Amidst the surge of COVID-19 cases, Assam is battling at another front -- the annual recurring flood, that already distressed 9.26 lakh people in 2,071 villages in 23 of the state's 33 districts, officials said in Guwahati on Sunday.
According to the officials of Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA), in the current wave of floods since early last week, five persons have so far died in Dhemaji, Udalguri, Goalpara and Dibrugarh districts taking the total death toll to 20 in the floods and 23 more people were killed in separate landslides since May 22.
There has been incessant downpour across northeast region including Assam causing most rivers including mighty Brahmaputra flowing above danger levels in many places and inundating fresh areas every day.
An official of the ASDMA said that the flood-hit districts are -- Dhemaji, Lakhimpur, Biswanath, Udalguri, Darrang, Nalbari, Barpeta, Kokrajhar, Dhubri, Nagaon, Golaghat, Jorhat, Majuli, Sivasagar, Dibrugarh, Bongaigaon, South Salmara, Goalpara, Kamrup, Morigaon, Hojai, West Karbi Anglong and Tinsukia.
"Over 9.26 lakh people affected by the floods and over 68,806 hectares of crop areas were badly affected due to the floods. Around 27,308 people took shelter in 193 relief camps," an official said.
The National Disaster Response Force, Assam State Disaster Response Force personnel, along with local administrations, are continuously working to rescue the affected people and rendering relief services, including distribution of relief material to the marooned villagers.
The Chief Minister has also directed the Deputy Commissioners of all the affected districts to address the needs of the flood-hit people urgently while adhering to COVID-19 safety protocols.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Sunday discussed the Assam flood situation with Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal over phone and inquired about the incidents of landslide in different parts of the state.
"Shah assured all help and support from the central government in dealing with the floods, relief and erosion of rivers while asserting that the central government stood together with the state government in these difficult times. The Home Minister also expressed his sincere condolences to the families of those who lost their lives in flood and landslide incidents," an Assam government official told the media in Guwahati.
Meanwhile, the heavy monsoon rains affected normal life in most parts of the northeastern states. The rain water has inundated vast low lying areas of Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya and Mizoram.
With Indian meteorological department predicting more rains in the next few days, Assam might have to face tougher days with worsening flood situation along with COVID-19 surge as Guwahati, state's main city and commercial hub, and its outskirts have gone into a lockdown and daily night curfew besides complete lockdown on Saturday and Sunday in the entire state to prevent the community transmission of the coronavirus.
Meanwhile, officials of the state-owned Oil India Ltd (OIL) said that due to the heavy rains over the past few days, Baghjan - where its leaking oil well caught fire - and adjoining areas in Tinsukia district have been badly hit by flood water and the accident site has been inundated, affecting the efforts to douse the blaze.
"All connecting roads to the OIL's oil well site have been submerged with flood water. Bridges were damaged. At many places water is flowing over the road with knee to waist high. OIL's operational areas are heavily inundated," an OIL release said.
A massive fire broke out on June 9 at OIL's Baghjan oil well near the Dibru-Saikhowa National Park that had been spewing natural gas and oil condensates uncontrollably since May 27.
( 601 Words)