Assam recently witnessed severe flood and landslides, impacting not only millions of people but the wildlife of the area. The disaster also brought to attention the lack of coverage the Northeastern state receives.
Crux of the Matter
Assam is currently facing the disastrous combination of floods and landslides, which has affected more than 4 million people so far. 107 casualties have been reported, with 81 and 26 people killed by the flood and landslides respectively.
Besides the impact on humans, the flood has also affected the wildlife of the region severely. 85% of the Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve has been submerged underwater, while 108 animal casualties have been reported so far. The list of deceased animals includes 9 Rhinos, 36 Hog deers, 7 Wild Boars, etc.
Assam Flood Recurrence
Floods occur every year in Assam, mainly due to the overflow of the Brahmaputra river. Experts have claimed that the recent increase in the severity of the floods is due to the large-scale deforestation in the region and the release of water by the dams situated upstream.
In 2019, 81 casualties were reported due to floods, which affected more than 2.7 million people (reported on 26 July 2019). High floods, which submerge 60% or more of the national park, have occurred yearly between 2016 and 2020 except 2018.
Lack Of Coverage
Indian media has shown neglect of Assam and the whole of the north-eastern part, with critics alleging that Assam is covered only when the United Liberation Front of Assam or any other separatist organization evokes violent incidents.
While several media outlets have been criticized for covering news of “celebrities” affected with Covid-19 and their daily routine, or the heavy rain flood of Delhi, state experts claim “low or zero” coverage of the current or previous floods. Similarly, the achievements of Assam, which have been plentiful, have been neglected in the mainstream coverage.
Lack Of Funding
In 2018, Scroll.in, a news website, filed a Right to Information application concerning the disaster management status of Assam. Through the query, the website found that “practically, the government of Assam has not received any assistance from the government of India during the period 2014-’18”. Consequently, the State managed with only the State Disaster Response Fund without any aid from the National Disaster Response Fund between 2014 and 2018.
Recent Events Of Assam – How Many Do You Know?
- 2020: Severe flood and landslides hit Assam, with 107 casualties reported so far.
- June 2020: Oil leaked in Assam’s Baghjan field. People in 5km radius were evacuated while several dolphins and animals died in the Dibru-Saikhowa National Park.
- With a population of ~35 million, Assam has recorded only 24k Covid-19 cases with 62 casualties.
- July 2019: Indian sprinter Hima Das won 5 gold medals at international events in Czech Republic and Poland. In 2018, she also became the first Indian to win a gold medal in 400 m in the World U-20 Athletics Championship.
- Bulbul Can Sing, a movie in Assamese directed by Rima Das, won the “Best Indie Film” award at the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne (IFFM) in 2019.
- Ashmita Chaliha won in the women’s singles category in the 2018 Dubai International Challenge.
- Bogibeel Bridge, India’s longest rail-cum-road bridge measuring 4.9km long, was opened in 2018. The bridge is constructed over the Brahmaputra river in Assam.
- In March 2019, rural Assam was declared “open-defecation free” as part of the ‘Swachh Bharat Mission’.
- Rajlakshmi Borthakur, an Assamese businesswoman, is the creator of a digital glove “T-Jay” which is able to predict epilepsy. She was felicitated by Ivanka Trump at the 2017 Global Entrepreneurs Summit.
- Kaziranga National Park hosts two-thirds of the world’s great one-horned rhinoceroses. The forest was initially known as “Kaziranga Game Sanctuary” until it was renamed in 1950 by P. D. Stracey, the forest conservationist, in order to rid the name of hunting connotations.
- Hima Das, nicknamed the Dhing Express, is an Indian sprinter from the state of Assam. She is the first Indian athlete to win a gold medal in a track event at the IAAF World U20 Championships.
- The 1950 Assam–Tibet earthquake occurred on 15 August and had a moment magnitude of 8.6. The epicentre was located in the Mishmi Hills. It was the sixth-largest earthquake of the 20th century. It is also the largest known earthquake to have not been caused by oceanic subduction. Instead, this quake was caused by two continental plates colliding.
- Scroll – Due to an ‘accounting error’, Assam has not received any special Central flood aid since 2014
- Hindustan Times – Nine rhinos among over 100 animal deaths in Assam’s Kaziranga during floods
- G Plus – 2019: A look back at the Major Stories of Assam
- India Today – Assam: 107 killed in flood, landslides so far, PM Modi assures support
- The Indian Express – Explained: Why annual floods are essential for the survival of Kaziranga National Park
- BBC – Forgotten floods: Why India can’t afford to ignore Assam
- Times Now – Who is Rajlakshmi Borthakur, the woman Ivanka specially mentioned at GES?
- Business Standard – WHO IS HIMA DAS