The sixteenth largest state of India—Assam— is now going through a challenging time due to the global pandemic coronavirus, the yearly trauma flood, and the latest explosion near Oil India Limited. However, no media is ready to bring this dreadful situation of the northeastern state into the limelight.
Assam 2020 Flood
The state is drowning! The heavy rainfall, which began in May 2020, has flooded the Brahmaputra River, which in turn submerged the surrounding districts along with its inhabitants. Barpeta is the worst-hit region with over 5 lakh people suffering. The Central Water Commission keeps track of the rise in Brahmaputra’s level consistently.
The Chief Minister, Sarbanad Sonowal, said that “This is the third wave of flood in Assam. This is a recurring problem in the state. People are fighting several problems. On the one hand, there is COVID-19, and on the other, there are floods and landslides.”
After-effects of Assamese Flood (as of July 23, 2020)
- 89 people are reported dead, with over 26 lakh people affected;
- 27 districts and over 3,000 are affected;
- Lakhs of houses are submerged; with over 44,000 people are currently living in relief camps;
- More than 1.28 lakh hectares of cropland are submerged underwater;
- A sub-divisional civil hospital in Barpeta district is flooded, forcing the patients to be shifted;
- Above 10 lakh, domestic animals have been affected.
Impact on Kaziranga National Park (K.N.P.)
Spread across the floodplains of Brahmaputra river, this famous park is a protected area in Assam. It is known for being home to two-thirds of the world’s total population of the one-horned rhinoceros, along with elephants, tigers, the Ganges River Dolphins, and various migratory birds. This World Heritage Site is swarmed by flood every year during this time of the year.
- 116 animals (including 11 Rhinos) died;
- Over 90 per cent of the land and forest areas are flooded by rainwater.
The death toll of the animals is not a surprise, as many Rhinos and other animals die annually due to the flood in this park.
On July 18, K.N.P. had shared a heart-melting video of a Rhino sleeping on a National Highway in the flood-hot state. The 35-year-old Rhino, made the National Highway it’s home for 72 hours before giving vet support. It is partially blind and was not mentally prepared to return to the park because of the high water level. However, it did not stray out the park’s area. The officials instructed the vehicles to drive slowly in that area
On July 19, the K.N.P. and Tiger Reserve announced that the Rhino was keeping well and was moved into the park’s territory.
Explosion near Oil India Limited (O.I.L.) Well
An official statement from O.I.L. on Wednesday, had stated that, “Today in the afternoon, three experts from M/s. Alert namely Anthony Steven Reynolds, Doug Dallas, and Craig Neil Duncan, suffered minor burn injuries while removing the spool from the wellhead. The three experts were provided immediate medical attention by a doctor at the well site, and later on, they were taken to burn unit section of Astha Nursing Home at Dibrugarh. They have been released after dressing of the burn injuries. It is expected that operations will resume at Baghjabn tomorrow.”
M/s. Alert Disaster Control is a Singapore-based firm. The above mentioned well has been spewing gas since May 28, 2020.
Effect of coronavirus on Assam
As of today, the state’s official website, recorded 27,744 virus confirmed cases with 66 deaths, and 19,350 recovery cases. It is an indication that the state is doing well in terms of containment and prevention strategies.
Assam has so far tested nearly 7 lakh swab samples. The Minister for Health and Family Welfare, Mr. Himanta Biswa Sarma, held video conferences with the doctors of all medical colleges and district hospitals, wherein he said: “Our very impressive #COVID19 recovery demonstrates the resolve and dedication of our healthcare staff.” He also added their response had been sterling.
Response from public
The public is outraged by the media’s lack of attention to the pleas of the affected people.
Recognized celebrities have also raised their voice in bringing awareness about the current situation in Assam.
Assistance to Assam
Stephanie Dujarric, the Spokesperson for the United Nations’ (U.N.) Secretary-General, recently stated that the organization is ready to lend a helping hand to the ailing state if required. The Indian Central Government has agreed to provide Rs 346 crores in the first phase, under the Flood Management Programme (F.M.P.) Scheme.
Moreover, the Government decided to sort things out with Bhutan, to solve the recurring flood problem in the lower parts of the state. These decisions were taken up in a meeting between the Assamese Chief Minister, Mr. Sarbananda Sonowal, and the Union Minister, Mr. Gajendra Singh Shekhawat via video conferencing.
Several petitions are also being brought up by the ordinary people to raise funds. Both people and animals are trying to ‘keep their heads above water’ to stay alive.
Indian citizens have taken it up to various social media platforms to lash out that the media has no time to cover what is happening in Assam. This state already struck with quite several adversities at the same time, can’t handle any more torment than the existing ones. This very fact is not given much importance by the media, which indeed attracts empathy upon the drowning state.