Assam Floods Put Dima Hasao 10 Years Back

The Dima Hasao Disaster:

Almost all developmental work that was done in the Dima Hasao district in last 10 years has been damaged”, said Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma, after personally visiting and reviewing the situation there. The loss this year was disastrous compared to the previous years.

Assam Floods Put Dima Hasao 10 Years Back

The country witnessed the loss and grief of Assam through various pictures and visuals that went viral on social media, especially a picture of two trains in Haflong (District HQ of Dima Hasao) station.

The floods this year were witnessed earlier because of the pre-monsoons. Every year Assam bear floods due to heavy rains during June-July, but this problem was not expected in the month of May. Moreover, the destruction in Dima Hasao, formerly known as North Cachar Hills, proved adverse for the Barak Valley region of the state, and other north-eastern states like Manipur, Mizoram and Tripura.

The sole reason why the destruction in Dima Hasao was a loss for other places as well, was because the supply chain was affected. Dima Hasao acted as a link between Barak Valley and the rest of Assam, Haflong being an important station. But official sources mentioned that the supply chains will be restarted by the month of July. On top of this the Chief Minister also announced a special one-time assistance to the district to revive itself from the loss.

These devastations which the people of Assam and the country witness every year brings up the question of chronic flood. Why the state of Assam faces the same problem every year and why the government, since ages, is not taking any preventative measure or find a permanent solution to this?

Why Floods Every Year?

First, let us accept the fact that Assam is the most flood prone state of the country, primarily because of the unstable and aggressive Brahmaputra River flowing through the state. But this cannot be the only reason for the yearly floods, there are some other reasons which are not natural but human infused.

Deforestation is a grave problem which is on the rise due to urban and industrial development. The cutting of trees loosens the soil and makes it easier to erode, which later results in huge landslides in the state. Another problem is illegal encroachment of flood plains, which eventually reduces the area of a river to flow.

Climate change is another reason which brings in unpredictable rainfall and increases the instability of the river. One last reason, for which the government can be directly held accountable, is the failure to build permanent and future-proof embankments, which can withstand the overflow of river water. The government also failed to maintain the already present embankments.

If we dig a bit deeper into this embankment problem, then we find various news reports which indicate towards an alleged government-contractor nexus in place. Every year a few people in the state earn a lot of money from the pain and grief of the flood affected people. The annual flood can also be someone’s bread and butter, as these embankments fall down during the flood and are again rebuilt by the contractors.

The calculation is simple, if a contractor builds an embankment adhering to all high standards, then he’ll earn only once. But if he gets the chance to construct the same embankment every year or once every two years then that’s more profitable for him. And for this to happen, the embankment must break every year. Hence, we witness a lot of below average or low-quality embankments in the flood prone areas.

Permanent Solution?

For finding a permanent or long-lasting solution to this perennial problem, we need to borrow some inspiration and idea from the Netherlands. Netherlands is regarded as the best country in the world in terms of flood control. An interesting fact about the Netherlands is that, ‘right to be protected from flooding’ is a basic right for the citizens and it is mentioned in the constitution as well. So, we can imagine the level of sincerity the country has, to prevent floods.

Another fact which tells us about Netherlands’s dedication towards flood prevention is that, all its flood prevention measures are built to withstand even the most disastrous flood that can come in the next 10,000 years. This standard in the U.S. is only 100 years and perhaps its only a couple of years in Assam.

Now, what can Assam learn from the Netherlands? ‘Room for River Project’ is a recent initiative of the Netherlands government which tries to prevent floods by not restricting or shaping the river’s flow, but by allowing the river to flow its natural path. This initiative fosters the idea of co-living with nature and not moulding it according to our needs.

Relocating embankments a bit far from its current place, which will allow the river to flow freely in a larger area and also provide a larger river bed for sedimentation, is a primary measure of this initiative which Assam can easily adopt. Increasing forest plantation in flood plains is another important requirement, which will help in holding the soil tighter. And lastly, building reservoirs or water storage facilities in high flood prone areas, is what the Netherlands have implemented to prevent floods.

These simple and nature friendly steps should not be difficult for the government to achieve. These steps proved to be economically cheap and sustainable & beneficial in the long run. Hence, the Assam government and other state governments should also try to implement measures that have proved to be successful in other places.


Pratik Deka,
Content Writer,

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