Ramesh Chaurasia talks about Assam floods and what can be done about it

The state of Assam is experiencing severe flooding again this year. More than a 100 people have lost their lives while more than 25 lakh people still remain affected. Almost three lakh people are currently in relief camps. Flooding in Assam is not uncommon and each year we see thousands of people getting displaced. Almost 8000 hectares of land is lost to flooding each year. The bigger problem here is that this is only getting worse.

Mr. Ramesh Chaurasia is a philanthropist, social worker and a successful businessman who has been working selflessly with his team for the upliftment of all vulnerable sections of society. He is also the president of the Akhil Bharatiya Adarsh Chaurasia Mahasabha, a pan India organization which aims to uplift all sections of the Chaurasia-Tamboli community.

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We talked to Mr. Ramesh Lakhulal Chaurasia about the currently ongoing tragedy.

He said, “This is a true human tragedy and I can only imagine the suffering that people have to go through during such times of crisis. I believe that the only way to help the people deal with this is to climate proof the economy and to create stronger development sectors. We have to ensure that we are prepared on both the state and the national level to deal with an annual phenomenon which is only getting worse as climate change causes temperatures to rise and change weather patterns.”

He added, “I believe that with unstable rainfall patterns, the risk of flooding and the threat to human life in both cities and rural areas is rising rapidly. We can see this each year in states like Bihar and Assam. I think that construction should be only allowed when combined with green infrastructure in flood prone areas. Human encroachment in high-risk areas should be cleared as much as possible. Rapid action forces should be kept on alert during this period. Relief programmes should be prepared in advance to deal with such a situation.”

He continued to talk about another risk which looms over high population cities.

He said, “We associate rainfall related flooding only to coastal areas but recently it is being observed that rainfall related flooding is becoming an equally dangerous risk in cities. Rainfall induced flooding is dangerous, it puts more people at risk because it is location independent and very unpredictable. The only way to deal with this is developing blue-green infrastructure and to reinforce the already existing infrastructure to help us deal with such situations in a better way. Scientist and policymakers should come together to deal with this.”

We talked to a senior volunteer and scientist who is associated with the organization. He told us a few things about what causes the flooding and what factors add to it.

“We know that Assam is a flood prone state with almost 40% of its area at risk of flooding. The Brahmaputra River brings along with it a lot of silt from the Himalayas and slows down in the plains of Assam, depositing all this silt which causes it to rise and flood and area. While this is a natural phenomenon, we have observed that climate change is adding to this. Man-made factors and climate change have only made the situation worse in low lying flood plains. A lot of construction has taken place in low lying areas which has brought more people. Wetland areas and local water bodies should be revived in Assam to improve the drainage system which can act as a possible exit for excess water and avoid water logging. For this to happen, human encroachment needs to be cleared from the high flood risk Brahmaputra floodplains.”

He added, “This is a human tragedy which has brought misery to lakhs of people living in the state. We should work together to fight this and help the people of the state in every way we can. This applies to policymakers and the general population and all relief groups.” The Akhil Bharatiya Adarsh Chaurasia Mahasabha works actively to spread awareness about various issues and also strives to help vulnerable sections of the society. Mr. Ramesh Lakhulal Chaurasia and the team of the Mahasabha appeal to public at large to make donations and help in providing relief material to the affected areas.