Guwahati: When it comes to Assam tea, it is known far and wide, both within the country and abroad; but when it comes to Assam flood and the destruction it brings, no one seems to knows about it. So, to educate and spread awareness about the floods and raise funds, FLO, the women’s wing of FICCI, organised a webinar called ‘Every Voice Matters’ on Saturday evening.
Manabendra Saharia, assistant professor IIT Delhi, called out for declaring Assam flood as a national calamity, which severely impacts the lives of lakhs of people every year and has already claimed more than 100 lives this year, during the seminar, which also witnessed the views from artists like Kalpana Patowary, Zublee Baruah, Abhineet Mishra, Joi Barua and Sunita Bhuyan.
Saharia said that while the national average of flood prone area is 10%, in Assam, its 40%. He emphasized that floods also pose as a big national security issue apart from a humanitarian one, as it leaves border area abandoned for significant part of the year.
“India loses approximately $10 billion a year to natural disasters and roughly 70% of it is because of floods. And in the last 90 years, Assam has experienced at least 70 big floods, and this might be an underestimation as in reality we have experienced many medium sized floods which are dangerous as well,” added the assistant professor. He also called out governments for looking into a long-term solution and to save the people of Assam from this yearly tragedy.
This year, Assam floods have affected over 56 lakh people in 30 of the 33 districts. 108 lives have been lost and many people have become homeless, and are sheltered in relief camps across the state.
Jahnabi Phookan, national president, FICCI FLO said, “As the first national president from Assam, I would like to draw the nation’s attention to the calamity through this special initiative. The idea of this national campaign for Assam is to connect our great nation together to think as one, feel as one and work as one.”
“Both Centre and state government are stepping in to alleviate the suffering. However, the root cause of this recurring tragedy is attention deficit of the public, policy dyslexia and lack of political will. Therefore, pre-emptive and proactive handling of the situation requires mobilisation of national political will”, she added.
Singer Joi Barua said, “People need to wake up and figure out as floods have been the longest standing problem in Assam. It is for all of us to come together and think about it and focus into finding permanent solutions”.
Meanwhile, Abhineet Mishra, journalist turned stand-up comedian from Shillong, said, “My biggest grouse is not with our ability, but I feel a lot can be done, the study on embankments can be a possibility. And I can see there is lot of intent for solving this issue.”
Folk singer Kalpana Patowary and social activist, singer/composer Zublee Baruah hailed the initiative by FLO, which enabled them speak about the people of Assam, who have been affected by the Floods on a national platform.
Additionally, Indo fusion violinist and vocalist Sunita Bhuyan played Vande Matram during the event and also said: “Assam and Northeast are the mainstream of India and when we say Vande Matram, it represents each and every state of our country.”
Kalpana Patowary, Indian playback and folk singer from Assam, was delighted that FLO has brought the issues of Assam on the national platform. She added, “We Northeast should be treated like a mainstream state and a solution for this problem have to be sought.”
Even social activist and a renowned singer and composer in Assamese film industry, Zublee Baruah said that every voice matters and that this initiative is enabling to them to speak about people who have been affected by the Assam floods on a national platform.
The session was moderated by Rituparna Bhuyan, Chief of Bureau, CNBC 18, and the session was put together by Ankurita Pathak, Joint Director, FICCI FLO.