Hussain visited, say the damage has been more owing to hailstorms than rain lashing the state for the past 10 days.

"The farmers we interacted with, particularly the older ones, said the prevailing weather was unprecedented and they had never witnessed such intense and sustained hailstorms. The saddest part is that ripe vegetables, maize and boro rice have been damaged. But we want to assure them (the farmers) that they need not worry. We will provide them with necessary relief," Hussain said. In Nagaon, he said, 3,786 hectares of cultivated boro rice, jute, vegetable, maize and pulses have been damaged. "We will get the full report by tomorrow. With heavy rain lashing most parts of the state, the damage is likely to be substantial," he added.

Vehicles navigate a submerged street in Jorhat on Friday. Picture by UB Photos

The State Disaster Response Force today carried out surveillance of the flood-affected Arunamukh area in Jhanji in Jorhat district, where a ring bund constructed by the District Rural Development Agency was breached last night. Teok circle officer said 2,500 people had been affected but they did not require relocation as most of them resided in changghars (houses on stilts). Relief materials have been sought from the district administration, which will be sent by boats. Communication has been affected as the ring bund was used as a road. The Jhanji river was, however, receding and the sluice gate damaged in floods yesterday was repaired in the adjoining Bonai area. In Jorhat town, Carmel School was closed today because of severe water-logging on its premises. Large tracts to the east of the Garali (Jorhat-Mariani highway) witnessed flooding, including the school, as the road had been elevated and the drainage was only partially complete on the under-construction three-lane highway.

In Golaghat district and elsewhere, paddy fields have been submerged. Rainfall was sporadic and the day cloudy today.

In Dhemaji district, all the rivers were in spate because of continuous rainfall. The Jiadhal has inundated about 10 villages under Naruathan gaon panchayat. In Lakhimpur district, the dyke on the Ranganadi has been breached, inundating 12 villages of Kadam gaon panchayat. Both the district administrations have put the disaster management teams on alert.

In Dibrugarh, the Brahmaputra has risen to 103.98m, compared to last year's 102.98m during the monsoon. The total recorded rainfall till April is 456.97mm while last year it was 257.2mm during the same period.

Incessant rain for the past couple of days and the rising river is posing a serious threat to the residents of Dholahatigulia in Tinsukia district and Rohmoria in Dibrugarh.

In Dholahatigulia, the water is just 10 metres from the embankment. "The residents are fearful because if the embankment gets breached, 23 villages will be washed away. We have seen their plight and the rising Brahamaputra is posing a serious threat to lives and property,'' said Binod Kedia, chief adviser, Flood Erosion Resistance Struggle Forum.

In Rohmoria, fresh erosion of 100m land is causing worry.

Additional reporting by Smita Bhattacharyya in Jorhat, Vinod Kumar Singh in Dhemaji and Avik Chakraborty in Dibrugarh

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