Assam flood

Lakhimpur: An unpredictable river and the spate of other three in small sizes created havoc in the Narayanpur-Dhalpur area in Assam’s Lakhimpur district as an early monsoon flood affected the district in June this year. 

Dropang, a small perennial river that originates from the hills of Arunachal Pradesh and flows through a vast area of Narayanpur Development Block in Lakhimpur district caused maximum damages this year so far in the flood. 

Known for its unpredictable flowing behaviour of often changing its courses, Dropnag is joined by two smaller rivers Pichala and Dihiri in its downstream areas near Maghnowa to become a formidable river during monsoon.

This time, along with another smaller river Sesa, they caused unprecedented damage to rural infrastructures like roads, culverts, agriculture bunds and other flood protection works besides inundating a wide area for several weeks.

The flood of these rivers damaged the Simaluguri-Natun Daa-Dhora-Panigaon-Habigaon road in multiple portions. Other rural roads damaged in flood by these four rivers are the Dhalpur-Jamuguri-Hawajan road, the RCC culvert on Simaluguri-Rongoti road, Balipukhuri-Bhorolapar road, weather bridges in Balikuchi and on Maghnowa-Jomnagar PWD road.

The Jomnagar village is the confluence of all these four rivers where villagers still have no RCC bridge to cross. Besides these, the four rivers have severely affected more than fifty villages in the Narayanpur-Dholpur area where the worst affected are Maghnowa, Misamoria, Rongoti, Simaluguri, Athanibari, Pichalapora, Dropang, Phutabhog, Ruptoli, Bhatmoi, Naoghuli, Khalihamari, Sesa-Rajgarh, Sarukathani etc.    

Dropang river changes its course due to rain in Arunachal Pradesh and now climate change added more unpredictability to this river, with more amount of siltation. 

Similarly, the river changes its course due to deforestation and unplanned construction activities in Arunachal Pradesh.

This has contributed to an increase in the surface by sand deposition and bringing debris from upstream.

Huge swathes of sand were deposited on croplands which may cause reduced productivity of various crops in the district. 

The illegal sand mining from the river, which continues unabated, is another factor in the abnormal course of Dropang.

Extracting sand from the river in a rampant and unscientific manner is affecting the ecology of this river.

Excessive sand mining is also a reason for altering the river bed; change the course of the river leading to soil erosion.

The use of pumping machines and excavators in illegally mining the river for the demand for sand in rapid urbanization is completely against the forest protection acts.

According to guidelines, only manual mining must be done as it offers employment opportunities and does not affect the river bed or the ecosystem of the river.

The illegal act of sand mining is going on openly in the Dropnag river with the knowledge of the law enforcement agencies like the police and forest department are a matter of concern despite there are orders by the National Green Tribunal in 2018, the Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change have for the first time released guidelines to monitor and check illegal sand mining in the country.

Besides the residents of the western bank of Dropang are facing extreme challenges in all aspects of education, health, agriculture, commerce, etc because of the communication bottlenecks caused by the river. 

The residents on both sides of the river live an uncertain life as they have to cross its troubled water daily with no bridge over it.

Villagers have also lost many cattle while crossing the river in Puli Naharani village. 

Many immovable properties including two-wheelers have also been lost to the river

Farhana Ahmed

Farhana Ahmed is Northeast Now Correspondent in North Lakhimpur. She can be reached at: farhana.ahmed777@gmail.com