The worst ever floods

Sunday, 24 January 2021



The worst ever floods

Swapnil Bharali | July 20, 2019 13:40 hrs

The floods in Assam have been the most devastating for as long as I can remember in my life. 30 out of the 33 districts, 90% of Kaziranga National Park, people-affected figures touching 50 lakhs – never had such massive figures come to daunt our already beleaguered state. And it is no wonder that the state is currently in a pall of gloom even as it battles the swollen rivers that otherwise form the lifelines to this verdant valley.

However, there has been a heart-warming factor in this bleak scenario. I am of course talking about the great gesture of Bollywood cine-star Akshay Kumar and his utterly generous contribution of Rs 2 crores thoughtfully divided equally between the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund and for “Kaziranga National Park rescue” (as Tweeted by him). Also heart-warming are the several other donations and money that have followed suit – all acknowledged gratefully here.

However, the floods is a recurrent annual feature in Assam that demands a holistic solution and not just the regular stop-gap rescue operations that come with the hope of bright sunshine and evaporating flood waters. The water evaporating away surely means that the floods have gone but the trail of destruction that includes broken dykes, schools and whole villages washed away, epidemics et al, only leaves the state poorer to that extent. It is indeed a wonder that the successive central and state governments, over the years, have not had the good sense to construct some permanent relief camps to which people and their livestock can be evacuated sufficiently in advance. Such is the apathy that hoping for a government to come up with a holistic solution to permanently contain the floods is akin to asking for the moon. Last heard, the Brahmaputra would have been dredged to deepen it and increase its water carrying capacity. Was that holistic or laughable?

The proverbial silver lining to this dark cloud is that Assam continues to be a water-surplus state unlike most of the rest of India. Heard about Chennai and its water crisis? Given this and a strong government will, Assam can actually have water refineries and thereafter adequate pipelines connecting the rest of India and could be a major supplier of water against a decent royalty. 

The central government would do well to cultivate some foresight in this regard without delay.

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