No let up in flood situation in Assam, Bihar, north Bengal

GUWAHATI/PATNA/KOLKATA (INDIA): There was no let up in the flood situation in Assam, Bihar and north Bengal on Wednesday with more deaths being reported from the states due to the natural calamity.

The number of lives lost in the third wave of floods in Assam increased by 11, taking the toll to 39. Around 33.45 lakh people in 24 of the 32 districts in the state remained affected due to the floods.

The number of lives claimed by the floods in Assam so far this year stood at 123, including eight in Guwahati.

Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal o Wednesday left for Delhi to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and apprise him of the preliminary damage caused by the third wave of floods.

According to a report by the Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA), Dhubri, with 8.5 lakh affected people, was the worst hit, followed by Morigaon where 5.1 lakh people were affected.

As many as 2,970 villages were under water and 1.43 lakh hectares of crop area were damaged, the report said.

The ASDMA said the authorities were running 304 relief camps and distribution centres in 21 districts, where 1,38,648 people had taken shelter.

Over 4,600 people have been evacuated to safer places by State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) personnel.

The flood has damaged embankments, roads, bridges etc. in several districts.

The ASDMA said heavy erosion was witnessed in Chirang and Biswanath districts.

The Brahmaputra river was flowing above the danger mark at Guwahati, Nimatighat in Jorhat, Tezpur in Sonitpur, Goalpara and Dhubri towns, officials said.

Other rivers such as the Dhansiri at Numaligarh in Golaghat, Jia Bharali at NT Road Crossing in Sonitpur, Kopili at Dharamtul in Nagaon, Beki at Road Bridge in Barpeta, Kushiyara at Karimganj town were flowing above the danger mark, they added.

Most of the forest areas in the Kaziranga National Park, Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary and Lawkhua Wildlife Sanctuary were under the flood waters, they said.

In Bihar, the toll mounted to 72 from 56 on Tuesday and around 73.44 lakh people in 14 districts were affected by the floods, triggered by incessant rains in Nepal and the northern parts of the state.

Anirudh Kumar, special secretary, state disaster management department, said Gopalgunj was the latest district to be hit by the floods, which had engulfed 110 blocks and 1,151 panchayats.

He added that 2.74 lakh people were shifted to safer places and of them, 1.16 lakh were put up in 504 relief camps.

Community kitchens were opened for those in the marooned areas and anganwadi centres and railway stations in Katihar district were being used for running them, Pratyay Amrit, principal secretary, disaster management department, said.

Chief minister Nitish Kumar, who was scheduled to conduct an aerial survey of Bettiah and Valmikinagar during the day, along with deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi, could not do so due to bad weather conditions.

He, however, monitored the flood situation from Patna by interacting with senior government officials.

Train services continued to be affected due to the calamity and rail movement was completely disrupted in many sections, a statement from Rajesh Kumar, Chief Public Relations Officer, East Central Railways, said.

In the six districts of north Bengal, at least 32 persons have died and over 14 lakh people were affected due to the floods, caused partly due to the overflowing rivers of Bhutan, Bihar and Jharkhand.

A senior official in West Bengal’s disaster management department said the highest number of 3,64,043 people were hit in Malda, followed by 3,53,328 in Alipurduar, 1,78,546 in Jalpaiguri, 1,30,634 in Cooch Behar, 1,25,435 in South Dinajpur and 1,20,000 in North Dinajpur districts.

A total of 622 relief camps were set up with government aid, while nearly 800 of such camps were set up by various NGOs, he added.

“Currently, around 1,38,134 people have taken shelter in the relief camps,” the official said, adding that nearly three lakh hectares of agricultural land had been submerged.

He said around eight NDRF and four SDRF teams were working in the six flood-hit districts, while cooked food, dry food and drinking water were being distributed.

Meanwhile, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee reacted sharply to a reported statement by a Union minister and said providing relief to the flood-hit people was the “first priority” of the state government.

“We have to rescue the people first and only after that we will start evaluating the magnitude of damage due to the floods. I have already spoken to the prime minister and home minister,” she told reporters while reacting to the statement that a state had to submit a memorandum to the Centre for flood relief funds.

The Eastern Railways said it would run four pairs of special trains from tomorrow to clear the rush of passengers between Sealdah and Malda, but train services beyond Malda, to different destinations of north Bengal and Assam, would continue to remain suspended owing to the flooding of the railway tracks.

One train would leave Sealdah and one from Malda on four consecutive days, an Eastern Railway spokesman said.

The railway tracks at various places in Bihar, north Bengal and Assam continued to be submerged.

As a result, all passenger train services connecting north Bengal and Assam to Kolkata remained suspended for the fourth consecutive day.

The Eastern Railway cancelled 14 mail and express trains on Wednesday.

“The tracks are submerged at various places and the train services can be restored only after the water recedes and the tracks are tested to ensure safety,” the Eastern Railway spokesman said.

Source: Press Trust of India