This Article is From Jul 13, 2013

Assam floods: In Dhemaji district, bracing for worse

Guwahati: Five districts of Assam are in the grip of floods, affecting nearly 30,000 people. Fortunately, there has been no loss of life or infrastructure yet, but with at least two months of rains ahead, the situation may become worse.

In the worst-affected Dhemaji district, 10,000 people have lost their livelihood. Their villages and fields are already under water and their children cannot go to school which have turned into relief camps.

At one such relief camp set up at the Somkong High School, though the government is providing ration and clean drinking water, many families tell NDTV they will go to the nearest city to work as construction labourers. They have been doing it for three years now in these flood prone districts.

Dhemaji Deputy Collector Mani Vannan, who is also in charge of flood relief, says, "It is mainly because of geographical location. Arunachal is nearby and so there are many tributaries joining the Brahmaputra, which causes flooding every year."

Many residents say a major reason why Dhemaji is so badly affected by floods every year is because of the embankments which are made up of mud. Hundreds of these embankments are erected every year and are supposed to act as barriers when water level rises in rivers due to heavy rain. But these weak structures fall apart during each monsoon, and flood waters cause widespread devastation.

The flood in 2011 was particularly severe. Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi visited and announced a whopping Rs 100 crore as flood relief. Locals say they assumed the hundreds of mud embankments in the area would be repaired as a priority using these funds. But situation hasn't changed on the ground till date.

The district administration says the money is being used for distributing cash to affected families on a yearly basis, and for other long-term employment measures in the region. They also point out that two major embankments have been repaired using the fund.

But many others remain, and as long as they are not repaired or fortified, it will be very difficult for these people to fight something that has almost become part of their lives now.