Floods In Assam

Beyond embankments and donations

Bishaldeep Kakati

If tea, rhino and silk have popularized Assam in the global level in an efficacious manner, then we cannot even deny the fact that the annual floods that occur in Assam has also made the state gather the center stage of all pivotal deliberations across the globe, but might be in a way that cannot be at all considered to be buoyant, especially when we take into consideration the throes of the common burgess of Assam.

A normal individual might delineate about floods simply as a particular kind of natural calamity, but the same is not the case for the people of Assam. The denizens of Assam see floods no less than a never-ending nightmare. And it is literally impossible to imagine the havoc caused by floods in Assam, until and unless we view it with the help of our naked eyes. The floods make the state go in complete disarray, and all that becomes audible is the painful hollers of the flood affected individuals. Houses, fields, ways of earning a livelihood all get submerged under the water and the solitary thing that people hope is the bright sun to come out at the earliest and dry out the flooded areas.

The scenes that prevail during floods are somewhat known to one and all, but there are certain by-products associated with the occurrence of floods in Assam, that have now started creating a great deal of annoyance especially among the concerned citizens. The conspicuous fact is that every year during floods, lakhs and lakhs of people are affected and along with that the habitat of many flora and fauna also get destroyed. And these scenes are thereby followed by three basic events- a) people show their wrath upon the Central Government for not recognizing floods of Assam as a national disaster and also for ignoring the flood affected individuals b) a certain section of people criticizes the State Government for not constructing proper embankmentsc)the process of donation in the form of relief, either to the Chief Minister's Relief Fund or hand-to-hand relief by individuals or NGO's to the flood victims. While these events would of course be there, but it's time we need to go 'a step further' from these repetitive events.

'A step further' in this context, basically means to find out some permanent solutions to the problem of floods in Assam. And if the individuals having the authority honestly try to figure out solutions, then of course this particular issue can also be resolved for good.

The floods in Assam mainly occur because of overflow of the mighty Brahmaputra, along with its tributaries. And to solve this issue, we have to basically prevent Brahmaputra from overflowing. Some might say that things in theory look much easier than in practical, but even this thing can be understood by taking a small example from our day-to-day lives. For instance, if we try to pour 1 litre of water in a 500 ml bottle, then of course the water shall overflow from the bottle. So to create a balance, we have to simply pour the remaining 500 ml in a different bottle. Thus if possible, the Government should try to find out an alternative to bypass the over accumulated water of Brahmaputra to another source, so that the water level of Brahmaputra doesn't go beyond the danger level. And it is up to the highly qualified scientists to figure of whether this particular way would be feasible or not.

Furthermore, the international website,, in one of its articles, mentioned 10 different measures to prevent floods. And out of the 10 measures, solutions like modifying homes and businesses to help them withstand floods, constructing houses above flood levels, protecting wetlands, introducing water storage areas, restoring rivers to their natural courses, improving soil condition etc might work brilliantly in solving the flood issue of Assam as well.

However, this entire discussion would become completely useless if we don't bring into consideration the case study of countries like Netherlands and China, in relation to the steps taken by them or about to be taken in order to cease the disastrous effect of floods.

The fact being whenever we speak of ways to solve the problem of floods, the province of Netherlands comes first in our mind, especially because of the exemplary steps taken by them to solve the issue of floods.

The palpable fact is that much of Netherlands is below sea level and that is the reason the people of Netherlands has faced issues regarding floods generation after generation. But now the citizens of Netherlands have developed the concept of 'room for the rivers', which basically means allowing a particular river to expand, when large volumes of water are entering the country. Further they are also trying their best to use parks and public spaces as emergency reservoirs for floodwater created by severe rainfall. Thus they have created a 'multilevel protection system', which reports say that the chance of failure of such a system in a given year is one in 10,000.

Assam can also look up to China, if it has to come up with ways to tackle the flood issue. China's administration has taken out an innovative programme to make 'sponge cities' to ensure that water is absorbed when there's an excess: instead of water-resistant concrete. Over China, permeable material and green spaces would be used to soak up rainfall and rivers and streams would be interconnected so that water would be able to flow away from flooded areas.

Thus, if Assam hovers around some of the specific countries of the world, then it would surely be able to come up with solutions, which might be instrumental to at least reduce the disastrous effect of floods, if those solutions cannot remove the issue completely. But at present, it seems that it is turning out to be almost impossible for the government to come up with permanent solutions to the problems of floods in Assam.

However, if the citizens and the government of Assam amalgamate together and move away from doing some monotonous acts that they have been doing since year and try to figure out solutions then the time is not far when floods in Assam would simply remain scripted in the pages of history as a bitter memory.


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Vol. 52, No. 6, Aug 11 - 17, 2019