The floods and landslides in Assam this year, which is among the worst witnessed by the state in decades, have caused damage worth several thousand crore rupees, officials said on Tuesday.
Since April this year, Assam has witnessed heavy rainfall that has led to flooding in 34 of the state's 35 districts and landslides in 11 districts. According to the India Meteorological Department (IMD), Assam has recorded 2063.8 mm of average rainfall from March 1 till July 11 this year.
Floods have claimed 173 lives across the state and landslides have claimed another 19 lives taking the total death toll to 192 this year. Another 37 persons are missing in 13 districts—most of them are most likely dead.
"The scale of flooding and landslides this year in Assam has been almost unprecedented. We are still tabulating the losses suffered across the state, but it could be anywhere around ₹10,000 crore," GD Tripathi, CEO of Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA) said.
He added that floods led to damage and breaches in nearly 200 embankments in the affected districts. Tripathi said that because parts of the state are still flooded and the monsoon season is still on, the figures are likely to change and final details will be available only around October.
As per ASDMA data, 152 revenue circles and 9758 villages of the state were affected by floods. Since April, over 8.9 million residents of Assam have been impacted by flooding and landslides.
The figures for damage and destruction are staggering. To date, 20,992 houses have been fully damaged due to floods and 202,671 have been partially affected. Assessment of more such damage is still underway.
Floods washed away 53,781 domestic animals in the affected districts, further adding to the misery of residents. A total crop area of 240,096 hectares was submerged by flood waters. There's no complete detail yet of the numerous roads, bridges and culverts damaged or destroyed by flood waters.
In order to provide succour to affected people, 4,054 relief camps and 5,787 relief distribution centres were opened across the state by the government. According to ASDMA, 742,242 persons were displaced due to floods and took shelter in relief camps since April.
"Catastrophes related to floods in Assam are increasing gradually with each passing year and since 2017 there has been an increase in flooding and destruction. Climate change is one of the factors, which coupled with infrastructural interventions on the ground has led to this scenario," said Mirza Zulfiqur Rahman, an independent water expert based in Guwahati.
"Each cycle of floods affects many in Assam and by the time they are able to recover slightly, the next cycle of floods happens. This scenario will only worsen in coming years in Assam and rest of northeast," he added.