Viewpoint | Assam flash floods: Past imperfect, present tensed

By Sandeep Borah

Amidst the crucial discussions on national security initiated by the Central Government for the Northeastern region on important issues centering Rohingyas, Bangladeshi illegal immigrants, Army operations in the Indo-Myanmar border and the Doklam standoff, flash floods in Assam and the neighbouring areas have been on the priority list of the natives that have been swiftly sidelined by the Centre.

Floods in the state have proven fatal for the people, affecting almost 21 districts, taking over 70 lives and leaving 17 lakhs of the entire population affected if reports provided by the Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA) are to be taken into consideration. Flood in the state come like any other festival every year leaving the people in a state of complete trauma.

Undermining the political blame game between the state government and the opposition that appears to be nothing but an attempt to brush aside the ‘accountability factor’ centring the flash floods in the state, some concrete reasons to justify the case of floods include population increase, degradation of natural resources, inadequate structures and settlement, and inability of the municipal departments to substantiate the promised requirements.

Looking into the gravity of the matter and the seriousness of the consequences, it is high time for the Centre and the State Government to take some positive and acting measures with the help of the natives to reduce the intensity of impact.

Some of the possible solutions or measures that can be undertaken by the government and the natives to counter flash floods in Assam may include:

  • A politically neutralized discussion in the centre including affected members of the state and press as an initiative that would incite continuous surveillance.
  • Inclusion of local people as stakeholders in finding localized solutions based on local topography by building planned river embankments.
  • The government should prioritise on making new conservation law to restrict encroachment and demarcate eco-sensitive areas in the state as low/no built-up areas.
  • As there is no permanent and a straight solution to the flash floods in the region, the government can go for a durable one by developing sizeable storage reservoirs in the tributaries of the Brahmaputra through safely designed multi-purpose dam projects rather its increased orientation towards hydro power generation.
  • The central and state government should closely monitor the activities of the municipality and other governmental boards to build up secure river banks and planned garbage system in the region.

In order to counter the widening menace of flash floods, other than all the political lack back, the foremost and initial change that every single citizen should initiate is to develop a sense of social and moral responsibility towards environmental conservation and climate change by avoiding non-biodegradable wastes and developing a proper garbage dumping system around their settlements.

(Viewpoint is the opinion based section of UniTreed and the team does not subscribe to the views expressed by the writer. One can submit their pieces at info@unitreed.com)

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