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Northeast Floods
Jul 17, 2017

The monsoon has yet again led to the overflowing of the Brahmaputra and its tributaries resulting in floods impacting lakhs of people across 58 districts in the three states of Northeast (Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur). 

  • Almost all of Kaziranga, Nameri and Pobitora national parks in Assam have been inundated.
  • According to the Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA), around 1,096 villages are under water and nearly 41,200 hectares of crop area has been damaged.
  • Severe rain in Arunachal Pradesh eroded NH 415 that connects capital Itanagar with rest of the country.

Why Brahmaputra’s trail of destruction has become annual ritual?

  • According to the National Flood Commission of India (Rashtriya Barh Ayog), the Brahmaputra Valley is said to be one of the most hazard-prone regions of the country —about 32 lakh hectares area is flood-prone. 
  • One of the reasons Brahmaputra’s water spills over so frequently is its ageing embankments that were constructed based on the 1954 recommendations of the National Flood Commission of India.  
  • Also, most embankments are used as roads by villagers, traffic on which further deteriorates the already worn and torn embankments. 
  • The Brahmaputra has the second highest sediment transport per unit of drainage area in the world. These sediments reduce the water-carrying capacity of the river. 
  • Landslides and increasing topsoil erosion in the river’s catchment areas further add to the river’s sediments.

Way Forward 

  • Earlier attempts at finding solutions suffered from lack of attention to longer-term measures, such as better river management. 
  • The focus of government agencies has mostly been confined to immediate relief and rehabilitation.
  • Short-term measures cannot have lasting impact on the Brahmaputra’s course as several factors influence its tendency to overrun its banks in the June-July season. 
  • The government must go beyond the necessary restoration of infrastructure by rejuvenating the state’s 3,500 wetlands that can take off a major portion of the Brahmaputra’s flow during high floods, constructing storage dams upstream of the major tributaries can also be helpful. 
  • Drafting of a comprehensive relief plan by the government at state as well as the Centre and the specialised units of the disaster response forces must be done on priority basis. 

PT Facts

  • National Flood Commission was established in 1976 by the Ministry of Water Resources to study various issues relating to flood management. The commission submitted its report in 1980. 
  • National Parks in Assam affected by floods - Kaziranga National Park, Nameri National Park and Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary.
  • Kanchendzonga National Park in Sikkim, Kaziranga National Park, Dibru-Saikhowa National Park, Manas National Park, Orang National Park in Assam, Nokrek National Park in Meghalaya, Namdapha National park in Arunanchal Pradesh and Keibul Lamjao National Park in Manipur are some of the important National Parks in north-east India.
  • Important tributaries of Brahmaputra are Siang, Dibang and Lohit in Arunanchal Pradesh, Barak and Manas in Assam, Teesta in Sikkim, Subansiri in Arunanchal Pradesh and Assam, and Dhansiri in Nagaland and Assam. 
  • Important wetlands in north-east India which account for 5% of the country’s wetlands are Deepor Beel in Assam, Loktak Lake in Manipur, Rudra Sagar in Tripura and Doyang Lake in Arunanchal Pradesh. 


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