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Assam floods an annual feature

Year after year Assam has had to deal with floods caused by the mighty Brahmaputra and its tributaries. This time about 15 lakh people in 24 districts in Assam have been hit by floods and about 431 villages in seven revenue circles are submerged. In Lakhimpur district alone over 3 lakh people are marooned by flood waters.  Heavy rainfall in the upper catchment areas of Arunachal Pradesh and Lakhimpur tend to raise the water levels of all the 14 rivers and their tributaries in the district.  The Ranganadi, Dikting and Singra rivers swelled up after NEEPCo opened its dams to release surplus water in Yazuli. This is not a rare phenomenon and the fact that no solution has been found to contain this man-made disaster shows a lack of concern for human lives.   

Much has been spoken by experts about learning to live with floods but that is easier said than done since people hardly learn lessons. The flood plains are fertile agricultural lands and farming communities take risks, albeit not calculated ones. The sensible thing to do is to build their dwellings some distance from the rivers and at a reasonable height. But we are talking of the poorest of the poor who depend largely on agriculture. Union Minister of State for Home, Kiren Rijiju has undertaken an aerial survey. He has urged the district administration to expedite relief operation since there have been no rains in the last two days.

The only way to control floods reasonably is to create more wetlands which can act as sponges to soak up moisture and to undertake afforestation in degraded areas along the ridges of Arunachal Pradesh where there has been massive deforestation leading to erosion and floods downstream. It is time to halt deforestation in Arunachal Pradesh and restore damaged wetlands to reduce the impact of climate change which in turn is responsible for more flooding. Better warning systems could save more lives and properties.

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