The death toll from the worst flooding Assam has witnessed in decades has risen to 89, as seven more deaths were reported from five of the 32 deluge-hit districts on Tuesday, the Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA) said.
In the last 24 hours, all of Silchar — southern Assam’s biggest town and the gateway to the three Barak valley districts — has been submerged in water unlike “ever before in its history”.
Nearly 55 lakh people have been affected in 32 of the 36 districts of the state so far. Over two lakh people are in relief shelters. Experts said the geographical spread of the current wave of floods was unprecedented — several areas where flooding isn’t usually very acute lay submerged.
Unprecedented rainfall and flooding have left behind a trail of destruction in Assam and other states, as well as parts of neighbouring Bangladesh - submerging villages, destroying crops, and wrecking homes.
Heavy rains have also lashed neighbouring Meghalaya, where at least 18 people have died over the last week.
In Assam, the government has opened 1,425 relief camps for the displaced, but authorities say their job has been complicated by the sheer intensity of the disaster. Even the rescue camps are in a dismal state.
TMC slams BJP for playing politics
Meanwhile, the All India Trinamool Congress (AITC) took a dig at the BJP, which runs Assam and the Centre, for playing politics at this time of calamity.
No clean drinking water.
No effective management of the crisis.
No care for people's suffering.
No leader in sight, standing beside people.
Only 40 MLAs from a different state. @BJP4Assam indulges in petty politics alongside the most INSENSITIVE CM @himantabiswa!," the party's handle tweeted.
At present, over 40 MLA's from the Shiv Sena have accompanied Maharashtra rebel Shiv Sena MLA Eknath Shinde to Guwahati, in a repeat of the sort of 'resort politics' that the country has become increasingly accustomed to.
Shinde and his rebel camp oppose the Shiv Sena's ruling alliance with the NCP and the Congress in Maharashtra, known as the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA). They have been in contact with the BJP over the possibility of dissolving the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly.
Climate change causing greater calamities
Floods routinely wreak havoc on the lives and livelihoods of millions living near the fertile riverbanks of the mighty Brahmaputra river, often called the lifeline of Assam.
But experts say that factors like climate change, unchecked construction activities and rapid industrialisation have increased the frequency of extreme weather events.
This is the second time this year that Assam is grappling with such fierce floods - at least 39 people were killed in May.
The state has already recorded rainfall 109% above average levels this month, according to the weather department. And the Brahmaputra is flowing above the danger mark at many places.
Assam’s chief minister, Himanta Biswas Sarma, told the Deccan Herald newspaper that the rain was unprecedented. He said he was in regular touch with the federal home minister, Amit Shah, about help with the disaster.