Sonai Sutradhar (37) was busy making dough to be baked as biscuits and buns inside his bakery at 6 am on the rainy morning of the Independence Day’s eve in his native village of No. 30 FC Grant near Dolahat weekly market.

Suddenly he heard screams of people telling that the road that passes in front of his home was breached by the overflowing Singara river.

Within minutes the fast-moving waters of the river, taking a different course, swept away his home and the adjoining bakery with the clay oven and stocks of flour and sugar for several days.

A self-employed individual, Sonai sells his bakery products at various places on a bicycle- a business hit hard by on-going restrictions due to COVID-19.

The flash flood in Singara has now pushed to the bottom and he has been now taking shelter with his family on the breached PWD road.

Similarly, Sudhan Biswas (81), who bicycles every day for 15 km to his tea-stall near NL College in North Lakhimpur, lost his entire house and belongings in the flash flood by Singra.

Same is the case of Kanchan Sarkar (65), an elderly pension holder, Bina Rani Sarkar (30), whose husband is a daily wage labourer, Ganesh Debnath (35) and Sailesh Mandal (46).

All of them along with another hundred plus families are now living in tents provided by IRCS and makeshift sheds on the PWD road that connects NH-15 in Nowboicha Revenue Circle of Lakhimpur district.

Sujan Sutradhar in front of his destroyed bakery. Image: Northeast Now

These displaced people who have lost all of their belongings and means of sustenance, demand an enquiry to the recurring flash flood in Singara river and not relief for momentary needs.

They have alleged that something is wrong in the hills of neighbouring Arunachal Pradesh from where the river originates that has taken four lives in this flash flood in Dolahat.

The doubt and apprehension among the riverine people of Singara have been in their minds since the devastation by the same river in June 2018.

Like this year, a flash flood in Singara in 2018 breached the same PWD road that connects NH-15, besides causing great devastation in that area.

This time the repeat of the same type of devastation by the same river in the same area has created doubt among the affected people about the cause of the disaster.

There have been some unconfirmed reports about a cloudburst in Naharlagun, Arunachal Pradesh on the day which caused the flash flood in Singara.

A displaced family of Singara flash flood. Image: Northeast Now

But the administrative and meteorological departments in Arunachal Pradesh and Assam have yet to subscribe it.

There are possibilities of blockage on the flow of the river due to landslides caused by heavy rains inside Arunachal Pradesh.

The sudden release of the blockaded water could cause the flash flood in the river on its downstream.

However, as in 2018, this time also there has been no confirmation from the concerned authorities on such landslides.

This repeated mysterious flash flood in Singara has led to doubt among the affected people about a possible link of releasing a large amount of water to the river by hydro-electrical dams in the hills of Arunachal Pradesh.

The faulty dam of 405 MW Ranganadi Hydroelectrical Plant on river Ranganadi in Yazali, Arunachal Pradesh, operated by North East Electrical Power Corporation (NEEPCO) releases water to the downstream of the river during the monsoon that caused major disasters in Lakhimpur district in 2008 and in 2017.

The dam induced flash flood from NEEPCO has been causing damages in other rivers in Lakhimpur since 2008.

Earlier, the NEEPCO dam released its excess water in Dikrong which caused devastation in Bihpuria. After that, it did the same in Zoihing river in Lakhimpur.

The flash flood in Zoihing, which joins Ranganadi in Kulabeel-Panchnoi, killed two persons in May 2017.

In 2019 again the dam induced flood in Ranganadi damaged a portion of its embankment on the left-hand side near Borbeel, North Lakhimpur.

Now the public allegation here is that the NEEPCO is channelling out its dam waters in the courses of various nullahs and rivers that flow down to Lakhimpur district.

It may be mentioned that on the same day of Singra’s flash flood in Dolahat this time, the river of Zoihing in North Lakhimpur Revenue Circle and river Pabha, Gabharu, Bokanadi and Bogolee in Nowboicha Revenue Circle swelled unprecedentedly inundating many places.

As the dam induced flash flood from NEEPCO’s Ranganadi Hydroelectrical Plant affects Lakhimpur district annually, the 2000 MW Lower Subansiri Hydro Electrical Power plant by National Hydroelectrical Power Corporation (NHPC) over Subansiri at Gerukamukh could bring a deluge of epic proportion.

As this apprehension is affecting the public, a proper investigation to the repeated disaster in the district is urgently needed.

Farhana Ahmed

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