The flood situation in Assam continued to deteriorate on Saturday as the death toll reached seven, and over 14 lakh were affected across 25 districts in the state.
As the second wave of floods hit Assam, at least 2,168 villages in 25 districts -- Dhemaji, Lakhimpur, Biswanath, Sonitpur, Darrang, Baksa, Barpeta, Nalbari, Chirang, Bongaigaon, Kokrajhar, Goalpara, Morigaon, Hojai, Nagaon, Golaghat, Majuli, Jorhat, Sibsagar, Dibrugarh, Tinsukia, West Karbi Anglong, Kamrup, Cachar and Dhubri-- were severely affected.
In last four days, flood and landslides have claimed 16 lives in the region -- seven in Assam, five in Meghalaya, two each at Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram.
Brahmaputra river in Jorhat, Sonitpur, Kamrup, Goalpara and Dhubri districts, Burhidehing in Dibrugarh, Subansiri in Lakhimpur, Dhansiri in Golaghat, Jia Bharali in Sonitpur, Kopili in Nagaon, Puthimari in Kamrup, Beki River in Barpeta, Barak in Cachar and Karimganj, Katakhal in Hailakandi and Kushiyara in Karimganj districts are still flowing above the danger mark.
Kaziranga National Park, home to the Great Indian Rhinos, has been submerged in flood water with at least 94 camps being inundated, forcing the Assam forest department to impose an emergency across all national parks and wildlife sanctuaries.
The forest department has also curbed the speed of vehicles passing through national highway 37-- the road which runs through the vicinity of Kaziranga National Park-- saving wild animals from getting hit by the speeding vehicles.
Poaching of the one-horned rhinos is another issue during the flood seasons in the state. However, no such reports have surfaced so far this year.
“Poaching was an issue the national park had been suffering for a long time but we have tightened the security with 82 specially trained personnel guarding the national park in five groups. We are adopting every measure to minimise the loss of wildlife,” Assam forest minister Parimal Suklabaidya tells Outlook.
In addition, prohibitory orders under section 144 were imposed near areas surrounding the park along with 24X7 monitoring and medical aid provided to animals. The authorities have also installed a real-time animal rescue support system with the help of strategically placed task force, the minister said.
To address any wildlife crisis in Kaziranga National Park, the wildlife rescue team of the Centre for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation (CWRC), a jointly run wildlife care facility of Assam Forest Department (AFD), Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) and International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) is prepared to face any flood-related emergency in the state.
Rathin Barman, Joint Director and CWRC in-charge said, “Like every flood in Kaziranga NP, our rescue team is ready with the Kaziranga authority to attend any wildlife emergency”.
Meanwhile, heavy rains have damaged train tracks in Lumding-Badarpur hill section under the Lumding Division of Northeast Frontier Railway, prompting the authorities to cancel a number of trains in the area.
"The repair work has already started on a war footing and senior railway officers are camping at the site, monitoring the restoration work. But, heavy rain is continuing in the area, making the soil loose."
"It is expected that the restoration work will be completed by July 16 if the weather condition does not deteriorate further," NF Railway Chief Public Relations Officer Pranav Jyoti Sharma said.
For in-depth, objective and more importantly balanced journalism, Click here to subscribe to Outlook Magazine