Millions Marooned, Hundreds Dead, as River Brahmaputra Floods Arunachal, Assam


Jul 20, 2020


Image credit: PTI

Heavy monsoon rains caused the River Brahmaputra to burst its banks late last month, and resultant disasters have killed more than 200 people in South Asia. This follows a worrying weather pattern in India’s North-East region: some states like Assam and Arunachal Pradesh are reeling under flooding and landslides, while others like Manipur and Mizoram are struggling with a rainfall deficit.

“I can say that it’s one of the worst floods in the state and in the park in the recent times,” Assam’s Forest Minister Parimal Suklabaidya told the AFP news agency.

Around 4,000 people trapped by surging floods were rescued in Assam, and around 36,000 people who lost their homes are now displaced, sheltering in almost 300 relief camps. Apart from the North-East, Bihar also experienced heavy flooding due to incessant rainfall Nepal, where many of Bihar’s rivers originate.

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Flooding happens in regions like Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Bangladesh because of the turbulent River Brahmaputra, often called the ‘Sorrow of Assam,’ due to its tendency to flood. The Brahmaputra is the world’s ninth largest river, covering multiple regions with highly diverse ecologies, which partly aids its instability. However, the flooding has only worsened over the years, as a direct result of climate change creating more intense global water cycles (such as heavy rainfalls, rising sea levels, flooding). Scientists also predict serious damage to regions surrounding this river, unless proper flood management systems are set in place.

Heavily affected regions in India also include the Kaziranga National Park in Assam, home to endangered species like the one-horned rhino. 85% of the national park is submerged in floods, and more than 100 animals have died.

Apart from flooding, mudslides have also killed around 20 people in the North-East. Mudslides are natural disasters that occur on steep slopes when water accumulates in the ground swiftly, creating a surge of water-saturated rocks and debris. Extreme rainfall and heavy snow melting in mountainous regions are major triggers for mudslides.


Written By Aditi Murti

Aditi Murti is a culture writer at The Swaddle. Previously, she worked as a freelance journalist focused on gender and cities. Find her on social media @aditimurti.


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