Floods wreak havoc in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh

Flood woes are back in India’s northeast region with agriculture land destroyed, key roads washed away and more than 200,000 people affected in the states of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh
<p>(Photo: Oxfam International)</p>

(Photo: Oxfam International)

The monsoons have barely begun and incessant rains over the past few days have already caused several rivers—including the Brahmaputra—to overflow, wreaking havoc in India’s northeast states of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.

Thousands of people have been affected, crops destroyed and normal life disrupted with the rains washing away portions of roads and triggering landslides.

According to the Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA), 195,243 people have been affected by the floods so far. The rains have caused rivers, including the Brahmaputra, to overflow and breach the embankment, thereby flooding villages and destroying crops. An estimated 553 villages in 13 districts of the state have been affected by the floods.

Among the worst affected districts are Assam’s Dhemaji, Lakhimpur and Barpeta with 134,000 people from these areas itself. In the Tinsukia and Sonitpur district, four relief camps have been set up by ASDMA.

Majuli, a large river island in Jorhat district, is one of those severely hit by the rains. Khagen Deka, a resident whose village near the embankment has been flooded because of the overflowing Brahmaputra, said that he and his family have relocated to their relative’s house in another village to escape the disaster.

“My uncle lives not too far from our village but his is a chang ghar (stilt house) so there is no fear of the flooding water. My family and I have taken refuge with him with just our basic belongings until the water recedes,” Deka said.

Many in Majuli, especially those near the embankment live in similar houses. While precious lives can be saved by this, chunks of the island are eroded every year during the monsoons, threatening the very existence of the island in the future.

Along with people, animals have also been badly affected by the floods. Crops in 8,245 hectares of land have been destroyed as well.

“Floods are a perennial affair in Assam, but it’s difficult to predict anything because there are various factors involved—rainfall here, rainfall in the mountains where the water flows into the rivers, climate change…Having said that, this wave of flood is basically an inundation and can be termed as moderate,” an ASDMA official told

The official also added that the “situation is unlikely to become worse in the near future”.

The situation is similar in nearby Arunachal Pradesh.  A large portion of the national highway, NH-415, has been washed away by the rain water, disrupting road communication between the state capital Itanagar and Banderdewa via Karsinga.

Ironically, the road connecting Itanagar and Banderdewa was reopened just a few months back after restoration work post being affected by last year’s flood. This break in road communication can have serious implication on local people since the price of essential commodities may rise.

The rain water has also flooded low lying areas like Pasighat. Many villages have been cut off and power supply in the lower Dibang Valley district has also been disrupted, plunging villages after villages in darkness.

Floods are an annual worry for the region, claiming many lives and destroying vast swathes of crop land and property worth millions. Last year, for instance, 67 people were killed and 4.2 million people affected across Assam.