The flood in Assam is such a regular feature that today hardly anyone takes a serious note of it. The state of Assam is frequently ravaged by the fury of mighty Brahmaputra and its tributaries causing untold human misery and devastation of indescribable nature. The issue calls for a permanent solution to this problem, if the state wishes to leap forward in all round development.
Several factors are responsible for the recurrence of flood in Assam. First and foremost, Assam lies in the heart of Monsoon belt and so gets an overabundance of rain. The Brahmaputra originates in Mansorovar in Tibet and rushes through the middle of the state from east to west. The 2900 km long river and its numerous tributaries such as, Subansiri, Manas, Gadadhar, Sonkosh, Dhansiri, Kopili, Krishnai etc. get flooded and overflow their banks flooding the vast plain of the state.
Secondly, the existence of the long range of mountains on its northern and eastern borders compels the waters to flow down into the vast plain below causing the rivers to swell. Thirdly, the increased level of over beds due to constant deposition of silt has been also a major cause of flood in the state.
The havoc caused by flood in Assam is beyond description. Hundreds of villages along the river Brahmaputra and its tributaries get submerged and get cut off. Many people lose their houses. Thousands are rendered homeless. Properties and goods worth crores of rupees get destroyed. Standing crops are damaged. Cattle and valuable goods are washed away.
Embankments are forced to give in. Roads and communication links are interrupted. Vast areas of the state are turned into sea and many parts of the state remain cut off for long. Flood causes wide erosion and causes the spread of communicable diseases such as cholera, typhoid, dysentery etc.
The human misery and economic hardships that accompany flood is unfathomable. It ruins states already impoverished economy and finance. Nevertheless, flood has some beneficial effects as well. It increases the fertility of soil, washes away all the accumulated dirt and encourages the breeding of fishes.
No doubt, the Govt, has taken several flood control measures to lessen the menace and effect of flood in the state. Immediate flood relief measures include setting up of relief camps, free distribution of food, clothes and medicines, cash compensation for the lost property etc. The chief flood control measures have been the construction of embankments along the banks of the rivers in the affected areas.
But it has not improved the overall situation. Moreover alarming situations arise when these embankments give way. Measures like palisading, forestation along river banks and dredging the riverbeds have been undertaken with little success. Construction of check dams all along the course of river, creation of more reservoirs and dams, establishment of river valley projects etc. may reduce the problem considerably in the long run.
Perhaps the best solution to the problem lies in the recently proposed Central plan of interconnecting all the major rivers of India whereby the extra water of the North and East are diverted to the South and West of India, where water is a precious commodity. Whether the above- mentioned plan actualises or not, the problem needs much more serious attention than the present level of temporary patchwork measures.
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