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Swollen Rivers: Beyond Donations & Flood Relief

by Editor's Desk
Swollen Rivers: Beyond Donations & Relief

The TrickyScribe: Tea, rhino and rains have popularized Assam in the global level. One cannot even deny the fact that the annual floods that occur in Assam has also made the state gather the centre 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. Similarly, Bihar is known for Buddhist and Jain circuits. It is the only state wherein its districts suffer from droughts and floods simultaneously.

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 and livelihood all get submerged under the water of the swollen rivers 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.


Floods are closely followed by three basic events: people showing their wrath upon the Central Government for not recognizing floods as a national disaster and also for ignoring the flood-affected individuals, a section of population criticizes the State Government for not constructing proper embankments and 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 such events would of course continue to exist, it’s time we need to take ‘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. In case the individuals with authority honestly try to figure out solutions, then of course this particular issue can also be resolved for good.

Floods in Assam mainly occur because of overflow of the mighty Brahmaputra, along with its tributaries. To resolve this, 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.

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.


In Bihar, there run two simultaneous nexuses of racketeers operate that reap benefits from flood and the subsequent plight of those in distress due to the same. While a major section of agriculturists believe that floods are beneficial for not only the local ecosystem but also the agriculture, there are people who sell terror in the name of floods.

In parts of Muzaffarpur, the same Bihar district that hit national headlines due to the skyrocketing death toll of toddlers due to suspected AES that also caused a major loss of face to the incumbent Bihar government one can find bamboo sticks being fixed in agricultural lands. Careful observation reveals that the bamboo sticks are fixed to imitate household infrastructure. The same sticks when submerged under the swollen rivers are used to take scary images of the deluge instigating people to donate for the cause. This was one aspect.

The other one is that of the Babus who barely hesitate in baking breads on the death pyres of the victims. In a much popularised case, erstwhile Patna DM and a medico-turned-bureaucrat Gautam Goswami was arrested for alleged misappropriation of relief funds. Interestingly, Goswami was recognised by Time magazine as one of Asia’s young heroes for the relief efforts undertaken by him during the July 2004 flash floods in Bihar and subsequently jailed for the same. This represents the other aspect of scam that feeds upon the same flooded rivers.

If we try to pour 1 litre of water in a 500 ml bottle, water shall overflow from the bottle. To create a balance, one has to simply pour the remaining 500 ml in a different vessel. 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.

The discussion, however, would go 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.

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.

If states like Assam and Bihar hover 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.

If the citizens and the government, however, 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 would simply remain scripted in the pages of history as a bitter memory.

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