Monsoon plays havoc, rivers in spate

Indian Express, July 5, 2002

Guwahati, Mumbai, July 4: As a Central team rushed to Maharashtra to assess the monsoon damage, in the country’s east, Assam reeled under a Brahmaputra and its tributaries in full spate.

The river crossed the danger level at several spots and Jiadhol, a major tributary, washed away 6 km of National Highway 52 and railway tracks in eastern Dhemaji. The metre-gauge track between Rangiya and Murkongselek was wrecked at several spots, sources said, disrupting train services.

Brahmaputra waters swirled over the highway between Mangaldoi in Darrang and Dhekiajuli in Sonitpur, forcing authorities to restrict heavy-vehicle traffic between the towns. In Dhemaji, around 40,000 people have been affected after 100 villages were inundated and standing crops submerged.

Thousands reeled under the impact as the swirling waters submerged several districts as the state scrambled to undertake anti-erosion schemes. Assam Flood Control Minister Noor Zamal Sarkar said in Tezpur that the state has undertaken six such major schemes throughout northern Assam for Rs 64 crore.

With heavy rains continuing in catchment areas of Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh and Upper Assam, the state has alerted district authorities to stand by for relief and rescue work, sources said.

In Maharashtra, a senior government official said: ‘‘The 12-member team led by Joint Secretary R.K. Singh, would visit affected areas in Thane district tomorrow.’’ Thane district divisional commissioner, zilla parishad members, and other officials would accompany the team.

The state has sought Rs 75-crore Central assistance for relief and rehabilitation. The team would meet CM Vilasrao Deshmkuh and state Chief Secretary V. Ranga-nathan on July 6, the official said.