Early Flood Warning System Necessary to Prevent Casualties in Asia-Pac Region

Asia-Pacific Forum of Environmental Journalists (APFEJ) has emphasized an advanced national and international early flood warning system to reduce casualties and loss of property. The umbrella environment journalist forum urges the respective governments of Asia Pacific region to initiate for such scientific system and share with the neighboring nations.

Talking about the recent floods in northeast India, the forum expressed concern that the natural calamity has taken the lives of over 150 persons in Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and Meghalaya. The last wave of flooding just before the autumn festival, affected millions of people in the region surrounded by Nepal, Bhutan, Tibet (China), Burma and Bangladesh.

The respective province government sources disclosed that thousands of villages were inundated in the last week of September, damaging vast areas of croplands. Moreover, the flood and erosion rendered hundreds of thousands of families homeless and many took shelter in the relief camps. Assam remained the worst sufferer as the heavy rainfall in Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya made the flood situation grave in the State.

Assam floods
Assam Floods

This year, Arunachal faced a severe flood in August losing 56 people to the disaster, and Meghalaya witnessed unprecedented rainfall and floods in its Garo hills during the last week of September that killed 55 people and affected thousands of villages.

Assam lost 67 persons this year due to flood-related calamities. 4446 villages in Assam were inundated directly affecting 42 lakh people and damaging 4 lakh hectare crop areas. Around 55,000 houses were also completely damaged and over 7 lakh people were rendered homeless because of the flood furies in Assam during 2014.

“The incessant heavy rainfall in Meghalaya and Assam together left a trail of devastation in Garo hills and also huge areas of western Assam on the southern bank of Brahmaputra. Even most parts of Assam’s prime city Guwahati remained under water for many days adding endless woes to the citizens,” said Quamrul Chowdhury, chairman of APFEJ, headquartered in Dhaka.

But an effective flood warning system among the provinces of northeast India could have prevented many casualties in Assam as well as the damage in northern Bangladesh as the water ran through Brahmaputra and Barak rivers to the lower riparian country, Chowdhury argued.

The Environmental Journalists Forum predicts more frequent natural calamities in the future due to climate variability, and appealed to the concerned governments to adopt policies at the local level for adaptation. They also suggested that governments contribute to the international arena for the effective mitigation of natural & man-made disasters.

Nava Thakuria is a Guwahati (Northeast India) based journalist, who contributes to NewsBlaze and various media outlets throughout the world.