More than 600 people have been affected in floods across Assam this summer, as sheets of incessant rain pummeled the state on Friday, The Indian Express reported.
The floods, which are the first of the season, fuelled concerns of loss of life and property as the floodwaters are expected to rise in the region. They also come at a time when the country is grappling the coronavirus pandemic and a countywide lockdown imposed to contain it.
According to a bulletin issued by the Assam State Disaster Management Authority, 630 people in two villages of the Kalgachia revenue circle in Barpeta district were affected by Friday evening. The Jia Bharali River was flowing above the danger mark in Sonitpur district where erosion was reported from different areas, the bulletin added.
Pankaj Chakrabarty, state project coordinator of the ASDMA said that while the rain resulting from Cyclone Amphan, which slammed the Indian coast on Wednesday, have aided the floods, another reason for it is the release of water from the Kurichu dam in Bhutan.
But an unidentified ASDMA official told the newspaper this was just the “first instance” of floods this season, and not necessarily a “wave”.“As a result of the rains, the Beki river water levels have risen and low lying areas near the river have been affected,” the official explained. “People have not been required to be shifted to relief camps yet.
Floods impact Assam annually affecting major portions of the states claiming hundreds of lives and force thousands people from their homes, as swirls of water sweep away houses. Last year, in one of the worst reported floods in the decade, all 33 districts of the state were affected. India’s annual monsoon lasts from June to September.
Authorities fear that this year’s impact may be graver, considering the pandemic situation. In view of this, the Assam State Disaster Management Authority has issued revised set of guidelines for the management of relief camps. “If a Covid-19 outbreak happens in one of the relief camps, then it will spiral out of control, that is why we have issued special guidelines and initiated a separate setup,” Chakrabarty said. “People will be evacuated as per the capacity of each designated camp... a village-level team will also be put in place to lead the evacuation.”
Inside the relief camps, space of seven square metres will be earmarked per person instead of three point five square metres, in order to ensure physical distancing. “If tents are used for shelter, these should not be erected closely,” the guidelines added. “Minimum 20 metres distance shall be maintained between two tents.”
People who exhibit symptoms of the Covid-19 infection such as fever and cough will be immediately segregated and provided emergency medical care. Additionally, the quantity of water provided per person will be increased from 20 litres to 30 litres per day. The camps will be no-spitting and no-tobacco zones, and masks, soaps and sanitisers will be made available.
Assam has reported 319 Covid-19 positive cases so far — out of which 258 are active, and four have died.