By Biswajyoti Das
GUWAHATI, India (AlertNet) - Floods and landslides caused by relentless rain in northeast India have killed at least 34 people and displaced more than a million over the past week, officials said on Monday.
At least 21 people were killed in landslides and another eight were missing in the mountainous state of Sikkim, said state government spokesman A.S. Tobgay.
Four people were killed in mudslides in the state of Arunachal Pradesh. In Assam, still recovering from deadly floods that hit the tea-growing state in July, nine people were killed and 20 were missing, police said.
Carrying their cattle and livestock on bamboo rafts, flood-affected villagers in Assam waded through the swirling streams, while many others tried to survive in knee-deep water by cooking food on gas stoves placed on their beds.
“We have somehow saved our cattle and goats, but they will not survive for long because they have nothing to eat, no fodder. The water is everywhere,” Pramila Keot told AlertNet by telephone from Nalbari district in Assam.
Floods displaced nearly one million in that state alone, and many were now sheltering in camps or beside roads, which tend to be built above the land they pass through, a senior official in Assam's disaster management authority said.
The military and federal disaster response teams have launched operations to move people to higher ground by helicopter or in rubber boats, while food has been air-dropped to remote places in inundated Majuli island.
In July, at least 110 people were killed and more than 400,000 people were left homeless in Assam during floods which Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said were among the worst in recent times.
Over the past 60 years, successive governments have built levees along most of the Brahmaputra, which is Assam's main river and is fed by Himalayan snow melt and some of the world's heaviest rainfall.
But experts say the embankments are not only poorly maintained but are a discredited form of flood management.
Floods have inundated three national parks in Assam including Kaziranga National Park, where two-thirds of the world's Great One-horned Rhinoceroses live. Some animals have been forced out of the park to nearby hills.
(Writing by Annie Banerji)
Floods, landslides displace 1 million in India; 34 dead
By Biswajyoti Das