With Silchar town in Assam's Cachar district submerged in flood waters for a week now, Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Sunday, 26 June conceded that the administration has not been able to reach all the marooned people yet.
He said instructions have been issued to agencies involved in the relief and rescue operations to maximise their reach and ensure help for all affected population at the earliest.
Speaking to reporters, Sarma said:
"In many areas, we have not been able to reach out to the marooned people. We are not denying it. I have issued instructions on how to maximise our reach. We are also open to suggestions on the matter," he said.
The chief minister who visited various parts of the flood hit Silchar on Sunday also said that his government "stands firmly with the people of Silchar and we are unwavering in our efforts to lessen their sufferings."
4 More Die Due to Floods , Death Toll Now 121
Four more people lost their lives due to the floods on Saturday, taking the total death toll owing to the recent floods and landslides to 121, said Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA). The agency, however, said that the flood situation was marginally improving as water had begun to recede from the affected areas.
But over 25 lakh people from 27 districts of the state still continue to reel under the floods, it said in a statement.
As many as 637 relief camps and 259 relief distribution centres have been opened in all affected areas and a total of 2,33,271 inmates are staying in them.
CM Sarma Holds Review Meet, Appeals to People to Stand With Each Other
On Sunday, Sarma waded through the flood waters on foot at places and sailed in a NDRF rubber boat in some other areas, as he interacted with the local populace to get a first-hand understanding of their situation.
Cabinet Minister Parimal Suklabaidya, Silchar MP Rajdeep Roy, several MLAs and officials of local civil and police administration accompanied the chief minister during the visit.
The CM, during the visit, held a review meeting with district administration officials on the situation and the measures being taken for rescue and relief operations.
Sarma appealed to people to stand by each other during this time of distress and appreciated the philanthropic activities by individuals and groups in Silchar. "About 50 percent work of the administration is being done by philanthropic organisations and people," he stated.
"People are overall happy with the relief operations. It is not possible to get to each and every person, but more or less we have reached out to everyone who have sought help," Sarma claimed.
He said medical camps will be organised in the town from Monday or the day after, and doctors from Guwahati and Army will assist in running these camps.
Talking about a damaged dyke at Betkundi area, due to which the town has been largely submerged, the chief minister said repair work will take some time.
"The water level at Barak river is still flowing above the danger level. It has to reduce considerably before the damage can be repaired. There is forecast of more rain. We are now trying to ensure that there is minimum further damage in case of more rainfall," he said.
Opposition Slams Sarma For Providing 'Royal Hospitality' To Rebel Sena MLAs Amid Floods
The Assam CM has however received flak from several Opposition parties for providing 'royal hospitality' to rebel Shiv Sena MLAs at Guwahati Hotel amid the floods in the state.
Taking to Twitter, All India Trinamool Congress (AITC) said, "While Assam is grappling with floods, CM @himantabiswa is ‘busy’ hosting rebels MLAs. Instead of prioritizing needs of people, he is taking orders from Delhi. Deplorable! We refused to be silenced and suppressed. No matter the cost, AITC will always stand with the people."
Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) President Bhupen Bora too criticised the chief minister for hosting the rebel Maharashtra MLAs in the flood-hit state.
At a time when lakhs of people are reeling under the floods, "Himanta Biswa Sarma is extending royal hospitality to 40 MLAs who flew from Maharashtra in a conspiratorially planned process to form a BJP government," Bora said in a statement.
"The CM failed to bring a central minister to take stock of flood situation at a complex, distress and crisis time of the state, miserably failed to convince Central Govt to release sufficient fund to handle and address the ravaged flood situation, there no language to denounce the CM for his nasty activities in breaking and formation of Govt. of other state," he further said.
IAF Continues Relief Operations
In continuation with its humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) operation, the Indian Air Force (IAF) on Sunday airlifted 96 tonnes of relief material using various aerial platforms and dropped them across the flood-affected areas in Assam and Meghalaya.
Stating that they have been carrying out flood relief operations since the past four days, IAF said that they have so far airlifted 203 tonnes of relief material under 74 HADR missions. We have also rescued 253 stranded personnel utilising various helicopter and transport aircraft, IAF tweeted.
Heavy Rains in West Bengal Inundates 3 Northern Districts
Meanwhile, officials on Saturday had said that the low lying areas of three districts - Jalpaiguri, Alipurduar, and Coochbehar - in the northern part of West Bengal were inundated following heavy rains in the past few days.
Bhasusubba and Champadanga in Mal Block and areas such as Dhupguri, Moinaguri, and Sukanta Nagar in Jalpaiguri district are reeling under a flood-like situation, they said.
Meanwhile, the Teesta river's Gajoldoba barrage had released 1802.82 cumec water at 1 pm on Saturday, the Assistant Engineer of the Irrigation Department, in Jalpaiguri, Tanai Talukdar said.
The Jalpaiguri district administration and the town's Municipality have started distributing relief materials to the affected people of the low-lying areas.
In Alipuarduar town, water from rivers Kaljani and Sankosh entered the homes of people after the water level in the rivers increased following which they headed towards safer places.
Two stretches in the Falakata state highway and Falakata-Dhupguri highway were washed away and repair work has been completed.
Alipuarduar district received 2,366 mm of rainfall, and Cooch Behar received 2,233 mm of rainfall from 8 pm on Friday till 8 am on Saturday, officials said.
Rice, dal, water, and medicines have been distributed to the affected people in various areas. In addition, dry food was also distributed in some places.
In Alipurduar district alone, about 2,000 people living in low-lying areas had to be moved to safer places.
The IMD has forecast heavy rainfall during the next four days in Alipurduar and Coochbehar, while the other districts are likely to experience thunderstorms during the next few days and heavy rain thereafter.
(With inputs from PTI.)