Guwahati: Assam gets ravaged by three to four waves of floods every year. The Brahmaputra river and its tributaries swell, causing devastation to life, property and crops. This year, too, Assam faced widespread disaster, leaving many homeless.
First reports of villages ravaged by floods started pouring in from Jugijan in Hojai district. This was due to the overflowing Kapili river that left around eleven villages in the area submerged.
However, it is not only the floodwaters that have caused all the devastation. Multiple landslides, especially in Dima Hasao district, have brought life to a halt. At least three people were buried alive while several houses were eroded during landslides in Haflong. The current situation also led to speculations over the role of climate change in the amplification of devastation across Assam.
According to experts, Dima Hasao is likely to experience more such devastation in future if the destruction of ecological balance continues in the name of development.
An independent researcher in the field of environment and natural resource management, Jayanata Kumar Sarma, says haphazard development projects carried out in the district are one of the causes of this devastation.
“The whole situation in Dima Hasao is mainly because of erroneous developmental plans. During the period of highway construction and broad-gauge railway expansions, the geo-ecological situation was neither properly assessed nor considered. Many of the critical slopes were destabilised,” Sarma said.
He also added that roads have been constructed in several pockets that used to be water springs that disturbed the natural flow of water and destabilised the landscape.
Uttam Bathari, an expert in tribal studies and ethnohistory, attributed stone and sandstone mining leading to deforestation as a strong reason for the massive devastation.
“Illegal logging started from the 1960s-70s onwards. Then mining activities like coal mining have been going on since the 1980s. Then in the 90s came the cement factories for the clinkers and sandstone mining. So now you see all greens in Dima Hasao but you cannot see much of the canopy forest,” Bathari said.
The number of people affected due to floods is increasing each day. After Hojai, the flood water from river Kapili inundated several areas, including Kampur, Kathiatali and Raha.
As of May 26, over five lakh people are still affected by the first wave of floods this year. Cachar, Nagaon, Hojai, Morigaon and Darrang are among the worst affected of the twenty districts hit by floods. There are still over 60,000 people taking shelter in 300 relief camps across Assam.
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