About 40 years ago, then Assam chief minister Sarat Chandra Sinha, on being unable to find a lasting solution to the state’s annual date with an overflowing Brahmaputra, had appealed to the people to learn to live with the river in spate. “We have to learn to co-exist with the floods,” he had said, drawing sharp criticism from various quarters. Four decades on, the present chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal, in his second year in office, faces a similar situation, with little signs of any respite. “Yes, the flood situation has been bad. Over 17 lakh people have been hit. About 50 lives have been lost. We are putting in our best efforts to provide as much succour as possible,” Sonowal told The Indian Express.
On Thursday alone, five people lost their lives. So far, about 30,000 people have been put in 123 relief camps in 20 districts. Drinking water, sanitation, food for the elderly, pregnant and lactating mothers have remained serious issues in the camps but the government says there is no shortage of funds to tackle the situation. While Prime Minister Narendra Modi and union Home Minister Rajnath Singh have been speaking to Sonowal every alternate day, Kiren Rijiju, union minister of state for home, conducted an aerial survey of some of the worst-affected districts such as Lakhimpur, Dhemaji and Majuli on Thursday, before saying that a central team would be here in a few weeks to assess the loss.