New Delhi: Floods continued to wreak havoc in Assam, as the Brahmaputra and its tributaries sent more areas under water, and over 2 lakh people were badly hit in 23 affected districts.
The 2012 floods in the north-eastern state are the worst ever since 1998. The death toll rose to 30 and many remained missing on Thursday after a boat capsized in Goalpara district of Assam.
“The current flood is biggest since 1998. The river island Majuli is the worst sufferer,” said Nilamoni Sen Deka, Agriculture Minister andgovernment spokesman .
The incessant rains have lashed out many parts of the state resulting in alarming rise of water level of the Brahmaputra River in 23 of the 27 districts. The worst-hit districts include Dhemaji, Lakhimpur, Dibrugarh, Jorhat, Nalbari, Barpeta and Dhubri where water has engulfed fresh areas of human habitation and cropland.
More than five lakh people have been affected in this wave of the floods which have threatened the existence of Majuli, the world's largest inhabited river island. The situation in the island was unchanged even as there was no fresh rainfall. The Kaziranga National Park, a world heritage site, and Pabitora sanctuary, both housing the highly endangered one horned rhino, are under flood waters.
Govt assures all help
The Centre on Friday assured all help to Assam in dealing with the flood situation in the state and promised to send more teams of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) there.
"We have already sent 16 teams of NDRF. One member of NDMA (National Disaster Management Authority) will be visiting flood-affected areas of Assam tomorrow. We will send one more team of NDRF soon," Union Home Secretary R K Singh told reporters here.
Singh said he was in regular touch with Assam government officials and assured them all help in relief and rescue operations.
The Home Ministry had on Thursday deployed 15 teams of NDRF comprising 548 personnel along with 60 boats and other necessary equipment to carry out rescue and relief operations in flood-hit districts of Assam.
An Indian Air Force helicopter has been deployed for air dropping food packets and rescuing the marooned.
Park rangers work non-stop to safeguard wildlife
Forest officials in most rhino habitats in Assam have been working through the night to save wildlife severely affected after flood waters submerged vast areas of sanctuaries.
The flood season is crucial for the animals in protected areas as poachers take advantage of the situation to hunt, particularly the one-horned rhino for its high value in various Southeast Asian markets.
Officials in the famed Kaziranga National Park (KNP) said that about 70 percent of the park falling in Assam's Golaghat district has been submerged by flood waters till Thursday.
The waters have, however, started to recede since Friday morning.
While the Pabitora wildlife sanctuary in Morigaon district is completely submerged, at least 30 percent of the Manas National Park located in Barpeta district has been affected. The Rajiv Gandhi National Park at Orang in the state's Darrang district is also among the affected parks.As per a census in April 2012 there were 2,290 one-horned rhinos in the KNP, besides thousands of other wildlife species spread over a park area of 860 sq km.
"Mobile patrolling using rubber boats has been intensified in all areas inside the park and all guards have been on duty round-the-clock to secure the lives of wild animals," said a senior park official.
"Almost all 153 anti-poaching camps inside the national parks have been operating despite severe floods. Our forest guards are constantly guarding the park not only to prevent poaching but also to help marooned animals," the official said.