Silchar under water, NDRF teams flown in from Odisha
Four National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams were flown in from Odisha on Tuesday to assist in rescue and relief operations in Silchar town after over 80 per cent of south Assam’s commercial hub went under water following incessant rain and a breach in an embankment about a kilometre away from the town.
The biggest town in Barak Valley, which caters to the needs of neighbouring Manipur, Mizoram and Tripura, had been affected by waterlogging for the past few days but the severity increased on Monday following the breach in the Betukhandi embankment and incessant and heavy rainfall that left most city areas under “3 feet to 10 feet water” from the Barak river.
Silchar town in Cachar district has an estimated population of 2.5 lakh. Besides district administration and the NDRF, personnel of the SDRF, army, para military and police were also “working relentlessly” to rescue and evacuate people to safer places.
Cachar superintendent of police Ramandeep Kaur Dhillon told The Telegraph that the town resembled a sea. “More than 80 per cent of the town is under water. We are doing everything possible to reach out to the affected who are mostly staying indoors. We had two NDRF teams and four more reached Silchar from Bhubaneswar today (Tuesday) to help us with relief and rescue operations because the scale of operations has increased manifold,” she said.
Pranab Paul Choudhury, the 68-year-old president of Silchar Foodgrain Merchant Association who lives near GC College, said there was over three-feet water in the ground floor of his three-storey house.
In Bilpar area, Raju Paul, who runs a travel agency, said there was at least nine-feet water in the ground floor of his three-storey house.
Both told The Telegraph they had never experienced anything like this and added that ongoing deluge beat even the “worst” 1984 flood.
The Barak is in spate following heavy rain over the past few days. The river is also “fed” by water from upstream Mizoram and Manipur.
“There is water and power crisis but this was expected given the overall situation. Almost 95 per cent of Silchar is under water. The second biggest market in Assam — New Market in Silchar — is six feet under water. We just hope the water recedes soon and the administration takes prompt measures to check the outbreak,” Choudhury said.
Thanking Union home minister Amit Shah for responding promptly to the state’s request for NDRF teams to help tackle the challenge posed by the flood and landslide, chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma termed the situation in Silchar grim.
“Our government will soon launch a portal for the affected people to register their livestock loss and other damage caused by floodwaters. A flood relief package too will be announced shortly,” Sarma said after stock-taking trip to lower Assam on Tuesday.
Sarma used the International Yoga Day event in Upper Assam’s Dibrugarh to pray for the safety and well being of the flood-hit in Assam.
Shah had on Monday also spoken to chief ministers of Assam and Meghalaya to discuss the situation in both the states.
Heavy rainfall triggering flood and landslides has left over 81 dead (64 in flood and 17 in landslides) till Monday night in 32 of 35 districts. Since June 14, 49 persons have died, over 55 lakh have been affected, and over 2.30 lakh are staying in 810 relief camps in 32 of 35 districts.
“The Modi government stands firmly with the people of Assam and Meghalaya in this hour of need,” Shah had tweeted.
Spoke to CM Assam Shri @himantabiswa and CM Meghalaya Shri @SangmaConrad to discuss the situation in parts of both states in the wake of heavy rainfall & flooding.— Amit Shah (@AmitShah) June 20, 2022
Modi government stands firmly with the people of Assam and Meghalaya in this hour of need.
Silchar has now joined Guwahati, Haflong, Barpeta, Nalbari and Pathsala that have been hit by flood.
The flood in Silchar will further hamper supply of essentials to Manipur, Mizoram and Tripura. Already the disruption caused by flash flood and landslides at various places on NH-6, connecting Guwahati to Silchar via Shillong, has forced the administration in both Assam and Meghalaya to airdrop essentials. Over 20 people have died in Meghalaya since last week.
An NDRF source said the damage and disruption were much more than what they had witnessed in 2019. “We have deployed 14 teams in Assam. If in 2019 we used five teams, this time we have to deploy 12 teams. We will have to look into the reasons for the severity,” he said.
An NDRF team has around 30 personnel.
A central team will be visiting Assam and Meghalaya in the next few days on an assessment tour.