|Photo credit HERE|
In 1976, returning with my mother from Kolkata to Guwahati, the Kamrup Express was halted in New Bongaigaon, for change from broad to meter gauge, since there were no broad gauge to Guwahati directly. It was August. The rains had been beating down incessantly for weeks. The Borak river had swelled up to the size of a sea, with red water flowing tinted by the red soil. A large steamer, was ferrying the marooned people from one side of the back to the other side. There was no horizon at sight from whichever side of the bank you were.
My mother was as thin as a reed and weak from being a juvenile diabetic. I had to take her on slippery red mud to the ferry launch, holding her tightly so she did not fall over from being pushed by stranded, helpless masses of people eager to go on to the launch. At that time, the handle of the suitcase I was carrying, broke from being drenched by rain. We were all wet and dripping with rain water, but there was no stopping. We had to go on. The army had been deployed and they managed the crowd with their baton. There was no saying when one would land on anyone.
I pulled the suitcase under my arm and grabbed my mother closer. I yelled at people to keep calm and not push my mother. It was the worst hell I had gone through in my life - we were face to face with death, literally, until we reached the ferry launch. I pushed my mother against the railing and covered her with my body. The crowd beat on my back, but I did not let them hurt my mother. The launch started with not an inch of space between us. I was never, in my life, even love-locked to tightly.
The fear of water has not left my mind. Panic takes over, whenever I see water rising, although when we reached the other side, it was clear skies and we all took the waiting buses to Guwahati.
41 years have passed since then! The Brahmaputra and its tributaries continues to rise above danger level, every year the floods come, every year people drown and livestock and man are lost in floods. And every year the floods stop the railways from running smoothly.
41 years and the story is the same! Year upon year, the government allocates money for flood relief in crores! Joint Needs Assessment Report of Assam Floods, 2017 (Click HERE ) is many times better than the cursory on done in 2015 and 2016 too. Joint Needs Assessment Report of Assam Floods, 2015 (https://sphereindiablog.files.wordpress.com/2015/08/assam-floods-jna-report-august-2015_30-08-2015.pdf) Click HERE for the Report on 2016. Action complete. Report presented.
What then is the action, beyond report writing? Oxfam International have come to help at ground zero, when ministers are flying hither thither for yet more funds to save people from the floods!
Click HERE to see Oxfam in Assam.
Please to note, gateway to Assam, GUWAHATI has been marked out to be one among "100 Smart Cities Mission" by our Prime Minister, Sri Narendra Modi's to be completed by 2022.
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