SINKING

Over a million people are hit by floods in Assam—but India doesn’t care

Quartz india
Quartz india

For the past few weeks, India has been transfixed by news linked to Assam.

No, not by the sweeping devastation by incessant rains and massive flooding in northeast India’s biggest state, but by the unending machinations of the Indrani Mukerjea-Sheena Bora case (Mukerjea is from Assam).

The fact that over 50 people have died and 1.5 million impacted in Assam’s latest floods wasn’t enough to unsettle the rest of India. The distressing images coming in from the state have not exactly inundated social media feeds, and there aren’t any heart-wrenching status messages written for the millions displaced.

But here is why you should care: Four rivers were flowing above danger levels as of Sept. 08, according to the Assam State Disaster Management Authority (pdf), with 17 districts and some 1,276 villages affected. About 92,820 hectares of crop area has been hit. In all, 241 relief camps and centres have been set up, with 92,806 people already seeking refuge.

Once again

But floods are nothing new to Assam. According to the state’s water resources department, the vast network of rivers—the Brahmaputra and Barak rivers have more than 50 tributaries—primarily causes floods during monsoons.

Almost 40% of the total land area in the state is flood-prone.

Here is how the population has been affected in the last few years because of floods:

“The flood and erosion problem of Assam is singularly different from other states so far as extent and duration of flooding and magnitude of erosion is concerned and is probably the most acute and unique in the country,” Assam water resources department notes on its website.

Such regular flooding should mean that the Assam government would have the means to deal with a current crisis. But chief minister Tarun Gogoi claims he doesn’t have enough resources to deal with the four waves of flooding that have swept the state this year.

“We need urgent assistance and relief materials for the flood-affected people from the central government. We have exhausted all our limited resources. We are in a helpless situation,” Gogoi told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Here are some pictures from Assam, over the past few weeks.

