It started with torrential rainfall on September 20 in the North Eastern region, followed by a cloudburst in the Garo Hills which led to landslides and flash floods. More than 10 lakh people are displaced in flood-ravaged Assam and Meghalaya. The worst affected areas are the districts of Goalpara, Kamrup and Boko in Assam and the areas of Tura and some districts in Garo Hills area in Meghalaya.
India 'ignores' plight of northeasterners
The water-level of flash floods in Goalpara district in Assam, triggered off by a massive cloud-burst in in Meghalaya has started receding, but it has left behind a trail of destruction which will take years to repair.
According to the report published by the Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA), 495 villages across six districts have been devastated, with more than a million people still reeling due to the latest wave of floods in the state.
The report further says, "Crops worth millions have been destroyed, as more than 37,000 hectares of farmland has been destroyed, 81,582 houses have either been fully or partially damaged - hitting a big number of families."
Why no coverage by Media
While so much was happening in the North eastern states, what was the media doing. How many newspapers really made it a front page news and covered it continuously so that people know about the situation in these states also.
How many channels covered the floods in Assam and Meghalaya and urged people to help those who were suffering? Why continuous coverage was not given to the floods by media person reporting was done on the situation? Why this step motherly behavior with these north eastern states of our country?
Media coverage of J&K floods, Uttarakhand floods and floods in Northeast
In the last one and a half years, India witnessed two major flood incidents which led to a lot of devastation: in Uttarakhand and in Jammu & Kashmir.
When floods came in these two regions, scores of ‘mainstream' journalists went too these states to cover each and every possible dimension of the natural calamities in the states. In both cases, huge coverage was given and even the state governments were criticized for their poor preparations for such calamities.
But nothing similar was done in case of the Assam and Meghalaya who also faced a similar challenge and crisis. Why?
Is this the role of media and is media supposed to be biased in the coverage of such events? Was media really supposed to give this kind of treatment to people of North eastern India?
Not only media, even government is acting indifferent
The way Central government handled the flood situation in the state of Jammu & Kashmir is laudable but things are not happening in the North eastern area at the same pace. What is the probable reason for slow rescue and relief operation in the Eastern state.
The Army and NDRF's emergency aid and rescue missions were too little too late and especially if we talk about the Goalpara and Kamrup districts.
People from the state think that BJP-led-NDA has also turned a blind eye to the region as their predessors did. Prof Dutta, a public activist was quoted as saying, "There is very little to differentiate between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and UPA chairperson and Congress president Sonia Gandhi when it comes to addressing the burning issues of Assam. Similarly, Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Water Resources Minister Uma Bharati and Agriculture Minister Radhamohan Singh have also made it clear that Assam's genuine interests are never a priority for them."
Experts say that the faulty riverbank management and ageing embankments, rampant earth cutting for construction projects and unauthorised habitations on slopes are the reasons behind these recurring floods and landslides in the region which kills a number of people every year and leads to a lot of devastation.So, instead of blaming each other for the flood mess, the central and state governments should come together and plan on how to handle the current situation in the state. Alongwith allocation of funds by Centre from the Prime Minister's National Relief Fund, the state governments should focus on how to be prepared for such situation in future and how to bring the confidence back in the people who have suffered this much.