With the Brahmaputra and several other rivers flowing above the danger mark since mid-May, the flood situation has worsened in Assam. Heavy rains have been battering the North-Eastern state, with floods damaging bridges and sweeping away roads and houses.
Sadly, this is not something new. Every year, heavy rainfall leads to the rise in water levels, which then quickly results in deadly floods, displacing millions. Similarly, every year, Assamese lives are lost and the national media fails to bat an eye to the crisis of the people. All that Assam gets are fillers in the newspapers and small news capsules on leading national TV channels.
The Tyranny of Distance has always had a drastic effect on what the national news channels find ‘news-worthy’. As Shashi Tharoor put it, the media is simply Delhi-centric, the farther the area from Delhi, the less coverage it will get.
However, it’s saddening how year after year, millions of lives getting affected by heavy rain and faulty management fail to make the cut for TV news channels. Let’s look at some statistics, in 2015, more than 27,000 people across 70 villages were affected by the Assam floods. In 2017, over four lakh people across 15 districts and 800 villages were affected.
In 2020, 3.3 million people have been affected and 89 have been killed, the Kaziranga National Park is 95% underwater. A simple trend can be observed here, the implication and devastation of floods have been increasing with each passing year and yet no concrete measure or policies have been formed. Is this not alarming?
It’s baffling how leading media ventures can simply choose to ignore a grave issue just because it doesn’t add value to their ‘propaganda’.
Various experts in the field have recognized a faulty riverbank management system and furious earth cutting for construction projects and unauthorized habitations on slopes as the reasons behind these recurring floods and landslides in the region. The government has built some 450 embankments on rivers to check to flood, but more than half of these are now considered extremely vulnerable. Is this problem too difficult to solve? Can the authorities not prioritize this over their agendas? Do North-Eastern lives matter only during elections?
What is even more astounding is that merely four days of rain in the national capital has garnered more media coverage than floods in the North-Eastern state of Assam. The floods and devastation in Assam deserve equal, if not more, coverage and it needs to start now.