Guwahati: With monsoon just around the corner, people in Assam are ready to brace the impact of floods. However, a village in Lakhimpur district of the state is embarking on a different strategy altogether. Instead of building embankments to prevent the overflowing river water from entering their villages; they are busy making boats.
Several villages in the district such as Mudoibil No 1, Mudoibil No 2, Rantijan and Kahiduwar on the banks of Subansiri river submerge under more than 6ft of water during monsoon every year. The situation remains the same for the next six months, cutting them off from any kind of communication. Thus, building boats remains the only option for villagers to connect with the highland areas.
Arun Dutta, a resident of Mudoibil No 3 village, said, “During flood, the entire area submerges under flood. There also several houses that reel under flood and in such condition boats are the only option we are left with. In fact, each household here requires a boat for conveyance. Water has already started inundating some of the areas. The paddy field just opposite to my house has already been submerged.”
It is not just the monsoon that affects the area but water starts reeling from the month of March itself and with monsoon; the entire area inundates and remains so till October. The boats are carved out of logs of Ajar wood and takes around three people to build them. They are built in three different sizes as per the requirement of transportation of people, goods and domestic animals.
The smallest of the boat can carry around 10 people at a time and is sold for around Rs 10,000. It takes around a week for two people to prepare the boat of that size. There are also larger boats that cost around Rs 12,000 with a capacity of up to 15 people while the largest one can carry around 50 persons at a time. The largest boat costs around Rs 1 lakh and takes around a month for two people to build. Such boats are mostly used for transporting domestic animals.
The floods do not just take a toll on the households but also affect their harvest. In 2018, around 3,560 hectares of standing crop was damaged while affecting more than 25,000 people in the district. As per a report by the Assam State Disaster Management Authority, 67 areas in Lakhimpur are categorised as flood hazard. Mudoibil and Rantijan fall under the high and very high flood hazard categories.