The number of people affected by the Assam floods rose to 52 lakh today, with as many as 1.5 lakh being moved to relief centres amid a red alert issued by the government. Five more died today, taking the total number of people killed in the floods to 20, even as the Indian Army was called in to assist in rescue operations.
Thirty of the 33 districts in the state have been affected by the floods, with Barpeta, Dhubri and South Salmara counting among the worst-hit. Over 4,600 villages were submerged in flood waters, and the 11 rivers in the northeastern state continued to flow above the danger level. The water level of the Brahmaputra river, which passes through Guwahati, did not recede either.
As many as 15 teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), comprising 380 personnel, have been deployed to rescue people from flood-affected areas. While the Army has stepped in to assist them, Indian Air Force choppers have been kept on standby to air-drop relief materials.
The Kaziranga National Park seemed to provide the sole silver lining in the midst of the gloom, despite the number of dead animals rising to 30. Forest officials said flood waters have finally begun receding from the wildlife reserve, home to the endangered one-horned rhino. Over 95 per cent of the national park had gone underwater yesterday, forcing several animals to venture outside in search of safer zones.
Meanwhile, the central government released Rs 251.5 crore as the first instalment of the State Disaster Response Fund to Assam. Prime Minister Narendra Modi also sent Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, Minister of State for Jal Shakti, for a first-hand assessment of the situation.
The Sarbananda Sonowal government has pressed flood control mechanisms, including control rooms, into service with government officials manning them round the clock. The veterinary and animal husbandry department is actively helping marooned animals, and state ministers have been asked to personally supervise rescue operations.
PM Modi had called up Mr Sonowal yesterday to take stock of the situation. The Chief Minister apprised him of the largescale destruction caused by the floods, and provided details of the relief measures being taken up. Funds amounting to Rs 75.95 crore have been released by the state government so far as advance payment to the affected districts.
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