A boy prepares to cast a fishing net in the flood waters next to submerged houses after heavy rains at Patekibari village in Marigaon district in Assam, India, August 23, 2015. Four people have died and over 500,000 people have been affected by the floods caused by heavy rains in the state, according to an official media release.
A boy prepares to cast a fishing net in the flood waters next to submerged houses after heavy rains at Patekibari village in Marigaon district in Assam, on Aug. 23. (Reuters/Stringer)
School children with their cycles travel in a boat through a flooded paddy field after heavy rains in Balimukh village in Morigaon district of the northeastern state of Assam, India, June 11, 2015.
School children with their cycles travel in a boat through a flooded paddy field after heavy rains in Balimukh village in Morigaon district, Assam, on June 11. (Reuters/Stringer)
Indian villagers use a makeshift banana raft to cross floodwaters as they try to reach safer areas at Gagolmari village 85 kilometers (53 miles) east of Gauhati, India, Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2015. Monsoon floods have inundated hundreds of villages across the northeast Indian state of Assam, killing at several people and forcing some 800,000 people to leave their homes.
Villagers use a makeshift banana raft to cross floodwaters as they try to reach safer areas at Gagolmari village, 85 kilometres east of Guwahati, on Sept. 02. (AP Photo/Anupam Nath)
A forest guard keeps vigil as one horned rhinos take shelter on a highland in the flood affected Pobitora wildlife sanctuary in Pobitora, north eastern Assam state, India, Sunday, Aug. 23, 2015. The flooding is the worst in the past three years, affecting nearly 600,000 people in 19 of the state's 27 districts, officials said.
A forest guard keeps vigil as one horned rhinos take shelter on a highland in the flood-affected Pobitora wildlife sanctuary in Pobitora, Assam, on Aug. 23. (AP Photo/Anupam Nath)
A girl fishes with a makeshift net on a flooded area in Murkata village, about 60 kilometers (37 miles) east of Gauhati, India, Sunday, Aug. 23, 2015. The flooding in India's northeastern Assam state is the worst in the past three years, affecting nearly 600,000 people in 19 of the state's 27 districts, officials said.
A girl fishes with a makeshift net on a flooded area in Murkata village, about 60 km east of Guwahati, on Aug. 23. (AP Photo/Anupam Nath)
An Indian village woman wades through floodwaters with a child in Singimari village, about 155 kilometres (96 miles) west of Gauhati, India, Friday, Aug. 21, 2015. Incessant rainfall in catchment areas have led to rise in water level of the Brahmaputra river and its tributaries, inundating several districts of both Upper and Lower Assam, according to local news reports.
A village woman wades through floodwaters with a child in Singimari village, about 155 km west of Guwahati, on Aug. 21. (AP Photo/Anupam Nath)
A man carries a motor bike on his shoulder as he wades through a flooded road at Pobitora village, about 55 kilometers (34 miles) east of Gauhati, India, Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2015. Monsoon floods have inundated hundreds of villages across the northeast Indian state of Assam, killing several people and forcing some 800,000 people to leave their homes.
A man carries a motor bike on his shoulder as he wades through a flooded road at Pobitora village, in Assam, on Sept. 01. (AP Photo/Anupam Nath)
Villagers use a makeshift banana raft to cross floodwaters as they try to reach safer areas in Jaraguri village, about 160 kilometres (99 miles) west of Gauhati, India, Friday, Aug. 21, 2015. Incessant rainfall in catchment areas have led to rise in water level of the Brahmaputra river and its tributaries, inundating several districts of both Upper and Lower Assam, according to local news reports.
Villagers use a makeshift banana raft to cross floodwaters as they try to reach safer areas in Jaraguri village, about 160 km west of Guwahati, on Aug. 21. (AP Photo/Anupam Nath)
An Indian villager rescues his sheep on a makeshift raft at Balimukh village, about 70 kilometers (43 miles) east of Gauhati, India, Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2015. Monsoon floods have inundated hundreds of villages across the northeast Indian state of Assam, killing several people and forcing some 800,000 people to leave their homes.
A villager rescues his sheep on a makeshift raft at Balimukh village, about 70 km east of Guwahati, on Sept. 01. (AP Photo/Anupam Nath)
An Indian child carries a sack through the floodwaters at Kholabuya village, 65 kilometers (40 miles) from Gauhati, India, Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2015. Monsoon floods have inundated hundreds of villages across the northeast Indian state of Assam, killing at several people and forcing some 800,000 people to leave their homes.
A child carries a sack through the floodwaters at Kholabuya village, 65 km from Guwahati, on Sept. 02. (AP Photo/Anupam Nath)
A family uses a makeshift banana raft to cross floodwaters as they try to reach safer areas at Kholabuya village, 65 kilometers (40 miles) from Gauhati, India, Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2015. Monsoon floods have inundated hundreds of villages across the northeast Indian state of Assam, killing at several people and forcing some 800,000 people to leave their homes.
A family uses a makeshift banana raft to cross floodwaters as they try to reach safer areas at Kholabuya village, 65 km from Guwahati, on Sept. 02. (AP Photo/Anupam Nath))
An Indian family prepare to cross floodwaters on a banana raft at Balimukh village, about 70 kilometers (43 miles) east of Gauhati, India, Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2015. Monsoon floods have inundated hundreds of villages across the northeast Indian state of Assam, killing several people and forcing some 800,000 people to leave their homes.
An Indian family prepare to cross floodwaters on a banana raft at Balimukh village, about 70 km east of Guwahati, on Sept. 01. (AP Photo/Anupam Nath)
An Indian girl paddles a banana raft near partially submerged houses as she travels with another woman at Nayagaon village, about 155 kilometres (96 miles) west of Gauhati, India, Friday, Aug. 21, 2015. Incessant rainfall in catchment areas have led to rise in water level of the Brahmaputra river and its tributaries, inundating several districts of both Upper and Lower Assam, according to local news reports.
An Indian girl paddles a banana raft near partially submerged houses as she travels with another woman at Nayagaon village, about 155 km west of Guwahati, on Aug. 21. (AP Photo/Anupam Nath)
Seated on a makeshift bamboo craft, an Indian woman cleans utensils next her partially flooded house in Murkata village, about 60 kilometers (37 miles) east of Gauhati, India, Sunday, Aug. 23, 2015. The flooding in India's northeastern Assam state is the worst in the past three years, affecting nearly 600,000 people in 19 of the state's 27 districts, officials said.
Seated on a makeshift bamboo craft, a woman cleans utensils next her partially flooded house in Murkata village, Assam, on Aug. 23. (AP Photo/Anupam Nath)
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