Due to its geographical proximity to the delta region, Assam has always been very vulnerable to climate change. Rainfall and subtropical climate are characteristic of Assam.
Flooding is an annual event in the region. The region also faces occasional droughts. Even as climate change has increased the severity of both floods and droughts, the case of Assam has received little importance so far.
Most of the government’s efforts have been focused on rehabilitation rather than addressing the changed situation.
A government action plan reveals that Assam is likely to see an increase in temperature of up to 2.2 degrees Celsius over the next 30 years while rainfall could also see an increase of 38 percent.
This year, Assam has seen at least three waves of floods.
The first two in May and June were terrible. Dima Hasao district experienced an unprecedented landslide at that time.
Pictures of a train at Haflong railway station being derailed due to mud from the nearby mountains have gone viral. This mountainous district was devastated and all forms of communication and connection to Dima Hasao were cut off for several days.
The restoration of train services through Dima Hasao connecting three northeastern states took more than two months.
The Assam government even had to arrange essential items like petrol and diesel through helicopters.
But, here too, all the government agencies were only involved in rebuilding the infrastructure instead of trying to find an answer to the massive destruction.
On condition of anonymity, a senior government official agreed that there is a need to focus only on rehabilitation after a natural disaster.
Apart from being one of the highest rainfall zones in the world, Assam has a number of major rivers which originate in the lower Himalayan region.
The rains during the week cause the rivers in the region to overflow with large amounts of water which often end up in heavy floods in the cities.
Flooding has become a common occurrence in Kaziranga National Park. Recurring floods occur there as it lies in the flood plains of the Brahmaputra river.
Every monsoon the river overflows and submerges almost two-thirds (66 percent) of Kaziranga which also enters the animal life. The worst that Kaziranga experienced was in 2017 when floods killed at least 350 animals in the national park.
The lower and upper reaches of Assam are also prone to annual floods. The problem of erosion of the Brahmaputra river has reached a critical point in many places forcing a large number of people to change their place of residence. While the first two spells badly affected lower and upper Assam, the third round of floods also hit at least 70,000 people.
Soil erosion, coupled with climate change conditions, has created a huge problem for the residents of Majuli – the largest river island in the world.
The Brahmaputra River swallowed half of the island in the last six decades in the 2017 flood after leaving a deep hole in the island in terms of erosion. This issue has greatly affected the farmers and livelihoods there.
Last year’s report of the Standing Committee on Water Resources (SCWR) of Assam stated that the banks of many rivers have become obsolete and require raising and strengthening as well as bank protection measures in the form of rehabilitation or concrete dams. which is strengthened and requires capital investment.
The poor condition of the palace caused problems in June in Silchar – Assam’s second most populous city.
The city witnessed the worst form of urban flooding due to the breaching of the banks of the Barak River. Ninety percent of homes were submerged in floodwaters for nearly 11 days with water levels rising to 12 feet in some areas.
Rainfall data from the India Meteorological Department shows that the actual rainfall in Cachar district from June 1 to June 27 was 726.3 mm against the normal rainfall of 386.1 mm. went to 88 percent.
The weather service calls rain “severe” when precipitation is equal to or greater than 60 percent.
In fact, this year’s rainfall data shows a sudden pattern where the maximum rainfall occurred from mid-May to June.
But, during the monsoon season from 7 months to September, which usually rains the region is now facing a drought-like situation. The third flood occurred in the latter part of September.
According to environmental experts, climate change has disrupted the rainfall pattern of the region. Many people believe that the role of climate change in frequent floods in Assam may take even more time to be understood properly.
But, most of the rain expected to come throughout the fall is now coming within a few weeks of the last few years. Scientists say this clearly shows the variation in rainfall which is usually caused by climate change across the region.