Assam Is Drowning But No One Cares

11/09/2015 7:46 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
BIJU BORO via Getty Images
An Indian girl gets water from a partially submerged well in flood-affected Pavakati village, some 70 km from Guwahati in Assam state, on August 22, 2015. The Assam government has called on the army to help in rescue and relief efforts in flood-hit areas of the state. AFP PHOTO / Biju Boro (Photo credit should read BIJU BORO/AFP/Getty Images)

Before I write anything about the Northeast, let me ask: Do we really consider it a part of India? This question is for everyone, including politicians, media-houses, corporations and even to every common citizen of the country.

Assam is drowning. Ceaseless rains and massive floods have affected 1.5 million people in 17 districts. More than 50 people have died. According to the Assam State Disaster Management Authority, more than 92,000 people have sought refuge in about 240 camps and 92,820 hectares of crop areas have been destroyed.

According to Assam's Water Resources Department, the Brahmaputra and Barak rivers, fed by more than 50 tributaries, are prone to flooding every monsoon. "The flood and erosion problem of Assam is singularly different from other states so far as extent and duration of flooding and magnitude of erosion is concerned... the flood prone area of the state as assessed by the Rastriya Barh Ayog (RBA) is 31.05 lakh hectares... about 39.58 % of the total land area of Assam." Despite this knowledge, no solid pre-emptive actions were taken by the government.

The central government is yet to announce any concrete plan to tackle the situation, and Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi is able to do little other than wring his hands and complain that the Centre hasn't yet released the Rs 387.2 crore for rehabilitation and restoration work. While Prime Minister Modi has with great fanfare announced a special "package" of Rs 1.25 lakh crores for Bihar, which is headed for elections, this largesse is missing when it comes to Assam. After all, Assam is Congress-governed and there are no polls to worry about right now.

As Assam struggles to breathe, there are no outpourings of support on Twitter, no heart-wrenching Facebook posts, no front page news. The rest of India is too busy raging over meat bans and pontificating on homicidal mothers. It is heart-wrenching to see such discrimination within our own country, by our own people. Shouldn't India be united before it can look for a brighter future for all its citizens?

It is not just a disaster for the people of Assam but a tragic moment for the whole nation.

Will anyone take notice? It is high time we try to win back the faith of the people of the Northeast.

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