Guwahati: There is no respite in sight for Assam from the devastating floods, on for over a month now, with the death toll rising to 96 as three more persons were killed on Friday while 28 lakh people in 26 of the state's 33 districts remain affected, officials said.
Most of the major rivers flowing down from neighbouring Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya, including the Brahmaputra, are in spate. As per the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), Assam has recorded 19 per cent excess rainfall so far since June 1, when the four-month-long monsoon season started. Since June 1 and till Friday, Assam so far recorded 926.9 mm rainfall against the normal 779.9 mm.
Forest Department officials said that at least 125 wild animals have died in floods and 153 rescued even as over 85 per cent of the 430 sq km, world-famous Kaziranga National Park, home to more than 2,200 one-horned Indian rhinoceros, remained flooded. The animals that have perished in the deluge include 12 rhinos, 93 hog deer, eight wild boars, five wild buffaloes, and three porcupines.
Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA) officials said that of the 28 lakh people currently affected, over 18.34 lakh are only in the state's five western districts of Goalpara (470,183), Barpeta (461,184), Morigaon (375,250), Dhubri (278,041) and South Salmara (249,423).
The officials said that the floods had claimed 96 lives so far in Kokrajhar, Kamrup (Metro), Baksa, South Salmara, Darrang, Sonitpur, Biswanath, Tinsukia, Lakhimpur, Bongaigaon, Kamrup, Golaghat, Sivasagar, Morigaon, Dhubri, Nagaon, Nalbari, Barpeta, Dhemaji, Udalguri, Goalpara and Dibrugarh districts, while 26 others were killed in separate landslides since May 22.
While the Brahmaputra has been flowing above the danger mark in a large number of places in five districts, as many as seven more rivers -- Dhansiri, Jia Bharali, Kopili, Beki, Kushiyara, Sankosh, Dharamtul -- are flowing above the danger mark in a large number of places in seven districts.
The floods, triggered by heavy rains, have affected 2,543 villages and also inundated 122,573 hectares of crop area in 26 districts and damaged 30,605 houses partially and completely.
The district administrations have set up around 500 relief camps and distribution centres in 26 districts, where around 50,200 people have taken shelter. Of the 26 affected districts, 15 -- Dhubri, Goalpara, Barpeta, Morigaon, South Sakmara, Dhemaji, Lakhimpur, Darrang, Nalbari, Kamrup (Metro), Kamrup (Rural), Nagaon, Golaghat, Majuli, Bongaigaon -- are the worst-hit.
Besides erosion of river banks at a large number of places, roads, embankments, bridges, culverts and other infrastructure were damaged at many locations in 24 districts, the officials said, adding that hundred of houses were fully or partially damaged due to the floods.
State Revenue and Disaster Management Minister Jogen Mohan said that the flood water damaged 204 embankments and 174 bridges in the state.
Around 14 lakh domesticated animals and over 8 lakh poultry birds were affected. Besides Kaziranga National Park, located on edge of the eastern Himalayan biodiversity hotspots of Golaghat and Nagaon districts, the Manas, R.G. Orang and Tinsukia national parks, the Pabitora and Tinsukia wildlife sanctuaries were also affected.
A total of 16 National Disaster Response Force teams and many teams of State Disaster Response Force, along with the local administration, are continuously working to rescue affected people and render relief services, including distribution of necessary material to the marooned villagers.
Meanwhile, President Ram Nath Kovind on Friday spoke to Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal over phone on the flood situation in Assam and expressed solidarity with the distressed people of the state.
Sonowal later said in a tweet: "President Ram Nath Kovind took stock of the flood and overall situation of the state over phone. I am humbled by his statement that the entire nation is with the people of Assam and thank him for his deep concern, constant support and guidance."
Earlier in the day, the President flagged off nine trucks carrying Red Cross relief supplies for the flood and Covid affected people of Assam, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh from the Rashtrapati Bhavan in Delhi.
An Assam government official said that during the conversation, the Chief Minister apprised the President that along with the flood situation and related disasters, including landslides, the state is also fighting the Covid-19 pandemic, African swine fever outbreak and the oil well fire in Baghjan in Tinsukia district.
The floods have so far killed 96 people, besides affecting 28 lakh people in 2,543 villages in 26 districts. The floods, triggered by heavy rains, have inundated 122,573 hectares of crop area and have also damaged 30,605.
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