IT HAPPENS ONLY IN INDIA,
GREAT JOB MR. PARMAR
it is good to eat as many as vegetables and fruits (totally vegetarian), but my aurvedic doctor asked me to stop eating every...
Seventy-year old Kashem Ali sleeps on the roadside. There is a deathly silence all around, occasionally broken by shrill cries of people even as vultures and crows hover overhead to feast on bodies and animal carcasses strewn all over. A few metres away, 50-year old Raijuddin Shaeikh sobs inconsolably. He has lost seven family members. Raktacini, his village, is deep under water. In nearby Kholsamari and Khagrabari villages, 80 dead bodies were recovered in a day. Rescue operations are underway.
Raktacini, Kholsamari and Khagarbari fall in Goalpara district, Assam -- a sensitive boarder area close to Garo Hills in Meghalaya. Severe flash floods ravaged the villages on October 7. And the next night, people in Krishna and Hatimura villages in the district were caught unawares as a furious wall of water fell upon these villages from the nearby Garo hills. Darkness added to their problems. Some managed to save themselves and their families by getting into country boats; most were not that lucky.
The flash floods have, in fact, affected about 1.2 lakh people in Goalpara's 222 villages. On October 17, the death toll from the tragedy stood at 287. It may well cross thousands. For, many are still missing. About 12,00 people have found refuge in 56 relief camps started by the state government. Another 71,000 people have left their villages and taken shelter on a highway about 120 kilometres from Goalpara. The total loss to crops on 28,000 hectares of land in the district has not yet been assessed, conclusively. Railway services in the Goalpara section remain suspended till date.
Says Kashem Ali, "I have never seen such floods before. There were severe floods in 1990 as well, but nothing compares to this." "My fairly huge house was four feet below water," he adds. Assam had flash floods in August this year as well. The floodwaters originated in neighbouring Bhutan and affected 3 districts in the state: Nalbari, Kokrajhar and Mongaigaon. But the scale of destruction was way lower.
Meghalaya was in fact part of Assam till 1972. That year, forests covered 40 per cent of the state's total area. But Meghalaya's forests have been rampantly exploited. According to a recent survey, the forest cover in Meghalaya has plumetted to eighteen per cent. Says Abani Kumar Bhagawati, head of the department of geography, Guwahati University, "The East Garo Hills and the contiguous Goalpara district are among the most deforested areas in the region. And heavy rainfall renders this region, with steep slopes, particularly vulnerable to landslides and flash floods." That's exactly what happened on October 7. 220 millimetres of rainfall was recorded that day, and according to hydrologist Arup Sharma, "This heavy downpour burst through the landslide barrage on the narrow catchment in East Garo hills and surged into Goalpara."
The government is, in fact in furious hurry to adopt the dnep. It has sought comments from activist groups and people on the dnep by October 30. Such mindless haste will not help the flood ravaged people of Assam and Meghalaya. There is little doubt that the region needs a different kind of environment policy.