Friday, December 1, 2023

Explained: Assam’s SITA releases floods report, its impact

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While the third phrase flood in Assam is getting worse, a study conducted at the request of the state government’s think tank State Innovation and Transformation Aayog (SITA) ‘Floods and Impacts on Livelihood in Rural Assam’ was published by the Chief Minister on Saturday.

Floods and Impacts on Livelihood in Rural Assam is a report which raises concerning question on “How might the State escape the Poverty Trap?”. However, it also listed a number of significant problems caused by the floods as well as potential legislative solutions.

The study was created by Cotton University and supported by SITA. The researchers who worked on this paper visited 83 villages in eight different districts around the state and spoke with 1,100 households.

First off, the research stated that “chronic poverty” in Assam is being further hampered by the harmful effects of the current floods on several fronts, including physical and institutional contexts.

Had there been efforts to stop the negative effects resulting from frequent floods, it was said, Assam’s Human Development Index (HDI) might have been considerably higher and the state would have been a leader in India’s effort to attain the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Unfortunately, Assam has experienced floods on a regular basis, which affects a wide range of residents who live primarily along the floodplains. Brahmaputra and Barak, two significant rivers in Assam, each have several tributaries.

The research said that because all development indicators are interconnected, development interventions in flood-affected communities must be comprehensive.

In the state’s flood-affected communities, “work migration has emerged as a prominent coping strategy.” The primary line of work for the majority of households in flood-affected areas is agriculture.

The report stated that even though the households are involved in agriculture, the value of the return from produces is less than Rs 2,250 per month (the amount that determines the poverty line in the state; or Rs 27,000 per year) for 50% of the total agriculture-dependent households; a section accounting for zero return from agriculture, reflecting the extent of poverty in agriculture-dependent households.

The State Innovation and Transformation Aayog’s primary responsibility in the State of Assam is to analyse and keep track of all federal and state government programmes. In a resolution made at their meeting on November 9, 2016, the Cabinet renamed SITA from the State Planning Board, Assam.

Chief Minister Sarma requested that the Aayog share the findings with ministries and arrange a brainstorming session with the departments of revenue, agriculture, and water resources to discuss how to put the recommendations into practise.

According to the survey, household members are now searching for employment options, primarily outside the state, for any jobs other than agriculture.

According to field statistics, 29% of families currently have members who work outside of their areas.

Short-term solutions to emergencies brought on by flooding:

The report stated that although it is difficult to determine whether large compensation packages will be sufficient to prevent negative effects in flood-affected and sand-cast households/villages or whether additional resources will be needed to restore the productivity of the land, immediate actions are still required to ensure the availability of food, water, sanitation facilities, and health care as well as to repair the damaged homes in order to return the situation to normal.

It read “The insufficiency of quantity, poor quality, and late distribution of food resources are the main reasons of unhappiness among residents in flood-affected areas. Considering the state’s and the people’s preparation in this situation.”

The strategy for interventions and preparation has been hampered by floods unexpected character in previous years. It stated that unpredictability was also brought on by a rapid discharge of water from reservoirs of the hydroelectric power plants situated in nearby hills and mountains.

In light of this, the paper argues for the dissemination of information to the people living downstream in addition to formulating a strategy to release water gradually in advance and making use of the present rain predicting system.

According to the report, the state’s employment guarantee programmes need to be combined for reconstruction tasks, agricultural land reclamation (the removal of sandy layers), school infrastructure restoration, and compensating lost workdays in the event of floods that cause damage to homes and agricultural fields.

Floods in Assam are becoming a commonly recognised event that are causing land damage.

Long-term flood mitigation strategies:

It began by emphasising that it is neither practicable nor economically feasible to completely protect all flood-prone locations against floods of all sizes. This is because erecting dykes and embankments costs a lot of money. There are other expenses for upkeep and building.

It said that in order to effectively use embankments as flood catastrophe prevention measures, the state must take into account two aspects.

It stated that in order to prevent waterlogging and damage to agriculture fields once the water level recedes, embankments must be firm and solid with the support of all currently available technologies. Secondly, it must have enough outlets.

The research also stated that natural depressions, swamps, and lakes may be utilised to control the discharge of water, which it believes might be a less expensive method of managing floods if there are a sufficient number of such geographical features throughout the state.

What is SITA?

The State Innovation and Transformation Aayog’s is a government think tank whose primary responsibility in Assam is to analyse and keep track of all federal and state government programmes. In a resolution made at their meeting on November 9, 2016, the Cabinet renamed SITA from the State Planning Board, Assam.

In an effort to make SITA more like NITI Aayog at the state level, the Assam government urged the think tank to collaborate with local institutions on research and policy development. This would help make policymaking more decentralised and citizen-driven.

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