Assam has suffered 195 human casualties in the two waves of flood that have hit the state between April 6 and July 15 this year, leaving behind a trail of unprecedented destruction, affecting one third of the state’s over 3.2 crore population and triggering a massive rescue and relief operation.
According to chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, besides the 195 persons, who lost their lives in flood and landslides (19), 37 persons are still missing. Overall the flood affected 34 of 35 districts, 9,918 villages and over 89 lakh people.
Sarma shared the level of devastation caused by the flood so far this year while launching the scheme for transfer of Rs 1,000 book grant to each of the over one lakh students affected by the flood. Besides the book grant, the government has released Rs 3,800 each to over 1.81 lakh families as utensil grant.
“Over one lakh people were evacuated, over seven lakh put up in relief camps, over 25,670 houses were fully damaged and another 2.78 lakh partially damaged. The two waves affected one third of the state’s population. The death toll is the highest till now. We have alredy paid Rs 4 lakh in ex gratia to the kin of the deceased,” Sarma said.
A senior official said the deaths were highest in the “recorded” history of Assam. Besides the deaths, there was huge loss to infrastructure which included 5,564 roads and 42 embankments.
“Assam has faced unprecedented floods this year, affecting over 89 lakh people. Our govt has been pro-active since the very beginning to ensure relief and rehabilitation. We’ve made unwavering efforts to reach affected families and extend all necessary help in a systematic way to restore normalcy at the earliest,” Sarma said.
He added: “We are grateful to the government of India for its constant support and generous disbursement of funds to run our entire operation.”
Sarma asserted that declaration by the Centre that this year’s floods were a “severe natural calamity” would help the state get more funds to cope with the unprecedented devastation.
This would not have been possible even if the annual flood were to be declared a national problem, he said, adding that the Centre will bear 90 per cent of what is spent on coping with the damage caused by flood.
There has been a long-pending demand by various organisations in the state that the annual flood be declared a national problem so that the state could get more funds and assistance to minimise the losses. Almost 40 per cent of the state’s area is flood-prone and on an average over 9.31 lakh hectares is affected by flood every year.
The chief minister has also set a deadline for completing assessment of the damage caused by the flood.
“Assessment is being done by the education department to provide additional textbooks to flood-affected students by August 15. Assessment to be done on fully damaged, partially damaged and washed-away houses to provide compensation steps for rebuilding damaged infrastructure will be undertaken by September 30,” Sarma said.
However, Sarma made it clear that ministers and senior officials will be undertaking field verification of at least 10 per cent of the beneficiaries from July 20 to 30 to ensure relief and rehabilitation reach genuine beneficiaries.